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7 San Diego Hispanic Heritage Experiences

A city rich with authentic cultural opportunities

Embark on an immersive exploration of how Hispanic and Latinx culture help shape San Diego, with vibrant, colorful art, traditional cuisine and more.

San Diego's proximity to Mexico, long Hispanic history and rich South and Central American ancestry have helped shape the city’s diverse cultural identity. Hispanic and Latin influences can be found in the region's architecture, gastronomic scene and artistic landscape, and are proudly celebrated year-round through its neighborhoods. Visitors to San Diego will find memorable opportunities to immerse themselves in the rich Hispanic history, culture and lifestyle of the eighth-largest city in the United States.

Barrio Logan Neighborhood Sign in San Diego

Barrio Logan and Chicano Park

Located just south of San Diego's urban core, Barrio Logan is a Mexican-American neighborhood established by refugees back in the early 20th century during the Mexican Revolution, and rooted in civic movement. At the heart of the barrio, Chicano Park is home to the largest collection of Chicano murals in the United States, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark; it also now hosts the Chicano Park Museum. Barrio Logan is the hub of a diverse arts district, with galleries, boutiques, brewpubs and craft coffee shops. A vibrant culinary scene is also an important characteristic of the neighborhood: At the iconic Barrio Logan eatery Las Cuatro Milpas, locals line up for authentic, homestyle Mexican food and freshly made tortillas. And every Saturday afternoon, the community hosts Walk the Block, a celebration of shopping, dining and art that stretches along Logan Avenue between Chicano Park and 26th Street.

Birria Steamed Clams

Cross-border Cuisine in San Diego

San Diego stands in the middle of two very powerful influences: California cuisine, distinguished for its devotion to using fresh local ingredients, and Mexico's Baja-Med style, a food revolution that began in Tijuana and has gained worldwide recognition for combining traditional Mexican ingredients with those of the Mediterranean. Thanks to the daring chefs who have created a dining experience that speaks to locals, San Diego's culinary landscape blends these two influences into a delicious cross-border dining scene. One treat you won't want to miss: Holy Paleta's handcrafted frozen popsicles, made with all-natural ingredients and creative toppings. The flavors are inspired by traditional frozen treats found in Michoacan, Mexico. Favorites at Holy Paleta, which has locations in Bonita and Little Italy as well as Petco Park, include chamango on a stick, coffee stuffed with condensed milk, and banana Nutella crunch.

Artelexia in North Park San Diego

Latinx and Hispanic Businesses

San Diego’s proximity to Mexico and rich Hispanic heritage have helped shape its vibrant identity. Latinx influences can be discovered through the region’s colorful neighborhoods and savored in its culinary scene as well as its shopping offerings. From restaurants to shops and self-care spaces, click here to discover a few of the many Latinx- and Hispanic-owned businesses you'll love experiencing while in San Diego.

San Diego Latino Film Festival

Celebrating Latino Film & Theater

The San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF), founded in 1993 and presented each March, was born out of a desire to challenge movies' reigning stereotypes about the Latino experience, and to give filmmakers the power to share stories firsthand about what it means to be Latino. The SDLFF is proud to remain true to those ideals, constantly advocating for inclusive, diverse and progressive cinematic storytelling about the Latino identity. In that same vein, La Jolla Playhouse hosts the Latinx New Play Festival, which originated at San Diego Repertory Theatre and is now presented at the Playhouse in October. The fest is dedicated to staging vibrant new works that showcase the voices of rising Latinx playwrights.

Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Visitors can witness the living legacy of California's first permanent European settlement at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, San Diego's first "downtown." Old Town represents San Diego's Hispanic heritage from 1821 to 1872, when Mexico gained independence from Spain and took over the area. The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, a theater, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored buildings. Live mariachi performers can be seen every day in Old Town, in addition to seasonal and special-event shows throughout the year. Old Town also commemorates Native heritage in San Diego with the Iipay~Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok (Land of the First Peoples) outdoor exhibit area.

Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park San Diego

Centro Cultural de la Raza

This cultural art center is dedicated to creating, promoting and preserving Chicano, Mexican, Native and Latino art and culture. The nonprofit organization is housed in a former Balboa Park water tower decorated with bright murals. The Centro Cultural de la Raza provides classes, arts and crafts, and artistic presentations that support and encourage the creative expression of indigenous cultures. Special outdoor vendor exhibits can be enjoyed on some weekends.

Dia de Muertos Dolls

Día de Muertos, San Diego-style

Each fall, San Diego is the setting for a wide range of events commemorating Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), the Mexican holiday devoted to honoring and celebrating those who have passed on. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park serves as the epicenter for these events, with a candlelight procession, special restaurant menus, face painting and more. If hoofing it for the holiday is more your style, the Los Muertos 5k San Diego takes place each fall along the beautiful Embarcadero. And San Diego arts organizations offer numerous Día de Muertos concerts and other events in late October and early November each year.

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