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South Bay's Historic Heritage

Landmarks, Arts and Culture and More

Spend a day exploring the many landmarks that make up San Diego South Bay's historic heritage.

San Diego's South Bay region is a great place for outdoor adventures, art and culture, golf and history. Add a day to your itinerary exploring the many landmarks that make up South Bay's historic heritage.


Coronado Ferry Landing

1201 First Street at B Avenue
The Coronado Ferry Landing, with its shops, restaurants and stunning views, is the spot where ferries have docked and delivered passengers for more than 125 years. It's the perfect place to begin your South County Historic Driving tour. The vintage ferry ticket booth, in nearby Centennial Park, is a reminder of the days when access to Coronado was almost exclusively by water.

Coronado Village Theater

820 Orange Avenue
Relax by watching a first-run movie in this 1947 movie house in downtown Coronado. The theater re-opened i2011, after being closed for more than ten years. Enjoy the artistic beauty, inside and out, of this one-of-a-kind historic cinema. 

Coronado Historical Association Museum of History and Art

1100 Orange Avenue
Explore Coronado's unique heritage in this 1911 landmark building. Not only will you learn how the Spanish came to discover this small island, you will find out all about its diverse range of historic homes built with Tudor, English Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Victorian and Neoclassical influences. Its Visitor Center also offers interesting tours.  

Hotel del Coronado

National Historic Landmark
1500 Orange Avenue
Step inside one of the most elegant iconic hotels in California that has hosted princes and presidents, actors, authors and luminaries galore. Built in 1888, The Del has a rich history from Hollywood movie appearances to its very own ghost. It also happened to be the first building with electricity west of the Mississippi River. Here, you will experience the architectural beauty, garden splendor and its famous golden sand beaches.

Glorietta Bay Inn

1630 Glorietta Boulevard
Take a stroll to the Italian Renaissance mansion of John D. Spreckels, who is one of San Diego's most celebrated industrialists. His most notable business adventures include the Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego and Arizona Railway. Built in 1906, his dream home, now a charming inn, is known today for its remarkable views of Glorietta Bay, antiques and excellent amenities.

Coronado Boathouse 1887

Historic Landmark
1701 Strand Way
Enjoy surf 'n' turf dining in a historic restored boathouse, now the BlueWater Grill. This waterfront restaurant, built in 1887, sits across the street from the Hotel del Coronado, and boasts some of the same architectural features.

The Coronado Municipal Golf Course

2000 Visalia Row
Coronado, CA 92118
Opened in 1957, the Coronado Municipal Golf Course, is rated as one of the best public golf courses in the nation. For affordable fun golf with amazing views of the bridge, Hotel del Coronado and sea, this course is a true emerald gem.

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Chula Vista

Chula Vista Historic District

Located between H Street and E Street on Third Avenue in Chula Vista
In the downtown district, take the "Walk of History" tour through the historic heart of Chula Vista. The tour is marked with 12 pedestals to guide you through the history of the city. Victorian houses and historic buildings can be found on the surrounding streets.

Chula Vista Heritage Museum

360 Third Avenue
Experience what life was like in Chula Vista by exploring  the city's Heritage Museum where you will find many historical exhibits, artifacts and photos that chronicle the settlement and development of Chula Vista, including historic homes and buildings, daily life, community events, famous individuals and the city's citrus and aircraft industry. In addition, as you walk out the museum's front door, you will spot a drop hammer by Rohr Aircraft, the world's largest manufacturing subcontractor of jet-related components and Chula Vista's largest employer for decades, which contributed greatly to the growth of the city.

Bonita Museum & Cultural Center

4355 Bonita Road
Established as a Bonitafest community function in 1987, Bonita Museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of the Sweetwater Valley. Known for its changing cultural exhibits and events, the museum and cultural center reveal Bonita's past through historical artifacts, including relics from Native Americans who inhabited the area as well as a fossil footprint of the infamous Proctor Valley Monster.

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Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach Outdoor Surfboard Museum

Located on Palm Avenue between Seacoast Drive and Third Street
This outdoor museum commemorates Imperial Beach's surfing history. The museum honors 25 prominent shapers including nine local shapers, and the surfboards represent a span from ancient time to 1985. The lineup begins at 3rd Street and ends at Seacoast Drive, where you will be at the beach ready to surf the waves.

Imperial Beach Pier

10 Evergreen, on Seacoast Drive between Evergreen Avenue and Elder Avenue
The original pier, built in 1909 was 500-hundred-feet long, lasted until 1949 when storms brought it down. A new 1,200-foot pier opened in 1963, but as fate would have it, that pier was destroyed in the 1980s from bad weather and a concession that caught fire. The current pier opened in 1989 and stands today as the southernmost pier in California, extending 1,491 feet out into the Pacific Ocean.

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National City

National City Depot

Nationally Registered Historic Place
922 W. 23rd Street
Frank Kimball was responsible for building the historic National City Depot, a terminal for the Santa Fe Railroad. Kimball worked hard for 10 years, in hopes of persuading the railroad company to extend their lines to the county, knowing that a shipping link connecting the western coast to the rest of the country would be a tremendous financial value. The station featured a ticket office and freight section, offices for Santa Fe's West Coast Operations upstairs.

Railcar Plaza

840 West 24th Street
The railcar plaza played an instrumental role in National City. It was the first commuter-type train in the area, made for passengers. It ran from National City to San Diego, out to the dam, down to Chula Vista, and over the Silver Strand to Hotel del Coronado. It was owned by the San Diego Land & Town Company, a real estate branch of the Santa Fe Railroad. Their purpose was to develop property given to the Santa Fe Railroad from the Kimball family.

Stein Family Farm

1808 F. Avenue
Learn about National City's history of farming, transportation, composting and more at this family-run farm, established in the 1900s. Visitors are encouraged to take part in preserving the property by helping to farm the land and take care of its many animals.

Granger Music Hall

1615 East 4th Street
Weave through the historic music hall of Ralph Granger, a Coronado resident with a strong passion for music. Lacking the space for his large collection of instruments, he hired Irving Gill to build him a private music hall near his home. When it was originally built, its size was 19x36 feet, but two years later, a 30x100 foot recital hall was built. The music hall has perfect sound and has never had a need for speakers.

Brick Row / Kimball House Museum

Nationally Registered Historic Place
Brick Row - 909 A Avenue
Kimball House Museum - 932 A Avenue
Soak up National City's history by visiting Brick Row and the Kimball House Museum located on the same block. Brick Row is a stretch of 10 connected homes originally designed by R.C. Ball and constructed by Frank Kimball. Made for railroad executives from the East Coast, each one contains a kitchen, dining room with a fireplace, a private backyard, butler's pantry and four bedrooms. Built in 1868, the Kimball House is the Italianate-style house of National City's founder and developer, Frank Kimball. It was the first home in the South Bay area that included indoor plumbing; 3,000 bricks from San Francisco that were used to build the chimney. 

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San Ysidro

Monument Mesa in Border Field State Park

1500 Monument Road
Sitting high on a bluff on the border of the United States and Mexico is Monument Mesa. Out of 258 monuments along the border, Monument Mesa is designated as the first place where the U.S. and Mexico decided the border should be. Picnic tables and scenic views of the coast make it a perfect destination for the family.

Hardware and Grocery Store

147 West San Ysidro Boulevard
Built in 1929, this building used to be known as San Ysidro Commercial Company. I was designed by Louis J. Gill and owned and operated by R.W. Smith, a local San Diego businessman.

San Ysidro Public Library

101 West San Ysidro Boulevard
San Ysidro's public library, built in 1924 in Little Lander's Park, was constructed with a $7,000 donation by Frank Beyer. Mr. Beyer was a mining engineer, a partner in the Southern California Jockey Club and a philanthropist. The construction of the library was just one from his many contributions to San Ysidro and it remains today as one of San Diego's smallest branch libraries.

Iglesia Torre Fuerte

114 West Hall Avenue
In 1927, Frank Beyer donated the land on which San Ysidro's first Catholic Church was built. Mr. Breyer also donated $1,000 for the church's construction fund. The church was built by contractor W.B. Settle and was named Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Plaza el Toreador

601 East San Ysidro Boulevard
El Toreador Motel was built in San Ysidro in 1947 by a Portuguese contractor. This Spanish-style motel has been a stopping place for many celebrities including Buster Keaton, John Wayne, and Jay Silverheels. Many elite travelers from Mexico and the U.S. stayed in the motel because of its proximity to Casino Agua Caliente in Tijuana. El Toreador owes its name to the Spanish word torero, which means bullfighter. It is believed the toreros who stayed at the motel prayed before each bullfight at the grotto where there is an altar to the Virgin Mary.

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See all of these wonderful historic landmarks and more. Start planning your historic escape to San Diego's South Bay Today!

Click here for a printable brochure and map of South Bay's Historic Heritage Landmarks

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