EGX26Y View of the Junipero Serra Museum building in the morning. Presidio Park,  San Diego, California, United States.

Presidio Hill

joseph s giacalone/Alamy

Presidio Hill

San Diego

In 1769 Padre Junípero Serra and Gaspar de Portolá established the first Spanish settlement in California overlooking the valley of the San Diego River. Walk up from Old Town along Mason St for excellent views of San Diego Bay and Mission Valley. Atop the hill, Presidio Park has several walking trails and shaded benches. A large cross, made with tiles from the original mission, commemorates Padre Serra.

A flagpole, a cannon, some plaques and earth walls now form the Fort Stockton Memorial, commemorating the fort built when American forces occupied the hill in 1846 during the Mexican-American War. The nearby El Charro Statue, a bicentennial gift to the city from Mexico, depicts a Mexican cowboy on horseback. Nothing remains of the original Presidio structures; the mission was later moved upriver.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Diego attractions

1. Junípero Serra Museum

0.08 MILES

This museum stands atop Presidio Hill, the site of California's first settlement and its first mission, known as Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded here…

2. Casa de Carillo

0.27 MILES

Just north of Old Town, this house dates from about 1820 and is said to be the oldest house in San Diego. It is now the pro shop for the public 18-hole…

3. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

0.36 MILES

On the site of San Diego's first European settlement, Old Town consists of a cluster of restored or rebuilt historic 19th-century buildings filled with…

4. Whaley House

0.44 MILES

Two blocks from the Old Town perimeter sits the city’s oldest brick building (circa 1856), officially certified as haunted by the US Department of…

5. El Campo Santo

0.54 MILES

Continuing east, after San Diego Ave forks right at Conde St, you’ll find this cemetery which dates from 1849. It is the resting place of some 20 souls, a…

6. SeaWorld San Diego

1.81 MILES

Opened in San Diego in 1964, SeaWorld became one of California’s most popular theme parks. Visitors shuttle between aquatic-themed rides, animal…

7. Hillcrest Gateway

2.11 MILES

The Hillcrest sign was first hung in 1940; a newer version was erected in 1984.

8. Kahn Building

2.17 MILES

Historic building with kitsch ornate plaster work of fruits at its top. It was recently transformed into 'The Hive,' housing a collection of different…