Best Museums in San Diego, California: La Casa de Estudillo – Historic landmark / free museum
Captain Jose Maria de Estudillo, the commander of the San Diego presidio, built this adobe home for his family in 1827. When he died in 1830, the house passed to his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, who served as revenue collector, treasurer, alcalde, and judge under Mexican rule and later treasurer and assessor of San Diego County under American rule. He died in 1852, but his family lived here until 1887, when the home steadily fell to near ruin.
Restored in 1910, the U-shaped Spanish Colonial style adobe has 13 rooms connected only by an external covered walkway, surrounding a courtyard garden. The casa is topped with a cupola from which the family could watch bullfights and festivals in the adjacent plaza.
The National Society of Colonial Dames of America helped furnish the casa’s rooms as they would have appeared in Estudillo’s day. On Wednesdays, members of the Old Town Historic Quilt Guild dress in period costumes for a sewing circle overlooking the courtyard.
The home as a spot on the National Register of Historic Places – and a good number of fans believe it's haunted.
Best Museums in San Diego, California: Liberty Station – Former Naval Training Center
In 1923, San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated. Over the years, it turned nearly 2 million boys into men — sailors who made San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood. While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress.
More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants – including Con Pane, Fig Tree Café, Corvette Diner and Stone Brewing World Bistro. The neighborhood also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels (Homewood Suites and Courtyard by Marriott), and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay. The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered.
One of the best ways to experience Liberty Station is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619-342-8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key.
Another great option: Attend Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5 PM on the first Friday of each month. It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in their studios.
There’s plenty of free parking throughout the area.