Distance: 119 miles one-way.
Junípero Serra founded Alta California's first mission here in 1769. You knew that.
But what happened after that? You may need a margarita to help digest this history properly. Try one from the Casa de Reyes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's Plaza del Pasado, if you dare: 62 ounces for $18.95.
There. Now take a seat in the courtyard while the folkloric dancers get ready to spin and stomp.
Though Serra eventually moved his mission six miles up the valley, the Spanish soldiers stayed in the ocean-view presidio they'd built on the hilltop. And when Mexico gained its independence from Spain, a town began to grow at the foot of the presidio hill. By 1830, the U-shaped adobe Casa de Estudillo was one of several rough-hewn residences.
-- Christopher Reynolds