With more than 200 years of history, Los Angeles has landmarks that can captivate the eye of tourists and locals alike. Old structures and the stories of how they came about, even nature with fantastic tales, are available to be explored for free or at a very low price. Visit the following spots to learn about Los Angeles’ past and help keep its history alive.
Los Angeles Plaza Historic District
125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Los Angeles Plaza Historic District is the oldest section of Los Angeles, also known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. Starting in 1781, the plaza was the center of the city first under Spanish rule, then Mexican rule and then it became property of the United States. Several landmarks are part of this area including the Avila Adobe, built in 1818, which is currently the oldest existing residence in the city. The Old Plaza Church was founded in 1822 and is the oldest church in the city. Also in this area is the famous Olvera Street – one of the oldest streets in the city, and today a popular Mexican marketplace.
Point Vicente Lighthouse
31550 Palos Verdes Drive W
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90274
The structure of the lighthouse was built in 1926 and it was in this same year that the light was lit for the first time. Since then, its light has been guiding vessels in and out of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors. An interesting piece of history is that its light was dimmed during World War II to avoid having it aid the enemy. And urban legend claims that the lighthouse is haunted. Visit the lighthouse on the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for tours. No large bags are permitted inside, and no children under seven years old are allowed to climb the stairs.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
428 S Mission Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Commonly known as the San Gabriel Mission, this is the fourth mission founded in California (out of 21), started in 1771 by Spaniards of the Franciscan order. It was first built in Montebello, but after a flash flood from the Rio Hondo that destroyed the crops and ruined the structures, it was moved to San Gabriel. The adobe building that currently holds the museum was built in 1812 and was originally used as sleeping quarters and storage. Today, visitors can tour the museum, church, gift shop and the grounds.
Mission San Fernando Rey de España
15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd
Mission Hills, CA 91345
Commonly known as the San Fernando Mission, this was the 17th mission (out of 21) built in California. It was founded in 1797 by Catholic priest Fermin Lasuen. In 1971, a large earthquake damaged the church severely and by 1974 it was completely rebuilt. For a while, the buildings were used for secular purposes but eventually they were returned to the Catholic church. Today the mission grounds are a museum and the church is an active chapel.
10700 W Escondido Canyon Road
Agua Dulce, CA 91390
Nature can also have its history. Other than the interesting angled formations of the Vasquez Rocks that are the result of movement by the San Andreas Fault, these rocks became part of history when Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s most infamous bandits, used them as a hideout in 1874. The rocks have been the background multiple times in movies and TV shows like “Bonanza,” “Star Trek,” “Zorro” and so forth. Today, the area is a nature center that allows for picnicking, hiking, camping and more.