Presidio Park has three parking lots, one of which is located just off of Taylor Street. If you pull into that parking lot, you will find yourself right by the Junípero Serra Museum. The museum is perched on a hill where Father Junípero Serra, a Franciscan missionary from Spain, constructed a mission in 1769. This event is considered by many to be the beginning of California. The site quickly became a military outpost, however, as a stockade with canons was completed in 1770. By 1774 Father Serra had moved the mission to the San Diego Mission Church approximately 6 miles north. In 1928 William Templeton Johnson launched the construction of the museum at Presidio, and it houses the San Diego History Center’s collection of historical artifacts, and schoolchildren are often taken there on tours.
Palm Canyon is slightly southeast of the museum, and it contains several picnic tables. If you head northeast you will reach Inspiration Point, which overlooks Mission Valley. The Padre Cross, which is west of Palm Canyon, is another important historical landmark. It is a large cross that dates back to 1913, and it was built from bits and pieces of Father Serra’s crumbling fort. Continue westward until you reach a statue of a Native American man. It was sculpted by Arthur Putnam and donated to the park by the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation.
As you wander down to the southern tip of the park you will find yourself passing the Mormon Monuments. A mural, statue, and plaque tell the story of the Mormons Battalion, a group of Mormons that crossed the United States in an effort to join in the war that was raging between Mexico and America in 1846. Although the group did not arrive until after the fighting had ceased, they are immortalized here. Head eastward from here to visit the Arbor, a popular place for picnics and weddings.
There are a handful of hiking trails on the east side of the park. Not all of them are in great shape, but neither are they particularly strenuous. A slow meander through these paths is the perfect way to end an educational afternoon at Presidio Park.