Latino Heritage Month in California State Parks | Cal Parks
Published: September 15, 2022

Latino Heritage Month is a time for us to honor, remember, and celebrate the many contributions of Latino people throughout the history of California. As the California state park system preserves historical sites and interprets cultural resources, we encourage you to visit one of the many parks that commemorate Latino heritage in California. 

As we think about Latino heritage in California, we must also recognize the colonial history that also caused much pain and suffering throughout this region starting almost 300 years ago, which can still be felt today. This list contains historical sites, modern sites, and events that can be visited to gain a deeper understanding of the legacy of Latino people in California, as well as their many continued contributions to California today. 

Visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park 

A piece of history in the middle of San Diego, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park provides a glimpse into what life was like during the Mexican and early American period in California. Many historic buildings dot the park property including a blacksmith’s shop, general store, and several historic residences. The park also holds several events celebrating and examining its history including Fiestas Patrias (Mexican Patriotic holidays).  

Colorful photo of flags at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Los Angeles State Historic Park 

Los Angeles State Historic Park provides the surrounding community a quiet oasis in the middle of bustling downtown Los Angeles. During the pueblo era, the governor of the region exploited Native American labor to build what is now known as the Zanja Madre, an irrigation ditch that provided the area with water and allowed for development. In 2001, California State Parks acquired the land and created a park with input from the community. Today, the park serves as a community and event center and hosts cultural events year-round.  

Learn about the history of Los Angeles State Historic Park with this video from Clockshop: 


Border Field State Park 

An extremely unique state park. Border Field State Park was established at the U.S.-Mexico border at the very southwestern tip of California. The park contains Friendship Park, which was established in 1851 after the Treaty of Gudalupe Hidalgo. At this location Mexicans and Americans can meet in-person on weekends. The Friendship Park  existed before Border Field State Park, which was only named a state park in 1971. The entirety of the park is contained within the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and serves as a haven for many birds and other wildlife.  


Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park 

North of San Francisco you will find the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, which was the headquarters of the Rancho de Petaluma and the home of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, of which the nearby city of Vallejo derives its name. Rancho de Petaluma was a prosperous agricultural entity and was a hub of activity in northern California during Mexican rule. Today, you can visit and attend multiple interpretive programs, including candlemaking, woodworking, basket weaving, and more. 

Old wooden buildings at Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park

Monterey State Historic Park 

Visit what was once the capital of Alta California during Spanish and Mexican rule. Monterey State Historic Park has many historic buildings dating to the mid 1830s which document what life was like during the colonial period. Today you can take a walking tour with California State Park interpreters and learn the complex history of Alta California. Each December the park is decorated with traditional Christmas designs from the Alta California era as well as musical performances and other entertainment.  


La Purísima Mission State Historic Park 

Known as one of the most completely restored missions in the state, La Purísima Mission stands as a reminder of one of the most turbulent periods of California’s history. At one point, the mission was home to around 2,000 people and 28,000 sheep. Today, the park still exhibits livestock and is open every day for public viewing and interpretive activities. 

Candlelight pathway illuminated at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park