Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Coolest Museum in San Diego (where Lara gets to wield a deadly weapon)

While I came to California mainly with the intent to relax and spend time with my mom and sisters, I  also definitely hoped that we could also go do some sight-seeing while I was here as well.  Lucky for me, my sister, Heather, is a trip-planner who enjoys mapping out routes and finding new places to see.  Double lucky for me, my other sister, Kristina, is a local which means that she knows the ins and the outs of what is actually worth seeing.   

I was a young child the last time I was in Southern California, so my list of places I wanted  to see was pretty basic--including such places as the San Diego Zoo, the beach, the temple, Hollywood, and the La Brea tar pits. 

Thankfully my in-the-know sister decided that if we were going to spend the day in San Diego, that there was one place that we didn't want to miss....

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site in Old Town San Diego. 

While most church visitors' center have helpful missionaries standing by to answer questions about their interactive exhibits, the one there at the Mormon Battalion site left other museums and visitors' centers in the dust with its pure awesomeness.   Regardless of your religious affiliation, I highly recommend it as a fun and interesting place to take your family if you're ever in San Diego. 

So, why is it so cool? 

Let me tell you:

1.  It is totally free.

2.  It's in a very charming and beautiful part of town (Old Town San Diego) and has plenty of free parking.

3.  You walk in and you are greeted by missionaries dressed in period costume, who invite you to join them on a 30-minute tour to learn more about the Mormon Battalion* (see the end of the post to read more info about the Mormon Battalion).  

4.  This is NOT your average museum!  It starts off pretty normally  as the missionaries begin to introduce the story, but after only a minute or so, they are interrupted mid-sentence by the seemingly normal looking pictures on the wall beginning to talk and move.  (you should have seen our jaws drop at this unexpected change from the norm)   From there, the missionaries start talking to the pictures and it is decided between them that the "characters" in the pictures can tell the story much better themselves.    The audience is then invited to follow them into the next room where they can continue their stories. 

We arrive into a room decked out pretty authentically to resemble  where a company of 19th century Mormons has camped on their trek west.  Movies are projected onto the sides of the tents and the story is begun in a personal and moving way. 

5.  There is no chance of falling asleep during this tour!  The presentations are interesting, interactive...

 and take place in several different authentically decorated rooms. 

6.  The fun doesn't end when the tour is over! 

7.  They take pictures of your group with an old-fashioned background. 

8.  You can climb into  a covered wagon and see how little space they actually had to carry their belongings.

9.  The architecture of the building is gorgeous and done in authentic California mission style!

10.  You can pan for gold!

And if that hasn't convinced you to visit yet...

11.  Then just think of how cool you can look when your sisters so kindly volunteer you  to get outfitted in authentic battalion clothing and gear! 
Just think of could be almost as fashionable as me. 

A very brief summary about the Mormon Battalion:  Under the direction of then US President James Polk, the Mormons were asked to gather 500 volunteers to march from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Mexico to help support the troops fighting the Mexican war.  They marched nearly 2000 miles to San Diego without ever seeing a moment of battle.  Their march was one of the longest military marches in US history and proved instrumental for forging the first passable wagon route through the southwest.  Additionally, after arriving in San Diego, the battalion's veterans proved to be very helpful in building up that part of California.  


A lonely father said...

You oughta be a travel writer, as you totally convinced me that I want to visit the next time we are in San Diego. What a fun and cool museum. Which is almost an oxymoron-fun and museum in the same sentence.

Not to be outdone, I also visited a church history museum yesterday during my trip to Kansas City. On the way back to the KCI airport, I stopped to see the new Kansas City temple which is beautiful and sits on a little knoll overlooking the interstate. Then I stopped by Liberty Jail and took the tour from a couple of sister missionaries. Pretty boring compared to your experience, but still powerful and moving.

Thomas Aquinas' Great-Uncle, Bill said...

Why haven't I been there?

Lara said...

Sorry "Great Uncle Bill", but I believe that the reason that you haven't been there is because you've dead for over 700+ years. If you haven't figured that small fact out yet, then it might be time to study up on the works of your great-nephew, Thomas Aquinas'.

Great-Uncle Bill said...

That would actually explain a lot. Nevertheless, I will find a way to transcend time and space so that I can make it to this museum.

I've always wanted to see a “moving” “picture” ever since I read about one in a Harry Potter book (not that I know what a “Harry Potter” is…)

annalisa said...

Now that is my kind of museum. The talking pictures, the rooms decorated authentically, panning for gold. Everything really. That is so cool!

Your costume is awesome Lara! Did anyone else get a picture with the outfit on?

Anonymous said...

Man, I wish I knew you were going there. My mission president and his wife (from my mission in Panama) are now working there. I would have told you to find them and say hi. Oh well.

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