Imagine a big countryside ranch right in our own backyard. Nestled behind the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, this hidden gem will get the kiddos jumping for joy. There are goats, chickens, veggies and large open spaces for playtime. Pack a picnic, take a hike, or just hang out at the Los Peñasquitos Ranch House.

running

The old ranch house built in 1823 by the recipients of the first Mexican land grant in San Diego County and is the second oldest standing residence. In 1862 the house was enlarged and is now a National Historic Archaeological District. The house is surrounded by canyons filled with trails. Free tours are available on the weekends or by appointment. The tours illustrate the life of its Spanish, Mexican, and early American inhabitants. The younger ones may not appreciate its history, but they’ll sure enjoy the sound of the wooden boards beneath their running feet.

field
Even when there are no tours available there’s plenty to do in this wide open space available anytime of year. They can create a “castle” out of a tree, chase each other through the “woods” and play hide and seek all within mama’s view. If you feel like adventuring beyond the Ranch House, put one some walking shoes and journey down one of the many hiking trails. Kids will love the waterfall that’s about three miles into one of the trails.

tree
The center of the old ranch house hosts the perfect size water fountain for toddlers to check out. Bring your extra pennies and have the kids make a few wishes and toss them in the water. Keep your eye on the adventurous ones though, they may try to step in!

water
Your kiddos will really get a kick out of the two super tall goats and the active chickens. The goats are pretty humorous and very willing to step by the little ones. If you get worn out from all the fun just throw out a blanket and have a picnic.

Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes and put on some sunscreen. Although there is shade under the trees, the grounds can get a bit warm when the sun in shining. You may also want to pack some water and snacks since there aren’t any food shops on the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

goats

Los Peñasquitos Ranch House
12020 Black Mountain Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92129
(858) 484-7504

Website: co.san-diego.ca.us/parks/openspace/penasquitos.html

What hidden spots of history have you found in San Diego? Tell us in the comments.

– Brianne Grajkowski

Images by BriGeeski