To find the San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park in Escondido (15808 San Pasqual Valley Road), you have to really want to get there. From the central city area in San Diego, it's at least a half-hour drive up Interstate 15, through several roads that seemingly lead to nowhere—or the Safari Park—and into more rural territory than most city folk are used to seeing on a day-to-day basis. It might as well be Central Valley farmland you're entering. It's just a couple miles east of the freeway, but hidden in the high rock hills and green agricultural fields is a history lesson that, until recently, I had no idea San Diego offered.
The Battle of San Pasqual happened not too far from where Westfield North County Fair shopping center now sits. On December 6, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, General Kearny and his forces fought here against Major Andrés Pico and his battalion of Californios. Eighteen U.S. soldiers died in the battle, and while both sides claimed victory, the toll of the battle makes it a pyrrhic one.
The battle is commemorated by a museum that's open year-round, which tells the story with an exhibition of artifacts from the era, including clothing, cannons and written articles. It's also a state park, and features a nature trail displaying indigenous flora and fauna, as well as a clear view of the battlefield, which you can't actually walk on. If you want a more first-hand experience, "living history days" are the first Sunday of the month. Bring the kids, go for a hike or just discover something about San Diego you didn't know about before.