Old Town San Diego | Known as The Birthplace of California, Old Town is a 230-acre historic neighborhood in San Diego that is the site of the first permanent European settlement in present-day California.
The area includes 9 hotels, 32 restaurants, 12 art galleries, 27 historic buildings/sites and more than 100 specialty shops. Known mostly for its Mexican cuisine and authentic, lively atmosphere San Diego’s history comes alive in Old Town.
HOURS & DIRECTIONS
2415 San Diego Avenue
San Diego CA 92110
Visitor’s Center | 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
WHAT WE DID
Old Town Market Place | Located in the center of Old Town, this open-air courtyard sells a variety of traditional Mexican clothing, accessories, and souvenirs.
OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO STATE HISTORIC PARK
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park | A collection of 19th-century historic adobe homes and businesses that give visitors a glimpse into colonial life in San Diego from the 1820’s – 1870’s. The park was established in 1846 when the American flag was first raised and now occupies 9 square blocks.
San Diego Union Museum | The state’s first newspaper office and print shop from the 19th century.
Casa ds Estudillo | This National Historic Landmark was constructed in the 1820’s and has 13 rooms that represent items from the 16th to 2centuries.
Cousin’s Candy Shop | Known for their fresh salt water taffy, Cousin’s Candy Shop also offers creamy fudge, jelly belly’s, huckleberry jams, chocolate, and old fashion candies.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel | This 1870 restored building still works as a hotel and restaurant and offers free tours and living history demonstrations.
Johnson House | An old house built in 1896 by steamboat operator George Alonzo Johnson that now displays artifacts and archaeological tools.
Old Town Jerky & Root Beer | This spot has a huge selection of over 100 unique varieties jerky including elk, alligator, turkey, beef, and bacon and over 50 different brands of Root Beer.
The best part, their floats are always buy one get one free! (you actually purchase one root beer bottle and its enough to make 2 floats)
The Robinson-Rose House | Built in 1853 this two-story building was used as a family residence and as private offices for the San Diego Herald and the San Diego Railroad Office. Today the house is now the Old State Historic Park’s Visitor Center, open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Toby’s Candle & Soap Shop | Toby’s specializes in handmade soaps and candles and visitors can even “dip their own candles” on the weekends.
Fiesta De Reyes | Tucked away in the northwest corner of the town square you’ll find a lush garden setting surrounded by restaurants, shops, and the Fiesta De Reyes stage that offers a dancefloor and daily musical entertainment.
Other points of interest include California’s first schoolhouse, the state’s first courthouse, a blacksmith shop, a tobacco shop, and a stable.
We only had a little over an hour to explore before our lunch reservation at Lucha Libre but it was enough to get a small taste of California’s rich history. You could easily spend days if not weeks experiencing everything Old Town has to offer.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Bazaar del Mundo | A colorful marketplace that showcases food and specialty items from Latin America including an array of eclectic folk art, jewelry, accessories, pottery and home decor.
Cygnet Theatre | A small, award-winning theater that produces shows and musicals year round.
El Campo Santo Cemetary | Dating back to 1850, this small burial ground and historical landmark is San Diego’s second oldest cemetery.
Hacienda Hotel | A Spanish style hotel complete with patios, balconies, and courtyards that are reminiscent of early Californian missions.
Heritage County Park | Home to 7 Victorian style homes from the 1880s and 1890s which have been moved there from elsewhere in the city.
Junipero Serra Museum | A Spanish Revival-style structure built that honors the Father of the Missions and showcases the artifacts from the early settlement.
Old Town Trolley Ghost & Gravestones Tour | Take a tour through the haunted and paranormal sites of Old Town San Diego including the Whaley House and the El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Presidio Park | A historic park where Father Junipero Serra founded the first California Spanish Mission in 1769.
San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site | Experience the long march from Iowa to San Diego with the Mormon Battalion and learn what they accomplished with artifacts, hands-on exhibits, and art video tours.
San Diego Sheriff’s Museum & Educational Center | This 6,800 sq ft exhibit space covers the entire history of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and includes police equipment, uniforms, patrol car, helicopter, motorcycle, a jail cell and a courtroom.
Whaley House | This 1857 Greek Revival style house was originally built on a graveyard and was designated as an official haunted house in the 1960s by the United States Commerce Department.
TIPS FOR VISITING OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO
Click here for Old Town’s event calendar
If you plan to explore wear comfortable shoes as you will do a lot of walking
Old Town is located only 30 minutes away from the border of Mexico
Created in 1769 this was California’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort
San Diego’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is held in Old Town every year
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HAVE YOU VISITED OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO? IF SO, WHAT DID YOU ENJOY?