Old Town can actually be called “The Heart” of San Diego. It was created way back in 1769 and was California’s first settlement. It had only a mission and a fort at that time. It has developed a lot since, changed a lot since, and yet retained buildings with crucial history. To know San Diego, one must explore the historic area of the Old Town neighborhood. It has plenty of things to offer. Spread in an area that is more than 230 acres, it has a variety of things to see and numerous activities to take part in. The place has a distinct charm due to its Mexican heritage and diverse population. The area has many eclectic restaurants, colorful shops, historical sites, and much more. It has something or the other for everyone. Regardless of your interest, you would find something amusing and something to enjoy. To explore the area fully, we have compiled a list of 9 things that you can do, see and experience while in the area.
Things To Do In Old Town, San Diego
- Things To Do In Old Town, San Diego
- 1) Old Town State Historic Park
- 2) Presidio Park
- 3) Robinson Rose House
- 4) Something for the Foodies
- 5) Whaley House Museum
- 6) La Casa De Estudillo Museum
- 7) Fiesta De Reyes
- 8) Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant
- 9) Shopping Extravaganza
1) Old Town State Historic Park
There aren’t many old structures anywhere you go. Whatever little you have is standing alone in a crowd of new buildings. This historical park is different. It has several buildings from the early days between 1820 to 1870 when the city of San Diego was just in its nascent phase. This is one of those rare spots where you can find old structures in a cluster. This actually makes you feel you have been transported back in time. All the historic buildings are not only beautiful but they are functioning as well. They are either stores, restaurants, or museums. The whole park is spread over an area of 29 acres.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – San Diego, CA pic.twitter.com/6NmHKnGeDo— Kenny Uong (@_KennyUong_) August 7, 2021
This is an excellent spot to take your children with you too as they will get to learn a lot about the history of the state. This is a vibrant and lively area where you can find Mexican decor and other artifacts for sale by numerous vendors. If you feel hungry and want to grab a bite then visiting the Old Town Mexican Cafe is highly recommended. The whole area of Old Town State historic park is a perfect mix of history and culture. There are plenty of shopping opportunities too. From unique decor to refine clothes, you have a variety of things to check out. It stays open from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. It is situated at 4002 Wallace St, San Diego, California.
2) Presidio Park
If you are someone who likes learning about history and visiting sites that have history attached to them then this is a good one. This is the site where San Diego Presidio and the San Diego Mission, the first European settlements were founded in 1769. This place has a significant history behind it. Apart from this, it is an absolutely beautiful park. Lush green grass and old white structure contrast really well to give a calm, scenic and serene atmosphere. One of the highlights is the old cross structure made from exposed bricks. The park is spread over an area of 34 acres.
Beautiful day for a hike through San Diego’s Presidio Park. pic.twitter.com/2wMUVWPMYb— Gregory A. Daddis (@GregoryDaddis) March 6, 2021
There are a variety of things to see such as amazing Monuments, informative museums, numerous flag poles, the Arbor area, etc. One great thing about this place is that it is one of the less crowded parks. You can actually get away from the crowd and feel calm. You can picnic with your friends and family too and enjoy a lazy day with them. You can take your dog too as this is a pet-friendly area. There are multiple spots from where you can have a scenic skyline view of the city. The sunset is also picture-worthy. Overall, it is an excellent place for those who want to visit a less crowded park with some behind it. It stays open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. It is located at 2811 Jackson St, San Diego, California.
3) Robinson Rose House
This is an interesting place with something offbeat and unique to offer. It is a replica of the original house that was built in 1853. The replica was built in 1989. The build itself is pretty minimalist and yet beautiful with rustic character. The old style of the building is an example of Victorian architecture. . It has a miniature model of the early holes of San Diego. It looks well made and certainly something to be not missed. The staff is polite and helpful. There are many dioramas and displays for you to learn about history. There is a store that houses multiple things from beautifully made cutlery to other souvenirs that you can buy.
The house used to be the original site of a commercial center. It used to be a railroad office, law office, and newspaper press at one point in time. The house is worth a visit to see the early settlement as well as learn about the history behind the settlement of the state. This also happens to be the visitor center for the Old Town State Historic Park so you can visit this while going to the Old Town park. It stays open throughout the week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 4089 Mason St, San Diego, California.
4) Something for the Foodies
Whether you are a foodie or not, one thing we can all agree on is we all like to eat delicious food. There are plenty of spots in Old Town to check out and have a bite to eat. The Mexican connection to the place is evident in the food and restaurants also. You can get some amazing Mexican food here. Two of the most recommended places by all who visit are Casa De Reyes. Well if you want something Instagram-worthy then you will be able to order a Margarita that comes in a glass bigger than your face. Now that is something you don’t see every day.
Combinations de Reyes from Casa de reyes !— PassPort San Diego (@passport_sd) June 13, 2022
Take your pick from their delicious Crispy Masina Tacos, Enchiladas, Soft Corn Tacos or Tamales.
Served with rice and beans, you just can’t go wrong!#sandiego #restaurant #mexicanfood pic.twitter.com/UkK6bJCYFO
Another place to check out is Cafe Coyote. You will find the best chips in the area at this place. Come to this place for some amazingly delicious food and drinks. They offer 190 tequila. They have indoor and outdoor seating. To match the vibe of the place, you also get mariachi music. These two are a must-visit in the area if you want to enjoy some good Mexican food. Both of these remain all days of the week. You can check for timings on their respective sites but generally, they remain open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at least.
5) Whaley House Museum
Let’s head to the most iconic building in San Diego. Many say this has witnessed more history than any other building in the city. This building is a California historical landmark. The building is an example of a Greek Revival-style structure. It is nothing less than beautiful and magnificent. The exterior, as well as the interior, are both maintained well. The interior especially transports you back to the days it was built. The furniture, the decor, and everything are exquisite. The house was a general store, San Diego’s second county courthouse, and the first commercial theatre in San Diego at one point in time.
Discover the historic legacy of San Diego’s legendary Whaley House Museum!https://t.co/LzIHv9PWL9— Whaley House San Diego (@WhaleyHouseSD) January 19, 2022
Another intriguing feature about this building is not for the faint of heart as it is believed to be the most haunted house in San Diego. For those who enjoy this kind of thing then you can take an evening tour of the house offered by Ghosts and Gravestones of San Diego. This will be a guided tour of approx 30 minutes. The tour is interactive and will tell you the whole history and weird happenings of the house. The museum rays open throughout the week from 10:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m. with a 30 minutes break from 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 2476 San Diego Ave, San Diego, California.
6) La Casa De Estudillo Museum
The old town is filled with history and heritage. This one is no different. It is situated in the Old Town State Historic Park. It is a Spanish Colonial-style building. It is a historic abode which is also known as the Estudillo house. This is an excellent example of Spanish architecture. The house shows furniture and tools from the nineteenth century. It is an open-air museum thus you can walk around this historic building freely and get close to the furniture as well as other things inside. This is situated at the heart of the old town near all the shops so if you get tired of shopping and want some quiet time then you can visit this in between.
The building will take you back in time. The bedrooms, kitchen and other places will make you realize how it used to be back in the day. This is an excellent place to visit if you love architecture, old buildings, and open-air museums. It stays open throughout the week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 4000 Mason St, San Diego, California.
7) Fiesta De Reyes
This is one of the must-visit places in Old Town. It is situated overlooking a historic park. This Mexican restaurant is not only beautiful but serves some of the most amazing and delicious foods too. It is an open-air, outdoor seating restaurant where you can dine in a lovely garden. This is more than a restaurant; it strives to provide an all-around authentic Mexican experience in everything. From their exterior facade to the overall decoration, the ambiance of the place is just amazing. The outside patio is nothing less than great too.
The food is authentic Mexican and delicious. There are plenty of gluten-free options available too. The portion size is also decent for the price. Their popularity can be gauged from the fact that even though the place is pretty big, it gets filled quickly. They also have live Mexican music to add to the overall feel and ambiance. The service is fast and the staff is polite and friendly. You will love the place and the food. This place stays open throughout the week from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. It is located at 2754 Calhoun St, San Diego, California.
8) Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant
Are you looking to stay overnight in the old town? Whether you are planning to stay or just visit the old town, you can consider this place. This is a registered historic landmark in the old town state historic park. It was built in 1827. The hotel is sophisticated, elegant, and classy. From its vintage furniture to the wallpapers, it gives a rustic vibe and an unmatched charm. To add to the whole theme of historic landmarks, the rooms don’t have a TV. It makes the whole experience authentic and unique in itself.
Visit the #OldTown Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant and kick off your #Saturday night with #KungPao #Calamari and #margaritas! 🍹— PassPort San Diego (@passport_sd) March 1, 2020
Passport to San Diego: (https://t.co/iexeRiYQ8E) pic.twitter.com/dmOQFa07Rg
Even if you are not staying overnight and are just in the area for the day then you can consider visiting their restaurant. The food menu has a variety of different culinary styles such as Mexican as well as American. Private dining rooms are also available. The food is delicious and the presentation is equally impressive. The service is fast and the staff is polite. The restaurant starts serving from 11:00 a.m. while on Saturday and Sunday, it starts serving its brunch menu from 10:00 a.m. It is located at 2660 Calhoun St, San Diego, California.
9) Shopping Extravaganza
There are multiple locations in the old town that offer plenty of opportunities for people who like to shop. From artisan wares to colorful Mexican handicrafts you will find numerous things that will catch your eyes. There are plenty of stores throughout the park and the village where you can get Indian jewelry, art, clothing, souvenirs, etc. Whether you like shopping or not you will love browsing through the stores and looking at the unique things these vendors have to offer. Old Town Market will give you a feel of an upscale flea market where you can find unique home decor, clothing, traditional accessories, etc.
Bazaar Del Mundo is another spot where you should go and check out. It literally translates to “market of the world”. It is a series of open-air shops where you can find some amazing copperware, handcrafted Mexican tiles, ethnic clothes, etc. This is a perfect place for those who like to shop and look for unique things to buy. If you are traveling from somewhere else then it is a great location to take back some souvenirs from. It stays open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. It is located at 4133 Taylor St, San Diego, California.
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Note: The hours of operation, ticket prices, and admission criteria of museums, parks, etc. may change from time to time. For the most updated information, we recommend checking the official website of the attraction directly prior to your planned visit.
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