Old Town San Diego sign

Things to do in San Diego: Guide to Visiting Old Town San Diego

See this latest San Diego Travel Blog article, ‘Things to do in San Diego: Guide to Visiting Old Town San Diego’ and learn all there is to do, see & experience in this historical area of San Diego.

Written by
Karen Fields

Our latest San Diego Travel Blog article; 'Things to do in San Diego: Guide to Visiting Old Town San Diego' – introduces you this amazing, historical area of San Diego, and considered the ‘birthplace of California!’ You will be amazed at the restored shops, buildings, restaurants and more. Enjoy this guide and be sure to make some time to explore this beautiful neighborhood. 

Old Town San Diego
Location: 4002 Wallace St., San Diego, CA 92110 
Website

Old Town San Diego is an incredibly important part of the history of the city of San Diego and is considered the ‘birthplace of California’ as it was established in 1769.  Old Town San Diego is California’s first known settlement starting with only a military fort and a mission. 

Old Town San Diego is located just 5 miles, or 10-minute car ride north of Downtown San Diego and is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in the state of California. Old Town San Diego is where Father Junipero Serra came to establish the first mission in 1769, which would be followed by 20 other missions that served as the cornerstone of California’s colonization. 
 
Why you should consider a Visit to Old Town San Diego:

Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a small hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego. At the base of the hill, a small Mexican village of adobe buildings was constructed, and it attained the status of ‘El Pueblo de San Diego’, in 1835. Today, Old Town San Diego gives San Diego visitors and residents a glimpse of what life was like in the early days of San Diego, with San Diego museums, restaurants, shops, boutiques, and gathering places available to present a near-authentic view of those times.

Old Town San Diego is considered the ‘birthplace of California!’ You will be amazed at the restored shops, buildings, restaurants and more. Enjoy this guide and be sure to make some time to explore this beautiful neighborhood. 

Tips for Visiting Old Town San Diego:

  • You can take the San Diego Trolley from downtown San Diego to Old Town San Diego and arrive in minutes to a must-see, historic San Diego neighborhood.
  • Within Old Town San Diego, you’ll find unique merchandise and a quaint atmosphere. Bazaar del Mundo, Fiesta de Reyes, the Old Town Market and many boutique shops offer a variety of uncommon gifts.
  • Enjoy a tour of Old Town San Diego. There are several tours offered for Old Town San Diego including a historical Old Town San Diego Tour, Haunted Tour and others. Old Town San Diego is a fun, exciting and historical place to explore and learn about this amazing part of California’s history.
  • Discover San Diego’s history by visiting the many historic sites in Old Town San Diego and learning about San Diego’s past culture compared to modern downtown San Diego living.
  • Old Town San Diego has a number of interesting historical sites to explore including the Alvarado House and see how residents lived in 1824. The current building is a reconstructed version of the original home.  The Alvarado House was home to the sister of the last Governor of California that was appointed by Mexico.
  • Margarita’s! Enough said! One of the more enjoyable ‘adult things to do’ in Old Town San Diego is to enjoy an authentic, and tasty Margarita, frozen or classic version – they are both great! Stop by one of the most popular restaurants, Casa Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant and enjoy a hand-crafted Margarita and some great Mexican food.  
  • The most Haunted House in America? The Whaley House was recognized by Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted show as the number one most haunted house in the United States. It's worth a visit - you'll get to walk through the house, check out photos and hear stories about the family that lived here and the paranormal occurrences that have been recorded.
  • Food. Yep, it’s that simple! There are a number of great restaurants in Old Town San Diego, and as you would expect they specialize mostly in fantastic Mexican food! Choose from Café Coyote, Casa De Reyes, El Agave and more.
Authentic Mexican Dish
Enjoy tasty authentic Mexican food at restaurants like Café Coyote, Casa De Reyes, El Agave and more.

Interesting Facts About Old Town San Diego:

  • In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation established Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to preserve the rich heritage that characterized San Diego during the 1821 to 1872 period. 
  • Walk among history. Visitors can explore several original buildings that were built at the beginning of the time when Old Town San Diego was established. There are 5 famous buildings that are original buildings in San Diego Old Town that have significance to the history of San Diego. 
  • Between the years of 1821 and 1872 San Diego was going through a transition to an American Settlement from a Mexican Pueblo. 
  • Historic buildings in Old Town San Diego include La Casa de Estudillo, La Casa de Bandini, La Casa de Altamirno Pedrorena and the Mason Street School, San Diego’s first 1 room schoolhouse. 

Featured Restaurants at Old Town San Diego:

  • Old Town Tequila Factory & Cantina
  • Barra Barra Saloon
  • Berta’s
  • Jack & Giulios
  • Fred’s Mexican Café
  • Casa Guadalajara
  • La Pinata
  • Miguel’s Cocina
  • Café Coyote
  • D’o Thai Cottage
  • El Agave
  • Casa De Reyes
  • Old Town Mexican Café
  • Harney Sushi

Featured shops at Old Town San Diego:

  • Leo Hamel, Co Jewelers
  • Maidhof Bros Shipware Merchants
  • Darlene’s Gift Shop
  • Casa Soleada
  • Farmer’s Market Artisan
  • West Sea Company
  • Eclipse Eyewear
  • Five & Dime General Store
  • Tamera Cosmetics
  • Khausak

Our latest San Diego Travel Blog article; 'Things to do in San Diego: Guide to Visiting Old Town San Diego' introduces just a few of the great activities, restaurants, shops and more that you can enjoy in Old Town San Diego during your next visit San Diego.

Visit our San Diego Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting San Diego.

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