On the lookout for enjoyable issues to do in Outdated City San Diego? The intensive record beneath affords loads of concepts, from immersing your self within the space’s wealthy heritage via museums and excursions to indulging your artistic facet with workshops and craft-making.
This vibrant historic district is taken into account the birthplace of California, and time spent right here could be each enjoyable and academic, with a hands-on angle. And, there’s nice buying and meals, too.
Almost each sort of vacationer visits Outdated City San Diego points of interest, from households and enterprise vacationers to historical past buffs and ghost hunters. Since many actions are free, it fits varied budgets, too. Beneath, we talk about which of the numerous issues to are value house in your itinerary.
It can save you on tickets, excursions, and lodges via my affiliations. If you happen to make purchases via the hyperlinks on this put up, I could also be compensated.
1. Begin on the Robinson-Rose Customer Heart
- 4098 Mason St, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 220-5422
As Outdated City’s customer heart and park headquarters, the Robinson Rose Home is a superb place to begin. Right here you may find out about many attention-grabbing issues to do in Outdated City San Diego, view museum displays, and be a part of strolling excursions. Decide up a number of the brochures that discuss native points of interest.
Among the many highlights at this museum are the miniature mannequin shows of what Outdated City seemed like throughout San Diego’s early days. Tour guides wearing interval clothes share tales of fascinating individuals who lived right here again then.
You’ll additionally be taught the historical past of the constructing itself, a reconstructed duplicate of a grand home constructed by James W. Robinson, a profitable lawyer within the 1850s. You would possibly even expertise a little bit of the paranormal since this constructing is reportedly haunted, like another Outdated City buildings.
2. Develop into a Junior Ranger (And Different Children’ Actions)
The California Division of Parks and Recreation has a Junior Ranger program for teenagers, making exploring state parks much more enjoyable.
You may choose up a free booklet on the Robinson-Rose Customer Heart to fill out as you discover the park. Don’t overlook to show it in for an award on the finish of your go to.
Additionally, don’t overlook to print the free scavenger hunt sheet and produce it with you. I additionally like this coloring booklet, which is a couple of pages lengthy. If you understand you’ll go to Outdated City San Diego, have the children shade it prematurely to allow them to spot acquainted indicators and buildings whereas there.
3. Take a Self-Guided Strolling Tour
If you happen to’re uncertain the place to start, take a free, self-guided strolling tour via the historic locations in Outdated City. California Parks and Recreation has outlined excursions beginning at Robinson-Rose Home, which vary from an hour to 2 and a half hours. You may have a look on-line at advisable stops or seize a tour map on the customer heart for a small charge.
This stroll via historical past passes by many historic buildings. There’s the Johnson Home, inbuilt 1870 by George Alonzo Johnson, a steamboat captain on the Colorado River. The Mason Road Faculty, inbuilt 1865, was the primary publicly constructed schoolhouse in San Diego County. Many buildings are open with free admission and even have their very own temporary, free excursions.
4. Go to the Free Museums in Outdated City San Diego State Historic Park
So many issues to do in Outdated City San Diego are freed from cost — together with lots of the distinctive museums discovered right here.
Test with the Outdated City Chamber of Commerce and Robinson-Rose Guests Heart to be taught which museums are free and what their hours are. The record is intensive; we’ve included a couple of right here.
The McCoy Home was inbuilt 1869 by Irish-born immigrant James McCoy—who turned fluent in Spanish—as a marriage present for his spouse, Winnifred. James served as county assessor, metropolis sheriff, and state senator. The museum affords an in depth glimpse into life within the space within the late 1800s.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas is one other marriage ceremony current—this one from a father to his daughter—constructed within the early 1840s. La Casa de Machado y Stewart is an adobe home that was lived in till 1966 however has since been restored to its 1830s character.
And, there are a couple of others which might be free and talked about beneath. Make sure you go to Outdated City’s free museums to find out about San Diego’s multicultural historical past.
You’ll discover over 100 retailers in Outdated City, San Diego, some in market facilities that home a number of stalls and others in historic buildings across the park.
At Outdated City Market alone, you may browse 40 distinctive indoor and outside retailers promoting items from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Vietnam, and different areas.
Purchasing at Bazaar del Mundo is a particular deal with, due to the distinctive treasures you’ll discover and the colourful setting that immerses you in Outdated Mexico’s appeal. Buy truthful commerce merchandise from all over the world, together with people artwork, jewellery, style, and residential décor.
All through Outdated City, you’ll encounter a big selection of specialty retailers that draw you in. Cousin’s Sweet Store sells old style sweets, together with saltwater taffy and home made fudge.
Discover lovingly restored antiques at The Johnson Home, Marine Antiques, and West Sea Co Nautical Antiques. At Tinsmith, you’ll discover beautiful star lamps and different tin-punched ornamental objects to deliver residence.
The Greatest Locations to Browse
The place to go Purchasing in Outdated City
We put collectively an inventory of the place to seek out enjoyable items and souvenirs when you discover this historic neighborhood.
6. Stroll By way of a Well-known Haunted Home — Whaley Home Museum
One of the crucial standard issues to do in Outdated City San Diego is to go to the Whaley Home Museum. It was the previous residence of a pioneering household, but it surely’s extensively regarded at this time as probably the most haunted homes in North America, because of the a number of deaths that occurred on the premises.
The Greek Revival-style 1850s home is the oldest brick construction in Southern California. It served as a basic retailer, courthouse, and personal residence. Upstairs, you’ll discover San Diego’s first industrial theater.
A California Historic Landmark, the Whaley Home has been featured on quite a few ghost-hunting exhibits, together with America’s Most Haunted and Ghost Adventures. Guests can take a daytime self-guided, self-paced tour, or a night guided tour.
7. Dine on Mexican Meals and Extra
As a eating vacation spot, Outdated City affords a number of the finest Mexican eating places in San Diego County and different noteworthy consuming institutions, together with nice sushi locations.
No matter you crave, you’ll discover nice eateries in Outdated City, together with an unlimited choice of specialty margaritas and each alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks—like the favored horchata.
For many individuals, eating al fresco in vibrant outside areas is without doubt one of the favourite issues to do in Outdated City San Diego. Many eating places right here provide patio eating, with lovely flowers, effervescent fountains, and firepits so as to add to the ambiance.
An instance of the various choice to be present in Outdated City contains:
- Casa de Reyes: A vibrant restaurant serving favourite Mexican dishes, together with rolled tacos, tostada salads, burritos, tamales, and rather more.
- Tahona Bar: Collect with buddies for an upscale eating expertise in an institution that celebrates mezcal. Tasting room accessible by reservation.
- Harney Sushi: This elegant sushi place affords a big selection of conventional and up to date sushi creations and cooked Japanese specialties.
- Congress Café: Open for breakfast and lunch, this cozy café with a stunning outside seating space serves Venezuelan favorites, together with arepas and cachapas.
8. Outdated City City Market
A comparatively new addition to the Outdated City scene, this market is situated simply outdoors of Outdated City San Diego State Historic Park.
You’d go there to eat although there will likely be retail retailers there quickly. And it’s worthwhile. From the drip-your-own bone marrow on tacos at Tuetano Taquería and ceviche at Mar Rustico to the delectable elote from Elote and shortly donuts from Barrio Donas, it’s a spot for foodies.
You’ll eat on a coated patio that isn’t large, so get there early. Every little thing is counter-order, so you may seize it to go for a picnic in Outdated City State Historic Park.
9. Store and Eat at Fiesta de Reyes
Fiesta is an effective way to explain this vibrant part of Outdated City, the place you may store, dine, and revel in free, dwell musical performances in a singular setting. Fiesta de Reyes is Spanish for “celebration of kings,” and you’ll have fun like royalty with out breaking the financial institution.
Right here you may take pleasure in a number of Outdated City San Diego points of interest with out having to stroll far since the whole lot is shut collectively but far sufficient aside to offer you that satisfying sense of exploring a vibrant district. Mariachi musicians and folklorico dancers entertain guests most weekends.
Dine in consolation on the luxurious backyard patio of Casa de Reyes or inside the enticing, hacienda-style environment of Barra Barra Saloon. Each locations serve genuine Mexican delicacies, from normal favorites to new creations and a big choice of margaritas.
Store at one of many distinctive shops, akin to Treasures of Mexico, Outdated City Jerky & Root Beer, and The Tile Store.
10. El Campo Santo Cemetery
El Campo Santo Cemetery dates again to 1849 and is/was the ultimate resting place of many early San Diego residents, together with members of outstanding households such because the Estudillos and Fitchs.
Through the years, the realm’s growth modified the boundaries of the cemetery. Some our bodies had been relocated and paved over whereas others stay buried as supposed. This has mentioned to have disturbed some trapped souls and set off some paranormal exercise.
A part of the cemetery was restored primarily based on previous data and guests at this time can stroll via remaining gravesites.
11. Stroll As much as Presidio Park
An idyllic spot to have a picnic and let the children play awhile, Presidio Park overlooks the Mission Valley space and past. It’s a couple of 7-minute stroll from the Robinson-Rose Customer Heart.
A number of viewpoints current beautiful views — you may see Mission Bay and the coast — whereas nature surrounds you, with a big assortment of gorgeous, mature timber unfold all through the park.
This hill is steeped in historical past. As you stroll the grounds, you’ll discover statues, memorials, and markers commemorating previous influencers and occasions from San Diego’s previous. It was the location of a fort and church that date again to 1769, and this spot served because the capital of Baja California when Mexico owned the land.
You’ll discover a number of strolling trails all through Presidio Park, some tougher than others. It’s normally not crowded right here, providing you with house for quiet contemplation.
12. Go to the Mormon Battalion Historic Website
This historic website commemorates LDS church members who served within the Mexican-American Struggle of 1846-1848 as a part of the U.S. Military’s Mormon Battalion. Whereas stationed within the space, these volunteer troopers and their households constructed water wells and a courthouse in Outdated City.
The middle affords free excursions every day, exhibiting glimpses of what life was like within the area through the mid-1800s. The tour lasts 45 minutes and contains an interactive video in regards to the battalion, plus a have a look at varied artifacts. You’ll need to allocate an hour to an hour and a half to take part in the whole lot the middle affords.
All areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible. For guests’ comfort, the location has a small parking zone within the again—just like the museum, parking is free. Make sure you try the stunning views from the window as you stroll by.
13. Watch a Efficiency at Outdated City Theatre
- 4040 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 337-1525
- Name or examine on-line for exhibits and hours
The Cygnet Theatre firm runs probably the most distinctive Outdated City San Diego points of interest the place you may take pleasure in the whole lot from Shakespeare performs to extra up to date musicals. Housed in a constructing nonetheless referred to as the Outdated City Theatre — on a website that was once a barn — the Cygnet Theatre presents dwell performances inside a one-of-a-kind theatrical setting.
An attention-grabbing historic tidbit: between 1986 and 1991, the theater served as a stage for scholar productions. Among the many alumni from this era are actor and singer Jamie Foxx and actor John Barrowman (of Physician Who fame).
At the moment you may catch theatrical productions like El Huracán, a multi-generational lyrical story in regards to the energy of forgiveness, or cabaret-style leisure.
Test the web site to see what’s enjoying and find out about particular performances, akin to these providing ASL interpretation or evenings devoted to the LGBTQIA group. Assisted listening units can be found freed from cost.
14. Admire the La Casa de Estudillo, a Historic Adobe Home
- 4000 Mason St, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 220-5422
- Open Day by day: 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.
As one of many fastidiously restored historic adobe homes in Outdated City San Diego, La Casa de Estudillo dates again to 1827 and is a stunning instance of Spanish Colonial structure. As soon as a middle of social gatherings and spiritual observations, this museum was the house of a distinguished 19th-century household.
Constructed by comandante José María Estudillo and his son, lieutenant José Antonio Estudillo, this 12-room home has an exquisite inside courtyard that invitations introspection. Now part of the California State Park system, La Casa de Estudillo is a museum value visiting for its depiction of multicultural life within the early 1800s.
A number of rooms with interval items, together with cover beds, carved tables, and upholstered chairs are open for public viewing. You’ll see a set desk subsequent to a hearth within the eating room whereas and one other room homes working instruments of the time, together with a big spinning wheel. Different highlights embrace an out of doors oven and a bell tower.
15. Make Candles at Toby’s Candle Store
- 2645 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 297-5426
- Open Day by day: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Many issues to do in Outdated City San Diego are hands-on. Making your personal candles at a historic candle store is actually one in every of these actions. At Toby’s Candle & Cleaning soap Store, you should purchase lovely candles if you happen to don’t have time to make one.
Just a little in regards to the store. It was established in 1981 by burgeoning candle-making lovers who started to show candle carving strategies all through Southern California malls and even at Knott’s Berry Farm. Toby’s Candles has been in Outdated City since 1992.
Your candle-making expertise is a chance to make your personal lovely present for your self or a good friend. The store welcomes walk-ins, however reservations are wanted for teams of ten or extra.
If you happen to’re quick on time, the candle dipping course of is your only option; it doesn’t take lengthy however may be very satisfying. When you have extra time, make your personal sand wax candle. You’ll need not less than twenty minutes for this enjoyable venture.
16. Spend a Evening on the Cosmopolitan Resort
If you want to immerse yourself in this historic district to have more time to enjoy all the Old Town San Diego attractions that are available, spend a night or two at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. This historic hotel provides a first-class experience that takes you back in time.
In your room, you’ll be surrounded by vintage antique furniture, each piece a true work of art. With just ten rooms to tend to, the hotel staff can deliver attentive, personalized service to every guest.
This bed and breakfast establishment serves homemade pastries with hot coffee and tea in the building’s old-fashioned saloon. For many guests, one of the best parts of staying here is getting away from it all — there are no phones or TVs in the rooms, although you will have access to WiFi.
Relax and enjoy your stay at the Cosmopolitan, once the home of Peruvian-born Juan Bandini, a California politician born in 1800 who helped shape San Diego and was known to throw great parties.
The Best Places to Stay
Top Old Town San Diego Hotels
Historic, budget, and friendly hotels and motels to consider for your vacation.
17. See Stagecoaches and More at Seely Stable Museum
- 2648 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
- Friday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Closed Monday – Thursday
A favorite among kids, the Seely Stable Museum houses a collection of old coaches, wagons, and buggies, each lovingly restored and cared for at this unique museum dedicated to California’s stagecoach history.
Learn how mail, goods, and passengers were transported across the country before the railroad lines were established. Stagecoach travel was a perilous way to journey between places, but the California gold rush encouraged travelers to venture west despite the dangers. At the museum, you’ll see maps showing old stage routes—the preferred travel mode before the days of train tracks and freeways.
By the way, the museum is named after Albert Lewis Seeley, who, at 17, became a stagecoach driver and established the United States Mail Stage line. He continued growing his business by expanding stagecoach routes to transport mail and passengers between San Diego and Los Angeles, San Diego, Yuma, and other itineraries.
18. Take the Old Town Trolley Tour
If you’re unsure what to do in Old Town San Diego, a good place to start might be getting there via the Old Town Trolley. This hop-on, hop-off experience runs through several parts of San Diego and includes eleven stops. You can hop off and shop, eat, or sightsee before hopping back on and continuing with your tour.
Buy a ticket once, and then spend the rest of the day conveniently hopping on and off. In addition to taking you through Old Town, the trolley-style tour bus takes you through the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Barrio Logan, Coronado, Balboa Park, Little Italy, and more. A great way to see it all at your own pace.
EXCLUSIVE LA JOLLA MOM DISCOUNT
Use promo code WINTER to apply an extra $8 off the 1-Day Tour, $15 off the 2-Day Tour, $4 off the Ghosts and Gravestones Tour, and $10 off the San Diego City Lights Tour.
19. Look Out for Living History Demonstrations
- 4002 Wallace St, San Diego, CA 92110
- (619) 220-5422
- Wednesday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (check the schedule before you go)
As part of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Old Town makes living history programs available to all ages. People wear period clothing, answering questions about the region’s history for memorable, interactive exchanges. Live demonstrations bring San Diego’s history alive for locals and visitors alike.
On a Wednesday or Saturday, see living history demonstrations of everything from furniture building to quilting. Demos vary from week to week. You might learn how people used to spin wool into thread and see old blacksmithing techniques in action.
At the Kosay Kumeyaay Market, the traditions of the region’s first peoples are preserved and demonstrated. You might see time-honored basket weaving techniques or perhaps other artisans at work.
As you browse Old Town, you may encounter various living history demonstrations, re-enactments, performances, and mini-talks. If you see someone in period clothing, feel free to ask questions about what life was like here in the past.
20. Sip San Diego’s Best at Rose’s Tasting Room
- 2754 Calhoun St San Diego, CA 92110 (inside Fiesta de Reyes)
- Note: All guests must be ages 21+
I feel like Rose’s is a bit of a hidden gem. After all, you’re in the birthplace of California and perhaps focused on the activities it’s famous for — fishbowl margaritas, Mexican food, free museums, a grassy park, Whaley House, etc.
But you may be surprised to know that there’s a little tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating that will allow you to taste some of the craft beer San Diego is famous for (did you know that we’re a craft brewery destination) in addition to some wine made in San Diego (yes, it’s good). And, they even offer a few cocktails on the menu.
It makes for a lovely stop in between sights. Old Town San Diego, we think, is best experienced on a sunny day when you’re not in a rush. And, you may find yourself enjoying sips and suds at Rose’s for longer than anticipated.
What do you think are the best things to do in Old Town San Diego?