Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego is a historical gem in the middle of the city. Walking through the narrow streets and alleys of Old Town, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Its History

In 1769 Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra established the first permanent European settlement in California providing an important hub of commerce and trade for the region and playing a significant role in the development of California. As such, Old Town San Diego is the oldest settled area in the area and is the site of the first European settlement. Additionally, the area is a testament to the resilience of those who came before, including the Kumeyaay people.

What to Do

Today throughout Old Town San Diego, visitors can experience art galleries, museums, restaurants, shopping and live music. Some of the more popular places to visit include taking a tour of the Whaley House Museum – known as America’s Most Haunted House – shopping at the historical Old Town Market for traditional gifts and cultural items and touring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which maintains an impressive collection of 19th-century homes and buildings that provide a glimpse into colonial life. These include Casa de Estudillo, which is a historic house museum that was built in 1827; the Alvarado House, a historic house museum built in 1824; and the Black Hawk Livery and Blacksmith Shop, the town’s original blacksmith shop that operated during the 1860s. El Campo Santo is a small burial ground and historical landmark established in 1849, with interpretive signs.

At the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center, visitors can learn about the history of the Kumeyaay people, who were the first people to live in the San Diego area.

The Architecture and Food

The architecture blends Spanish and Mexican influences where buildings are a combination of adobe and brick with red tile roofs and wooden balconies. And the food in San Diego’s Old Town is a celebration of the area’s Mexican heritage where you can dine on some of the best Mexican cuisine in the city, from street tacos to homemade tamales.

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