Explore Old Town in 1 Day
Old Town is one of San Diego’s most popular attractions. As the name suggests, Old Town is where visitors will find San Diego’s oldest buildings and experience its rich cultural beginnings. There are 29 historic buildings to see in and around Old Town, most dating from 1820-1870. Visitors who go to Old Town are strongly encouraged to take advantage of a free tour of the area and prioritize which buildings they want to see.
To help visitors plan for their day in Old Town, here is a suggested itinerary:
First, take either an Old Town State Parks Tour or an Old Town Trolley Tour. The Old Town State Parks Tour is free. While there is a nominal fee for the Trolley Tour, the trolley can pick-up and drop-off visitors from their affordable hotel near Old Town. Both options will give visitors an excellent overview of the park including restaurants, museums and other sites to see.
After, get an up close look at some of the historic buildings and museums that caught your eye during the tour. Some of the most popular sites include La Casa de Estudillo, La Casa de Machado y Stewart, the Mason Street School, The San Diego Union Printing office, Black Hawk Smithy & Stable and the Racine and Laramie Store. Depending on your interests, you may also want to check out the Seeley Stables Museum and the Sheriff’s Museum.
For lunch, enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine at one of the many Mexican restaurants in the area. In the middle of Old Town is The Cosmopolitan Restaurant, a renovated 1800s hotel which has a restaurant on the bottom floor and hotel rooms on the second. If you would prefer a picnic lunch, head up to Presidio Park and take in the sweeping views of Old Town and downtown San Diego.
After lunch visit some of the adjacent historical attractions. The most notable “off-site” attractions include the beautiful grounds of the Historical Park Victorian Village, the historic Mormon Battalion Monument and the haunted Whaley House.
Wrap up the day by looking around the shops. The shops at Old Town have inventory which include knick-knacks, souvenirs, Spanish-inspired house wares, jewelry, pottery, toys and cookbooks. Some shops also sell homemade candy and ice cream so stop for a sweet treat before heading out.