Learn about the beginnings of California in what is considered its birthplace-Old Town San Diego. This state park offers educational exhibits and activities in a collection of historic buildings including the first public school in the state, a blacksmith, houses, and a print shop. Enjoy dining at a variety of local restaurants, bars, and cafes. Explore the charming boutiques and take home a unique San Diego souvenir.
Visitor Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., October through April; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May through September.
Shops and restaurants are open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., although hours vary.
Print Guild First Saturdays
Fiber Arts & Quilt Guild
Like admission to the park, car parking is free. It can, however, be difficult to find. There are several free lots around the area. The farthest, about 3 or 4 blocks away, is at the Caltrans lot on Sunset at Taylor Street, which has free parking on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays. You can also try street parking or take public transit.
Many visitors to Old Town San Diego choose to walk the grounds on their own, reading the signs and chatting with volunteers in period costume. You can pick up a guidebook at the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center. This is also where you can take part in a guided tour of the grounds, which are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
What kinds of shopping and dining options are there?
Discover all sorts of fantastic local shops and restaurants in and around Old Town. Try some authentic Mexican at Miguel's Cocina, Old Town Mexican Café, and Café Cayote. For delicious food with great entertainment, grab a margarita at Casa Guadalajara. Top it off with a sinful brownie and cinnamon coffee at Viva el Café. For charming souvenirs and crafts, you'll find art galleries and boutiques like Fiesta Cocina with its beautiful kitchenware. Children will beg to take home a toy from Geppetto's, and adults will love the unique handcrafted jewelry at Silver Lily.
What are the popular attractions and landmarks?
Step back into the past, and experience the dawn of California, with its blend of worlds-the Native Americans, the Spanish, the frontier, and the Mexican influences. Volunteers dress in the period clothes of the 19th century and interact with visitors, answering questions about the lifestyle of the time. Be sure to visit La Casa de Estudillo, a mansion that still stands with its garden courtyard. Other popular park museums include McCoy House, La Casa de Machado y Silvas, the Manson Street School, and the San Diego Union Printing Office. Don't forget to take a tour of the Whaley House, home to Thomas Whaley and his family throughout the late 1800s. This cited haunted house is said to have witnessed more history than any other building in the city!