Old Town San Diego is known as a fun and historic area for visitors and locals to get a taste of the past.
You can literally hang out here all day and never get bored. From restaurants and theaters to wine tasting and shopping, the activities in this San Diego neighborhood are limitless! Since most people don’t have all day to dedicate to just one area of San Diego, we've made it easier for you to explore Old Town with our list of the five best things to do in Old Town.
1) Eat Mexican Food
About 85% of all of the restaurants in the Old Town area are Mexican, so you won’t have a problem finding plenty of authentic dishes. If you’re into sampling different foods and learning about the history, hop onto the Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Tour. You will cover a lot of ground in 2.5 hours on this walking, historic, and food tasting tour.
When I come here with a limited amount of time, I grab a freshly made tortilla from Café Coyote or a fresh churro from the Panaderia. If you’re up for ordering some Mexican favorites at any of the restaurants, you may want to try: Chicken and Mole, Chile Relleno, Carnitas Tacos, Carne Asada Fries (uniquely San Diego), and bunuelos for dessert.
2) Explore Historic State Park and Free Museums
Old Town represents an era when San Diego was officially Mexico, as well as when Americans were introduced after the Mexican American war.
The State Park has many replicas of the original buildings of 1820-1870, and the businesses housed in the buildings are also from a simpler time. There are quite a few free museums that showcase what life in the “Old West” was like, such as the Casa de Estudillo, the Stagecoach Museum, and the old Mason Street Schoolhouse.
3) Admire Heritage Park
Architecture is extremely intriguing to me, especially Victorian-era architecture. Heritage Park showcases a collection of some of the most beautiful Victorian buildings built in San Diego. All of the buildings have been plucked from their original location and situated on the east side of Old Town. You can walk through the park and admire the intricate facades. When you get to the end, be sure to stop in for teatime at the Coral Tree Tea House.
4) Visit the Whaley House
You may feel compelled to say, “I ain't afraid of no ghosts!” while at The Whaley House. It is known as one of America’s most haunted houses, and since it was built on the grounds where the original gallows once stood, it's no wonder why.
The house is open to the public, and the staff will give you a briefing of the history of the home including the spirits that still haunt to this day. You will walk through the house, and if you’re lucky, you might run into one of the late Whaley’s. Bring your camera with flash, and you might capture something spooky on film!
5) Stop by Fiesta de Reyes
A lot happens at Fiesta de Reyes. Picture this: you’re wine tasting, then watching a live Mexican folk dance, and you’re doing it all with the glow of a fire pit before you. Welcome to Fiesta de Reyes, where history lives and the fiesta (or vacation) lasts forever.
This little corner of Old Town boasts many unique shops, Mexican food, local art, local wine tasting, and entertainment. I love walking through this area and visiting my favorite store: Urban Seed. You can buy plants, seeds, and other random gifts here.
Check Out the Endless Things to Do in Old Town
Old Town, San Diego is truly a fun place to visit. I encourage you to spend several hours here. Even though I only suggested five top things to do in Old Town, there are many other activities to do daily and throughout the year.