Ultimate Guide to Old Town San Diego

Image of Festival Marketplace in Old Town San Diego

A living history museum, Old Town San Diego commemorates the early days of the city, from the 1820s through the 1870s. At this historic state park, guests are treated to original adobe haciendas, a variety of museums, restaurants and various events. One of San Diego’s most visited destinations, the park is home to many historic buildings, including San Diego’s first schoolhouse and newspaper office, a working blacksmith shop, a reconstructed cigar store, gardens and a stable complete with a carriage collection. Also onsite is the Whaley House, considered by many to be the most haunted house in America.

image of balboa park at night

Things to Do Nearby

Balboa Park

Just a few miles away from Old Town San Diego, Balboa Park offers hours of entertainment and enlightening experiences. There are more than 15 museums on site in this urban, cultural park that spans 1,200 acres. There are also restaurants, performing arts venues, magnificent gardens and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

USS Midway Museum

An unforgettable experience awaits visitors at this aircraft carrier museum just a few miles from Old Town San Diego. Here, you’ll walk on deck and explore a floating city that showcases the life that military sailors lived. Sixty exhibits, restored aircraft, a flight simulator and more bring the history of this iconic carrier to life.

Little Italy

As San Diego’s only ethnic neighborhood, Little Italy offers an abundance of authentic Italian experiences including dining, shopping and viewing art in the town’s various galleries. Festivals and events are often happening throughout the year and each week visitors and locals are drawn in for the well-known Farmers’ Market.

Image of Star of India San Diego Sail

Star of India

The world’s oldest active sailing ship, the Star of India, resides in the San Diego bay at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. A visit to the museum allows you to tour this historic ship as well as a collection of other ships and exhibits. Public and group tours are also offered. You can even partake in a water adventure.

Mission Beach

For some fun in the sun and playtime in the surf, head over to Mission Beach just a few short miles from Old Town. In true Southern California style, the beach offers sandy shores, an abundance of restaurants from casual to fine dining and historic Belmont Park. This beachfront amusement park is a crowd pleaser among children and adults alike.

Fun Facts About San Diego

  • Ronald Reagan was the first person to drive over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, which opened in 1969.
  • San Diego produces more avocados than any other city in the United States.
  • There are 70 miles of beaches in San Diego.
  • The number one employer in the city is the United States Navy.
  • It doesn’t pay to leave up your Holiday lights past February 2; in fact, you can be fined up to $250 if you do.
  • San Diego is considered the third best city for dating in the US.
  • Hotel Coronado is the largest wooden structure in the United States.
  • The city is considered to have the best climate in the US.
  • There are 1.4 million people living in San Diego, making it the seventh largest city in the United States.