San Diego Old Town Historic State Park
Address: Old Town, San Diego, CA
San Diego’s historic Old Town district holds everyone captivated by it’s unique entertainment, venues, dining and so much more. We’ve had the opportunity to visit Old Town quite a few times but it’s never monotonous. There is so much to see and experience that we find ourselves feeling like we just haven’t gotten enough of this unique piece of San Diego.
San Diego Old Town Historic State Park or Old Town is entertaining for the young and for the young of heart. Whether it’s bursting open a geode or panning for gold at the Mormon Battalion or just listening to the live bands, there’s something that appeals to everyone. What’s not entertaining about sugar? In the heart of this historic state park, you will find the legendary Cousin’s Candy Shop. Our kids LOVE this old-fashioned candy shop with barrels of taffy and spectacular displays of sixteen different flavors of fudge. It’s a must during every visit! You are sure to find something to tantalize the taste buds! If you find museums fascinating, there are plenty to choose from in this unique portion of San Diego. Start with the historic Wells Fargo Bank Museum. You’ll find exhibits including one of the thirty stagecoaches shipped to Wells Fargo in 1867 and a gold watch given to them for the care of San Diego treasure on a stagecoach during that time. There are other museums in the area and most are free. Check the website or call for more information about any fees. The Mormon Battalion has a place at the end of the tour where the kids can pan for gold. Each child is allowed to take home one piece of pyrite. We have even had the opportunity to see candles being made. There are other tours available throughout San Diego’s Old Town district. Most are free but check the website for details. www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com or www.oldtownsandiego.org
Tammy and I love listening to the bands scattered throughout the courtyard of Old Town State Park and in the restaurants scattered through the district. Check the schedule for when and where live music is available.
Our Old Town experience would not be complete without stopping at every shop throughout the district. The boys love the pop guns, stuffed animals and any toys that make noise. Becca usually enjoys trying to find jewelry, rocks, clothes and more. Tammy, Katie and I enjoy strolling through the boutiques, just to experience the ambiance. The prices are reasonable and the staff is friendly- always willing to help. We have found that the more authentic items (i.e. Indian jewelry, beaded purses) are found more within the State Park boundaries. Your traditional souvenir shops can be found on the main strip adjacent to the entrance to this historic landmark.
We’ve had the opportunity to try a few of the Mexican restaurants and our favorite has been Cafe Coyote y Cantina. The food is delicious and the prices are reasonable. The ambiance is incredible and even our little ones enjoyed eating here. Some of our kids prefer more Americanized food and those menu options were available. As we’ve said before, we choose a restaurant based on the kid’s menu: it’s prices and selection of foods. There is plenty for the kids to do while waiting for the food- there are even shops that line the interior of the restaurant. Our other favorite Mexican restaurant is Miguel’s Mexican Cocina. Like Cafe Coyote, the food is outstanding at Miguel’s and the prices are comparable to each other. Our kids’ favorite thing about Miguel’s is the fire pit on the patio of the restaurant. Believe it or not, it made a lasting impression on them. They often talk about the ambiance of that quaint restaurant! If you’re staying in a nearby hotel, you’re going to want to stop by O Hungry’s for breakfast. Our kids BEG to go there everytime we’re in the area! It’s a simple restaurant with an old western feel to it. The prices are cheap and the food is good. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner but their signature meal is breakfast. The staff is friendly and “caters” to a larger group or smaller kids. They’re willing to help you out in anyway they can.
There are a few hotels within walking distance from the entrance to the historic Old Town. Our favorite is the Best Western Hacienda. It’s comfortable and clean with a feeling of antiquity to it. The prices can be a bit steep if there’s something going on in town. Because there are a lot of events in San Diego always happening, the hotels fill up fast so book far enough in advance if possible. We’ve also stayed in the Holiday Inn Express. It looks pretty ghetto from the outside and might raise a few eyebrows but again it’s comfortable and clean on the inside. They also serve a hot breakfast which does not disappoint.
Parking can be difficult at times but there are parking lots scattered throughout the premises. Be aware that some charge a fee. In order to avoid that, you may consider parking a little further away from the entrance to the park and shopping strip. Also, stop by the visitor’s center in the Old Town Historic State Park for a detailed map, schedule of entertainment, tour information and more.
Visiting San Diego Old Town Historic State Park is definitely a pleasant and educational experience for the entire family. I always leave appreciating the early settlers who helped make California what it is today.
Visit some of our other San Diego Adventures:
San Diego Maritime Museum – One of the best museums in San Diego
USS Midway – Aircraft Carrier Museum
Balboa Park – Home of 16+ museums and zoos
Mormon Battalion – Historic Site
Coronado Beach – Beach
Cabrillo Point – Historic Site & Lookout
Seaport Village – Outdoor Shopping Area