Old Town San Diego's Hidden Gems: the 10 Best Things to Do

Discover the Top 10 Must-Visit Attractions in Old Town San Diego - from the haunted Whaley House to the vibrant Presidio Park. Explore the rich history, cultural celebrations, and unique shopping experiences in one of California's most cherished historical landmarks. Perfect for history buffs, food lovers, and adventure seekers"

3/2/20242 min read

Old Town San Diego: A Historical Adventure

Nestled in California, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is a living history museum that captivates visitors with its preservation of early California life. It's a place where history, culture, and entertainment converge, making it a must-visit destination. This article guides you through the top 10 attractions in Old Town San Diego, offering insights into its rich history and vibrant present.

The Birthplace of California

Considered the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego was the first permanent European settlement, established in 1769. This park, a mere five-minute drive from downtown San Diego, sprawls across 230 acres. It's a hub for exploring California’s transition from Mexican to American control, showcasing historic architecture, museums, and cultural festivities.

Top 10 Attractions in Old Town San Diego

Presidio Park & Junípero Serra Museum: Perched above Old Town, this 40-acre park offers stunning views and historical insights into the Spanish settlements. The museum is a treasure trove of California's history.

Old Town Plaza: At the heart of Old Town, this plaza is surrounded by historic buildings and is a testament to San Diego's vibrant past.

Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant: This historic landmark, once a Stagecoach hotel, now serves as an upscale dining and lodging experience.

Seeley Stable Museum: Home to a collection of 19th-century vehicles, this museum captures the essence of the era’s transportation.

Whaley House: Known as America's most haunted house, it offers a unique peek into the paranormal side of Old Town's history.

El Campo Santo Cemetery: A historic cemetery that reveals tales of the past and alleged paranormal activities.

Old Town Trolley Tour: An immersive tour showcasing the best of San Diego, with the flexibility of exploring at your own pace.

Annual Celebrations: Experience the vibrancy of Old Town through events like Día de los Muertos and Cinco de Mayo.

Shopping Galore: From vibrant markets like Bazaar del Mundo to unique stores like Toby's Candle Shop, there's something for everyone.

Heritage Park Victorian Village: A collection of Victorian homes that offer a glimpse into the opulent past of San Diego's elite.

Culinary Highlights

Old Town isn’t just about history; it’s a culinary paradise. From the handmade tortillas at Old Town Mexican Cafe to the authentic Sicilian recipes at Trattoria Don Pietro, every palate is catered to.

Hidden Gems

Land of the First People Park: This recently opened park honors the Kumeyaay nation, the area's original inhabitants.

McCoy House Museum: Offering a comprehensive historical timeline, this museum is a must-visit for history buffs.


Old Town San Diego is not just a trip into the past; it’s an experience that blends history, culture, and fun. Whether you’re seeking a gastronomic adventure, a glimpse into the past, or unique shopping experiences, Old Town has something for everyone.