Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Old Town San Diego, CA

  • Published 2022/09/22

Old Town San Diego is a town in California recognized as its birthplace.

The 21 visions of Father Junipero Serra are where California’s colonizations were spearheaded.

The town has become one of the most attractive destinations in California for its moderate weather, beachfront atmosphere, and stunning attractions and adventures.

Without further ado, here are the 20 best things to do in Old Town San Diego:

Revisit History at Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Front View of Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Mikhail Pogosov /

You will discover the story of the Mormon Battalion group during the Mexican-American war in 1846.

A canon in Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Artazum /

The place showcases the artifacts of the historical items from the past and an informative video about why the war happened and how it ended.

A wagon at Mormon Battalion Historic Site

SunflowerMomma /

Indeed, history is something that we cannot change, but getting the essence of history can help you understand the meaningful events in the present!

Statue at Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Sherry V Smith /

Dine at Cafe Coyote

Front View of Cafe Coyote

Idealphotographer /

If you love chips and salsa, Cafe Coyote is the best place for you!

Its atmosphere is tranquil, and the place is the perfect destination if you want to chill out in an open-air dining room!

Cafe Coyote has been serving for 30 years and has been consistently recognized as the Best Mexican Restaurant for 18 years.

There is no doubt that the food is impressively great, the staff is polite and welcoming, and the atmosphere is calm and festive at the same time.

People at Cafe Coyote

TonelsonProductions /

You can enjoy almost every meal in Cafe Coyote, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Besides their tasty chips and salsa, they also offer unlimited flavourful drinks that can be enjoyed as a group or individual!

Pay a visit to the best Mexican Restaurant in the town!

The prices are reasonable, and you will never regret their delicious meals.

Building mural of Cafe Coyote

The Image Party /

Have Some Sweets at La Dulceria Mexican Candy

If your sweet tooth is looking for something to eat, the La Dulceria Mexican Candy is the perfect place for you!

You can get lots of authentic Mexican candies with a wide variety of choices.

If you have children, take them with you to this place and let them have a taste of one of the most delicious candies in California!

Other than candies, the La Dulceria Mexican Candy is also a great place to search for a souvenir in Old Town Sandiego.

You can see lots of items that were made with the spirit of Old Town San Diego, such as shirts, hats, pots, vases, and other things.

Your vacation in Old Town San Diego would be one of the best vacations you could ever have; why not get a memorable souvenir?

Learn More About the Town at La Casa de Estudillo

Garden at La Casa de Estudillo

Eleni Mavrandoni /

The La Casa De Estudillo Museum was built during the Mexican era of California in the year 1827.

As the remarkable contribution of the Estudillo, today, the building has become a historical museum that welcomes every people in the town who wishes to discover more about Old Town San Diego of California.

If you are interested in the formation of the city, this place will be the great one for you.

Bell tower of La Casa de Estudillo

Bill Perry /

You get lots of information inside, including the demonstrations of historical figures and texts that accurately describe the city’s history.

You will be accompanied by an expert tour guide who knows everything, and you are also free to ask questions if you have.

Make sure to book an appointment, and don’t miss the chance to visit the La Casa de Estudillo.

Pottery in La Casa de Estudillo

Eleni Mavrandoni /

Visit the Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center

Exterior of Sheriff's Museum and Educational Center

HenriqueWestin /

If you have your children with you while having a vacation in the Old Town San Diego, California, Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center is a place that you should not miss!

It is the perfect museum for the kids as it provides knowledge in the level of school-aged.

The museum exhibits that engage visitors reinforce the relevance of law enforcement’s work.

It is located at 2384 San Diego Ave, San Diego; the museum’s opening hours will vary depending on the circumstances, so make sure to schedule an appointment with your kids!

Cop cars at Sheriff's Museum and Educational Center

Idealphotographer /

Visit the Past at Old Town State Historic Park

A Sign in Old Town State Historic Park

Ken Wolter /

The Historical State Park of Old Town San Diego was founded in the year 1769.

If you want to have a tranquil walk, the Park is the perfect place for you to relax and appreciate the astounding view around.

The Park is open for everyone, and you can freely bring your family and friends to spend the day together.

Fiesta de Reyes at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Ken Wolter /

There is a vast space for picnic areas and food stalls area available everywhere.

Other than that, as this Park is historical, you can discover more about the city by checking out the monuments and various exhibitions.

Shops in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

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You must not also miss the chance to visit the Park every Saturday as a celebration will be held for historical demonstrations.

The Old Town State Historical Park is indeed worthy of interest because you do not only spend time and have fun with your family, but you can also discover and learn more about the city!

Buildings at Old Town State Historic Park

meunierd /

Make a Candle at Toby’s Candle Soap Shop

Exterior of Toby's Candle Soap Shop

Roman Eugeniusz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever thought of the feeling of making a candle on your own?

You can try making one at Toby’s Candle Soap Shop.

By just walking nearby the Toby’s Candle Soap Shop, you can already smell the

sweet-scented candles being made inside.

If you are still thinking of an ideal gift for your loved ones on Christmas or their birthdays, this place can be the answer!

Undoubtedly, it is also a great feeling if you know that something was handmade by someone you love.

It is your chance to make a unique candle for them, either a Kaleidoscope candle kit, shower, steamers, or bubble bath salts.

Don’t miss the chance to make someone feel special by making candles for them at Toby’s Candle Soap Shop!

Visit the Old Town Mexican Cafe San Diego

Front View of Old Town Mexican Cafe

TonelsonProductions /

This is one of the most visited places to eat at the Old Town San Diego, California, recognized as the people’s favorite.

Located at 2489 San Diego Ave, you can have their delicious homemade tortillas that are freshly prepared!

You can satisfy your taste buds by going to this eating place, making it more enjoyable with your friends and family.

One of the best-selling dishes, to mention a few, are Carnitas, Molcajete, Pozole, Carne Asada Dinner, Guacamole, and Rotisserie Chicken!

Building sign of Old Town Mexican Cafe

TonelsonProductions /

From the name of the restaurant itself, you can have the spirit of Mexico in San Diego!

You can have appetizers, dinner plates, drinks, and al la carte.

What’s best, all of them are reasonably priced, and the atmosphere inside is perfect for spending quality time with your loved ones.

Old Town Mexican Cafe indeed deserves to be called “the best in the world” for tortillas.

Drink Margarita in Casa de Reyes

View of Casa de Reyes

Roman Eugeniusz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love a margarita, have you ever imagined drinking a much bigger one than your real face?

In just 3 minutes’ drive away from the Old Town Mexican Cafe San Diego, you can drink the iconic and most prominent margarita in the town at Casa de Reyes.

You can enjoy a 58-ounce margarita, and it is one of the reasons why the Restaurant became popular among the people in the town.

Other than their iconic margarita, you can also enjoy the atmosphere in the Restaurant.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the Fiesta de Reyes will have live musical entertainment performances.

One of the town’s favorite bands will perform, and beautiful dancers will accompany it.

Their food menu is also limitless in satisfying your taste buds.

One of their best selling foods are Molcajeta del Rey, Salmon a la Diabla, Tamales Oaxaquenos, and Agave Chipotle Chicken.

The Restaurant has always been consistent in providing long-term satisfaction to the people, whether you are a visitor or a resident.

Satisfy your taste buds, and enjoy the meal at Casa de Reyes!

Dine at Casa de Freds, Tacos y Tequila

If you are looking for a dog-friendly place where you can enjoy dinner with your lovely dog, then head over to Casa de Freds, Tacos y Tequila!

It is widespread and recognized by the people as the most dog-friendly restaurant in the town as you can bring your best friend around.

The Restaurant has made its character to serve the people and the dogs, as they made separate food menus for the latter.

You can enjoy the chips, carnitas, guac, and shrimp at a reasonable price!

Some of their best-selling dishes are Queso Dip, Rolled Tacos, Spicy Black Bean Dip, Nachos, Quesadilla Grande, Cinco Chicken Chingaderas, Carne; Asada Fries, and much more!

Besides the excellent foods, you can also enjoy their drinks, such as the iconic Big Ass Margarita, Fred’s Famous House Marg, Blue Hawaiian Marg, Jorge’s Pineapple-Rita, Hibiscus Frida-Rita, and among others.

The place is indeed worthy of a visit as you can enjoy it all together with your family and friends, together with your dog!

Have a Thrilling Adventure at Whaley House Museum

Exterior of Whaley House Museum

Sherry V Smith /

If you are fond of trying exciting things for the first time, why not visit the Whaley House?

It is situated at 2476 San Diego Ave, and the place is widely known for having paranormal activities.

History plaque of Whaley House Museum

S and S Imaging /

You can satisfy your breathtaking adventure by visiting the most haunted house in the whole United States.

Whaley House Museum's Interior

Artazum /

One of the spooky stories in Whaley House Museum is that there are footsteps audible every time the people and securities pass by, and they believed that it was the ghost of James Robinson.

If you want to discover more and are brave enough to take on the challenge, visit the Whaley House Museum!

A room in Whaley House Museum

Artazum /

Spend the Night at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

Exterior of Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

Kit Leong /

The iconic Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant is a perfect place if you want to spend the night and have a delicious meal.

The place has a long history as the structure has been a mix of several things – Restaurant, hotel, olive cannery, post office before it became a restaurant and hotel today.

As the hotel is historical, you can also see a vintage atmosphere inside, which most people love!

The retro designs can be traced back to the year 1860s, but the beauty was preserved up until this day.

Steps at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

Lowe Llaguno /

If you want to have a fabulous lunch together with your family and friends, why not dine in this iconic place?

If you are traveling with your significant other, this place is perfect for spending the night together.

Your vacation in Old Town, San Diego, California, cannot be deemed completed if you will not visit the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.

Wooden bar and stools in Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant

Conchi Martinez /

Stop by the Seeley Stable Museum

Exterior View of Seeley Stable Museum

Kit Leong /

Seeley Stable Museum is just one of the free museums in the town that will never fail to provide you with meaningful information about the city’s history and civilization.

You can discover more, and see lots of exhibitions from the year 1800s.

It is one of the best places to visit and make sure not to forget your cameras with you.

With the comprehensive attractions inside, you won’t want to miss taking pictures together!

Inside View of Seeley Stable Museum

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get Some Lovely Pots at El Centro Artesano

Colorful pots at El Centro Artesano

Kit Leong /

If you are looking for decorations for your home or a gift for your friend, this place is one of the great choices.

You can grow your plants more enjoyable with a cute and creative design of different pots.

Painted pots at El Centro Artesano

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You may have them at the most reasonable price, yet, high quality!

The El Centro Artesano’s pots are one of a kind, and you must not miss the opportunity to have one!

Dia De Los Muertos pottery at El Centro Artesano

Bill Chizek /

Shop at Bazaar Del Mundo

Exterior of Bazaar Del Mundo

Autumn Sky Photography /

Bazar Del Mundo is a unique shop situated at 4133 Taylor St, San Diego, California!

You will find extraordinary wares, art clothing, souvenirs, handicrafts, and various jewelry inside.

This is an ideal place if you are searching for a memorable thing to be kept from Old Town San Diego or looking for a gift for someone you love.

The atmosphere of the shop is intrinsically entertaining, and all items are reasonably priced!

Travel with Style at Old Town Trolley

View of a full Old Town Trolley

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Old Town Trolley Tours features various alternatives to help you make the most of your trip in San Diego and still experience the greatest things first, whether you’re simply passing through or taking advantage of a prolonged trip.

Since 1989, San Diego’s Old Town Trolley has pleased millions of tourists.

There is an endless free reboarding the whole day, and the charming and award-winning conductors provide exciting narration.

Front view of an Old Town Trolley

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It is American-owned and managed, offering an intuitive interactive map that will aid you in maximizing the experience of your trolley tour.

San Diego’s sense of excitement is something you won’t want to miss!

You’ll have all the data you need throughout your vacation in your pocket since it functions well on mobile devices.

People inside an Old Town Trolley

4kclips /

Drop by Robinson Rose House

Exterior of Robinson Rose House

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Judge James Robinson, a prominent attorney who rose through the ranks to become a judge in San Diego and had a beneficial impact on the town’s growth, constructed this two-story home in 1853.

It stood as the Robinson family’s residence, the San Diego Herald’s corporate office, the San Diego and Gila Railroad headquarters, and several other workspaces.

In 1987, the site underwent excavation.

Plants on the grounds of Robinson Rose House

BD Images /

Precise reproduction of the original structure as it was constructed all those years ago was made using ancient records, historical maps, pictures, and other sources because nothing of the original residence could be unearthed.

This house is now the Old Town State Historical Park’s visitor center, and within is a gorgeous Joseph Toigo replica of Old Town as it appeared in 1872.

Entrance door of Robinson Rose House

Walter Cicchetti /

Savor Different Wines at Rose’s Tasting Room

Exterior of Rose's Tasting Room

Roman Eugeniusz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose’s Tasting Room was the concept of Clark & Julie.

Rose’s serves locally made beer and wine because owner Julie, a native of San Diegan, wants to promote the town.

It is a cozy, vibrant hangout specializing in local San Diego alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic choices.

They purchase premium wine and craft beer from other family-run businesses.

Check out their most recent collections, filled with products you might like.

In addition to many types of wine, including white wine, red wine, rose wine, and dry wine, you may also get beers, accessories, mixers, coasters, linens, clothing, and other things.

Shop Healthy Items at Temecula Olive Oil Company

Exterior of Temecula Olive Oil Company

Walter Cicchetti /

The business seems well at home in Old Town’s dynamic atmosphere and culture.

The company genuinely delights in introducing numerous residents and tourists to their beloved Temecula Olive Oil Company products.

Olives and olive oil were first produced in California’s ancient olive gardens, and Temecula Olive Oil Company is happy to contribute to the tradition’s long-term preservation.

The historic and bustling Fiesta de Reyes neighborhood in the center of Old Town San Diego, California, is home to the olive oil tasting room and retail business.

Visit their shop to get olive oils, bottles of vinegar, olives, sea salts, spreads, olive oil soaps, lip balms, live olive trees, and more.

You may learn why this practice is so great by shopping for and tasting freshly pressed olive oil and seasonal vinegar bottles.

Talk a Walk at Presidio Park

The grounds of Presidio Park

Sherry V Smith /

You may trace the footprints of ancient European settlers in California at Presidio Park.

The site where Gaspar de Portola and Junipero Serra built the San Diego Presidio and the Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769 is a well-known tourist spot.

The park has 40 acres of green spaces, picnic sites, and memorials and is located on a hill above Old Town San Diego. From here, visitors may enjoy stunning vistas of the nearby region, such as the San Diego River Valley and the Pacific Ocean.

Pathway to the museum at Presidio Park

Eleni Mavrandoni /

The public is welcome to play, picnic, have modest ceremonies, and engage in other recreational activities on the premises of Presidio Park.

Presidio Park was added as a National Historic Landmark in 1960, even though no original structures remain.

Trees at Presidio Park

Eleni Mavrandoni /

Final Thoughts

The Old Town San Diego of California is one of the most exciting places to visit.

From the Mexican food restaurants to the historical parks and museums, there is no doubt that the town values the feature of the city’s sense of nationalism and history.

With all the vast attractions in the place, make sure to take note of the 15 Best Things To Do In San Diego, California.

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