Old Town San Diego Historic Park memorializes the early days of San Diego. The park, established in 1968, includes several historic buildings from the 1820s to 1870s. It is unique in that it preserves and recreates Old Town’s heritage as it was during Mexican and early American periods. Within the Park are several eateries, museums, landmarks, and gift shops. Daily walking tours, reenactments, and demonstrations are provided by volunteers and park employees. Several annual events take place in the park such as Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and A Taste of the Past. There are also annual demonstrations commemorating special days in Old Town history such as the Battle of San Pasqual, a look into the U.S./Mexico war. Old Town Historic Park is widely popular and has been among the most visited state parks in California.
What to Do at Old Town Historic Park
Walking tours, guided or self-guided, through Old Town Historic Park are one of the main attractions in the park. There are five historic adobes, boutique shops, restaurants, and museums. The park also has several historic buildings, which include a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse, San Diego’s first newspaper office, a cigar and pipe store, and a stable with a carriage collection. Historic houses and gardens also dot the park. Visitors who take guided tours will learn about the interesting history of these sites. Many local artisans have stores in the park where they demonstrate their crafts.
There are roughly 10 museums for visitors to peruse within the park. Casa de Estudillo is an 1827 adobe house and National Historic Landmark. Casa de Machado y Silvas, also an 1827 adobe house, and Casa de Machado y Stewart, another restored 19th century adobe, are among the park’s historical icons. The Black Hawk Smithy and Stable Museum provides demonstrations where guests can see how a blacksmith works. The Seeley Stables, a reconstructed mid-19th century stable and barn, features the era’s living history with horse-drawn buggies, carriages, wagons, and western memorabilia. Park activities are free of charge, and guides are committed to giving visitors an in depth look into Old Town’s rich history.
Old Town Historic Park Essentials
The Old Town Transit Center provides the area with bus, trolley, coaster, and occasional Amtrak services. There are free parking lots for the transit center and state park. The Old Town Historic State Park’s Visitors Center and museums are open from October to April 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Hours are extended to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. From May to September, Old Town Park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park public restrooms are open from 10 a.m. to dusk; some park concessions may have bathrooms for patrons that are open later.
Old Town is a no-smoking park. Alcohol is allowed in authorized concessions, or at permit-use special events. No motorized vehicles or self-propelled devices are permitted, including skateboards, bicycles, and unicycles. This does not apply to ADA accessible self-propelled or motorized wheelchairs. There is no fires, littering, or solicitation. There are several picnic areas throughout the park, a few hiking trails, and opportunities for overnight lodging within the park.
Near Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
There are several attractions adjacent to the Old Town Historic Park, the Heritage County Park is among them. This park houses seven buildings from the 1880’s and 1890’s, all of which have been moved here from other places in the city. Presidio Park, the original site of Presidio of San Diego, and the Mormon Battalion and Visitor Center are also nearby. The Whaley House Museum; the Nations most haunted site, and the San Diego Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center are also adjacent to the park. The Sheriff’s Museum showcases uniforms, police equipment, a helicopter, patrol cars, a jail cell, and even a courtroom. There are several eateries located within Old Town, many of which are dedicated to authentic Mexican cuisine, the Old Town Mexican Café is a great place to experience it.