Friday, November 8, 2013

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego is one of San Diego's historic areas. Often considered the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego is the site of the very first permanent Spanish settlement in California. With buildings dating back to the 1800s and an abundance of Spanish cuisine and architecture Old Town San Diego is a spot often overlooked when compared to the gorgeous beaches and luxurious streets of downtown.

Although this past trip marked my first visit to Old Town, I can proudly say that I will be going back again during future visits.

Old Town San Diego is easily accessible by both car and public transportation. Located by the intersections of the 5 and 8 highways and as its own stop on the green line trolley (Downtown to/from Santee) it sits secluded in the middle of a heavy transit area.

Old Town San Diego

For more information on the public transportation in San Diego, please see my post on the San Diego MTS.

When you first get to Old Town San Diego (if coming from the trolley across the street) you come across the welcome sign and map where you can pick out places to go or just get an idea of what all there is. 

When you walk into the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (after passing the welcome sign pictured above) you are greeted by a huge expanse of grass surrounded by little shops and historic houses. While I was there, it was the week leading up to Dia de los Muertos so there were tons of events and decorations to celebrate making the experience even more unique. 

As you pass the lawn, you enter into an area filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. There are taco vendors in the gaps between shops with signs advertising $2 street tacos in homemade tortillas (that are literally made right in front of you). 
Huge sugar skull in honor of Dia de los Muertos
Authentic dancing on the stage that takes up the center of the shopping/eating area.

All of the shops offer handmade goods from various Latin and South American countries. My personal favorite was the gallery located directly behind the stage pictured above. The gallery was filled with paintings, postcards, prints, posters, etc. of San Diego and the surrounding areas all beautifully done. I bought 5 postcards (I always send postcards to friends and family from my trips) and it was so hard to give them away since they were so beautiful!

Although I did not eat in Old Town San Diego (I wish that I had, had time to), I have had many people tell me, including my friend that works there, that Cafe Coyote is the best! So although I have yet to go I am still going to recommend it. Cafe Coyote is a Mexican restaurant located in Old Town and features a traditional menu with good prices.

If you are looking for something other than Mexican cuisine (although that it what everyone will recommend you eat in Old Town) you will also find Thai, Italian, Modern takes on traditional food from the 1800s, and ice cream in Old Town. For more information on restaurants check out the link below.

Old Town Trolley Tours
Situated on the outskirts of the central area of Old Town are the more historic houses, hotels, churches, and buildings. It is here that you can grab a guided trolley tour around San Diego. This tour can include all of San Diego or if you are looking for something shorter just the historic sites in Old Town. The guided tour offers you an in depth look at some of the best locations San Diego has to offer as well as their histories and interesting facts. The one-day basic tour for adults is $36 but if you purchase online you will only pay $32.40. The San Diego Trolley tours offer various types of tours including a graveyard tour and a land/sea tour so I suggest looking at their website and picking the one that works best for you.

xo Jessica

PS. A lot of these newer posts will be done by me as this was a solo trip. Unfortunately Luiz will not have any vacation time until January of 2013 (crazy right?!) so any of the bigger/international trips will be all me for awhile!

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