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Neighborhood Spotlight: Old Town San Diego

Written by Kelly Weimert on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at 12:30pm.

Image credit: sodiegotours.com

The first European settlement in California, Old Town San Diego dates back to 1769 when a Catholic priest, Father Junipero Serra, founded a Spanish mission there. By the 1860s, though, the majority of settlers moved to what’s now known as Gaslamp Quarter, leaving Old Town behind to be closer to the water and all of the goods and services water access brings.

These days, taking a trip to Old Town is to journey back in time. The charming neighborhood is rife with historic architecture, shops that sell Mexican-inspired artisan goods, and a bevy of free museums celebrating the region’s history. Not to mention a haunted house or two. If you’re looking to make the most of your visit to Old Town, check out our favorite things to do in the area.

Shop

Shopping in Old Town San Diego
Image credit: 10best.com

If you’re venturing to Old Town, be sure to come with a little extra space in your bag for the goods that you’ll surely be compelled to buy. Old Town is filled to the brim with shopping opportunities. If you have some little ones with you (or you simply want to satisfy your sweet tooth with some nostalgia) head to Cousin’s Candy Shop where you’ll find barrels of old-timey candy like salt water taffy, Whirly Pops, and all of the jelly beans you could possibly want.

Once you’ve gotten your candy fix, check out the Bazaar del Mundo, which is an open-air shopping square complete with a central restaurant. Here, you’ll find all kinds of shops that pay homage to the region’s Latin American roots with folk art, crafts, jewelry, and fair trade merch in high supply. You should also be sure to check out Old Town Market. Adjacent to Old Town State Historic Park, the market features more than 40 stores that include specialty items like Mexican ceramics, vibrant artwork, and hand-blown glass goods.

See

Whaley House Old Town San Diego
Image credit: whaleyhouse.org

One of the greatest aspects of this neighborhood is that you don’t need to have an agenda in mind to see historic architecture; historic architecture is always all around you. For instance, the Whaley House, which is more than 160 years old, was once a general store, courthouse, residence, and theater nestled in the heart of Old Town. These days, it’s one of two certified haunted houses in California, likely due to the fact that it was built atop a former graveyard and its backyard used to be the site of public hangings.

For less haunted history, head to the Casa de Estudillo, which is a vintage adobe home designed to showcase how people lived in this region more than 150 years ago. You can tour the rooms, which are meticulously restored with vintage furnishings, and if you come at the right time, you’ll be greeted by people in period attire performing the common household tasks that took place during the neighborhood’s inception.

Eat

Cosmopolitan Old Town San Diego
Image credit: fiestadereyes.com

While the shopping is stellar and the sights are compelling, Old Town really shines with its food offerings. For an oversized margarita and endless chips and salsa, head to the Casa de Reyes, located at the aforementioned Bazaar del Mundo. The open-air gem features a backdrop of beautiful fountains and vibrant hues, and serves up reliably tasty Americanized Mexican food. It’s the perfect casual dining destination for an afternoon of shopping.

If you’re in the market for a more upscale and authentic experience, then be sure to check out the Cosmopolitan. Located inside of a painstakingly restored 1870s hotel, the multi-million dollar restoration project complete with 19th-century decor is now home to some of Old Town’s most delicious grub. Enjoy authentic Mexican dishes like Overstuffed Chili Relleno and Seafood Enchiladas, then head next door to the Cygnet Theater to take in a show.

Homes for Sale in Old Town San Diego

Interested in living near this historic gem of a neighborhood? Then check out the homes we have for sale in the area.

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San Diego, CA

$1,499,000

  • 4
  • 3
  • 2,340
  • 68

Newly Updated Mission Hills Home With Pool, Granny Flat & Panoramic Views Of Downtown Sd, The Bay & Point Loma! Beautiful Upgraded Chef's Kitchen W/ Large Butcher Block Island, Herringbone Backsplash, & Stainless Steel Appliances. Enjoy The Evenin...

Photo of Listing #200013379

San Diego, CA

$495,000

  • 2
  • 2
  • 780
  • 79

Property Owner Is Also Listing Agent. Neighborhoods: Old Town / Mission Hills Complex Features: ,,, Equipment: Dryer,garage Door Opener,pool/spa/equipment, Range/oven, Washer Other Fees: 0 Sewer: Sewer Connected Topography: ,,ll,gsl

Photo of Listing #200011527

San Diego, CA

$489,000

  • 2
  • 2
  • 832
  • 79

Went Pending Prior To Mls Input Neighborhoods: Old Town Complex Features: ,,, Equipment: Dryer, Washer Other Fees: 0 Sewer: Sewer Connected Topography: Gsl

Photo of Listing #200013703

San Diego, CA

$469,000

  • 2
  • 2
  • 780
  • 79

Imagine Enjoying Summer Sunsets And Dining Al Fresco In Your Beautiful Tree Top Condo In The Heart Of Old Town. Once Inside You Are Greeted To A Giant Open Floor Plan That Allows You To Cook And Entertain Guests. The Unit Sits High Allowing Summ...

Photo of Listing #200009781

San Diego, CA

$455,000

  • 2
  • 2
  • 780
  • 79

Fantastic 2 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom Condo Nestled In The Hills Above Old Town. Great Floor Plan With Cozy Fireplace To Enjoy In Living Room.two Covered Side By Side Parking Spaces (most Units Have Tandem). Community Pool/hot Tub & Work Out Room. Cent...

Photo of Listing #200012762

San Diego, CA

$429,000

  • 2
  • 2
  • 780
  • 79

Think You Can't Afford To Live In Metro San Diego? Well, Guess What? You Can! The Terraces At Mission Hills Are One Of The Best Kept Secrets Gems In Real Estate And Are The Best Value In The Old Town/mission Hills Neighborhoods. Tucked Away At The...

Photo of Listing #200013508

San Diego, CA

$425,000

  • 2
  • 1
  • 1,020
  • 60

This Upgraded Condo Is What You Are Looking For. Granite Countertops And Tile In This Modern Kitchen. New Appliances And Cabinets In The Kitchen And Bathroom. Newer Carpet In The Living Room And Bedrooms. Single Level With Nobody Below You. Commun...

Photo of Listing #200003912

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