No one should really ever be surprised that San Diego is a top U.S. travel destination. It’s sunny nearly every day of the year, the beaches are lovely, eating tacos for every meal is completely acceptable and the city is German for, well, you know. It’s kind of a big deal.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of California, with Spanish explorers staking claim to the area as early as the mid sixteenth century and the first Mission and Presidio founded in 1769. Naturally, the Old Town of today isn’t quite the same but the state park has been restored to the way it would have looked in the mid-nineteenth century and the wonder and enchantment of a new world still lingers. Any time of the day spent in Old Town is well worth it, as there are a number ways to experience the area.
Start your time in Old Town with a rich and creamy spiced Mexican mocha from someplace like the historic San Diego House and stroll around the restored buildings and courtyard of the state park, including a Well’s Fargo museum, candle shops, tin and copper handcrafts, and an assortment of authentic Mexican jewelry stores. Head out of the park and walk through the winding shops and aisles that make up Old Town Market and the Bazaar del Mundo for all of your traditional Mexican souvenirs, pottery, and knick-knacks, including various religiously significant pieces and Day of the Dead mementos.
If you’re ready for a real haunt, take a tour of the historic Whaley House Museum, said to be one of the most haunted houses in America. You’ll be hungry after all of that so head to one of the best restaurants in the city for some authentic Mexican fare and homemade tortillas. My personal favorites include the Cafe Coyote and Casa Guadalajara. At night, listen for live music and feel the energy of the neighborhood all around you and after a few cool cervezas you might forget that you’re not actually in Mexico.