San Diego is the southernmost point of California, and it can easily get lost among the big cities of the state. However, San Diego has consistently been one of California’s best cities, and it’s mostly due to the weather, the surfing, and its proximity to Mexico. San Diego is also home to a lot of incredible places to see and visit, one of which is the Old Town State Historic Park. Historic parks are always nice to visit. You’ll learn a lot about an area by just visiting a historical location. If you’re planning a trip to San Diego and are wondering where to go, here are 10 reasons why you should set aside some time to visit the Old Town State Historic Park.
1. The history
There’s a geographical significance to where the Old Town actually sits today. Many residents settled in this area in the early 1800’s after Mexico won its independence. This part of Mexican and California history is still evident to what is in the park today. According to this article from Sandiegoreader.com, Old Town remains to be one of the most visited locations in all of California. After visiting this place, it’s easy to understand how the history here draws people in naturally.
California is normally regarded as an expensive state. The cities in California are normally expensive as well, and San Diego is no different. Also, historical parks usually charge some kind of admission to get in. Fortunately, the Old Town is absolutely free of charge. You can access the state park and any of the attractions inside for absolutely zero dollars. That’s completely unheard of today, but that’s only another reason why a visit here is worth making.
The state historic park happens to have five original adobes as part of the park attractions. Adobes are buildings that were made with natural earth and organic materials. Two of the adobes were built in the early 1800s. One of those houses, the Casa de Estudillo, has been regarded a National Historic Landmark. Another adobe house, the Casa de Machado de Stewart was an early 19thcentury house that’s been restored. These adobe homes are pieces of history that have undergone the test of time.
4. Colorado House
Another attraction is currently serving as the Wells Fargo History Museum. If you don’t know much about the bank, you’ll learn a lot about it and its place in history here at the Colorado House. This house was built as a hotel back in 1850 and has been reconstructed. However, you can still picture how it must’ve been like over 150 years ago before it served as a museum. The Colorado House also features a stage stop and telegraph office—both reconstructed. These were all important during the Westward movement.
5. Cosmopolitan Hotel
If you’re looking for actual accommodations in the area, you’re in luck. The Old Town has a functioning hotel: the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant. This building is a restored 1870 gem that’s also registered as a national historic landmark. The original building was built from 1827 to 1829 and had only seven rooms. The Spanish Colonial architecture can still be enjoyed today, but the building has also undergone several enhancements over the years. You’ll also have access to a restaurant during your stay there—if you’re brave enough. Rumors are that ghosts haunt the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Stay at your own risk.
6. Demonstrations and tours
The Old Town is full of little gems to see, but one of the best parts of being at this state park is the experience. The historic park offers living history demonstrations that give you the chance to really see how people lived back in the days. One of our favorite demonstrations is performed at the Black Hawk Smithy & Stables, where you can see and experience what blacksmiths did. There are also tours that are scheduled regularly and frequently. Tours will give you the most information about all the attractions here.
Apart from the restaurant at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, you’ll also find plenty of other dining options to choose from. If you want to experience a saloon-type dining from the Wild West, your best option is Barra Barra. This restaurant serves more of a Cali-Mex cuisine. So if you’re looking for something more traditional, Casa de Reyes is the restaurant to go to. This place has excellent indoor and outdoor dining options, and the menu options are just as fantastic.
If you came to Old Town to do some shopping, you’d be leaving with a handful of bags. There are quite a number of shopping options at Old Town, and many of those are specialty shops that are owned by local artists and craftsmen. A lot of the shops at Old Town feature Mexican craftsmanship. There are jewelry stores, clothing stores, handcrafted goods, local wine and drinks, souvenir shops, and more. You should never leave Old Town without visiting majority of these shops. You’ll want to have something to remember your Old Town time by.
9. Other attractions
Old Town State Historic Park is a day attraction all on its own. You could easily spend an entire day just walking around the park and visiting some of its attraction, but you certainly don’t have to. The Old Town happens to be situated close to some other wonderful attractions in the San Diego area. If you want to get the most attractions visited in one day, be sure to stop by the famous Presidio Park. You can also take some time to visit the Mormon Battalion monument along the way.
Aside from all the attractions at the Old Town State Historic Park, its landscape remains to be one of the best parts of the entire park. If you don’t see any of the attractions here, you’d still leave feeling accomplished and even better—refreshed.