Old Town San Diego is an attraction for many San Diego residents as well as tourists. Within Old Town there are three Park Agencies: State, City and County, all of which have historic sites operated as museums.
Located at the northern end of Old Town, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is the most visited park in the state system and all of its museums are free to the public. The state park spans the decades from Californio rule to the Mexican Period and finally to the American Period. Experience the days of the dons at the 1825 Casa de Estudillo, one of the finest adobe haciendas in the state; view a rare original stagecoach at the Wells Fargo Museum; see a scale model of nineteenth century Old Town at the reconstructed Robinson-Rose House, one-time Lodge of the Freemasons and home of San Diego’s first newspaper The San Diego Herald; the Black Hawk Livery & Blacksmith; the San Diego Union newspaper building; and the first public schoolhouse in San Diego, the Mason Street School.
There are many more historic museums at the center of Old Town: the Whaley House Museum Complex is a county-owned park consisting of five historic buildings, the most famous of which is the Whaley House, believed by many to be the most haunted house in America in addition to housing the former county courthouse and San Diego’s first commercial theater; the Old Adobe Chapel, San Diego’s former parochial church and setting for the famous wedding of “Ramona,” is now a city-owned museum; the Church of the Immaculate Conception was formally dedicated in 1919; El Campo Santo Cemetery is the final resting place of nearly 500 nineteenth century residents including the Indian leader Antonio Garra and the notorious boat thief Yankee Jim Robinson; and you won’t want to miss the Sheriff’s Museum. All of these museums can be found along San Diego Avenue, Old Town’s main thoroughfare. Just up the hill from San Diego Avenue are the Serra Museum and Presidio Site, the Mormon Battalion Visitors Center, and Heritage Park, a 7.8 acre county park where seven Victorian homes have been relocated to save them from demolition and now house shops and bed and breakfasts.
Tour Historic Old Town
There are several types of tours to choose from. With a town as rich in culture as Old Town you could easily take more then one of these tours and gain multiple perspectives.
- Boosters of Old Town - This non-profit organization leads tours through Old Town State Park only. Dedicated volunteers in period costume guide you on a walking tour of prominent Old Town landmarks that old and young alike will enjoy. For reservations (619) 469-3174.
- Heritage Tours of San Diego -The Tales & Trails of Historic Old Town San Diego, costumed guides tour the whole of Old Town from El Campo Santo Cemetery to the State Park. This is a great tour for families. For reservations 619-491-0110.
- Old Town Trolley Tours - Various tours will take you by trolley bus throughout San Diego. Perfect for the visitor who wants to take a load off their feet and enjoy the sites of San Diego by trolley. Conductors combine colorful anecdotes, humorous stories and historical information into a fast moving two-hour narrative that is both entertaining and educational. For reservations 619-298-8687
- Old Town State Park Tours - Park aides lead these informative and friendly tours. No reservations necessary; just show up at the Old Town visitor’s center at the Robinson Rose building on the plaza. Tours are free. This is a service provided by the State of California. For reservations 619-220-5422
Courtesy of oldtownsandiegoguide.com
The park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego, and is conveniently adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service.