After moving to San Diego just over two years ago, I have discovered that one of my favorite weekend activities is taking a ride along Mission Bay from Pacific Beach to Old Town. The small town is considered to be the “birthplace” of California. Many of the standing structures date back to the mid-1800s. As a result, there is a great amount of history publicly accessible and for minimal to no cost. Visiting this historic settlement is a great way to learn about how the early American settlers lived during this era.
Having the ability to walk around on cobblestones, dirt, and sand shows that the integrity of the settlement has mostly stayed intact. The free-standing buildings are minimally updated and show the smaller scale of architectural design during this period. There are a few structures composed of several buildings all sharing a wall or two that create an enclosed, safe space of open air. One of these designs provides room for a pavilion where dancers of traditional Mexican culture continuously entertain audiences. The center of the town has a traditional town square that houses several trees, pavilion space, and a flag pole. This open area is the place to see and be seen even to this day.
Some of the businesses have stayed in Old Town spanning back all the generations to the beginning settlers. These include a cigar shop, where the wood interior and odor remind shoppers of the dedication they have to the art of smoking. They display pipes of all shapes and sizes, some of which hold significant historical value. Black Hawk Livery & Blacksmith has been in business since the 1860s.
The Whaley House is a fantastic building that was dedicated as a museum in 1960. It holds a legend of ghosts that haunt its beautiful halls and patrons. The museum is part of a group of buildings that all hold cultural and historical value to the town. The Seeley Stables holds a fantastic collection of native arts, memorabilia, and stagecoaches. The arts include perfect examples of woven crafts, carved leather pieces, and pottery. The memorabilia is arranged as full-size displays of life during the early 1800s. You will see examples of furniture, housewares, fabrics, and much more. The real showstoppers are the vintage stagecoaches that are displayed with all the original trims and finishes.
I love the preservation that has been made to keep Old Town intact. Going there, I discover something new every time. There’s no better place to drink a margarita and sit in the sunshine than in authentic Old Town, San Diego. I always suggest this place as a must-see for any guest visiting from out of town.