Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego
4.5
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
This old and historic town is not just the oldest neighborhood in San Diego but also the location of the first European settlement in California. Here, you can see over 200-year-old historic buildings, pan for gold at a museum, check out an art show, shop for handicrafts at the market, get spooked at the haunted Whaley House and take a hike through Presidio Park. You can explore all this and more on a living history tour, or even a food tour to learn about the town's Spanish roots through food. You can ride the San Diego Trolley to the Old Town from downtown and neighborhoods like Little Italy. – Tripadvisor
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Top ways to experience Old Town San Diego
The area
Neighborhood: Old Town
How to get there
  • Old Town Transit Center • 3 min walk
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See what travelers are saying
  • mnguru1
    Edina, Minnesota548 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lots to do and see in this historic area- Come HUNGRY
    Amazing restaurants (Tohano) and cool shops- found some trinkets and jewelry. Fun place- with food and snack options along with shopping. You can get Churros, ice cream, candy, plus many different restaurant options.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 21, 2023
  • Sarah Power
    Sheffield, United Kingdom122 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A nice wander round
    We didn't know a lot about Old Town San Diego before we visited but we were pleasantly surprised, it had a nice atmosphere. It's mainly restaurants and shops selling tourist trinkets. We were there in the evening and quite a lot of the shops were shut but the restaurants were good and busy. We also came across some Mexican dancing that was staged which made for a nice little attraction. I wouldn't spend a huge amount of time here as there wasn't a great deal to do but a couple of hours is nice to wander round.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 17, 2023
  • Alex P
    Phoenix, Arizona8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Must do!
    Trolley Tours provide a wonderful tour of the popular and historical areas of S.D. We rode the tour bus for entire 2 hours tour narrated by our drive and tour guide Scooter. He was entertaining and full of insightful details about each of the areas visited. As we toured we made mental notes of places we wanted to explore and after a brief break reboarded and went to the areas of interest. This way we would see the entire tour and have time to explore areas of our interest. Tour buses come by every 20 minutes and you can get off and RE board the entire day. We began our tour at Old Town where parking was free but you need to be parked by 8:30 a.m or lot gets full fast. Tours start prompt at 9:00 and every 20 minutes after that. Last pick up to return to your original start is between 3;30 to 5:00 p.m. depending on the published bus schedule given to you beginning of our tour. Nice way to spend the day or two. Enjoy
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written September 10, 2023
  • gatoruk
    Watford, United Kingdom107 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Definitely worth a visit
    Definitely a must see if you’re visiting the city. The old town is set up as almost an open air museum showing the colonial past of the city. It is surrounded by some really terrific places to eat and some unique market Style shopping opportunities.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written October 6, 2023
  • VegEcoFriendly
    77 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good for a 2 hour visit with teens. Good for history buffs
    Old town with preserved houses showcasing life in old time San Diego. Good for a 2 hour visit with teens. Good for history buffs .Lots of restaurants, shopping and artists boutiques. Not much to do beyond 2 hours.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written November 23, 2023
  • WildernessJoe
    Orlando, Florida111 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Enjoyable day at Old Town
    Our friends took us to Old Town, which is under the National Parks jurisdiction. If you like unique shops, authentic food, live music you've come to a beautiful place to spend a day. There is a lot of history and historic buildings on the grounds. Its safe good fun for the entire family. Parking is tricky to find but if you come early you might find some free street parking
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written December 2, 2023
  • Astrobeemer
    Vancouver, Canada1,199 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    So much to see and do!
    We spent a few hours in Old Town San Diego and we really enjoyed ourselves. There is something to see and do for everyone. The history is amazing, and it very interesting to see all the little museum like displays and rooms they had set up. The shops are great - from candy, to olive oil and jerky to candle making and pottery and everything in between. There were a lot of people but it didn’t feel crowded and the atmosphere was nice.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written December 10, 2023
  • traveltheworld012
    Rochester, Minnesota15,767 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful and exciting Old Town
    We were visiting San Diego in November, 2023. One of us had a car, so 4 of us piled in from our hotel on the harbor and drove over on Saturday, November 18, 2023. It was very busy at the numerous restaurants and shops on the main drag. We ate at Cafe Coyote which was disappointing. We walked over to the actual Old Town area with the old historic buildings, and it was not very busy at all. If one takes the time to look and read, this is a very significant place to visit. Here is where San Diego had its beginnings. Originally, the indigenous people lived here, then in 1769 it became a Spanish settlement. From this, San Diego grew into a metropolis. It is a fascinating place to visit with living history stores and museums. In the back corner area you may find live music on a stage, many handmade authentic crafts and street food. Other historical buildings here, the Whaley House and Cosmopolitan Hotel among others. This is an exciting place to visit if you take the time to immerse yourself in the culture.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written January 16, 2024
  • VanillaAce
    Saint Simons Island, Georgia1,017 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great place to explore San Diego history.
    History, shops, and dining make for a great way to spend the day. Take your time to enjoy all the history and museums on site. Check days and times for museums and exhibitions before attending. Most were closed on Monday.
    Visited June 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 17, 2024
  • Frankie F
    Bridport, United Kingdom131 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Awesome
    Great place to visit, lots snd lots of shopping and food. Go to Soap and Oils. Purchased a Teakwood room/linen/car spray Epic! Go here and buy this, I am in the UK and wish I had purchased more! Very friendly staff! Also visit the old town cemetery, El Campo, a ten minute walk out of town, a great historical area.
    Visited June 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 20, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,870 reviews
Excellent
937
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685
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208
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Frankie F
Bridport, UK131 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Couples
Great place to visit, lots snd lots of shopping and food.
Go to Soap and Oils. Purchased a Teakwood room/linen/car spray
Epic!
Go here and buy this, I am in the UK and wish I had purchased more!
Very friendly staff!
Also visit the old town cemetery, El Campo, a ten minute walk out of town, a great historical area.
Written June 20, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

VanillaAce
Saint Simons Island, GA1,017 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Couples
History, shops, and dining make for a great way to spend the day. Take your time to enjoy all the history and museums on site. Check days and times for museums and exhibitions before attending. Most were closed on Monday.
Written June 17, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Matthias
Dachau, Germany22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Business
Nice place, touristique, but worth it, Café Coyotes is always worth a Margherita, XXL style is outstanding, Tipp: go to Société Brewery, best IPA in town
Written June 6, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Vickie S
Tempe, Arizona, United States481 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Couples
A good combination of site seeing and shopping. Some of the stores (such as my favorite tea shop) are gone due to high rent according to one of the shopkeepers. The courthouse and printing house were interesting. If you are looking for handicrafts, you’ll find plenty of selection. Found a custom necklace at The Blue Lotus that I just love. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
Written June 5, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nina L
Chicago, IL13 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
It was intriguing to see how this old town started and get to view rooms with furniture and learn what kind of harsh climatic tribulations they suffered through that I had no idea about.
There are many shops but not highly commercialized and the character of the old town is maintained. Absolutely worth visiting!
Written May 21, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris
Westminster, CO80 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
Many of the locals we came across prior to our visit to Old Town told us that it was a cool place and we should definitely go there. While we liked the history, almost all of the buildings in Old Town have been rebuilt and are either closed to the public or turned into stores selling non-locally made goods. That's really disappointing and detracts immensely from the area. The two coolest things we saw were the Case De Estudillo (original and a lot of history) and the stable (rebuilt, but also a lot of history). There was an interesting old iron jail cell. Everything else you can read up on online.

I'm glad we know the history but I feel a better use of our time during our limited visit to San Diego would have been to do anything else.
Written May 11, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jemlnlx
Bronx, NY5,416 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Lovely walkable historic town with lots of shops and food options.

Lots of culture...architecture, clothes, candy, trinkets and food. I believe there are also some tours available.

Very crowded and tourist-driven...particularly on the weekends.

Parking can be a bit tough in the immediate area and main lots...but there is a large lot near the Hilton Garden Inn on Rosecrans and Sunset streets where you can park on weekdays after 5pm and on weekends for free.

Stroller-friendly.
Written April 28, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Phil H
Limoges, France19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
An interesting insight into how San Diego developed. Good displays and information about the town. Several 'living' shops bringing crafts to life, whilst some of the market stalls were full of cheap massed produced tatt. An interesting self tour around the hacienda was something not to miss.
Written April 6, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AJSt
Minnesota58 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
Learned a lot about the history of California. Would have preferred a printed map with information to do the self guided tour. Not all buildings were open. A lot of shops besides the history. Food is available. Allow 3 + hours to do all.
Written March 31, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kathy W
2 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Family
I found this to be not much of a state park as far as history, but more of a commercial venue. About 90% of the venue is commercial shops, I would not recommend using time to attend this. There was several food vendors and restaurants on site that were busy. There was no admittance cost, but since it was more of a outdoor shopping mall for touristy type items it is appropriate
Written March 27, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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