24 things to do in Old Town, San Diego… The ULTIMATE guide!

October 18, 2021

If you’re looking for things to do in Old Town, San Diego, then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading!

If you’re visiting San Diego, you might be looking for things to do in Old Town, San Diego. Old Town is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in San Diego, and it always has lots of interest from visitors. The great thing about Old Town, San Diego, is the sheer variety of entertainment and things to do in the area. So we know you’ll love it!

If you’re looking for things to do in Old Town, San Diego, then you definitely come to the right place! Here we’ll list off all our favorite things to do in Old Town, San Diego, for all budgets and interests! We’ve tried to include as many ideas as possible on this list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego – to give you the ultimate guide!

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But first, why is Old Town, San Diego, so special?

If you’re looking for things to do in Old Town, San Diego – it’s a good idea to know why this part of the city is so popular and important.

Old Town San Diego has huge historical significance in San Diego, and in the USA. Actually, this little area of San Diego is considered to be the ‘birthplace’ of California. Way back in 1769, it was a man named Father Junipero Serra who built the first of 21 California missions next to the Presidio, later in history, it was these California missions that became the cornerstone of California’s colonization.

A community built around this area, and the city then grew and expanded to where it is today. So this little part of San Diego holds so much of the city’s history and story, and today contains many historic sites, lots of wonderful stores, plenty of restaurants, and lots more! There are loads of things to do in Old Town, San Diego. So take a read below!


So, let’s get into it! Here are our favorite things to do in Old Town, San Diego!


Old Town Market

The Old Town Market is perhaps the most famous part of Old Town in San Diego, and it’s first on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego. Old Town Market is a historical market, selling traditional gifts and all sorts of cultural items, in the heart of Old Town.

A lot of the suggestions for things to do in Old Town, San Diego, will actually be located within the market itself, but we felt it was important to list the market as it’s own activity! Because you should definitely give yourself plenty of time to explore the market in it’s own right!

Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com

La Dulceria Mexican Candy

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s La Dulceria Mexican Candy. It’s you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you absolutely need to add this delicious stop-off to your list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego. They do the best Mexican candy in San Diego, so you have to stop there to try some!

Image credit: https://www.instagram.com/la_dulceria_old_townsd/

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This is a little bit like the Old Town Market – in that a lot of the things on this list will actually be located inside the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park itself. But you should make sure you have plenty of time to explore the park itself too.

If you didn’t already know, this is the most visited state park in California, quite the achievement in itself! Inside the park, there are plenty of buildings, museums, monuments, to show the various aspects of San Diego’s early history and culture from 1820 until 1870.

The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is one of the best things to do in Old Town, San Diego, because it’s at the very heart of Old Town, and a lot of the most interesting and fascinating historical places are located inside!


Robinson-Rose House

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Deigo, it’s the Robinson-Rose House. This building is located inside the Old Town State Historic Park, and it’s a replica of the old law office that once stood there in the 1800s. It has now been converted to the park’s visitor center, so it’s worth checking out for all the crucial information about the park and where to find everything!

tishomir / Shutterstock.com

Ride on the Old Town Trolley

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s the Old Town Trolley. This is such a cute option for things to do in Old Town, and it’s a great way to get around this local area too! The Old Town Trolley is instantly recognisable, and it’s a great photo opportunity in the city too! Definitely add it to your list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego.

Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. This is one of the most recognisable buildings in Old Town, San Deigo, and you’ll find historical information about the local area, an interactive video tour, historical artefacts, and demonstrations on gold panning and brickmaking. It’s quite fascinating, and it’s a great option for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.


Watch Period Demonstrations

Another great option for things to do in Old Town, San Diego, is to watch some period demonstrations. You’ll find these happening every Wednesday and Saturday, and it’s a fantastic way to learn more about the local area’s history! It’s staff and volunteers that create the historical demonstrations, and they really put their heart and soul into it!

You’ll be able to see them demonstrating old-fashioned activities that would have taken place in the 1800s, in the community that once lived on the land around the park Most people won’t have seen this kind of stuff before, and it’s really fascinating to see it being done right in front of you! It really is a fantastic choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.

Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Tour A Haunted House

Our next choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego, is to tour a haunted house. Now, with a park and area so old, rich in so much history, it’s unsurprising that there’s a haunted history in parts! If you’re interested in the more haunted side of Old Town, San Diego, then the brick Whaley House on San Diego Avenue is where you need to visit.

Apparently many people have seen the ghosts of drifter and thief, a young woman, a young girl, and Thomas Whaley and his wife, Anna (who owned the house). Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, it’s still a great choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.


Miguel’s Cocina

We’ll be including some great places to eat in our ultimate list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, and Miguel’s Cocina is the first we want to mention! This place is in the heart of Old Town, San Deigo, and it’s an amazing spot to stop in to refuel if you’re busy exploring all Old Town has to offer.

They serve up delicious Mexican food, the kind you’ll be drooling about and talking about for weeks afterwards!

Read more about San Diego: Top 20 places for the best Mexican food in San Diego!

Image credit: https://www.miguels-cocina.com/

Cafe Coyote

Cafe Coyote is next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego. This is another choice for somewhere to eat if you’re in the Old Town area of San Diego. This place feels really authentic and has some of the most amazing Meixcan flavors on offer. Seriously, this is the kind of Mexican place you end up recommending to anyone and everyone who’ll listen to you! We love that they have patio seating too, so you can make the most out of San Diego’s gorgeous weather!


See a show at the Cygnet Theatre

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s watching a show at the Cygnet Theatre. This is theatre in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town, and if you can time your visit for a performance, you’re in for a treat!

Now, this theatre might not be on a par with Broadway or the West End, but that’s kind of what we love about it. The productions are lower budget, but the performers are 1000% committed to giving you the best night of entertainment you’ve ever had! It’s a perfect choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.


Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s the Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center. One of the many museums located in Old Town, San Diego, the Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center is definitely worth a visit. This museum is basically a historical accumulation of all the California law enforcement, and it’s quite an interesting place to look around. The admission is also pretty affordable too – so that’s a bonus.

A few highlights you’ll get to see whilst exploring the museum, include a behind-the-scenes look at crime fighting and an 1850’s cobblestone Sheriff’s Office. Which even features an original jail cell.

Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com

Learn About Presidio History in Presidio Park

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, Sandiego, it’s Presidio Park . This historic park is located just above Old Town State Historic Park, so it’s within easy walking distance. It’s definitely worth adding both of these parks to your list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego. Presidio Park is actually the location of the original Spanish presidio and mission (that we mentioned in our introduction).

Inside the park itself, you’ll find the Junipero Serra Museum (which explores San Diego history and growth) and is also worth paying a visit to. There are lots of walking trails within the park and plenty of scenic areas to enjoy.


Visit the Cosmopolitan Hotel

Next up on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Deigo, it’s a visit to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. If you want to stay the night in Old Town, San Deigo, then this hotel is probably the best option! But you don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit this lovely hotel in the heart of Old Town.

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is a great option for lunch or dinner in Old Town, San Diego, and if you choose to dine there you’ll also get to explore the building and learn more about its fascinating history. Our favorite place to eat within the Cosmopolitan Hotel is their heated Orchard Terrace, which is super romantic and surrounded by fruit and olive trees, fresh herbs, grapevines and wisteria. It’s a gorgeous choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.

Read more about visiting California: 12 scenic small towns in California you should visit

Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

Old Town Mexican Cafe

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s another great choice for food. If you’re after authentic food with plenty of local history, then Old Town Mexican Cafe is going to be everything you’re looking for! The Carnitas are probably their signature dish, and people come from miles around to taste them! But that’s not all they have on the menu! You’ll also find loads of Mexican classics, such as Carne Asada, Enchiladas Rancheras and Chile Verde.


Cemetery of El Campo Santo

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s the Cemetery of El Campo Santo. This is another (rumoured) haunted destination in Old Town, and it’s a really interesting glimpse into the past. The El Campo Santo Cemetery started it’s story way back in 1849, and it’s reported that there are 477 bodies buried here.

It’s a popular location for San Diego ghost tours, but you don’t need to book yourself onto a ghost tour to visit. Obviously, this is a graveyard, so it’s highly important to be respectful when visiting.

Carl DeAbreu Photography / Shutterstock.com

La Casa de Machado y Stewart

The La Casa de Machado y Stewart, is next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Deigo. This is a historical site located within the Old Town State Historic Park, so it’s something you can visit when walking around. This building dates back to 1835, so it’s one of the oldest in the park, and is thus highly maintained and looked after by the park. If history is your thing, then you will love visiting and seeing a little slice of history.


Get a tarot reading

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s getting a tarot reading. Now, we know this isn’t for everyone. Some people feel quite uneasy about the practice of tarot reading… BUT if you’re feeling curious and you feel like you’d like to give it a try, there are actually a few places within Old Town Sand Diego where you can get a reading of your own.


Temecula Olive Oil Company

If you consider yourself a bit of a foodie, you might love this next suggestion for things to do in Old Town, San Diego. The Temecula Olive Oil Company is a really fun place to explore, especially if you’ve seen the production process of Olive Oil before!

It’s the tasting room at the Temecula Olive Oil Company which pulls in the visitors though, and tasting sessions are a lot of fun if you’ve never tried one before! Definitely a must-see and a great option for things to do in Old Town, San Diego!

Read more about visiting California: What is the coldest month in California?

Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

Rose’s Tasting Room

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s Rose’s Tasting Room. This quirky little beer tasting room is so much fun! This is the perfect location for relaxing after a long day or sightseeing, and there are so many drinks to choose from, you’ll definitely be able to find something you like! This is a great choice for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.

Image credit: https://rosestastingroom.com/

Visit Toby’s Candle Shop

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s Toby’s Candle Shop. Now, this is a great shop to visit if you love candles, but the reason we’ve included this shop on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, is because you can actually make your own candles here too! This is really cool, and quite a unique experience if you’ve never tried candle making before!


Racine & Laramie Tobacconist

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s Racine & Laramie Tobacconist. Now, we don’t recommend smoking, because of the health implications, but this tobacco store is worth visiting for the historical significance alone. If you are already a smoker, then this is a place that might be of interest to you.

This is a longtime smoke shop, with a specific look and feel to it, unlike anything you’ll have seen before. It has a quirky old-world vibe, and the people who work there are truly specialists in the subject of cigars and smoking accessories.

Image credit: http://www.racineandlaramie.com/

Explore local murals in Old Town

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s exploring local art murals in and around Old Town. As a place of historical significance, there are lots of art murals in the area to celebrate and mark the history and communities that built the place. And it’s a really interesting way to see more of Old Town!

meunierd / Shutterstock.com

McCoy Museum House

Next on our list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, it’s the McCoy Museum House. This is another museum in Old Town, San Diego that exhibits early life in San Diego and the early communities of people that lived there.

The museum is housed in a reconstruction of a home built in 1869 for Sheriff James McCoy and his family (hence the name!). Historically, it’s fascinating and really educational. It’s a great option for things to do in Old Town, San Diego.


We hope this list of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, has given you plenty of ideas and inspiration!

There are loads of things to do in Old Town, San Diego, which hopefully you can see from this epic list of ideas! Have a great time in Old Town, San Diego and let us know what you choose to do!

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