Old Town Walking Tour, San Diego, San Diego (Self Guided)

Old Town San Diego is considered the "birthplace" of California. The Old Town Historic Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It features amazing old historic houses, unique specialty shops, the first San Diego newspaper office and spectacular gardens. Take this walking tour to discover some of the most beautiful sights that the Old Town of San Diego has to offer.
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Old Town Walking Tour, San Diego Map

Guide Name: Old Town Walking Tour, San Diego
Guide Location: USA » San Diego (See other walking tours in San Diego)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Author: doris
McCoy House Museum

1) McCoy House Museum

The McCoy House Museum is part of the Old Town State Historic Park, and is located at 4002 Wallace Street in San Diego, California. It was originally built in 1869, and was the home of Sheriff James McCoy and his wife Winifred. McCoy came to the area in 1849, after he finished his tour of duty with the United States Army. Being fluent in Spanish made it easy for him to seek public office, and service in several positions, not the least of which was the sheriff of San Diego. He was also a State Senator for a while.

It is a wood framed residence that is done in a Greek Revival style of Architecture. It was a large home for its day, and also had a classic big front porch that was so very popular among the wealthy of the late 19th Century. The California Park system restored the house in the year 2000.
Robinson-Rose House

2) Robinson-Rose House

The Robinson-Rose House is located at 4002 Wallace Street. It is a part of the Old Town State Historic Park venue of classic old time homes in San Diego, California. The building was erected in 1853. The two story home was used as both a house and a law office. It is a classic example of Victorian style architecture, and was a fairly large size house for its time in history, when people tended to build small.

James Robinson came to San Diego in 1850. He was formerly from Texas, and became a well to do lawyer and businessman there. Over time, he was involved in all aspects of the development of the town. He also was quite successful as a lawyer who was known not to lose cases in court. After his death in 1857, the spot was used by a variety of local businesses like the San Diego Herald, Wells Fargo, and several other businesses. Sadly, the building had fallen into disrepair over time, until the State rebuilt the location in 1989, and added it to the Historical Park.

It is open to the general public daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, so that can be a real budget saver.
Plaza del Pasado

3) Plaza del Pasado (must see)

Plaza del Pasado is the place that brings San Diego's early history to life. Here, you can find unique specialty and gift shops and amazing restaurants. You can also enjoy live Mariachi bands and local artisans demonstrating glass blowing.

Why You Should Visit:
Perfect place to enjoy Mexican cuisine, with also plenty of gifts/handicrafts to buy for your whole family.
Mason Street School

4) Mason Street School

The Mason Street School is one of the wonderful attractions to see at the Old Town State Historic Park, which is located at 3966 Mason Street in San Diego, California. It was built in 1865, and was the first publically built and owned school in the county.

It was a modest structure, having just one room. It was made of wood, and had a shingles roof. It measures 24 by 30 feet, and has a ten foot high ceiling. Now imagine the fact that grades one through eight were all taught in this tiny space. You can see the wonderful old pot bellied stove that heated the entire building, and an old water bucket had to be used for water. Grades one through eight were taught here at the same time. So, it was reminiscent of a “Little House on the Prairie” kind of school experience.

The building was moved in 1873, to make room for a new two story school on the original location. The original one room schoolhouse was brought to the State Park and rebuilt for preservation.
La Casa de Estudillo

5) La Casa de Estudillo

The Casa de Estudillo is a very old and historic adobe house located in San Diego, California. It was built in 1827 by Jose Maria Estudillo and his son Jose Antonio. It was considered the finest house of its day in Mexican California. It is now part of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, but it is also listed as a National Historic Landmark on its own.

It is one of the oldest examples of Spanish architecture in the country. The house is made of dried mud adobe bricks and encloses three sides of a peaceful central courtyard which belies the unexplained phenomena occurring in surrounding rooms. You will want to check out the chapel that is built here as well, as it has a very ghostly feel to it.

It gained some fame in 1884 when Helen Hunt Jackson wrote a novel about the place, called Ramona. On another note though, the location is considered to be haunted. No one knows exactly who it is that is supposed to be haunting the house though. The chapel seems to be the location that is most often reference in the haunting. So, ghost hunters will love to pay a visit to this old Spanish home.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

6) Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

The Immaculate Conception Church was founded in 1917, and yet it is one of the newer Catholic Churches in town. The formal dedication ceremony was two years later, and was conducted by the Right Reverence John Cantwell, who was the Bishop of Los Angeles and San Diego at the time. It has been in constant service since then. It is located in the Old Town sector of San Diego.

Two of the original mission bells from the Mission San Diego still ring in the area. One of them is located at this church. It was put back into service after the location was renovated in 1997.

The church is a classic example of Spanish Revival architecture. It has a beautiful sanctuary, so you will want to get a chance to go in and see it. There is also a gift shop you can visit, that is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It is also open 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Whaley House (The)

7) Whaley House (The)

The Whaley house is located in Old Town and was opened as a museum in 1960. The house, builted in 1857 is a classic example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture and it was the first of its kind in San Diego. Nowadays, the house features historical elements of furnishings and unexplained phenomena. The Whaley House is one of the only two houses listed as hunted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Operation hours: Mon-Sun: 10:00-10:00pm.
Heritage Park

8) Heritage Park

Heritage Park is one of the county parks in the San Diego area. It is located near the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and takes up approximately eight acres. The prime purpose of this establishment is to help preserve the architectural heritage of the Victorian buildings located there - a big part of the cultural heritage of the city. In fact, during WWII, expansion of the city of San Diego was happening so fast that these old homes were in danger of being demolished. A group of private citizens banded together to keep that from happening. So in the current day, you can find some classic examples of Italiante, Queen Anne, and classic revival architecture as well, that tell a story about the fine homes of San Diego.

The homes were moved to this location during the 1940s. The Senlis Cottage from 1896 is here, as well as the McConaughty House of 1887. You can even see the Temple Beth Israel from 1889 in the park.

It is open to the public daily from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. During the summer, it stays open one hour later. The actual times you can visit these amazing homes may vary a bit.
Presidio Park

9) Presidio Park (must see)

Presidio Park, in many respects, is the birthplace of the city of San Diego. Way back in time, in the year 1769, it became the location for the first official post of the Spanish Army in the area. The first Spanish Mission also started here. Commandant Pedro Fages started the fort, which became the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of North America. As the first such place, it became the launching point for the Spanish colonization of California. Sadly though, none of the original buildings survived.

The biggest attraction of the area is the Junipero Sierra Museum, which was built in 1928. The look of the structure was designed to mimic the original mission and Presidio built by the Spanish. Besides this great venue, you will also have 50 acres of lush park grounds to explore and enjoy. Bring a picnic lunch with you and make a day of it.

Why You Should Visit:
You can truly be calm and at peace here. Always a pleasant, serene experience.

If you don't want to make the drive from Old Town to the beach but still want to catch a nice sunset with a great view of the bay, this is the place.
Junípero Serra Museum

10) Junípero Serra Museum

The Junípero Serra Museum was built in 1929. It is a major symbol of the San Diego city, because it marks the spot where the first state's mission was founded. The building represents an example of Mission Revival style architecture. The museum features historic exhibits where can be seen artifacts, tools, clothing and furniture of the first Spanish and Mexican people from San Diego. Operating hours: Monday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Walking Tours in San Diego, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Diego

Create Your Own Walk in San Diego

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Diego is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Top Museums Walking Tour in San Diego

Top Museums Walking Tour in San Diego

San Diego has over 90 amazing museums. They reflect the incredible variety and interests of the region. The museums present a wide range of collections from classic to contemporary art and from natural history to science. Take this walking tour to explore some of the most famous museums in San Diego.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave San Diego without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to San Diego, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.1 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave San Diego without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to San Diego, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.7 km
Core-Columbia Nightlife

Core-Columbia Nightlife

San Diego is famous for its buzzy nightlife. There are plenty of clubs and lounges in the city that offer a relaxing atmosphere, a chance to strike a nice conversation, enjoy great cocktails - classic signature martinis and beautifully mixed drinks with fine liquor atop, and party crazy all night long. Take this walking tour for a unique nightlife experience in San Diego.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Jewell of a city adorning the Pacific coast of California, San Diego is a popular destination renowned for its beaches, parks and warm climate. On this walk you will visit some of San Diego's main and less known attractions situated in the historic downtown area.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour, San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour, San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter is a historical neighborhood established in 1876. It features 16 blocks of wonderful buildings, unique shops, amazing galleries and a wide range of restaurants. This tour highlights some of the most important tourists attractions in San Diego.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 14 Gifts That Say San Diego

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 14 Gifts That Say San Diego

San Diego is known for its beautiful, temperate climate, but you can’t take the weather home with you. If you want a piece of San Diego as a souvenir, it’s best to shop with the natives. Whether it is made locally or just made famous locally, following are 14 perfect gifts that capture the...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in San Diego for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best San Diego has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as San Diego, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.