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Visit The Colorful Birthplace Of California In Old Town San Diego

Tap into San Diego’s deep history with a visit to the city’s Old Town district, which marks the earliest beachhead of European settlement on the West Coast and the birthplace of modern California.

The great thing about Old Town San Diego is it combines truly profound insight into San Diego’s backstory and multiethnic heritage with plenty of entertainment. Learn about the early days of Spanish, Mexican, and American San Diego, and accentuate your historical explorations with some world-class cuisine!

History on Display in Old Town

The Royal Presidio of San Diego, founded in 1769 on Presidio Hill in today’s Presidio Park, was the start of the Spanish settlement along the West Coast. As this fascinating article points out, though, American Indians—specifically the Kumeyaay people—had occupied this site for hundreds of years beforehand, hunting and gathering in the chaparral and coastal wetlands.

Nothing remains of the historic Presidio, but the well-known Junipero Serra Museum—named for the head of San Diego’s first mission and exemplifying the Spanish Revival architectural style—roughly marks the hilltop spot. The museum’s a wonderful place for learning more about San Diego’s formative years, which transitioned from the Spanish to Mexican eras in the 1820s. As a result of the Mexican-American War, San Diego became U.S. territory in 1850.

Old Town San Diego includes many beautiful buildings dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. These include Casa de Estudillo, an adobe home built in 1825, and the (in)famous Whaley House & Museum. Constructed in the 1850s, this was the family home of Thomas and Anna Whaley and also, at one time or another, a general store, theater, and courthouse. It’s also rumored to be one of America’s most haunted locales (and the destination of Halloween-time ghost tours).

Old Town’s Many Attractions

Investigating Old Town history isn’t just about museum exhibits and vintage architecture—it’s also about food! These days, the neighborhood is as renowned for its Mexican cuisine as its historical attractions. Here you’ll find some of San Diego’s finest Mexican eateries, from El Agave to Old Town Mexican Café y Cantina.

And history-steeped Presidio Park is simply one of the city’s most beautiful strolling grounds, whether you’re paying your respects at the site where Junipero Serra planted a palm in 1769 (a historical landmark) or simply gazing off at the Pacific.

Staying at the Sofia Hotel, you’re but a hop, skip, and a jump from the delights of Old Town just to the northwest. And given the Sofia’s rich heritage, we’re the perfect place for a historically oriented visit to San Diego!