After seeing signs to Old Town we finally decided that we should go explore that part of San Diego. Old Town is actually Old Town San Diego State Historic Park which covers six blocks. We arrived at the free parking lot for the Historic Park and made our way over to the Visitor’s Center.
At the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center there were one-hour walking tours given daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. by the Park Service but they are restricted to only places within the park’s boundaries so we opted to head out on our own and take it all in at our own pace. At the Visitor's Center we noticed an HO scale model of Old Town showing the town as it was in 1872 along with some audio history and picture books to look through.Upon arriving at the Visitor Center we also noticed that the park employees dressed in time period clothing lending to the charm of the park experience. Old Town has been restored to closely approximate what it looked like in its heyday during the time frame of 1822-1872. It never recovered from a fire in 1872 because building had quickly begun for the the "new" San Diego nearby.
We started our walk near the Plaza del Pasado fountain in the Old Town Plaza. The plaza is a large green space that served as the public square where all the major events such as "bullfights, bull-and-bear fights, executions, fiestas, and other Spanish-Mexican public events" would take place.
Walking around the Plaza we saw many reconstructed houses from the 1860's and several of them house modern businesses such as restaurants and souvenir shops. Soon we saw the former Cosmopolitan Hotel that is now a restaurant and it even has a nice historic looking bar.
Nearby is the Seeley Stable Museum that in 1867 housed a stage coach line that carried mail and passengers between San Diego and Los Angeles. It now is home to many historic wagons and stage coaches from the days long ago. There were also many other artifacts from the old days such as some Indian pottery from the area and some pretty cool Mexican saddles.
Another neat building was the Casa de Estudillo which is a adobe house with its own enclosed plaza. The house belonged to a man that had eleven children. Interestingly the house was renamed Ramona's Marriage Place. It later became the inspiration for the novel Ramona written by Helen Hunt Jackson since she was said to have based the character of Ramona on one of the adopted daughters of the Estudillo family. Not only was the home with its period accented rooms neat to see, but the inviting garden plaza within the center of the u-shaped home housed a beautiful wooden pergola (gazebo) and a water well. it was a very functional and comfortable looking home and one could imagine the energy it once had with the eleven children frolicking in and around the pergola.
Closer to the part of Old Town not within the Historic Part was the scenic Church of the Immaculate Conception. Construction started in 1868 but due to funding shortages it wasn’t completed till the early 1900’s. Farther along we saw one of California's first two-story brick houses called the Whaley House which at one time was the County Courthouse.
Outside of the Historic Park we found more shops, restaurants and bars but there were also a few historic gems in that part of town as well. One was the Casa de Lopez built in 1835 that was renamed to the The Long House as the owner kept adding rooms as his family grew. It is now a restaurant. There was also available for viewing one of the first jails in the area. All I know is if we kept prisoners in jails like this there wouldn’t be as many repeat offenders.
The area looks like a place that comes to life after dark and maybe one day we will return for a happy hour and dinner to check out the nightlife…