Welcome to San Diego Blog | June 29, 2011

An Evening in Old Town San Diego

San Diego’s Old Town…not just for tourists 

From my earliest memories, San Diego’s Old Town was a place that my aunt would bring us when we visited her in San Diego.  Unfortunately, the memory is “Clark Griswaldesque”, as the anticipation of what might be was never met in reality.  The recollection is of crowds of people, bedecked in sandals (with socks), camera straps around their necks, looking in amazement at 99 cent knick-knacks.  We would take a quick stroll through Old Town State Park.  And call it a day…

Boring!!!  Or at least that’s my recollection

The Park is actually a fascinating restoration of historical buildings from the 1820s to approximately 1875.  It offers a glimpse of events and culture from that period as San Diego was experiencing an evolution from its Mexican roots to the beginnings of an American settlement. 

There are numerous interesting demonstrations and recreations of daily life from the period.  Additionally, the colorful daily fiesta is a multi-sensory experience in Old Town San Diego far more interesting and authentic than anything that Disneyland has to offer.

The lesson learned: don’t trust the perspective of a 14 year old boy.

Old Town San Diego Architecture

Architecture in Old Town spans the 18th, 19th and first two decades of the 20th centuries.  Old Town is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission is built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego

Much of the State Park, from retail space to reenactments of commerce is the beautiful restoration of 19th century buildings.  Wood beams and adobe over 150 years old are a part of the State Park experience.

My personal favorite is Heritage Park.   Just up the hill from Old Town San Diego Historic State Park, you’ll find this idyllic setting where several of San Diego’s most notable Victorian homes have been relocated and authentically restored to their original splendor.  From the 1920s, these Victorian buildings rival any I’ve seen in my travels. 

Dining and Art in Old Town San Diego

Sharing an evening in Old Town San Diego with my friend, Frances, is the real point of this blog.  Old Town is just a short drive up Pacific Highway, less than 10 minutes from home in Little Italy.  However, for dinner and a couple of drinks, The San Diego Trolley was our choice. 

Old Town was bustling with activity, so we decided to sit and relax (and watch the U.S./Mexico soccer game) at Cafe Coyote.  Great place–a patio perfect for people watching.  Honestly though, neither the Margarita or chips and salsa were better than mediocre.  Look for an upcoming blog detailing THE VERY BEST MARGARITA IN SAN DIEGO at Barrio Star in Bankers Hill!

From then on, Old Town was perfect.  As we walked down one of the narrow side streets, we found ourselves at H. Atapour Photography and Gallery.  Mr. Atapour has literally travelled the world for over 40 years.  His photographs of people and places are simply breathtaking.  From Persia to Nepal, the Andes or Arizona, Mr. Atapour’s work was moving.  I would be very interested in your thoughts.

After a mediocre beginning, our food experience soared at Harney Sushi.  Harney is quite unexpected in Old Town.  On Harney Street, 2 blocks from the crowds of San Diego Ave, this place offers fresh, creative sushi in a very inviting, contemporary atmosphere.  We sat on the patio–and really enjoyed that option.  Sushi was unique.  At our waitress’s suggestion, we really enjoyed a crunchy salmon skin roll with bonita flakes.  All in all, a creative menu and fabulous food.

Next time you’re thinking about dinner in Hillcrest, give Old Town a try

At WelcometoSanDiego.com we’re focused on Downtown.  But there’s so many great places in the nearby neighborhoods and beaches. Let us know about some of your favorite places.


Written by: Dannecker & Associates

Categories: Culture, San Diego Attractions, San Diego Events

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