To learn about early San Diegans, visit Old Town State Historic Park.
- Depends on place, most free!
Daily 10am-4pm (Visitor Center)
A lot of shopping opportunities!
4002 Wallace Street, San Diego CA 92110
If you want to know the history of early San Diego, Old Town is THE place to go. The Park consists of houses, chapels, courthouses and mansions belonging to the early residents of San Diego, from 1821 to 1872 in particular. There are early American settlement elements in the culture around Old Town and Mexican flavor from the occupants before them.
The following are a list of main visitor spots through Old Town:
Altamirano-Pedrorena House. Built in 1869 (and owned by Miguel de Pedrorena in the 1840s before he died in 1850), this historic building now holds a shop for gems, jewelry and rocks. Daily from 10am-4pm
Black Hawk Smithy & Stable. Location of a blacksmith shop from the 1860s, this building holds blacksmithing and other demonstrations. Wednesday and Saturday 10am-2pm.
Casa de Bandini. Completed in 1829, it was the social center of town with Juan Bandini owning it. In 1869, Alfred Seeley purchased the building and opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Has also been used as a store, pickle factory and motel annex. It’s a Mexican restaurant now!
Casa de Estudillo. Completed in 1829, this abode home is one of the more famous in Old Town. Currently, it has furnished rooms, a working kitchen and a courtyard with a garden. Daily 10am-5pm.
Casa de Machado y Silva. Just like many of the other Old Town historic buildings, this building served many functions over the years. It has been a boarding house, saloon, restaurant, art studio, shop, museum and church!
Casa de Machado y Stewart. This mansion is full of cool artifacts that give visitors a glimpse of ordinary life for early San Diegans. It was built in the 1830s and has had people live in it up until the 1960s. It has a great garden spot too!
Derby-Pendleton House. Lieutenant and writer George Horatio Derby lived here. Not open to the public but is fun to check out.
First San Diego Courthouse. Not only was this the first San Diego Courthouse, it also was the first fired-brick structure in Old Town (Thanks to the Mormon Battalion and all the assistance they provided to the community). Daily 10am-5pm.
Heritage Park Victorian Village. This village is a really cool area with old Victorian homes and San Diego’s first synagogue. All the homes were original San Diegan homes and moved to Heritage Park from their original sites. Visitors will find the following structures: Senlis Cottage, Sherman-Gilbert House, Bushyhead House, Christian House, McConaughy House, Burton House and the Temple Beth Israel.
Johnson House. Owned by one of the famous early San Diegans, George Alonzo Johnson, this house serves as a store today.
Junipero Serra Museum. Also known as the Serra Museum. The Museum was built in the late 1920s ontop of the spot where California began. The spot was where Father Junipero Serra established California’s first mission and presidio. Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm. Sunday docent tours available, Price: $6 Adults, $4 Seniors, Students and Militay, $3 Kids (6-17), Free Under 6. (619) 232-6203 times
Light-Freeman House. Built in 1830 as an adobe saloon and provision store by Richard Freeman and Allen Light, two black men.
Mason Street Schoolhouse. Built in 1865, this building was San Diego’s first public schoolhouse. Come here and experience the Schoolhouse like you were an early San Diegan student. Daily 10am-4pm.
Mormon Battalion Memorial Visitor’s Center. The Mormon Battalions came to San Diego in 1847 on their journey through the West. The Mormons did a lot of community work for San Diego. Daily 9am-9pm.
Old Adobe Chapel. The Adobe Chapel Museum was built as a house in 1850 and converted to a chapel in 1858. The chapel, now a museum, served as the site for the very first congregation in California. Housed within the chapel is some of the oldest and most significant art from the early days of California and the Justinian order that established the well known Mission network in California.
Situated in a prime location is the tombstone of Don Jose Aguirre the man who originally turned the home into the home of California’s first congregation. Operated and restored by Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO)
Racine and Laramie Store. A home until it was destroyed in the Old Town Fire of 1872, this Store was reconstructed to look like the store in 1869 that sold cigars, tobacco and stationary. Daily 10am-5pm.
Robinson-Rose House. The Robinson-Rose House has a long history of many different functions. James Robinson built it in 1853 as a residence and business office where the San Diego Herald and the San Diego and Gila Railroad office resided. After, it was sold to Louis Rose who used it as a residence, eventually went into heavy disrepair, was reconstructed and now serves as the Old Town State Historic Park’s Visitor Center. Daily 10am-5pm.
San Diego Union Museum. This building served as the first office of the San Diego Union Newspaper. It’s restored to look as it originally was in 1868 when the Union printed its first paper with print room and editor’s office. Daily 10am-5pm.
Seeley Stables Museum. Contains one of the best wagon and carriage collections. Albert Seeley originally ran the San Diego-Los Angeles Stage Line. Daily 10am-5pm.
Sheriff’s Museum. This Museum holds artifacts and information on the 150heriff’s Department in San Diego. Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm.
Silvas-McCoy House. James McCoy, who served as San Diego’s sheriff and state senator, originally built the McCoy House in 1869. Before him, the property was owned by Maria Eugenia Silvas, who came to San Diego in the 1770s.
United States House. The original house burned in the firs of 1872. The building was made to look similar to the original building that served many functions—general store, auction house, butcher shop, match factory and the U.S. House. Daily 10am-5pm.
Wells Fargo History Museum. Great exhibits on mining,, banking and overland travel in the West during the 1800s, this Museum has artifacts suchas an original 1867 stagecoach, maps, photographs, coins and balance scales. Daily 10am-5pm.
Whaley House Museum. The Whaley House is the oldest brick structure in San Diego and is deemed America’s Most Haunted House by the Travel Channel. Daily 10am-4:30pm. Closed Tuesdays. See Whaley Profile for more!
Wrightington House. Used as the personal residence for the Wrighington family, this house served as the residence and office for Dr. George McKinstry Jr. who provided medical care for Native Americans in San Diego. Daily 10am-5pm.
Daily 11am and 2pm from the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center
Living History Activities
Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am-4pm
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and most Saturdays
Cygnet Theatre’s Storytelling on the Green
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 11:15am and 11:45am (Free)
*Hours, prices, etc all subject to change. Check the location’s website to confirm.