These pics offer a sample of the sort of Mexican-themed eateries one encounters in the commercial part of Old Town, which runs several blocks south of the State Park along San Diego Avenue. Lots of seating outdoors, an eyeful of festive colors and a cool, laid-back Southern California atmosphere.
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I was fortunate to get this great photograph while walking past the Immaculate Conception Church last Sunday morning. (Yes, I did a lot of walking last weekend!) It’s located directly across the street from the colorful shop in the previous blog post.
This historic church in Old Town was built in 1917, and its bell tower contains one of two original bells from the centuries old San Diego Mission. The other bell can be found at Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley.
I believe that’s a Catholic priest by the front steps with his hand on an elderly gentleman. It’s a warm gesture and a beautiful photo!
Here are more pics taken on later dates…
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Little shops selling all sorts of colorful souvenirs, curios and crafts can be found everywhere in Old Town, both in the State Park and in the touristy area just to the south. Many of the items for sale are Mexican in origin or style. You can find pottery, painted tiles, jewelry, maracas, pinatas, lucha libre masks, and all sorts of unique leather and wood-carved crafts. A few stores have a Western theme and sell cowboy hats, boots, Native American art and other stuff related to the American frontier experience. It’s fun just to browse and soak it all in!
No, that isn’t really a ghost. At least, I don’t think so!
This cool photo shows a fellow dressed like a past resident of San Diego. I spotted him walking through Old Town in the early morning, before the daily throng of tourists began to filter in.
You can walk with a costumed tour guide and learn all about the early history of San Diego, back when the tiny, seldom-visited town belonged to Spain, then Mexico, then finally the United States. The hour-long walking tour is free and begins at the Robinson Rose building at the north end of the large central plaza. Several historic buildings and interesting museums are visited during the leisurely tour. Whether or not you see a ghost might depend on your imagination! Two tours depart Wednesday through Sunday, at 11am and 2pm.
One of my favorite areas in San Diego is Old Town. There’s so much to see and enjoy wherever you turn. For lovers of history, it’s a treasure trove of discoveries.
Here’s a photo taken inside the central Plaza de las Armas, the heart of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This old Spanish cannon is called El Capitan. It was one of ten cannons that long ago protected Fort Guijarros near the entrance to San Diego Bay. The Spanish fort was built in 1797 on Ballast Point out of adobe.
El Capitan was likely fired during the Battle of San Diego in 1803, when the Spanish attacked the American brig Lelia Byrd which was smuggling otter skins. This cannon was likely fired again at the American smuggler ship Franklin in 1828, when the fort was under Mexican control. The only other surviving cannon from Fort Guijarros is called El Jupiter, and can be seen in the Serra Museum atop nearby Presidio Hill.
Old Town is all about history. The grassy plaza, containing the cannon, historical plaques, a high flagpole and picnic benches, is surrounded by old adobe buildings preserved and recreated from the early 1800’s. San Diego originated right here, at the base of a bluff where a Spanish military outpost stood. The outpost, called the Presidio, was built by Gaspar de Portola in 1769. That same year, Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded on Presidio Hill by the ambitious Spanish Franciscan friar, Father Junipero Serra. This made Old Town the site of the very first European settlement in California.
Around the Plaza de las Armas visitors can check out numerous interesting small museums, including the original one-room schoolhouse, an old blacksmith shop, San Diego’s very first newspaper office, an early courthouse, and a stable with a large collection of antique wagons and stagecoaches. Tourists can find gifts and souvenirs in a smattering of craft-filled shops. Families can dine at several colorful restaurants. Plus, there are many additional historical and commercial attractions along San Diego Avenue to the south of the plaza.
Can you guess another thing I like? Admission to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and all of its museums is free!