GoThere before you go there. Old Town San Diego & Historic State Park  

GoThere before you go there
Online Photo Tours of Old Town

San Diego Ghosts and Haunted Places tours
Tours of San Diego's
Haunted Places

When you come to Old Town San Diego, take this guided tour:
Old Town Trolley Tours - Map

Join us as we turn back the pages of history and relive San Diego's early days as it became the Birthplace of California.

Return to GoThere San Diego

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park church tower

Every Saturday come visit the FREE Old Town Artisan Market 9:00am to 4:00pm. Live Music, Artworks,  Jewelry, Photography, Hand Blown Glass, Clothing & Ceramics. Great for your Christmas shopping.

Located on Harney Street in the Heart of Old Town in the public parking lot across from the Best Western Hacienda Hotel (Map)

A Very Short History of Old Town San Diego:

In 1542 the Spanish first came to what is now San Diego, but settlement did not start until 1769. In 1821 Mexico won independence from Spain, and along with it, California. In 1848 the Mexican War saw the annexation of California to the United States.

Old Town San Diego first schoolhouse

  From about 1868, San Diego's "New Town" began to be built in what is now downtown San Diego. This led to a general decline of Old Town up until 1969 --the 200th anniversary of San Diego-- when the city's Bicentennial celebration returned Old Town to the public eye, and to the heart of San Diego. This was the locale of the Helen Hunt Jackson book "Ramona"


San Diego Old Town
& State Historic Park

Where California Got Its Start!

From here you can find:
, Online photo tours and
Haunted places in
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

More things to do in and around Old Town

2012 Fiesta Cinco de Mayo - May 4, 5 & 6

From here you can find: hotelsmaps,
photo tours of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Guided Tours,
and for a real thrill, visit Old Town's Haunted Places.

Boosters of Old Town:

Ongoing Events in the Park Year-round  -- Ongoing living history activities every Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free tours daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. that begin at the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center.

1st Saturday

Print Guild and Tintype Guild

2nd Saturday

Californio Day

3rd Saturday

Quilt Guild, Fiber Arts Guild and the Mormon Battalion

4th Saturday

Mountain Men and the Soap Makers Guild

Every Wednesday and Saturday

Quilt Guild every Wednesday afternoon.

Blacksmith Guild’s presentation, all day



Blessing of the Animals

DATE:  January 15 (Sunday)

This event encourages visitors to bring pets for a blessing from the local Catholic priest and will include other animal-themed events, a costume and trick contest and much more. Led by Monsignor Mark Campbell, the annual Benediction of the Beasts celebrates St. Anthony of the Desert, the Patron Saint of Animals.

Mormon Battalion Day

DATE: January 28 (Saturday)

Learn more about the Mormon Battalion unique contributions to early San Diego’s history and enjoy historic children’s crafts, a Dutch oven bake-off, cannon firing, and other activities. 


Shades of Poe -- Produced by Write Out Loud

DATE: April 28 (Saturday)

Part of The Big Read Program, Shades of Poe will educate and entertain attendees about the works of Edgar Allan Poe and writers like him.


Southern California Folklorico Competition 

DATE: April 28 and 29 - Finale: May 6

The annual competition between local San Diego-area dance schools.


May / June

Fiesta Cinco de Mayo (Old Town Chamber / HOTCF event) & Cinco de Mayo

DATE: May 4 - 6 (Friday through Sunday)

Multiple stages featuring live music, entertainment and family-friendly activities.  Each larger restaurant in the Old Town community is expected to donate a minimum of $1,000 - $2,000 to help support this event.  Fiesta de Reyes will also be hosting events and significant entertainment in the park and on the FdR stage on May 4-6th, separate PR and advertising will be provided by the association and FdR. 


Cancer Relay for Life Fundraiser


Sponsored by Chula Vista Chapter of Relay for Life; this event will draw hundreds from  San Diego's South County and will feature a classic car show along with low-rider cars and bikes, entertainment, and a day of family fun in OTSDSHP.



Ladies Day (OTSDSHP event)

DATE: June 2 (Saturday)  

Event to promote the contributions of women in the development of San Diego and California. Experience weaving, sewing, pottery making and cooking at the time California became a state.  Garden tours, living history activities, people in period attire, and historic games. Try your hand at crafts of the 19th century. 


Historic Old Town Fourth of July (OTSDSHP event)

DATE:  July 4 (Wednesday)

An old-fashioned celebration of July 4th. Parade, crafts and activities of early San Diego. Wagon rides, period games, music, food specials, pie-eating contest and more. Flag raising, keynote speaker, military involvement.

Stagecoach Days (OTSDSHP event)

DATE:  (Every Saturday in July and August)

Celebration of the West on the Move with children’s activities, historic interpretation, cannon and anvil firings, and more.



(in conjunction with Write Out Loud)

Date: August 18 (Saturday)

Literary games including “Fish for Words, Chortle This and Telegraph Crunch” will delight the entire family, as well as sack races, marbles, ring toss and other games of the period for the kids.  A spelling bee will run throughout the day as well as a community-wide Never Ending Story to which anyone who wishes may contribute.


Spirits of Mexico Festival

DATE:  Two weeks in September

Main Event: September 15

The oldest and most comprehensive agave spirits festival in the United States, this year’s Spirits of Mexico will be held during the 202nd anniversary of Mexico’s independence at the location of California’s birthplace.  Celebrating the spirits and the spirit of Mexico, the 2012 Festival is made possible by the generous contribution of Fiesta de Reyes within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  The Spirits of Mexico Festival is also supported and endorsed by the City of San Diego, the State of California in association with the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce and its members.  The Festival is and always has been a celebration of the Distiller’s Art.   From its inception, the Festival was designed to take place around Mexican Independence Day, to honor the generations of Master Distillers & Blenders whose art and soul exists in every luscious drop.  Master Distillers & Blenders, Authors, Tequileras, Tequileros, Mixologists, Aficionados & Ambassadors of world-renown and new-to-market brands will all meet in Old Town San Diego to share their skills, experience and, of course, their spirits!  This highly publicized event begins with a private party at Barra Barra Friday evening, awards ceremony with dignitaries that evening at Fiesta de Reyes, Main Event at The Cosmopolitan Saturday evening, and a new addition -- the Tequila & Food Festival to be held Saturday in the park for local San Diegans.  To include music, dancing, horse riding, food pairings, etc.


Tequila Trail

DATE:  September 9th (Sunday)  

Samples of Traditional Mexican dishes from Old Town’s Best restaurants were available throughout town! Participants taste selections of Tequila, Mezcal and Bacanora, all Brands provide samples of their spirits.

Patrias Celebration (Mexican Independence Day)

DATE:  September 15 (Saturday)

A festival to commemorate the rich and diverse Mexican culture that was vital in the development of San Diego and California.  Music, dancing, games, and activities for the entire family.  Stage with performers. 


Old Town Art Festival (Old Town Chamber event)

DATE:  Beginning of October

Enjoy museum-quality art and sculpture as you stroll through Old Town with all of its history and charm. The Old Town San Diego Art Festival features contemporary artists, fine craft, fashion and home décor artisans. This event brings together the essence of Southern California; beautiful San Diego weather, the Flavors of Old Town international foods, a wine-tasting pavilion and continuous live entertainment. The festival runs along San Diego Avenue from Conde Street into the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Admission is free.

OId Town’s Fall Festival

DATE: October 27 (Saturday)

Fall crafts and children’s activities a la San Diego in the 1870s will be held from noon to 4 p.m. in the central plaza at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Many merchants surrounding the park will have activities as well.


DATE: October 31 (Wednesday)

Free goodies courtesy of the merchants with Old Town San Diego State Historic Park with ghosts and goblins out in full force. Enjoy special holiday treats, activities, and extended shopping hours at all the stores within the state park.


Dia de los Muertos

November 1 and 2 (Thursday and Friday)

Commemorate “Day of the Dead” by touring the museums and shops within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, most with dramatic and festive Day of the Dead altars.  Folklorico dancers and live performances celebrating this traditional Mexican holiday will be featured on the Fiesta de Reyes stage.


Irish-Mexican Day

DATE: November 10 (Saturday)

Featuring traditional Irish music and authentic Mexican food, the celebration honors Saint Patrick’s Brigade, a legendary artillery unit led by Irish immigrants who became a one of the Mexican Army’s most highly decorated brigades during the Mexican-American War.  Join the parade of bagpipers that circle Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and party with them in the Fiesta de Reyes courtyard.  Admission is free but you might find yourself buying a Guiness or two.


Holiday in the Park

DATE: December 15 (Saturday)

All of the museums, stores and restaurants in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will be open and richly decorated. Enjoy special holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers on this evening and do some holiday shopping at the same time.

62nd Anniversary Las Posadas

DATE: December 16 (Sunday)

This centuries-old tradition is being celebrated in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for the 62th consecutive year.   Please join the Park Merchants Association as they reenact the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem.  The event begins at 2 pm with carolers and children’s choirs in the state park, with the live theatrical procession starting promptly at 4 pm.  A piñata party for all the children follows at 5 pm.  Make this a new holiday tradition for your family.  It is sure to be a night you will remember.

Bonfire Nights

DATE: December 15 and the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve - Dec. 26 - 30 (Wednesday through Sunday)

Winter evenings are a reason to celebrate in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Join carolers and other performers from dusk to 9 p.m. Free s’mores ‘round the bonfire are the highlight of the evening.

Parking and entrance to the park are FREE, and is conveniently located adjacent to the Old

Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service.

For additional state park event information, phone 619-220-5422 

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