Historic Old Town San Diego is California's official birthplace, colonized by European settlers in 1769. There were already people living there of course, but the native Diguenos, as the Spanish called them, retreated to the hills (or were held captive... you know, the story of colonization) when the settlers arrived. The Spanish quickly made this new land their home and in the 1800's developed a plaza, missions, and a new community.
While on our road trip around the United States, we made San Diego our first official California stop. I was intrigued to visit the state-reserved historic park and take a step back into time.
Old Town was our first stop for exploration and I was in shock at how absolutely adorable it was. The dry air still caught a breeze and the dusty terrain always managed to sift through the bundles of surrounding cacti and trespass into my mouth. Wide dirt paths painted a setting of horse and carriage and modern day pedestrians merged present day clothing with what felt like a 19th century movie set.
Make no mistake - the native influences barely remain prominent with the exception of blends of modern day Mexican icons, prints, and themes. But with the buzzing plaza, free historical museums, old western mockups of historical buildings like the courthouse, and even blacksmith's shop - San Diego's Historic Old Town is a still a gorgeous place to explore this history of California's beginnings.
Be sure to visit San Diego at the right time to enjoy free live demonstrations and historical information. See the schedule below from oldtownsandiego.org.
First Saturdays: Print Guild, using period technology to produce newspapers, cards, etc. and 1800's photography. Historic Contra Dance Society social, open to both dancers & spectators.
Second Saturdays: Californio Day, celebrating the early settlers in San Diego.
Third Saturdays: Fiber Arts (carding & spinning wool, weaving, knitting, crochet), Quilting, and Mormon Battalion Museum (games, crafts, & other activities).
Fourth Saturdays: Soap Makers (demonstrating historical techniques) and Mountain Men (music and other activities).
Enjoy San Diego!