5 Memorable Ways to Experience Old Town San Diego This Summer

Editorial StaffMay 24, 2019
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1. Browse Artsy Shops Teeming with Latin American Influence

Step into a world of brightly colored creativity reminiscent of a vintage Mexican market complete with charming cobbled streets, authentic Mariachi tunes and artfully adorned shops at Bazaar del Mundo. Celebrating over 40 years of business, The Bazaar del Mundo Shops feature various boutiques, each offering one-of-a-kind gifts from around the globe and capture the attention of many passersby. Whether you’re a window shopper or collector, there’s a home accessory, collectible, fashion, art or craft to bring home.

Your first stop should be Ariana — one of the most popular boutiques in the courtyard offering bold artist-created women’s fashion including hand-dyed clothing, bags, wallets, belts and jewelry. Next, head to The Gallery, featuring artisan-crafted Native American art and jewelry; the Laurel Burch Galleria to pick up a colorful bag designed for animal lovers; Artes de Mexico, offering hand-carved folk art; the Guatemala Shop filled with traditional handmade Latin American crafts and textiles; and, the Kitchen Shop equipped with bright and bold pieces to liven up your kitchen space. Continue your shopping excursion at Treasures for a quality selection of worldwide gifts; Libros for a fun book; and, the Design Center to explore beautiful Southwest furnishings.


2. Satisfy Your Taste Buds with Award-Winning, Colorful Mexican Cuisine

Tequila Lime Shrimp at Casa Guadalajara
Tequila Lime Shrimp at Casa Guadalajara

Established in 1995 and on the corner of Taylor and Juan Streets at the north entrance of Old Town, Casa Guadalajara has grown to become one of the most popular Mexican dining destinations in San Diego. Serving up award-winning Mexican cuisine in a beautiful courtyard setting, owner Diane Powers seamlessly creates an ambiance that satisfies all of your senses with bright, festive décor and lush patios. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily and breakfast is served on the weekends. Favorites include Ensenada Fish Tacos, Tequila Lime Shrimp and Carne Asada Tampiqueña. Join for Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with drink specials and free appetizers available. Listen to the lively sounds of their mariachis, order one of their famous “Bird Bath” margaritas and admire Mexican folk-art adorned architecture.


3. Discover Hundreds of Hidden Treasures 

Vendors at the Mata Ortiz Pottery Show
Vendors at the Mata Ortiz Pottery Show

Known as one of the nation’s most extensive collection of genuine Latin American folk art, traditional clothing and textiles, unique collectibles and authentic jewelry, the Latin American Festival held this August 2-4 is a must-do. Visitors will experience a lively marketplace setting featuring colorful, elaborately decorated booths and umbrellas with Latin American folk artists hailing from Oaxaca, Jalisco, Peru and El Salvador.

Marvel at live demonstrations of artists showcasing traditional woodcarving, painting and weaving skills at the Mata Ortiz Pottery Show. As the highlight of the weekend festivities, Mata Ortiz pottery is based on a centuries-old art form renowned for its detailed process and hand-painted geometric and ancestral symbols. Pick up a handmade good like Oaxacan wooden animal carvings, San Antonio embroidery, Talavera pottery and much more. As you browse the market, listen to tunes from the talented Latin American folk band, TINKU, performing over 19 musical rhythms exclusively employing native instruments.

This year’s featured artists include:

  • Jacobo Angeles
  • Adriana Jimenez Nunez
  • Jose and Annette Armas
  • Pedro and Diego Montaño
  • Denise and John Chicarelli


4. Stroll Through One of California’s Most Popular Visitor Attractions

Photo credit: whaleyhouse.org
Photo credit: whaleyhouse.org

Established as a historic house museum on May 25, 1960, The Whaley House Museum now welcomes more than 125,000 visitors annually; making it one of Southern California’s most popular visitor attractions. We bet you didn’t know this attraction is also the No. 1 most haunted house in the United States, according to Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted.

Experience a classic example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture during a daytime, nighttime, group or spooky ghost tour year-round. Purchase your tickets at the Whaley House Museum Shop, next door to the Whaley House.


5. The Best Way to Sightsee the City

Photo credit: trolleytours.com
Photo credit: trolleytours.com

Hop aboard an Old Town Trolley Tour to cruise America’s Finest City in style. Let trolley conductors tell fun facts, cool historical tidbits and colorful anecdotes as you take in the warm Southern California breeze. Choose from one- or two-day tickets featuring free unlimited reboarding, stops at 10 museums, map brochure, day planner and discount coupons to local attractions and restaurants. Maximize your experience with a City Lights Night Tour, La Jolla & San Diego Beaches Tour or Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour. Purchase your tickets online to save 10 percent off.


To learn more about Old Town San Diego and to plan your summer escape, visit oldtownsandiegoguide.com.


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