Explore: San Diego

Editorial StaffMay 1, 2023
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Flee from the desert heat this summer with a getaway to America’s Finest City – and its beautiful beaches, destination dining, cultural attractions and world-class hotels.



This vibrant, historical neighborhood offers visitors a unique and authentic experience. Located in the heart of San Diego, Old Town is filled with charming streets, colorful adobe buildings and a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a fun day out, here are five reasons to visit Old Town San Diego:

1 Experience the History

Old Town is home to some of the oldest buildings in San Diego, many of which have been beautifully preserved and now serve as museums, shops and restaurants. The neighborhood is also home to the Old Town State Historic Park, which offers visitors a chance to learn about the history of San Diego and see some of the original buildings from the 1800s.

Cafe Coyote, this photo and above right
Cafe Coyote, this photo and above right
2 Enjoy the Culture 

Old Town is known for its rich Hispanic heritage and features myriad authentic Mexican restaurants and shops. Visitors can sample delicious Mexican food and browse handmade crafts, clothing and artwork. They can also take a stroll through the historic Whaley House Museum or visit the beautiful Mormon Battalion Historic Site, which tells the story of the brave soldiers who volunteered to serve in the Mexican-American War.

3 Shop ’Til You Drop 

Old Town is a shopper’s paradise, with a wide variety of boutiques, antique stores and specialty shops. You can find everything from handmade jewelry and crafts to vintage clothing and unique gifts.

4 Indulge in Delicious Food 

Old Town boasts a bevy of tasty restaurants, from authentic Mexican taquerias to artisanal pizza joints. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, you’ll find something to satisfy your craving.

5 Have Some Fun 

In addition to its cultural and historical attractions, Old Town is also a great place to have some fun. Attend annual community activities like Cinco de Mayo, Fiestas Patrias, Día de los Muertos, Taste of Old Town and Las Posadas.



Taste of Old Town
Thursday, September 21, 2023

A San Diego institution, Taste of Old Town brings together the best restaurants in Old Town for an epic tasting experience. Bites from participating eateries are paired with tequilas to showcase the flavors in each.

Día de los Muertos
Thursday, November 2, 2023

Celebrate this deeply meaningful Mexican holiday with a traditional procession led by Aztec dancers as it moves from the Church of the Immaculate Conception to El Campo Santo Cemetery. See elaborate costumes and faces painted in the La Calavera Catrina-style. Visit more than 30 unique ofrendas (altars) set up across the community.

Las Posadas
Friday, December 8, 2023

This annual event is a centuries-old Mexican celebration representing the several nights Mary and Joseph, accompanied by a flock of shepherds and angels, sought shelter at different inns in Bethlehem. There will be six stations in Heritage County Park as attendees follow Joseph and Mary astride a donkey. Each station features a brief narration and call-and-response verses performed by volunteers from the Mormon Battalion Historic Site.

Casa de Freds
Casa de Freds


Bazaar del Mundo

Celebrating more than 50 years in business, Diane Powers’ Bazaar del Mundo Shops and Restaurants have attracted thousands of visitors with food and wares that capture the spirit and adventure of Latin America. A lively and colorful entry to San Diego’s Old Town community, Bazaar del Mundo is a favorite destination for food, folklore and fun.

Bazaar del Mundo’s history is colorful, to say the least. After winning the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s bid to restructure the Pico Motel in 1971, Powers began her journey to build a thriving collection of colorful shops and ethnic restaurants inspired by the Mexican bazaars she fell in love with during her early travels.

The Bazaar del Mundo Shops are comprised of colorful boutiques, each offering distinctive items from all over the world. The Gallery features artisan jewelry, including amazing turquoise and sterling silver pieces; Ariana is filled with artful women’s fashions and accessories; Artes de Mexico features the work of several masters of Mexican folk art; Guatemala Shop features treasures from across Latin America; and the popular Kitchen Shop sells vibrant tabletop and kitchen products, imported ceramics, home décor and handwoven textiles.

Everything has been carefully selected and curated to reflect the colorful cultures Powers so passionately admires. The atmosphere at Bazaar del Mundo is festive, authentic and inviting. Shoppers can stroll throughout the many shops, soaking in the vibrant colors, rich textiles and the beauty of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items.

Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, a stop by Bazaar del Mundo is not just a quick shopping trip, it’s a trip around the world.

4133 Taylor St., San Diego, 619-296-3161, bazaardelmundo.com

Bazaar del Mundo
Bazaar del Mundo
Bazaar del Mundo, this photo and above right
Bazaar del Mundo, this photo and above right

Casa Guadalajara

From “birdbath” margaritas to delicious Mexican cuisine, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town is synonymous with all things “fiesta.” Consistently voted as one of the most kid-friendly restaurants in San Diego, Casa Guadalajara’s extensive menu features an award-wining selection of seafood and both traditional and contemporary dishes inspired by the regional villages of Mexico, plus an abundant variety of healthy Mexican salads, vegetarian choices and a full gluten-free menu. Customer favorite dishes include Ensenada fish tacos, tequila-lime shrimp and carne asada tampiqueña.

The gurgling fountains and lush patio with its 250-year-old pepper tree, strolling mariachis and colorful dining rooms make Casa Guadalajara a not-to-be-missed San Diego experience. Owner Diane Powers seamlessly creates an ambiance that satisfies all your senses with bright, vibrant and festive décor. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner or a large celebration with family and friends, Casa Guadalajara is the perfect place for any fiesta.

4105 Taylor St., San Diego, 619-295-5111, casaguadalajara.com

Casa Guadalajara, this photo and above right
Casa Guadalajara, this photo and above right

Casa de Pico

Also synonymous with all things “fiesta,” this local legend is known for its award-winning recipes, giant “birdbath” margaritas and vibrant ambiance. The restaurant also has a rich history in San Diego, dating back more than 50 years.

Designed to capture the vibrant spirit of Mexico, the restaurant has maintained its original charm with hacienda-like archways, handcrafted, wrought iron fixtures and beautiful landscaping. Filled with vivid colors and authentic folk art and a luscious, heated outdoor patio with a giant fountain, Casa de Pico brings you the very best of Mexican culture.

Customers enjoy outdoor patio dining year-round, surrounded by lush greenery and splashing fountains. Indoors, cozy dining rooms are alive with folk art and hand-painted decor, creating the perfect family-friendly environment. Casa de Pico has long-time diners from everywhere – San Diego County, Los Angeles, Arizona, even abroad, who have stayed loyal throughout the years due to the welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff.

Must-order dishes include the grilled chicken and mango quesadilla, tequila-lime shrimp and carne asada tampiqueña. The full menu, including the cheese crisp special – a classic served since 1971 – is truly a sight to behold. All of the restaurant’s recipes are made from scratch with only the finest and freshest ingredients. Casa de Pico also serves up delicious margaritas in three generous sizes, from 17- to 32-ounce glasses, with various flavor options including traditional lemon-lime, strawberry, raspberry, peach or banana. The restaurant’s selection of more than 95 of the most popular tequilas join forces to create some of the best and most flavorful margaritas you’ll find anywhere in San Diego.

Casa de Pico has a rich history in San Diego. Opened in 1971 by Diane Powers, an accomplished entrepreneur and interior designer, Casa de Pico was originally located in San Diego’s Old Town State Park. A San Diego native, Powers purchased her own design firm in the late 1960s and embarked on plans to build an attraction that would recreate the beautiful Mexican bazaars she had long admired. She leased the site of the rundown and boarded-up Casa de Pico Motel from the state and started a legendary transformation of the space to create Bazaar del Mundo, a colorful complex of shops and restaurants – including Casa de Pico. Casa de Pico relocated to Grossmont Center in 2005 – to the delight of many East County and La Mesa residents.

5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa, 619-463-3267, casadepico.com

Casa De Pico, this photo and above right
Casa De Pico, this photo and above right


Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Carlsbad’s Spanish Mission-style icon lies on 400 acres just 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. Welcome summer with a getaway to experience the lush property’s eight sparkling pools, award-winning spa, stunning golf course and world-class tennis courts. Signature restaurants Vue, Bar Traza and Bob’s Steak & Chop House offer must-try menu selections under the leadership of executive chef John Beriker and an expert culinary team.

Speaking of tempting flavors, Memorial Day kicks off the Summer of Tea, a tribute to the season’s most refreshing elixir, featuring tea-infused treats throughout the resort, including a curated summer pool menu, specialty drink offerings and even a few botanical tea spa treatments. Music lovers, be sure to catch the Live from La Costa (livefromlacosta.com) summer music series on select dates through August. For family fun, kids will delight in endless activities from waterslides to nature walks to movie nights. Reserve your summer stay now and take advantage of irresistible offers like the Suite Stayover offer for 30 percent off luxe suites or villas.

2100 Costa Del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, 760-438-9111, omnilacosta.com

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Bahia Resort Hotel

Escape to the Bahia Resort Hotel — celebrating 70 years as San Diego’s premier Mission Bay retreat. Tucked away on an idyllic 14-acre peninsula, the Bahia boasts recently renovated guest rooms, studios and suites, each with its own balcony or patio providing jaw-dropping views of the bay or the resort’s lush tropical gardens. Take in the scenery on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler cruise or by kayaking, standup paddle boarding, sailing or bicycling around the San Diego Bay. When hunger strikes, stop by Dockside 1953 — the resort’s delicious, nautically inspired restaurant showcasing views of the bay and marina.

998 W. Mission Bay Dr., San Diego, 858-488-0551, bahiahotel.com

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

It’s always tiki time at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa’s tropical San Diego hideaway on Mission Bay. Everywhere you look, Polynesian flourishes – totems, torches, koi ponds, palm trees, indoor waterfalls and Mai Tais galore – transport you to a slower-paced piece of paradise. Keep the calm going at The Catamaran Spa, San Diego’s only beachfront spa. Bring your best beach ensembles to celebrate the return of Sunset Luaus on the Bay, a summer tradition that desert dwellers can’t seem to get enough of. With hula dancing, lei greetings and a Hawaiian buffet, you’ll want to linger long past sunset.

3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego, 858-488-1081, catamaranresort.com

Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium


Birch Aquarium

Fifteen minutes north of downtown San Diego, you will find Birch Aquarium, a hidden gem nestled among the cliffs of La Jolla. As the public outreach center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Birch Aquarium’s hands-on exhibits explore the latest in oceanographic discovery, while introducing guests to a variety of amazing creatures.

Starting this Memorial Day weekend, there’s more time for fun. Birch Aquarium is offering extended hours from May 27-September 4, 2023. The aquarium will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with the last entry at 6 p.m.

During extended hours, all exhibits and hands-on activities — including Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins — will remain open and guests will also be able to explore the two-story Giant Kelp Forest.

In the Hall of Fishes, guests come face to face with a Giant Pacific octopus, a rescued loggerhead sea turtle, sea nettles and leopard sharks, to name a few. Out on Tide Pool Plaza, guests will take in stunning ocean views while getting hands-on with local tide pool animals including juvenile sharks, then it’s off to Seadragons & Seahorses, one of the largest seadragon habitats in the world.

Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium

Last summer, Birch Aquarium opened Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins, an all-new exhibit featuring the smallest penguin species in the world. The exhibit follows these tiny penguins on their journey from hatchlings to adults, highlighting the challenges they face in a changing climate while celebrating the features that make them so unique (and adorable).

Birch Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children ages 3-17 (ages 2 and under are free). Note that the aquarium often sells out, so advanced reservations are required.

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 858-534-3474, aquarium.ucsd.edu

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