Everyone... I mean everyone who lives in the desert Southwest USA looks for "cool" things to do in the summer months. Year round residents spend many hours boating and swimming in the Colorado River... or the pond (swimming pool) in their back yard. Gas prices will keep many of us from making long distance vacation plans... but the San Diego coast calls her siren song all summer long.
One of my favorite day trips is Old Town San Diego. Not only am I a history buff, but I can't get enough of Spanish Style architecture. The Old Town San Diego Historic Park recreates the early 1800's Mexican and American lifestyle. This touristy style park is huge... so if you haven't visited before, don't be surprised if you can't see it all in one day.
The main hacienda or complex consists of five main adobe buildings. Their is also a large La Casa mansion surrounding a garden courtyard. This is not a one stop museum... but an entire town filled with artifacts to help you see and feel the lifestyle that was Old San Diego.
A blacksmith shop, school house, churches.... and the first newspaper printing service in San Diego are all housed in this historic neighborhood. Originally... this Spanish settlement was a fort and a mission established in 1769. You won't have any problems fulfilling your shopping or dining desires either. Many of the shops and restaurants reflect the Spanish atmosphere and therefore you will be dining on Mexican fare and shopping for more than tourist trinkets.
There is a large picnic area... usually surrounded by vendors offering a variety of tasty treats. Don't be in hurry when you visit Old Town... it's worth taking a deep breath and relaxing. The cool ocean air finds it's way into the park and we usually find a shady spot to take a short siesta. Thoughts of the hot desert seem to melt away... at least for a few hours.
And... don't even think about missing Bazaar Del Mundo. My absolute favorite shopping area of San Diego. I have been going to this tiny Mexican inspired market for over 35 years and it is still... the best.
The Old Town San Diego park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street.