Old Town San Diego State Historic Park - California

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide: US-Parks.com

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park presents the opportunity to experience the history of early San Diego by providing a connection to the past.

Learn about life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872. Even today, life moves more slowly in this part of San Diego, where the hustle and bustle is balanced with history and fiestas. Visitors are offered a glimpse into yesteryear, as converging cultures transformed San Diego from a Mexican pueblo to an American settlement. The core of restored original historic buildings from the interpretive period are complemented by reconstructed sites, along with early twentieth century buildings designed in the same mode. The Historic Plaza remains a gathering place for community events and historic activity. Five original adobe buildings are part of the historic park, which includes museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants.

La Casa de Estudillo is a mansion built around a garden courtyard. La Casa de Machado y Stewart is full of artifacts that reflect ordinary life of the period. Some of the other historic buildings include the Mason Street School (California's first public schoolhouse), La Casa de Machado y Silvas, the San Diego Union Printing Office (site of the city's oldest surviving newspaper office), and the first brick courthouse. The Seeley Stables Museum, with newly rehabilitated exhibits on overland transportation, houses one of the finest wagon and carriage collections.

Visitors can experience a working blacksmith shop, enjoy music, see or touch the park's burros and engage in activities that represent early San Diego.

San Diego became California's first Spanish settlement when a mission and fort were established in 1769.


The park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego, and is conveniently adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service.

Service Reductions

California State Parks is implementing service reductions in order to meet Department budget cuts this fiscal year. Service reductions implemented Fall 2009 through Spring 2010 include a rotating closure of museums daily and shortened museum hours. Additionally one restroom building in the park is closed; three fully accessible restroom buildings are available to park visitors. Service reductions do not pertain to park concessions.

Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center

James Robinson came to San Diego from Texas in the Spring of 1850 and developed a successful law practice. He built this two-story structure in 1853 to serve not only as his family residence but also as the home of the San Diego Herald, the San Diego and Gila Railroad office, as well as other private offices. Robinson died in 1857 and his widow Sarah Robinson sold the building to Louis Rose, who probably purchased it as a family residence. Fire destroyed the roof in 1874 and the building fell into ruins by the turn of the century. The reconstructed building now serves as Old Town State Historic Park's visitor center and has on display a model of Old Town as it looked in 1872, created by Joseph Toigo.

McCoy House Museum

In March 2000, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) completed construction of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Entry Redevelopment project, which included extensive landscaping and reconstruction of the McCoy House. State Park archaeologists excavated in Old Town San Diego in 1995 to recover information needed to reconstruct a large residence built in 1869 by James McCoy, a well-to-do Irish immigrant who served as San Diego’s sheriff and state senator. Prior to 1851 the property belonged to Maria Eugenia Silvas, descendant of a Spanish Colonial soldier who came to Alta California in the 1770s.

Children in Nature Campaign

Discover California's Past as part of the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights.

Brief History and Walking Tour Guide

A new guide book, revised and updated!, available at the Visitor Information Center.

Wi-Fi Service

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park offers ATandT Wi-Fi Service, around the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center.

Wireless Internet now also available at Hacienda de las Rosas retail shop within the Fiesta de Reyes area.

This service enables park visitors with wireless enabled laptop computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access the Internet.

For more information about this service please see January 19, 2005, News Release.

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