Historic Sites in Old Town
Old Town is very walkable with all the historic sites within an easy walk. Of course, you can take a break from all the walking to enjoy a nice restaurant or shop along the way. Here are some of our favorite historical sites in Old Town.
La Casa de Estudillo
Adobes are Spanish-style houses made from earth and other organic materials. La Casa de Estudillo is a preserved adobe house that was once the envy of all who saw it. Constructed by father and son settlers in 1827, La Casa de Estudillo once contained 12 rooms, a Catholic chapel, and a turreted balcony on the roof, from which bullfights and other events would be watched.
La Casa de Estudillo is located right in the middle of the Old Town San Diego Historic Park.
Do you prefer your local history to have a tinge of spookiness? If so, The Whaley House is perfect for you. With more than 125,000 guests on a yearly basis, the Whaley House is extremely popular among travelers all over the world. It will be left up to you to decide whether the historic building is truly haunted, but you're bound to enjoy the quaint stylings and the glimpse inside Old Town life in the 1800s when the house was first created.
What today is Cosmopolitan Hotel started as an adobe home built in 1827 by a revolutionary named Don Juan Bandini. For its time this U-shaped adobe home was a grand mansion and the social center of town. It took about 10,000 adobe bricks weighing about 60 lbs. each to make the structure that still stands today. It is said that one of Bandini’s named Ysidora was on the roof and fell but was caught by Lt. John McHenry Hollings who was on horseback, saving her life.
Then in 1869 it was sold to Albert Steeley and plans were made to make it into a hotel with a parlor and saloon to serve meals and drinks. A second story was added on top of the original adobe building, not actually attached to the adobe but directly on top in a Greek Revival architectural style. The focus of the building was a balcony that went all the way around this U-shaped hotel so that its guests could watch all that was happening in the plaza.
Today the Cosmopolitan Hotel is still a functioning hotel and it is meant to be one of the most haunted hotels in San Diego. If you ask around you will hear that Ysidors, the original owners’ daughter, visits room 11 of the hotel and likes to turn on and off the lights and stroke the long hair of women. There is even a ghost tour that is centered at this hotel where you can try to communicate with the ghosts!
Originally constructed as a hotel in 1851, the Colorado House was completely rebuilt after a fire destroyed the structure in 1992. In its reconstructed state, it still looks similar to the style of buildings at the time. The Colorado House is now home to the Wells Fargo Museum, which offers a step back into Old Town's historic past.
The McCoy House
The original McCoy House was constructed to be the living place of Sheriff James McCoy. It was designed in the Greek Revival architectural style which was so popular at the time. While the home has long since been reconstructed, this style has been preserved to show what 19th-century life had to offer. It's now home to a museum, which tells the story of this house and of James McCoy. It is definitely worth a visit!
Presidio Park was home to the very first European settlement in 1769. It comprises 40-acres, which overlooks Old Town itself. Pack a picnic to enjoy in the park grounds or visit the shops and museums to learn more about this historic landmark. The Junipero Serra Museum features exhibits on the Kumeyaay people, who inhabited the land thousands of years before the first settlers made their way here. There are also exhibits devoted to Mexican settlers, as well as Spanish explorers, both of which had a major influence on local culture.