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What do you do when you only have a few days to spend in California on your first trip? You spend one night in San Diego. Of course, I would’ve loved to spend more time there, and I hope to go back one day. But for this trip–one night.

Before Old Town San Diego

We’d already rented a car and stayed two nights in LA. We had a fabulous time checking out some of the places we’d only seen on TV shows or movies. We stayed at the Magic Castle Hotel and had a great time in Hollywood. You can click here to read all about the Magic Castle Hotel. To read more about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, click here. How about the Sunset Strip? Click here.

After our second night at the Magic Castle Hotel, we woke up early to make the drive to San Diego. I loved seeing the towns along the coast as we made the drive. Once we got to the San Diego area, the first thing we did was go to La Jolla to see the seals and sea lions. You can read more about that here.

We then had lunch at In-N-Out Burger for the first time. Yum!

After lunch, we checked into our lodging for the night which was at a lovely Marriot Courtyard just a few blocks from Old Town. The theming was perfect for the area!

We did end up driving since we knew we’d have a late evening, but you could easily walk to Old Town from this hotel.

Exploring Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

To be fair, we really didn’t spend any daylight hours in the historic park area. We did walk through there after dark, but we spent more time in the shops just outside of the historic area.

Old Town San Diego

Who can resist shopping?

Old Town San Diego

We had a lot of fun just strolling around and taking in the atmosphere.

Old Town San Diego

So fun!

The Whaley House

The Whaley House

In this area, you’ll see the historic Whaley House. Thomas Whaley began building this house in 1855 on the site of some gallows. Whaley moved his wife and children in upon its completion in 1857. They opened a general store on the bottom floor of the house, and later, after a fire, the home also served as a courthouse and a theatre. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you think it’s haunted. As for my family…well, a couple of moments during our visit made us believers.

The Whaley House Museum in San Diego

You can take tours during the day, but we had a ghost tour later that evening. After dark. Click here to read more about our ghost tour sponsored by Ghosts and Gravestones.

The Whaley House, Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego–The Food

Old Town San Diego Food

No matter where you go in Old Town San Diego, you won’t be far from mouthwatering food. One thing I knew I wanted to do when planning this trip was to try some authentic Mexican food prepared in Southern California. My picky family humored me and agreed, but now I had another problem. Which place to try?

Old Town San Diego Food

Everywhere we turned, people were making handmade tortillas. This Missouri girl was ready to give them a try. We asked several people working in the shops which place was best, and everyone seemed to have their favorites.

Old Town San Diego Food

I decided we really couldn’t go wrong. We made sure that the place we did choose had chicken nuggets or strips for the kid and something for Jeff. We went with Old Town Mexican Cafe.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, Old Town San Diego

They said they were the original handmade tortilla makers. And they had chicken nuggets.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

We waited outside until our table was ready, which wasn’t too long. We discovered once inside that the place was happening.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

It had a festive feel complete with a Mariachi band. It still felt family-friendly, though.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

It wasn’t long before I got to taste one of those handmade tortillas. Completely yummy and worth the mission!

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

Jeff decided to try a plain hamburger, one of his common choices.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

Kristin was happy with her chicken nuggets off the kids’ menu.

Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego

The Beauty of Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Be sure to spend some time walking around the area.

Old Town San Diego

I’m sad to say that we really didn’t get to the historic part until after dark. The shopping and food certainly distracted us. We did have a little bit of time before our ghost tour. We walked around the historic buildings.

Old Town San Diego

And there was a fiesta going on towards the back of the park. It sounded like a good time.

Old Town San Diego

Soon, it was time for our ghost tour. I wish we had another day for Old Town San Diego, let alone more time in San Diego itself! I guess we’ll just have to go back one day. For our first trip to California as a family, we were certainly packing a lot of fun and memories in. If you haven’t been to Old Town San Diego, I hope you put it on your must-do list. We had a great time, and I think you will, too!

Old Town San Diego
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  1. Your pictures showcase Mexican culture and traditions. I didn’t realize this in San Diego. I’d like to be there for Comic Con.

  2. San Diego is on our itinerary for our California road trip. Hopefully we will be able to head west in the next couple of years!

  3. I’ve love to visit the History park. San Diego has some really great history that I would love to explore.

  4. lisa Manderino Reply

    I love Old Town. Eating is the best! There are so many amazing restaurants!

  5. Love Old Town San Diego! You’ve included a few spots I need to check out next time!

  6. Cindy Moore Reply

    I’d love to visit San Diego! I’ve never been north of the LA area. And I even have cousins near San Diego. Time to plan a trip.

  7. I love visiting places with tons of history, and Old Town San Diego looks like the perfect match! Oh and Mexican is my favorite food, so it looks like I would be in heaven there! I’d gladly try them all with you! 😉

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