Old Town History

Old Town, San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. It was here that Father Serra came more than 225 years ago to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstones of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town, San Diego.
In 1969, the State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation established Old Town, San Diego State Historic Park to preserve the rich heritage of the 19th century. The park includes a main plaza where Kit Carson helped to raise the first American Flag in 1846, exhibits museums and living history demonstrations.

Old Town has fun events for the entire family all year long. Some of the more popular are Blessing of the Animals, Mormon Battalion Day, Folklorico Competition, Cinco de Mayo, Stagecoach Days, Fiestas Patrias Celebration (Mexican Independence Day), Dia de los Muertos, Holiday in the Park and Los Posados.

Historic buildings include: La Casa Estudillo, La Casa de Bandini, La Casa de Altamirano-Pedrorena and the Mason Street School, San Diego’s first one room schoolhouse.

Just up the hill from Old Town San Diego State Historic Park you’ll find Heritage Park where several of San Diego’s most notable Victorian homes have been relocated and authentically restored to their original splendor.

Just a short walk down San Diego Avenue is the Whaley House, an officially designated haunted house, the Little Adobe Chapel, the first Church in Old Town, and El Campo Santo, an 1850 Catholic Cemetery.