Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Top choice historic site in San Diego
Image by Richard Cummins / Getty Images

On the site of San Diego's first European settlement, Old Town consists of a cluster of restored or rebuilt historic 19th-century buildings filled with quaint exhibits, souvenir stores and cafes. A good place to start is at the visitor center in 1853 Robinson-Rose House; see the neat model of the pueblo in 1872 and pick up a self-guided tour pamphlet ($3). Staff also run free guided tours daily at 11am and 2pm.

The Robinson-Rose House opens onto the central plaza, the center of social activity. On the far side, the Casa de Estudillo is the most magnificent of the restored adobe mansions with a lovely garden and furnished period rooms. Another highlight is the Seeley Stable where you can marvel at old stage coaches, an ox-drawn cart and a massive two-wagon freighter. A fun stop is Racine & Laramie, which shows you what a tobacconist shop looked like in 1869.