Old Town San Diego
I am a regular visitor to Old Town San Diego. It is conveniently located near the 5 and 8 freeways just north of Downtown San Diego. There is a lot to do in this tiny neighborhood. The irony is that people come there mainly for Mexican food on San Diego Ave. I visited several Mexican restaurants on that street, and it was far below average. However, there is some very interesting Mexican food tucked away near Congress & Twiggs at Rockin’ Baja! What to do?
(1) See the state park!
As a first time visitor, you should be sure to take a thorough tour of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. See how life was in the 1800’s in San Diego. See some tiny shops in the theme of that period as well. There is a historic court house, a stable, a trolley tour, leather depot, Mexican food, and more! Nearby Precidio Hills has great views, and nice Hacienda style architecture that you won’t want to miss.
(2) Ice cream to be inspired by…
Korky’s ice Cream & Coffee is a fun place to get ice cream. It is not your average place either. They seem to switch their flavors every so often which means that they are never boring! I remember a year ago they had Jackfruit Ice Cream, Birthday Cake Ice Cream, and even Avocado Ice Cream. During my last visit I sampled some Macadamia Ice Cream and saw that they had Bubble Gum Ice Cream — there’s something to chew on! The ice cream is great, but the styrofoam cups have got to go! Porcelein for adults — styrofoam for children!
(3) Lobster bites anyone?
Rockin’ Baja is my favorite Mexican Restaurant in Old Town. But, it is not on the main strip. It is near the parking lot at Congress & Twiggs. They have seafood buckets, tacos of all types, seafood burritos, and great drinks — but my favorite is lobster bites. You get several tempura style bites served with cabbage and a chipotle dipping sauce. I am not sure what their secret ingredient is, but these bites are crunchy, very juicy, flavorful, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they use a little tequila in the recipe.
(4) Shopping to learn from.
There are many little shops you can stick your head in. They mainly sell Mexican souvenirs. But, there is an interesting store on San Diego ave that sells Native American art. There is also a small African heritage mini-museum on Congress street. It has not been there more than a few months, but is an interesting way to spend a few minutes.
There are dozens of inexpensive hotels along the 8 freeway on Hotel Cicle North & South. But, if you have the budget, you might enjoy staying in old town instead. Old town is quaint, and is a happy, friendly place as well. There is La Quinta Inn, Courtyard San Diego Old Town near the 5. Then, a little bit closer to the parks there is Heritage Park Inn, Best Western Plus, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant. I have not stayed at any of these hotels yet, but the Best Western Plus catches my eye the most. they have nice traditional architecture and are the closest to the action.
(6) Got Haunt?
Old Town San Diego is one of the most haunted places in America! The historic Whaley House is on the top ten list for “real” haunted houses in California and high on the list nationwide. You can purchase tickets next door and take a guided tour of this house that has a forboding past! One and a half blocks east there is a haunted graveyard as well. Many companies give ghost tours of Old Town, and I recommend taking one if you have the time. I did 16 years ago, and still remember bits and pieces of the tour!
I was sitting in the courthouse of the Whaley House during my recent tour less than a year ago. The couple in front of me wanted me to take a picture of them using their hand-held. I did, and there was a huge orb that distorted their face. How bizarre. I didn’t see anything with my naked eyes, but the camera caught all types of paranormal activity. I wouldn’t call this place “creepy”, but it is filled with spirits! There are at least seven spirits that seem to be residing at this location. Mostly family members of the deceased that used to live there.
Mr. Whaley’s ghost was very friendly with me. I never actually witnessed anything, but two blocks down the road from his house, after the tour, I smelled his distinctive cigar smoke which is his trademark! Then, I discussed his ghost with my psychic. I asked if the cigar smoke was really from that ghost. Then, immediately after we both smelled the cigar smoke. I recently walked by the house a few days ago, and today in my car, I smelled very thick cigar smoke once, and then two minutes later again. According to the tour guide, when Mr. Whaley wants to say hello, you will feel a presence and smell his tell-tale cigar smoke! Casper is not the only friendly ghost around I guess!
(7) End it all with a glass of Cabernet!
There is a very pleasant wine bar on Congress just east of Twiggs. They have a very long list of wines by the glass, and it is a pleasant place to just hang out and spend an hour.
(8) Other restaurants to note
I am a fan of the Latin restaurant (Berta’s) as well as the Old Town Mining Company — both conveniently located near Rockin’ Baja near Congress and Twiggs. Enjoy unusual menus, pleasant service, and some nice artwork too at Berta’s