The minute you get a glimpse of just one of the many scenic San Diego views, you’ll understand why the beachy beauty has earned the nickname “America’s Finest City.” Surrounded by white sand beaches with magnificent waters, the Southern California haven is the epitome of travel bliss: endless activities, clear skies and brilliant views.
Almost everywhere you go in the city promises classic scenic San Diego views, but we must admit we have our favorites. The Old Town Trolley – San Diego team knows the ins and outs of the city — trust us to help you do and see it all. When you’re not touring with us, you can be sure you’ll see even more of the best views of San Diego by visiting the parks, peaks and places below.
Honoring the slain civil rights leader, the tree-lined Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade features sculptures like the stainless steel “Breaking of the Chains” by renowned artist Melvin Edwards. There is also a fountain and a hedge maze. Located across from the convention center, the promenade runs adjacent to Harbor Boulevard with its wide assortment of shops and restaurants. The esplanade connects several popular sites along the city’s waterfront. It is the setting for the annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration, which includes food, music, various activities and other entertainment.
Balboa Park is where the arts, culture and history of San Diego come together to create a 1,200 acre wonderland filled with unforgettable experiences for people of every age. Thriving botanical beauty flourishes throughout and surrounds 15 museums, a variety of performing arts and musical theaters, exotic gardens, fabulous restaurants, upscale shopping, the San Diego Zoo and exquisite Spanish Moor architecture. Known as America’s largest urban cultural park, more than 500,000 visitors come each year to delight in the beauty and amazing attractions of Balboa Park.
With tables and chairs, benches and stoops, with a fountain constantly gurgling a serene background noise and the bay just within eyesight, this urban piazza in the heart of Little Italy is just amazing. Enjoy a coffee, a rendezvous or a book while you bask in a sunlit day with a cool bay breeze. This memorial to neighborhood soldiers who died during the Korean War is a beautiful monument to these heroes. It serves as a tranquil oasis in the middle of one of the busiest blocks in the city.
Throughout the nation, Little Italy neighborhoods symbolize the tremendous contribution that Italians have made to the culture and history of the United States. Covering a gorgeous and walkable 48-square-block area of northwest downtown San Diego, this ethnic enclave is the largest of its kind in the country. Hosting several festivals throughout the year, the neighborhood boasts street-side cafes, art galleries and a beautiful urban park.
PETCO Park is spectacular in every way, combining the best sight lines in baseball with breathtaking views of San Diego. Architecturally magnificent, it celebrates the sea, the sky, the natural beauty, cultural diversity and unique spirit of our region. Innovative design features evoke the timeless traditions of baseball in an intimate setting, with state-of-the-art fan amenities to suit every taste and budget.
The San Diego Asian Pacific Historic District, San Diego’s historic Chinatown, is an eight-block district adjacent to and in part overlapping with the Gaslamp Quarter Historic District. The San Diego Chinatown is bounded by Market Street on the north, 2nd Ave. on the west, 6th ave. on the east and J st. on the south. 22 structures are considered historically contributing.
The William Heath Davis House is considered to be one of the most significant buildings in San Diego’s history. Visitors are intrigued by the exciting stories of the people who lived in it and the fact that it is the oldest wooden structure in San Diego. Its first owner, William Heath Davis, was the first to attempt to develop the new town—yet it was not until Alonzo Horton came along that the true city began to boom. And it is Horton that is credited with being San Diego’s founder. Incredibly, the William Heath Davis House was bought by Alonzo Horton and lived in by him and his wife for several years.
Stained glass windows, moldings, carvings, columns and railings are just a part of the fantastic masterpieces that line the streets in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Equipped with today’s gaslamps, brick sidewalks, landscaping, galleries, theaters, boutiques and shops, more than 100 restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the Gaslamp Quarter is where San Diego’s amazing history still thrives. Visited by millions of travelers each year, the area pulsates with activity from morning until the late night hours.
San Diego’s history dates back centuries. Seen as the entrance point for control of the west by Europeans, Presidio Park remains a place of history amidst the city of San Diego. Interpreting the entire site for guests is the Junipero Serra Museum which houses many artifacts dealing with Spanish and Mexican heritage, colonization, the beginnings of customs within California and showcasing the lives of those who began it all. The presidio, first built to protect colonists from attack, later took on roles as military headquarters and a central outdoor space to remember history.
As a testament to the foundational beginnings of California, heralding exploration by Spain and Mexico, this national historic landmark reminds all who visit of the obstacles, successes and struggles of the long period of colonization.As a testament to the foundational beginnings of California, heralding exploration by Spain and Mexico, this national historic landmark reminds all who visit of the obstacles, successes and struggles of the long period of colonization.
Located in Old Town, second oldest cemetery in San Diego had burials from 1849 to 1880. In 1933, the San Diego Historical Society restored in the cemetery based on descriptions and photographs, but over the years some of the boundaries have been moved to accommodate for city development. In 1889 a horse-drawn streetcar line was built through part of the cemetery, which later became San Diego Avenue. In 1942 it was paved over, leaving as many as 18 graves under the street and sidewalk. The Ghosts and Gravestones San Diego Tour takes visitors on an intimate nighttime journey through the cemetery to explain the haunted history of this Old Town landmark.
Completed in 1917, the Immaculate Conception Church traces its history back to the first Catholic Mass celebrated in California. Captain Sebastian Vizcaino had a tent hastily erected so that three Catholic priests accompanying his Spanish expedition could celebrate a mass of gratitude for a safe voyage Nov. 12, 1602. The current house of worship replaced an adobe structure built in 1851. The bell tower houses one of the two original bells from the San Diego Mission. The other is located at the Mission San Diego de Alcala.
Get MORE out of your summer in San Diego aboard the iconic Old Town Trolley and see the best first!
The USS Midway Museum sits in San Diego at the Navy Pier welcoming and enriching guests from around the world. Its patriotic service and military operations are brought to life throughout this interactive museum. Relive the legacy of the longest-serving aircraft carrier in U.S. Naval history-47 years! “Midway Magic” became a recognized term describing the amazing tenacity of the Midway and its crew. When other ships broke down or headed for port, the Midway continued to respond, to perform from the end of WWII all the way through Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
A visit to the San Diego Harbor is not complete without a stroll through the Embarcadero Marina Park. Surrounded by the bay on three sides, the Embarcadero Marina provides an authentic San Diego experience complete with scenic views and fresh sea air. Visitors also get a chance to discover the loyalty and courage of many of our Naval Military personnel through various memorials and statues including the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, The Homecoming Statue, and the USS San Diego Memorial.
San Diego’s Star of India is the ‘world’s oldest active sailing ship’. When many were still being created out of wood, this iron ship built in 1863 was a great experiment. Beginning the stages of her life known as Euterpe, this full-rigged ship continued until changes were made almost four decades later. The ship’s sailing began with rough seas. Within two trips to India she endured a cyclone, the death of her first captain, collision and a mutiny. Surviving this difficult beginning, she was turned into a cargo ship and returned to India four more times. In 1871, her ownership turned to London where she began a 25-year run of moving British emigrants to the South Pacific. In that quarter century, she circumnavigated over twenty trips. Her log suggests those trips often found her ‘laboring and rolling in a most distressing manner’, but she was the little iron ship that could. Life for the ship was as difficult as it was for those aboard. Emigrants spent time in cramped quarters, with limited rations and suffering disease and malnutrition. Although some perished during the journey, most saw a successful life in their new home of New Zealand.
San Diego, known as America’s finest city, is a year-round waterfront destination. With many days of sunshine, this southern California haven attracts visitors from across the globe yearning for ocean air, sandy feet and access to vitamin D 365 days a year. Situated in the southwest corner of the United States, San Diego is filled with people living active lifestyles, spending time outside and enjoying the salty sea air. Whether it’s the Pacific Ocean or the bay front, locals and visitors flock to the water. Although the coastline sees its fair share of action, downtown San Diego’s Seaport Village is a hub for locals and travelers alike. Throughout the year, thousands stroll along the San Diego Bay taking in the sights. Be it a beautiful exercise route, trendy retail shop, caricature drawing, or tourist souvenir you’re looking for – Seaport Village has it all!
Serving with distinction during the Mexican-American War, the volunteer Mormon Battalion was the only religiously based unit in U.S. military history. Commanded by Regular Army officers, the unit made a grueling overland march along the Santa Fe Trail from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego. The hands-on exhibits and other resources of the Mormon Battalion Historic Site chronicle the history of this unique military unit and the role that it played in the country’s westward expansion. Located at 2510 Juan Street in Old Town San Diego, the free museum is open seven days a week. Docents lead a 45-minute tour while attired in period dress.
Join us for free, historic storytelling, shows and entertainment every day of the week. Shop in our 40 unique gift stores, watch working artisans, or enjoy a bite to eat. Learn about the rich history of Old Town San Diego in our free museum. We invite you to visit our Festival Marketplace and experience Old Town San Diego, the Birthplace of California.
Old Town State Park is known as the birthplace of California. In 1821, when Mexico gained independence from Spain, a small group of Mexican settlers began building homes at the foot of the hillside below the first mission and Presidio. Because wood was scarce at the time, sun-dried adobe bricks were used. Thus, the buildings had a different look, a brownish-red color and rough exterior.