Old Town San Diego SHP
State Historic Park
Winter 2013 Special Events
Holiday in the Park: Celebrate the season at Old Town San Diego!
Saturday, December 14th 2013 12:00 PM tp 8:00 PM
Come to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to see festive decorations, carolers, and fun crafts and activities. Go on a tour of gingerbread houses of all shapes and sizes.
2013 Special Event Calendar
We are really excited about this year's programs, and we hope to see you at Old Town San Diego. Click here for the event calendar.
ADA Improvement Projects
UPDATE - 10/8/13:
Various park museums may have partial closures during the work.
The Blacksmith, Seeley Yard and Donkey Area will be closed through approx. 10/25/13
The Machado-Stewart Area will be closed through approx. 10/25/13.
A garden area of the La Casa de Estudillo will be closed through approx. 10/25/13.
All Concessions and other park museums are OPEN. Please pardon the inconvenience.
In an effort to bring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park into compliance with federal and state accessibility requirements, work is underway to upgrade features to better accommodate visitors with disabilities. The project provides improved access to all of the park’s attractions and concessions. The project scope includes the following general improvements;
• General barrier removal and safety improvements
• Upgraded pathways and routes
• Improved signage and interpretive elements
• Parking improvements
• Restroom improvements
• Improved access to buildings
• Upgraded day use elements such as picnicking, drinking fountains, seating, etc.
You may make room reservations for the Cosmopolitan Hotel through Reserve America!
Do you have an interest in community service? A respect for history? An interest in early San Diego? Want to meet new people? Opportunities for Volunteers in Old Town
Searching for people married at “Ramona’s Marriage Place” in Old Town San Diego
News Release Waterman Project
View a Video of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
California State Parks Launches Video Gallery Featuring Huell Howser’s California’s Golden Parks Video Series - News Release
Visitors can experience a working blacksmith shop, enjoy music, see or touch the park's burros and engage in activities that represent early San Diego.
San Diego became California's first Spanish settlement when a mission and fort were established in 1769.
The park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego, and is conveniently adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service.
Old Town San Diego, CA Latitude/Longitude: 32.7542 / -117.1961
Robinson-Rose House Visitor Information Center
James Robinson came to San Diego from Texas in the Spring of 1850 and developed a successful law practice. He built this two-story structure in 1853 to serve not only as his family residence but also as the home of the San Diego Herald, the San Diego and Gila Railroad office, as well as other private offices. Robinson died in 1857 and his widow Sarah Robinson sold the building to Louis Rose, who probably purchased it as a family residence. Fire destroyed the roof in 1874 and the building fell into ruins by the turn of the century. The reconstructed building now serves as Old Town State Historic Park's visitor center and has on display a model of Old Town as it looked in 1872, created by Joseph Toigo.
In the mid-1800s, Albert Lewis Seeley moved from Los Angeles to Old Town San Diego to establish a stage line from San Diego to Los Angeles. Seeley bought the former Juan Bandini residence, which he renovated and turned into the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Next door to his new hotel, Seeley built a stable to accommodate the horses and store the stagecoaches used for his stage runs. This building was eventually torn down, but due to its history it was reconstructed in 1974 by California State Parks to house the Roscoe E. "Pappy" Hazard Collection of wagons, carriages, coaches, and Western memorabilia. The artifacts, which are spread throughout the stables and adjoining sheds, show the evolution of land transportation throughout San Diego and Southern California "From Carreta to Carriage."
Hazard Collection Information
McCoy House Museum
Children in Nature Campaign
Discover California's Past as part of the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights.
Brief History & Walking Tour Guide
A new guide book, revised and updated!
Available at the Visitor Information Center.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel Restored
A Tribute to Skilled Labor
Victor A. Walsh, State Park Historian
When Albert Seeley built the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1869, faux finishes were extremely popular and in high demand. Many techniques were refined and many materials were developed to help skilled crafts people make common or inexpensive building materials look more elegant or expensive. Wooden panels were often painted to look like fine marble, soft or inexpensive woods refinished to look like prized hardwood.
Faux finishes continued to be popular until the demand for sleek, modern, mass-produced, pre-fabricated goods dominated the market. Even with the renewed interest in the techniques and crafts of the past, there are few people who are skilled in them today.
The first floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel was constructed of adobe, sun baked clay blocks that were finished to look like mortared stone! How do you make adobe blocks resemble mortared stone?
Three coats of lime plaster are used to finish the walls on the first floor. Lime is used because it allows the thick adobe walls to “breathe.” Unlike cement or paint, it does not trap moisture inside the walls.
To apply the third and final coat, the walls must be wetted down with water; rubbed free of all cracks, and then smoothed and leveled. Plaster is usually mixed at a ratio of 2½ parts washed sand to 1 part lime putty.
The finish coat must be thinly applied — no more than ⅛” thick. Masons traditionally used cork-faced wood floats to enhance smoothness, and long, two-handled wood floats, called a darby, to level the finish coat. They used a straightedge and sharp-pointed awl to line the simulated mortar joints in the plaster while it dried.
Popular taste has changed over the years but the craft has changed little since these adobe walls were first scored in 1873 to resemble a “stone front.”
- Hours of Operation:
- Park Office Telephone:
San Diego CountyCounty
How Are We Doing?
Visitor Center & Museums - Daily
10am - 4pm October - April. If you desire to visit museums after 4pm, call to confirm.
10am - 5pm May - September
Admission is Free
Museums closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day
State Park Restrooms Hours: (subject to change due to staffing)
9am-5pm Sunday - Thursday, 6pm Friday/Saturday. (Winter Season)
9am-6pm Sunday - Thursday, 7pm Friday/Saturday (Spring, Summer, Fall Season)
Additional Restrooms available at Restaurants, Fiesta de Reyes, and Old Town Market.
Retail Shops & Restaurants
10am - 7pm, hours may vary
Regularly Scheduled Programs
Daily 11 am & 2 pm
Begins at the Robinson-Rose Visitor Center
Educational Tours are also offered with reservation.
Click here to view our brochure.
Contact for scheduling tours:
Visitor Information Center (619) 220-5422; email@example.com
Living History Activities
Wednesdays & Saturdays
10 am - 4 pm
Thursdays, & most Saturdays
Bringing Early San Diego History to Life
Historic games, activities, programs, staff in period attire, volunteers, tours, animals, blacksmith, and more are some of the exciting enhancements. Walk around the park and find a variety of things happening in different places.
Each year, a variety of special events that represent the history of early San Diego take place in the park. Click here for our special event calendar.
Cygnet Theatre presents Storytelling on the Green
Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays 11:15am and 11:45am
Free 2-man outdoor performances in the Park Plaza.
Shows include: Pyramus and Thisby, Macbeth, and Hamlet among others (even special holiday performances of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol).
4002 Wallace St.
San Diego, CA, 92110
Parking and entrance to the park are FREE, and is conveniently located adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service.
Click HERE for transit information.
Contact the Superintendent
For general information, call the park directly at (619) 220-5422. For further comments, contact the Visitor Services Superintendent at (619) 688-3398. To receive park information via email, send to Visitor Services Superintendent
California State Parks is proud to present the following podcast. This program is currently hosted by CA State Parks Foundation.
"The Casa de Pico Motor Hotel - Old Town San Diego State Historic Park". (Transcript)
For more podcasts of other California State Parks, visit CA State Park Foundation Podcast Series
Download an MP3 version HERE (Large 6MB file, right click to save to computer)
Strategic Plan for Interpretation
The intent of the Strategic Plan for Interpretation is to provide a dynamic process, through which interpretation of Old Town San Diego can be regularly revisited, revised, refreshed, and improved.
The attached document is in PDF format, size approx. 7MB. It is recommended to save the document (right click), prior to opening.
Download Strategic Plan for Interpretation