Visitor’s Guide to Old Town and Point Loma
San Diego has long been known far and wide as “America’s Finest City.” And a big part of the reason why? Our fantastically eclectic collection of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct vibe and personality.
Among the most vibrant are our nearby neighbors Point Loma and Old Town. Each is chock-full of amazing things to do, sights to see, and memorable experiences.
Here’s a closer look at these dynamic districts.
San Diego is California’s oldest city, having been first settled by Spanish explorers in 1542 and inhabited by the native Kumeyaay people for millennia prior. San Diego was officially chartered as a city in 1769, before America even declared her 1776 independence. Our oldest neighborhood is Old Town — today known as “The Birthplace of California.” Our fair state didn’t even become a state until 1850, but Old Town had already been buzzing for centuries by then.
The Heart of History
As San Diego grew and developed, the local and historic importance of Old Town became ever more apparent. The long-standing Spanish and Mexican roots of the region deepened, and steps were taken to preserve and expand the story of the neighborhood. Descendants of the earliest settlers (as well as new arrivals) helped establish the cultural identity of the neighborhood. Before long, Old Town was designated as a State Historic Park.
Experience Today’s Old Town
Visitors to Old Town today discover a neighborhood with its feet firmly planted in a strong sense of the past, while its eyes remain fixed on a future horizon. Preserved 18th-century buildings and museums housing period antiquities coexist with modern boutique shopping, art galleries, world-class restaurants, and lively entertainment venues. On any given day, residents and visitors alike can expect to discover colorful festivals, street musicians, dancers, and other celebrations of heritage and history. The Bazaar del Mundo in particular is an absolute explosion of color, and culture. The Whaley House Museum — so named for prominent early settlers Thomas Whaley and his family — has at various points served as a courthouse, theatre and general store. It now offers fascinating exhibits on San Diego’s earliest days.
The Point Loma Peninsula extends southward into the Pacific Ocean and serves as San Diego’s westernmost edge. In addition to being a spectacular region, it’s also of significant historical importance — Point Loma was the landing place for the earliest European expeditions to visit the west coast of modern-day America, in 1542. The region’s lush, rolling landscape came to inform the name it’s known by today — “Loma” is the Spanish word for “hill.”
Due to the natural bay formed by the peninsula, Point Loma has long served as one of San Diego’s most important shipping and travel ports. Even now, Point Loma operates several cargo intake ports, as well as an active naval base.
Point Loma Today
The Point Loma of the 21st century builds on its traditions even as it blazes a new trail into tomorrow. Here is where you’ll find must-see attractions like the Cabrillo National Monument, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and Point Loma Lighthouse. It’s also a great place to experience San Diego’s famous tide pools, beautiful beach frontage, golf courses, and spectacular sunsets. The former Naval Training Center has been repurposed into the immensely inviting Liberty Station and Public Market town center, where you’ll discover an incredible collection of museums, unique shopping, art galleries, and entertainment.