Old Town San Diego State Historic Park : Michelin's recommendations
A broad plaza surrounded by restored adobe and wood structures marks the original heart of San Diego, dating from the 1820s. Situated at the foot of Presidio Hill, it became known as Old Town when it was eclipsed by the development of waterfront New Town in the 1860s. A State Historic Park since 1968, the 13-acre site, occupied by a colorful group of restored and original historic buildings, shops and eateries, re-creates the San Diego of the Mexican and early American periods. Many seasonal festivals and art shows are held here throughout the year.The largest and most impressive of the park's original adobes, La Casa de Estudillo, on Mason Street, was constructed in 1829 by presidio comandante José María Estudillo and was the social and political hub of Mexican and early American San Diego. Today it offers an excellent glimpse of the lifestyle of an upper-class family during the pueblo's heyday. An outstanding example of adobe restoration, Casa de Machado y Stewart (1833) was still occupied by descendants of the Machado family when it was purchased by the state in 1966. Some 70 percent of the structure is original; materials for the restored sections were made from surrounding soil. The dignified Whaley House, considered to be the city's first two-story brick building (1856), illustrates the influence of the East Coast on San Diego's architectural history. It is also one of only two California houses certified (by the US Department of Commerce) as being haunted.