Last weekend, my husband and I traveled to San Diego for Comic Con and while we were there we were told by friends and locals to check out Old Town. And we were not disappointed by our visit there. It is in a great location with lots to see and do like visiting the free museums, eating at one of the Spanish or Mexican restaurants, or checking out all the little shops.
We started our visit to Old Town by walking to the top of the hill, that way it would be easier for us to sight-see while walking down the street. Our first stop in Old Town was a little shop called Old Town Model Railroad Depot. My husband is a fan of model cars and model trains, which is why we decided to stop by. But, when we walked inside, we were completely blown away. I remember saying, “whoa!” upon entering. As you step inside, you are easily in awe at the huge dioramas that take up both rooms (nearly the entire space) of the store.
With small towns replicated using scale models, two trains circle around the track that connects each scene to one another. If you love the 40’s and 50’s, then the small-town scenes depicted here will easily charm you and make you nostalgic for that era. And even if trains aren’t you’re thing, this store will amaze you with their passion and dedication to make this huge diorama.
A little donation is recommended (~$5) for maintenance and operating the trains, but it’s totally worth it after seeing this in-person. And with every donation, you get a card to have a free appetizer at Café Coyote right down the street. But, seeing how much hard work goes into this place is reason enough to donate. The two gentlemen who run this shop and operate the model trains clearly demonstrate how quaint, charming, and special this place is. What started off as a passion project for them transformed into a full-time job they both love. Remember how when I walked inside I couldn’t help but say “whoa!” like a three-year old kid opening a present on Christmas morning? The owner said in response, “That’s the response we look for. It makes me so happy to hear people say that.”
So, if you want to believe in the awesome magic of trains, or just feel like a kid again then make sure to visit yourself and you’ll see how amazing this place is.
While in Old Town, make sure to check out all the cool, free museums. You get a glimpse of what life was like in San Diego in the 19th century. These were awesome to walk around in. And let’s not forget all the cute little shops. Some of them are kitschy and trouristy, but others are pretty authentic with local artists displaying their artwork. There’s a good balance of these types of shops to keep you entertained.
And while wondering around Old Town, make sure to check out every little niche and enclave. My husband and I stumbled upon this adorable little niche that made us feel like we were transported to another country.
Right next to this niche is a vegan chocolate shop called Nibble Chocolate that had a fun way of displaying their process for making chocolate. Customers get the chance to grind the cacao beans themselves. My husband had a fun time giving this a try and kids will easily enjoy this too.
Because this chocolate is vegan and only has 2 ingredients (cacao and raw brown sugar), it is on the bitter side. But what I recommend is getting one of their desserts and/or drinks. They have chocolate Bundt cakes, chocolate truffles, etc. And their drinks are all served with their powdered cocoa with a choice of almond, soy, or cashew milk.
I ordered the soy hot chocolate and can easily defend that this is the best vegan hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Ever! It’s that good. The chocolate is so smooth, you feel like you’re drinking liquid gold. This was hands down my favorite dessert in San Diego. And my husband tried the iced chocolate espresso. With the richness of the chocolate and almond milk, the espresso is more of an undertone and takes a back seat to the very delicious chocolate flavor. Whether you are vegan or not, you should at least try the drinks here because they are seriously divine.
If you want, there are a lot of Mexican and Spanish restaurants in Old Town. You can’t go wrong picking any of them to eat from, but if you want the local favorite in Old Town, it’s best to ask your Taxi/Uber/Lyft driver. Trust me, they will know which ones to recommend, but just know, since it is a touristy area, some of the restaurants have higher prices than others.
Overall, Old Town is a unique blend of the old missionaries, old west, and Mexican history, which makes it an awesome place to visit in San Diego. Here, you feel like a real Ranchero on set of an old western movie. So, make sure to check out Old Town and see this cool and beautiful place.
Make sure to stay tuned for future posts on San Diego and my experience at this year’s Comic Con 😊