Another day of discoveries was in store. I started my explorations across the street from the Transit Centre at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This area contains some original buildings and many replicas of San Diegos Mexican-era architecture and is the most visited state park in California. Five original adobe buildings are part of this historical complex, and other historic buildings illustrate life in early San Diego.
The Plaza del Pasado and Old Town Plaza lead into a complex of adobe buildings that form a large interior courtyard. The buildings design, the decorations and the tropical vegetation indeed imbue this space with a very Mexican-inspired atmosphere. This complex features retail stores, galleries and restaurants, and many colourful Mexican-style items such as ponchos, pottery and souvenirs are for sale.
Old Towns main street, San Diego Avenue, is lined by a variety of historic buildings and replicas that include a blacksmiths shop, a school house and San Diegos first newspaper office. The reconstructed Colorado House was once a hotel and now houses the Wells Fargo Museum, complete with original stage coach from 1860. Most of the buildings are originals or replicas from between 1820 and 1870 when San Diego started to first develop.
Then I headed south to Heritage Park, a collection of seven Victorian era buildings that were purchased and moved here over a period of 25 years. The park includes six Victorian houses and mansions that were built between 1887 and 1893 as well as the Temple Beth Israel Synagogue, built in 1889. These historic buildings now contain offices, retail stores and community facilities.
Impressed by San Diegos historic buildings, I decided to delve even further into history and decided to walk up to Presidio Park, the location of San Diegos original Spanish fortress and of the first Catholic mission, founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.
After this extensive dose of history I made my way back to the Old Town Transit Centre to hop into the Blue Line Trolley. The Santa Fe Depot had fascinated me, as historic train stations often do. So I hopped off at this historic railway station and started to have a look around. Also called Union Station, the Santa Fe Depot was officially opened in 1915 to handle the onslaught of visitors for the Panama-California Exposition. The Mission Revival architecture of the station reflects Californias Spanish history.
In the late afternoon I connected with my husband again, and we met at another San Diego landmark: the Westfield Horton Plaza is a five-level outdoor shopping mall right in the heart of downtown. Horton Plazas design is unique and deviates from traditional mall design. Despite or because of its unique design, Horton Plaza is a real magnet in downtown San Diego, and the three hours of free parking in the adjoining parking garage make it a popular destination for city visitors.
We grabbed some quick snacks and decided to head into the onsite movieplex and enjoyed the latest James Bond release, Quantum of Solace. Another day of discoveries had revealed San Diego to be an interesting and diverse destination, with a surprisingly vibrant downtown area that would require further exploration.
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