As a city saturated with transplants (myself included), many San Diegans toe the line of "local" and "newcomer" and have to choose whether to love or loathe congested areas catering to temporary visitors. While some spots can easily be skipped, there are a few that make the case for a visit, no matter how long you've used a local ZIP Code. Old Town is one of these.
Not only is it pretty easy to get to thanks to the nearby transit center—skip driving, trying to park there in an exercise in insanity—Old Town is dripping with fascinating and nearly perfectly preserved history from every street corner. As the oldest settled area in San Diego, it's now home to a deluge of dining establishments, hotels and kitschy shops that admittedly can strike visitors as cheesy, but there are a few gems to be found. I mean that literally—there's an actual gem and mineral shop.
During your stroll between Presidio Park's panoramic views and the open-air souvenir market, don't skip the Whaley House, a supernatural site named one most haunted places in America and well worth the tour, especially around Halloween. When it comes to grabbing some grub, I'm personally a secret sucker for Fred's in Old Town. There's always patio seating available and a gigantic menu of blended margaritas. (Plus, the people watching is sublime.)
Seaport Village is another family-friendly tourist "trap" favored by visitors and locals alike, thanks to its plethora of shops and dining at The Headquarters as well as its location adjacent to the bay. It's not difficult to find parking, but even with validation it can be pricey. This may explain the flower-bedecked carriages and hordes of Segways that dominate the pathways around and throughout Seaport Village, but you can hardly blame the blessedly oblivious riders once you too catch a view of the Coronado Bridge at sunset. Want to feel especially zen? Snag an ice cream cone and a spot on a park bench to watch the nearly omnipresent swarms of kites flying in the sky above a painfully picturesque duck pond. It's Instagram gold.
With redevelopment plans threatening the future of Seaport Village's shops, restaurants, weekly concerts and historic 19th-century carousel (not to mention its apparently numerous Pokémon and inexplicably popular candle store), this is one tourist trap that you just may want to put on your itinerary before it's too late.
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