by Gabrielle Antonette and Carrie Nusbaum
We've been spending some time in the San Diego area recently, and finally wandered into Old Town. We didn't know much about it, and were thinking that it might be something like Old Town Pasadena...that might be nice, right? But nope! Old Town San Diego is basically a huge complex of protected historic places, a mix of Spanish and colonial buildings, with some of the sites even complete with actors in old-timey outfits (La Casa de Estudillo, for example). It seems like generally there is a lot of bad "authentic" Mexican food (although the handmade tortillas looked awesome), amongst other tourist traps. Admittedly, some of it was hard not to like, despite (or maybe because of?) the triteness: the almost infinite souvenir selection, the Cosmopolitan Hotel and its courtyard bar with real rawhide benches (strong drink warning), the Rust General Store with bavarian pretzels, sodas, and caramels (you-will-regret-not-getting-a-pretzel warning), and the tiny yet creepy El Campo Santo Cemetery...we could go on. You know we love vacations, and this is just a classic family vacation spot, and there's a certain comfort in that specific appeal to nostalgia. So if you watched Blackfish, and you're looking for an alternative to Sea World the next time you're in San Diego, maybe check it out. Or, if you happen to be there Nov 1-2, you'll catch the annual Dia de Los Muertos festivities (of which there are many)...spoooooky.