Wheelchair Accessible San
Diego's Old Town
by M. Gacioch © 2003
worthwhile adventures are available fairly close to home, and if we take
the time to discover what's available in our own backyards, we may be
richly rewarded. Often these venues may
be entirely new places to us or merely old favorites that we have visited before but
haven’t experienced lately. Of
course, the joy of rediscovering such nearby places includes not having to
pack a suitcase or board a plane to visit them.
Over the next few months, I hope to share some of my "local' Southern
California favorites. If you would like to share a special part of your
city or town with Global Access readers, please write firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the next few months, I hope to share some of my "local' Southern California favorites. If you would like to share a special part of your city or town with Global Access readers, please write email@example.com
Diego’s Old Town
district remains a special place for me. I hadn’t been there in awhile and
decided to renew my acquaintance with it on a recent balmy afternoon. I am
happy to report that Old Town offers adequate wheelchair access, a world
of shopping, arts, crafts, music and incredible Mexican food.
Diego’s Old Town was easily reachable for me via an accessible commuter
train (the Coaster), from my boarding station in the city of Encinitas,
some 30 miles north of San Diego. Encinitas station provides a concrete
wheelchair ramp to the boarding platform. After the train arrives; the
Coaster assistant hops out to unfold a portable metal ramp to bridge the
gap between the platform and the train. Once onboard, it was easy for me
to position my wheelchair into the area with a pop-up seat. The 45-minute
ride to San Diego features some lovely coastal views en route as you pass
through Encinitas and
Del Mar. And the cost --$2.00 each way--can’t be
exiting at the Old Town Station, it is easy to roll to the Old
Town San Diego State Historic Park (located on San Diego Avenue and
Twiggs Street). From there, you can choose to tour the historical
in a variety of boutiques and special interest stores at the Bazaar del
Mundo, take in a play at the Theatre in Old Town
eat at one
of the many excellent Mexican restaurants.
ships landed in San Diego in 1542, but the Spanish didn’t seriously start their
first California settlement here until 1769 when they built a mission and
a fort. The original historical buildings in present day Old Town give
visitors a glimpse of what life was like in the settlement from 1821 to
1871. Visitors can tour the old blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, stable, which
contains a collection of antique carriages and San Diego’s first
newspaper office. Access to the old buildings is excellent, and if you
visit on a weekday, you won’t deal with large crowds.
you have the time to catch a play, the Theatre in Old Town (4040 Twiggs
Street) always offers a fun production. Right now, this intimate (250-seat)
theatre is offering “Beehive,”
which features rock music of the 1960s presented by a group of costumed
singers portraying female rock singers of that era. The theatre
provides good wheelchair access and disabled parking.
Bazaar del Mundo
area of Old Town is a shopoholics delight. While the handful of
upper-level stores are out of reach to wheelchair users, the ground-level
shops provide easy wheelchair entry. However, once inside these small
crowded shops, jammed with colorful merchandise, a narrow wheelchair is
needed in order to thread your way through the tiny aisles. Here is a
brief sampling of some of my favorite shops to visit.
This shop specializes in vividly
colored Guatemalan fabrics, and it’s worth popping into the store just to
see the dazzling fabric bolts that line their walls. Hand blown glass,
terra cotta pottery, kitchen accessories and exotic condiments are also
Folk art from around the world is the big
attraction at Treasures. There you’ll find French porcelain
objects, Russian nesting dolls, hand painted eggs, as well as a variety of
handcrafted objects from Europe, the Far East and the U.S. This is a fun
place to shop at Christmas if you’re looking for a carved wooden crčche.
The Design Center, Inc. showcases a
beautiful array of Mexican colonial furniture, rugs and blankets,
“Tiffany” lamps, candles and accessories abound here, but I always drop in for one
reason: to sample their amazing selection of kaleidoscopes.
Libros Bookstore is downright tiny,
so it don’t expect spacious wheelchair access, but if you’re seeking
books dealing with native and Latin American literature, history, culture,
art and Spanish language books, this is the place. Libros also offers a
good selection of travel guides. Note: the ground level part of the store
is marginally usable for wheelchair users, but the lower level here is
completely inaccessible. However, the clerks here are friendly and will
gladly help you reach the merchandise.
Just Animals is stocked with
whimsical critter collectibles. Whether you collect elephants or monkeys
you’re sure to find additions to your collection here in the form of
carvings, boxes, stoneware, earrings, T-shirts, windsocks, etc.
I’m saving the best for
last, as the food in Old Town is amazing. There is a full selection of
over 40 restaurants here, and Mexican dining is the specialty. For
top-notch, authentic Mexican cuisine, butt kicker margaritas and a fully
accessible unisex accessible bathroom, Casa de Bandini
is, in my
opinion, the tops. The restaurant is housed in a beautifully restored 1829
adobe hacienda (complete with a ramp on the side entrance). Visitors can choose either indoor or patio dining.
Indoor dining features Old California Mission decor, subdued
lighting, and an impressive
collection of antique santos hug the walls. The interior is especially impressive
during the December holidays when it is decorated with poinsettias and
twinkling lights. The outdoor patio nestled amongst brightly colored
bougainvilleas and other tropical plants is superb on a warm day, and the
exterior heaters allow people to eat outdoors the year round. Whether you
dine indoors or out, you’ll hear the strolling mariachis serenading the
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Copyright © Global Access News 2003
1995-2011 "All Rights Reserved"
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Copyright © Global Access News 2003 1995-2011 "All Rights Reserved"