RoadTrip America

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Bazaar del Mundo

Bazaar del Mundo
Bazaar del Mundo

[Getting there] [More information][Places to stay]

For some road trips, the destination is the reward. For others, it's the pleasure of the trip itself. A drive to visit Bazaar Del Mundo in Old Town San Diego provides both.

From Los Angeles, I-5 wends its way south along the Pacific Ocean and the beach towns of Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and the San Diego communities of La Jolla and Mission Beach. Along the way, the rugged hills of Camp Pendleton Marine Base provide visual counterpoint. With luck, you may even see the Marines practicing airborne or amphibious assaults, or Navy warships patrolling the coastline.

Marimba players
Marimba players on the courtyard stage

The journeys from the northeast on I-15 or from the east on I-8 are equally pleasing. I-8 passes through the mountains and desert of Cleveland National Forest, while I-15 follows a scenic route through the citrus and avocado groves of California's coastal foothills.

If you live to shop, you'll fall head over heels for Bazaar del Mundo. Built in Spanish colonial style, the building has a large open central courtyard. Shops on all four sides abound with bright and colorful merchandise. The courtyard of the bazaar is ablaze with flowers, foliage, pennants, and umbrellas. Mariachi bands playing marimbas and flutes on the courtyard stage fill the air with bright, cheerful Mexican music.

Shopping at Bazaar del Mundo
Shopping at Bazaar del Mundo

A bonus for anyone who loves history, the Bazaar del Mundo is part of the Old Town State Historic Park. Nearby, many of the original homes and commercial and government buildings of the first European settlement in California have been restored and are open as museums and period businesses. Scattered through the park and the bazaar, a variety of Mexican restaurants serve up some of the best Mexican food available north of the border. All provide inside or outdoor patio dining, and your choice is as much a matter of ambience as it is the food.

Whether it's a scenic drive you're after, or the pleasure of shopping and dining in historic surroundings, this southern California getaway is sure to please.

Don Woodmancy
January 6, 2003

GETTING THERE: Bazaar Del Mundo and Casa de Bandini are both located in Old Town San Diego at the junction of I-5 and I-8, 3 miles north of downtown San Diego. Follow directional signs from either freeway. There are several lots offering free parking that normally have space available on weekdays. Parking space fills early on weekends, especially in the summer. A fun alternative is to park near one of the San Diego transit stations and take the Little Red Trolley, San Diego's light-rail transit system, to the Old Town Station. The Historic Park is only a short (1 minute) walk from the station. Southern California residents often take the AMTRAK train (ten a day) into San Diego and then catch the trolley to Old Town from AMTRAK's Union Station. If you're flying in to San Diego International Airport, Old Town is a short taxi ride or drive from the airport. Follow the signs to Northbound I-5 and take the Old Town exit.

MORE INFORMATION: Bazaar del Mundo
Casa de Bandini
Old Town San Diego
Old Town State Historic Park

PLACES TO STAY: The choice of lodging in the area is limited only by your wallet and tastes. Areas that are very close are Mission Bay, Mission Valley, and Hotel Circle. Pacific Beach and downtown are only a short drive and the Mission Valley and downtown areas are convenient to the San Diego Trolley line if you are not driving.

OTHER THINGS TO DO: Sightseeing opportunities in San Diego are almost unlimited. Just a few suggestions to include in your visit might be the world-famous San Diego Zoo or the Wild Animal Park in the north end of San Diego, Balboa Park museums, Seaport Village on the downtown waterfront, Sea World near Old Town, and a myriad of beaches along the San Diego County coastline (including the famous but unofficial "clothing optional" Black's Beach below the La Jolla bluffs). For more options and information, visit


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