Step back in time at these old-school San Diego spots

San Diego has always been a place of fun and intrigue. East coasters flocked to the Californian gold fields in search of a new life and some of the stragglers fixed their roots in sunny San Diego.

From remnants of the gold mining days to vintage clothing stores to nods to the former red light district, San Diego's interesting past still has connections to the modern era. If you're the type of person to like to step back in time, then you have to visit these retro San Diegan sites.



Get dressed in retro threads

If all you have in your closet is the latest disposable clothes, you need to walk your trendy self into a retro op-shop that sell clothing that's made to last. Flashbacks in Encinitas often features groovy pieces from the 1960s and 1970s and has a variety of knee-high vinyl boots and bubblegum pink wigs. It's almost as if the entire cast of Austin Powers was dressed here (minus Austin's janky dentures). Ms. Vintage Clothing sells dresses from the 1950s and 1960s, if you want to go to the Stepford wife look. And to deck out from head to toe in retro clothing, bring back vinyls and retro home decor, then Hunt & Gather is the perfect shop for you.

Dine at vintage restaurants

Corvette Diner

So what if you're not as attractive as Olivia Newton John or pre-2000s John Travolta, you'll be feeling like you've stepped out of the film set of Grease when you enter the Corvette Diner. This 1950s style diner with Corvette motifs has classic American fare, old arcade games and servers who break out into song and dance. You can't go wrong with a milkshake and hamburger.

Ruby's Diner

Perched at the end of the Oceanside Pier, Ruby's Diner is a 1940s-style restaurant serving hamburgers and milkshakes with 360-degree views. The staff don red and white 1940s ensembles and are renowned for their great customer service.

Waterfront Bar

The Waterfront Bar emerged in the early 1930s, post-Prohibition, and got popular because of its friendly tavern feel. It serves heaping comfort food meals and the great ambiance make it obvious why its been around so long.

Clayton's Coffee Shop

Established in 1941, Clayton's Coffee Shop has held tightly to its old identity even as all other restaurants around it sold out to become gluten-free pizza joints and cake pop shops. Regular loves the chicken fried steak, jukeboxes and shakes.

Tony's Jacal

If you're looking for authentic Mexican food, look no further than Tony's Jacal. Founded in 1946, this family-run restaurant has rarely changed since the day it opened. You'll likely be greeted by Theresa, the same hostess who has been at Tony's for over fifty years.

Explore San Diego's oldest attractions

Old Town

Go back, way back, in time to when the early settlers first came to San Diego from the east coast in search of gold. Old Town has preserved the Mexican heritage with its missions, old homes, cemetary, hotels and Presidio Park. Every building has an interesting story and the town is truly where the city's roots lie.

Giant Dipper at Belmont Park

This wooden roller coaster was built in 1925 and has been the cause of screams, laughs and sore necks for nearly a century. It is one of two remaining wooden roller coasters on the west coast, making it an extra special site to get nauseous at. San Diegans love this roller coaster so much, a local radio station once sponsored a marathon where people had to ride the Giant Dipper for 12 hours per day for over 70 days in a row. BYO barf bag.

Hotel del Coronado

Affectionately known to locals as The Del, this stunning hotel was built in 1888 and has provided beds to millions of visitors including stars like Marilyn Monroe and a variety of presidents over the years. Check into here for a weekend getaway that will make you feel as though you've stepped into another century as well. The Hotel del Coronado has a variety of restaurants, spas and makes a great base for exploring Coronado Island.

Chantae Reden is a native San Diegan who loves Tony's Jacal almost as much as her great grandparents did. You can find more travel writing and advice on her blog, Chantae.com.