Cabrillo National Monument
We stumbled upon Cabrillo National Monument by accident on our last trip to
San Diego. I had heard about the tide pools at Point Loma, and we were interested in
checking them out, so we headed in that direction. The drive through the Point Loma
Ecological Conservation Area and past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is absolutely
Cabrillo National Monument is a tribute to Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo. Cabrillo was an
explorer who is believed to have been the first European to set foot onto the west coast of
what is now the United States. He is considered by many to be the founder of San
Diego, since he first landed there in 1542.
To get to the Cabrillo
National Monument, you actually drive onto the old Naval base, which was a little strange, but pretty
cool. The National Parks pay station is near the end of the Point Loma
peninsula. You must pay (or use your National Parks Pass) to enter the park
area. It really is worth it, because there are so many interesting things to
We drove down and visited the tidepools first, because we were getting there right at low
tide. You do have to check online daily to see when the lowest tide times are, in
order to get the most out of a visit to the tidepools. It was really neat to see the
tidepools and the amazing cliffs in the area. We definitely want to go back in January
or February sometime, because it is also supposed to be a great area to view the migration of the Gray
After we saw the tidepools, we drove along the road to the wastewater facility, then turned
around. The road offers several vantage points for spectacular ocean
views and photo opportunities.
We headed to the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center next. The
Visitor Center has a lot to offer. They have a nice, informative museum, a movie, some
hands on interactive displays, as well as costumed staff. There is also a Coast Defense Exhibit and the
Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The Visitor Center also had vending snacks and drinks for sale,
as well as a good size gift shop. The best part of the Visitor Center was the
views of San Diego. If you are there on a clear day, it would make some amazing
pictures. There are also some beautiful areas to picnic and see the views.
To get the old Point Loma Lighthouse you need to walk up a path across from the Visitor
Center. It was an easy path to take, but it was on a slight uphill incline. I walked
all the way with my broken foot in a boot, with no problems. It just took me longer than
some! However, I did find out that you can get a special pass to drive to the
lighthouse at the entrance station, if you are unable to walk to it. Once you are at the lighthouse,
it is worth taking a moment to look at the little museum and go inside the lighthouse to see how they lived.
It was very interesting to learn about the lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as the
technology of the time.
The new lighthouse is down below, in the Coast Guard area. As it turns out, the Old Lighthouse
was only used in the 1800’s until they found that it was located in an area that was affected by fog
too. So, a new lighthouse was built. You can see it near the tidepools but it is fenced
The little kids participated in the Jr. Ranger program at the park. They got
their booklets and badges at the Visitor Center. It was simple, age appropriate, and interesting. As
always, they loved getting their badges!
If you have a few hours, or half a day, I would highly recommend checking out Cabrillo
National Monument. Who knew that just outside of the hustle and bustle of the city of
San Diego lay this amazing sanctuary with such beautiful views! We sure are glad we stumbled upon
You can find Cabrillo National Monument at:
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., San Diego, CA 92106