Cabrillo National Monument


In 1542 explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on a narrow peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean. During California's colorful history, the peninsula guarded the growing city of San Diego. Located across the bay from downtown, Point Loma is now a U.S. Naval Reservation area, with this national monument situated at the very tip. What to see and do: Your time in this 160-acre park will be best spent by the seaside. First, though, stop by the visitor center to see the statue of Cabrillo, located just outside, see some exhibits, and watch an audiovisual program in the center's auditorium. Stroll past remains of the coastal defenses and learn about them in "They Stood Watch," an exhibit at the site's old radio station. Borrow binoculars and head to the shore to explore one of southern California's best-preserved rocky intertidal areas and one of the world's last remaining coastal sage habitats. Call ahead for low-tide times and see how many different life forms you can pick out in the tidepools. Winter months are the best time to visit these ever-changing natural aquariums. Should you visit from December to February, you may get lucky enough to spot Pacific gray whales migrating south for the season. Get the best view of them from the whale overlook shelter. You can bird-watch, glimpse the San Diego skyline across the bay and occasionally find volunteers in 1880s attire at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which operated from 1855 to 1891. If you bring your fishing gear (one pole per person) and a license, take advantage of the populous offshore waters. Only fin fish may be taken home. Perch and bass, among other kinds, await the prepared angler. Keep in mind that you'll be in a tide pool area, so the footing won't be the best. Complete your tour with a hike down the 2.5-mile, self-guided Bayside Trail. Along with native wildlife, you'll also see old coast artillery ruins from Point Loma's active days guarding the naval port in San Diego during World Wars I and II. The park is open daily, with the trail and tide pools closing an half an hour or hour earlier. Fog and low clouds roll in year-round, so use headlights and drive with caution. There are no picnic areas, so plan to eat elsewhere. Leashed pets are permitted in the tidepool area only. Handicapped-accessible facilities are available. While there are no camping facilities on site, at least three campgrounds can be found within 16 miles.


1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr
San Diego, CA 92106


32.67364000, -117.24111900
Visit Website
(619) 557-5450

Add a Photo

You must be logged in to add photos.

Vote for

You can only vote once for each town every 24 hours. You can vote again in

Vote for 2013 Best Small Town


Are you a DMO or CVB?
Explore "Best Town Travels" – Rand McNally’s new map-based digital travel guides for your website plus an iPhone and Facebook app! Learn More


Thank you for Voting!

Promote , by sharing your vote or writing a review.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter or Write a Review