Cabrillo National Monument San Diego
Cabrillo National Monument is the main feature in this 160-acre park in San Diego. The monument is an ode to 16th century Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. When Cabrillo landed in this area of San Diego on September 15, 1542, he named it San Miguel. Today, the national park, complete with breathtaking cliffs, picturesque shores and beautiful scenery, is one of the nation’s most frequently visited monuments.
The Cabrillo National Monument visitor center offers lectures and informative films about the explorer’s voyage to the New World, as well as details on the center’s migrating gray whales and sea-level tide pools. There is also a shop at the visitor’s center that offers nature and history books, as well as reading materials about the sea and the city of San Diego.
There are plenty of water fountains and restrooms throughout the property for tourists’ convenience; however, expect for the few vending machines available at the visitor’s center, there aren’t any other facilities on the property that offer food. Since exploring all the features that the park has to offer will definitely take energy, it’s best to bring along a packed lunch, so that you and your family can enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
A statue of Juan Cabrillo appears to be overlooking downtown; the statue is where people gather to take in the view, which includes the hills surrounding Tijuana and the snow-topped San Bernardino Mountains. The monument is also significant because no known portraits of Cabrillo exist.
Trails in the national park include Bayside Trail, which is 2.5 miles round-trip. The trail curves under a cliff to take walkers closer to the bay-front scenery. Those who take the trail will also observe attractive wildlife like yucca, prickly pear cactus, black-eyed Susans and fragrant sage. The return climb on Bayside Trail leads tourists to the park’s old lighthouse.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse became functional on November 15, 1855, when its oil lamp was first lighted. The white wooden house was visible from the sea from 25 miles away. However, the lighthouse was too high above the cliffs to lead sailors who were trapped in southern California’s offshore fog to shore. So, in 1891, the new lighthouse was built-400 feet shorter than the original model. The old lighthouse, restored to showcase its 1800s architecture, is open for tours. To this day, the U.S. Coast Guard uses the newer model of the lighthouse to guide boaters into the bay.
The Cabrillo National Monument is located at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., Point Loma, in San Diego. The cost of admission is $5 per car, and $3 per person entering the park on a bicycle or on foot. The park also offers an entrance pass that is good for one week from the date of purchase. Golden Age and Golden Access passport holders, as well as National Parks Pass holders are admitted into the park for free. Cabrillo National Monument is open daily from 9am to 5pm; for more information, visit www.nps.gov/cabr.