Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

4.5 out of 5 stars 46 Reviews

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive (619) 557-5450

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  • Cabrillo National Monument
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  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo

    The view is awesome!

    by travelgourmet Updated Jul 30, 2014

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    Not know by many tourists, due to the unbelievable amount of things to see and do in San Diego, but it is awe inspiring to see the view from the old Point Loma Lighthouse parking area. The entire city skyline is before you as well as the North Island Naval Air Station with the Coronado Bridge behind beckoning you come explore this beautiful city by the bay. Start right here by checking out the Lighthouse and the history it holds. Then see if you can spot a submarine coming into the harbor below your perch in the sky.

    The Visitor Center is on the same level as the parking lot and you must see the displays of Juan Cabrillo and his journey to the west coast. The look inside the center shows you what the old ships that sailed looked like and there is a theatre that shows movies. The show I saw was of the humpback whales migration. Out front, with the ocean as a backdrop is a statue in honor of Juan Cabrillo.

    Statue in honor of  Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Graphics of a Spanish Galleon. Cabrillo's Mission Statement. A stark reminder.
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    Cabrillo Point Monument Statue

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 29, 2008

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    Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to explore what is now the west coast of the United States. Cabrillo departed from the port of Navidad, Mexico, on June 27, 1542. Three months later he arrived at "a very good enclosed port." That port is known today as San Diego bay. Historians believe he anchored his flagship, the San Salvador, on Point Loma's east shore near Cabrillo National Monument. Cabrillo later died during the expedition, but his crew pushed on, possibly as far north as Oregon, before thrashing winter storms forced them to back to Mexico.

    This area offers some wonderful breath taking views. It was really neat to visit it again and taking in the wonderful beautiful day. Gosh, we love the ocean. The boys had a great time!

    Daily: 9:00 - 5:15. Open until 6:15 p.m. during the summer, July 4 through Labor Day. Winter and spring are especially good times to visit the park.

    1993
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    Cabrillo National Monument Vistor Center

    by Yaqui Written Oct 11, 2008

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    Here you will find a wealth of information about the park. The books store offers many publications about the local area, plant life, wild life, and the military history that still abounds here. There are snack machines and restrooms too. Take the time to stroll around the building and enjoy the beautiful vista views of the bay, sailing ships, and awesome San Diego.

    Here at the center you will find restrooms and vending machines too.

    Cabrillo National Monument is open 365 days a year, including all weekends and holidays, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
    (619) 222-4747

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    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated Apr 4, 2006

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    The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the exploration of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo to California. The park is open for day use only (9am - 5:15pm) and charges an entrance fee of $5.00 per car for a 7-day pass and $2.00 for pedestrians and cyclists. The highlights of the park include it's sweeping views of the bay city and neighboring Mexico, as well as the Cabrillo statue, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the whale overlook, walking trails, and the tidepool area (to which you must drive to). This is a great spot for photo opps and just admiring the beautiful city that is San Diego.

    Cabrillo National Monument (4.1.06) Views of the Pacific, SD, and Mexico (4.1.06) Cabrillo Statue Old Point Loma Lighthouse
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    The explorer of California

    by csordila Updated Mar 7, 2009

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    The Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to land on the west coast of America and discovered Point Loma peninsula in 1542.

    Atop Point Loma stand the star attraction, the four and half meter high, sandstone Cabrillo statue by Alvaro de Bree, a gift of Portugal to the state of California. The statue had long been sought by San Diegans, particularly by the Portuguese community, as one of their own.
    The actual spot where Cabrillo stepped ashore is on a spit of land downhill at Ballast Point. This magnificent statue is a worthy tribute to the brave explorer and his men, who ventured across uncharted seas to claim new territory for Spain.
    The original sculpture has been badly damaged in the salty ocean air and was brought indoors for restoration. An exact replica from denser limestone was dedicated in 1988.

    At the highest point of the park stands the Old Lighthouse providing a panoramic view of the harbor and coastline, On clear days you can see the downtown, Mexican border and far out to sea. From here, you can watch as boats and ships go in and out of the harbor. With luck, you may even see the Marines practicing airborne or amphibious assaults, or Navy warships patrolling the coastline. It is an ideal spot for solitude and contemplation.

    In the visitor center you can find a museum, bookstore, gift shop, some vending machines offering snack food, and a small theatre, showing films about the history of the park.

    Open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. For security reasons, the main gate is closed at 4:45pm, and all visitors have to leave by 5:00pm.

    Statue of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo ...panoramic view of the harbor and coastline Interstate 5-San Diego Freeway South Cabrillo painting in Visitor Center
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    Cabrillo National Monument

    by Dabs Written May 4, 2008

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    Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the United States, 50 years after Christopher Columbus landed in the US. He sailed north from Mexico with three ships, the San Salvador, the Victoria and the San Miguel. Much of his life is unknown, it is uncertain if he was Spanish or Portugese, no one knows where he is buried or how he died and his navigational logs were lost. The land here was set aside for a National Park in his honor in 1913, it is one of the most visited national monuments in the US, I suspect more for the view of the surrounding area and the tide pools than to pay homage to the explorer. I had never heard of him before coming here so it wasn't something taught in my schools here in the midwest part of the country.

    I visited the tidepools first, then drove up to the Visitor Center to see the Point Loma Lighthouse and have a brief stop at the Visitor Center. There is a statue of Cabrillo near the Visitor Center and a nice view over the San Diego Bay, the Naval Air Station and you can even make out the blue bridge going from downtown San Diego into Coronado.

    The Visitor Center has an auditorium where you can watch a movie on Cabrillo or the area, during grey whale season they also run a movie on them. You can also visit the "Age of Exploration" exhibit if you want to learn more about Cabrillo.

    Admission to the National Park is $5 per car and is good for 7 days, $3 if you walk, bike or ride a motorcycle. The National Park is open from 9am-5pm.

    Cabrillo monument View of San Diego Bay View of the naval base and downtown San Diego

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    Cabrillo National Monument tide pools

    by Dabs Updated May 4, 2008

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    The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument were a bit of a disappointment for me, I had really wanted to see the tide pools so I looked up to see when low tide was and headed over for the afternoon low tide so I could see the creatures that hang out in the tide pools when the tide goes out. If I had read the website more carefully I would have realized that I wasn't going at the right time, the low tide should be a negative number for optimal viewing and this happens most frequently during daylight hours in the winter but also at certain times of the month depending on the cycle of the moon. So I didn't get to see any sea creatures at all. If you do hit low tide you should be able to see crabs, starfish, sea urchins and maybe even a squid.

    Check either the salt water tides site for the time of low tide or the projections on the NPS website, remembering that the tide pool area is only open between 9 am-4:30 pm and the National Park closes at 5pm. For my visit, the really low tide was at 6am, at the other low tide at 4:30pm it was still at 2 feet which wasn't low enough to see anything.

    Cabrillo tide pools Cabrillo National Park

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  • Cabrillo National Monument

    by arasnosliw Written Jan 15, 2005

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    The view from this monument is one of the best in San Diego. The monument is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who stumbled upon San Diego Bay in 1542.

    Aside from the statue commemorating Cabrillo, another notable landmark is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse that stands tall amidst the park. There's views of a naval station, Coronado Bridge as well as the rest of Coronado Island, the Pacific Ocean, and even Mexico.

    enjoying the view
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    Panoramic Views and San Diego History

    by pacific_sol Written Sep 30, 2009

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    Cabrillo National Monument, located at the tip of Point Loma, is a great place to get panoramic views of much of San Diego County and into Tijuana, Mexico. The monument is at the top of a hill and on very clear days, you can see the local mountains about 40 miles inland to the east and the Coronado Islands to the south (part of Mexico). This national monument is named after Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who led the first European exploration of the West Coast of North America. Legend has it that he stepped ashore at what is present day Ballast Point, which you can see below you when you are at the visitor's center. You can also visit the old Point Loma Lighthouse, a 19th century lighthouse that guided ships into San Diego Bay until a more modern lighthouse was built closer to the water. There are also several nature hikes you can take at the Monument, and you can also visit tidepools. To get here, you'll have to drive through a US Naval Installation, and you'll also pass by Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There is a visitor's center with historical information, as well as a gift shop. Parking is free but there is an entrance fee to get into the national monument - the fee allows you to return as many times as you'd like within one week. They are open 365 days a year but just be aware in the late spring (May and June), views are often obsured by the marine layer, which are low lying clouds that roll onshore from the ocean in the afternoon and are affectionately referred to by the locals as "May Gray" and "June Gloom."

    Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center Looking SE to Ballast Point, Coronado, Downtown Lighthouse/Coronado Islands in distance
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    Whale Watching

    by Phalaenopsis03 Updated May 29, 2006

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    Each winter (late December through mid-February), Pacific Gray Whales pass through Point Loma on their annual 12,000 mile migration. So if you love to whale-watch, the best spot for you to view the whales is from the western overlooks of the national park. Just DON'T forget to bring your binoculars!

    Cabrillo National Monument (4.1.06)

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    Cabrillo National Monument

    by anagrettel Updated May 3, 2007

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    Named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to explore California, sailing under the flag of Spain. Cabrilllo, is believe to have been born in Portugal,he took part in the exploration of Mexico under Hernan Cortez. Cabrillo commanded 2 ships to explore the Pacific Coast. And in 1642, he sighted San Diego, the San pedro bay, San Cataline Island and Santa Monica Bay.In 1543 he died from complication of a serious fall and broken leg, he is believe to have been buried in the Channel Islands.

    Today, you can find Cabrillo Monument overlooking San Diego Bay, the view is spectacular!. There's also a light house,walking trails, whale observation, a visitors center with a small museum about Cabrillo explorations, great views of the city over the harbor, that are the best part.

    Fee: $ 4 per vehicle, $2 per person walking or bicicle.

    Hours: 9-5

    Whale Season (Dec. 15 - March 1)

    Others: Rattlesnakes are sometimes seen specially on the trail. Pets are not Allowed.

    Cabrillo view Cabrillo Monument
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  • garridogal's Profile Photo

    Vistas baby!

    by garridogal Updated Oct 4, 2013

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    Point Cabrillo has a museum about the San Diego's Spanish history as well as a lighthouse, but if you ask me, the view's the thing here. Perched at the top of a hill, you can see downtown, Coronado, the sea, and on a clear day maybe Barbra Streisand.

    It was hot the day we went to Cabrillo but I could easily picture taking a nice nature walk there when it's cooler. Hey, there's another reason to go back to SD!

    Stunning vistas The monument Downtown Succulents and sea The lighthouse
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    Discover San Diego's Point Loma

    by Jefie Written Oct 31, 2013

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    If like me you're only expecting to see a statue when you visit Cabrillo National Monument, you'll be happily disappointed! Cabrillo National Monument is in fact a park that covers the tip of Point Loma. There are many things to see and do, so you need to set aside at least 2-3 hours to make the most of your visit. The park is named after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the explorer credited for discovering San Diego in 1542. There is a statue of Cabrillo near the visitor center. Things to do include a tour of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1854 and in operation from 1855 to 1891. The keeper's quarters give some information about the keeper's duties and how he spent his free time in this secluded spot. It's also well worth making the quick detour to see the park's tide pools; the hiking trail that goes along the rocky coastline allows visitors to see the aquatic fauna that lives in the tide pools, especially at low tide - make sure to wear comfortable shoes as the rocks can be quite slippery. Another nice hiking trail in the park is the Bayside Trail, a 1.5 mile (one way) trail that runs along the edge of Point Loma, offering nice views of the city and the San Diego Bay.

    Old Point Loma Lighthouse View along the Bayside Trail Juan Rodr��guez Cabrillo statue One of the park's tidal pools On the tidal pools hiking trail
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    Cabrillo National Monument

    by Jim_Eliason Written Jan 18, 2004

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    This park includes a monument to Cabrillo the first European explorer to discover San Diego bay and includes exhibits of the early Spanish explorers, Point Loma Lighthouse and an area of tidal pools and coves on the ocean side of Point Loma

    Cabrillo Monument
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    Coves and Tidal Pools

    by Jim_Eliason Written Jan 18, 2004

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    On the ocean side of Cabrillo national Monument are a set of cliffs and coves that expose tidal pools during low tide. I was there during High tide and heavy surf which had its own attraction as large waves crashed aginst the cliffs

    Cabrillo National Monument park

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