Cabrillo National Monument

#9 in Best Things To Do in San Diego
Cabrillo National Monument picture1 of 5
Cabrillo National Monument2 of 5
russellstreet/Flickr

Key Info

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive

Price & Hours

$20 per vehicle; $10 for bicyclists and pedest...
9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Details

Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.2

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The southernmost tip of Point Loma is where you'll find the Cabrillo National Monument. The statue depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who, in 1542, was the first European explorer to navigate the Californian coast. Situated about 10 miles southwest of downtown San Diego, this monument is much more than just a memorializing effigy. The main reason people make the journey to the monument is its incredible views. From the Cabrillo Monument, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Pacific as well as the Point Loma naval base below (where Cabrillo initially docked his ships), downtown San Diego, Coronado, and on a clear day, the mountains of Tijuana, Mexico.

Once you've gotten your fill from the top, walk or drive down Cabrillo Road to experience the Point Loma Tide Pools (best experienced during the winter months), or take a scenic walk along the adjacent bluffs. There's also the 2.5-mile Bayside Trail that cascades down into the east side of the point and ends right above the bay waters. For those more interested in the historical aspect of the attraction, the NPS site features ranger-guided talks further explaining the story behind the Cabrillo Monument as well as the restored Old Point Loma Lighthouse, located a short walk south from the monument on Humphreys Road. 

Recent visitors proclaim that this is the best view in San Diego. Travelers also strongly recommended taking advantage of the trails and especially the tide pools. Some even said to make sure to plan your trip around the low tide to best see the creatures that dwell within. Others enjoyed learning about the history of the monument the most, saying a trip to the visitors center enhanced their experience. 

The Cabrillo National Monument is open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $20 per vehicle and $10 per person for walk-ins and bicyclists. While public transportation stops here, getting to the Cabrillo Monument from downtown will be lengthy. You'd have to take the trolley from downtown to Old Town Transit Center then take the 28 bus to connect to the 84 bus that drops off at the monument. It's important to note to take caution while exploring the tide pools. During high tide, do not attempt to traverse the rocky areas to get from one tide pool to the next. The water at the beach is also not safe for swimming. For more information, visit the Cabrillo National Monument website

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Type
Time to Spend
#1 Balboa Park

Home to the renowned San Diego Zoo. this 1,200-acre park is the city's cultural hub. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park's many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don't just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon, among many others.

But if you find yourself growing antsy just walking around and smelling the roses, there are plenty of attractions located here (many of them free). Take in a show at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre, visit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to see one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater if you got the kiddos in tow. Museums are just as aplenty, with enough to suit all types of interests. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum while science enthusiasts will enjoy the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Man. If you're traveling as a family, take some time to check out the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the world's largest operating model railroad museum. There's also an automotive museum and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, dedicated entirely to San Diego's sports history.

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