Cabrillo National Monument

4861 reviews
●   #12 Rank

Located near the point of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, California, Cabrillo National Monument is a United States National Monument. Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo arrived in San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. Hence this monument was given his name to honor him on this day.

There is a statue of Cabrillo, a museum with exhibits on local history and Cabrillo's expedition, a lighthouse, and several hiking paths with breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay near the monument. Many plant and animal species call the park home, including the coastal sage scrub and the California least tern, both of which are at risk of extinction and need protection. Recreational opportunities abound in Cabrillo National Monument, adding to the park's substantial environmental and historical draws.

How to explore Cabrillo National Monument?

  • It would be best if you began your exploration of Cabrillo National Monument at the park's visitor center and museum. There are displays on the region's past, Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo's expedition, and the wildlife that calls this area home.
  • The Cabrillo Statue, a bronze statue of Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo measuring 14 feet in height, can be seen next to the Visitor Center and is well worth a look. You can visit here to take pictures and learn more about the explorer who first spotted San Diego Bay.
  • See the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which served the San Diego area from 1855 to 1891. The lighthouse has been restored and is now open to the public for tours.
  • Stunning views of San Diego Bay and the city skyline may be seen from the Bayside Trail, a short and easy hike. You may go birdwatching or enjoy the sunset from here.
  • The tidepools in Cabrillo National Monument are teeming with marine life, such as sea anemones, crabs, and starfish. During low tide periods, you can enjoy the tidepools and closely examine the inhabitants.
  • For whale-watching enthusiasts, the winter and spring months at Cabrillo National Monument are peak times. Gray whales can be seen migrating south to Baja from various vantage locations throughout the park. It's a moment of fun to watch these large-sized aquatic animals.
  • You can make use of the park's many picnic sites to have lunch while taking in the breathtaking scenery around.
  • In addition to exploring the park on your own, there are several ranger-led programs and seasonal activities to partake in.

Cabrillo National Monument: Exploring San Diego's Coastal Beauty

This Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European explorer to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. In 1542, Cabrillo arrived at the shores of what is now known as San Diego Bay, marking a significant chapter in the history of exploration. The monument pays homage to this momentous event and serves as a gateway to the exploration of the region's natural and historical wonders.

  1. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse - One of the iconic features of this Monument is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Built in 1855, the lighthouse stands as a testament to the maritime history of the area. Visitors can explore the restored lighthouse, gaining insight into the lives of the lighthouse keepers and the challenges they faced in guiding ships safely into the harbor. The panoramic views from the lighthouse offer breathtaking glimpses of the coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean.
  2. Breathtaking Coastal Views - It boasts spectacular coastal views that stretch as far as the eye can see. From the monument's vantage points, visitors can take in sweeping vistas of the rugged cliffs, sparkling ocean, and the city of San Diego in the distance. Sunset Cliffs, in particular, offers a picturesque setting for watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues.
  3. Tidepools and Marine Life - The coastal area surrounding Cabrillo National Monument is home to vibrant tidepools teeming with marine life. During low tide, visitors can explore these intertidal ecosystems and discover a variety of fascinating creatures, such as starfish, sea anemones, and hermit crabs. The tidepools offer a unique opportunity to observe marine life up close and gain a deeper appreciation for the biodiversity of the region.
  4. Whale Watching - This Monument is in a prime location for whale watching, particularly during the annual migration of gray whales. From December to April, these majestic creatures pass through the waters off the coast, delighting visitors with their impressive displays. Look out for spouts, breaches, and flukes as the whales make their way along their migratory route. The monument provides an ideal vantage point to witness this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
  5. Hiking Trails and Outdoor Activities - Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers will find plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities at Cabrillo National Monument. The monument features several scenic hiking trails that wind through diverse landscapes, offering glimpses of coastal habitats, native flora, and panoramic views. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, there is a trail to suit every level of fitness and interest.
  6. The Visitor Center and Exhibits - The Visitor Center at Cabrillo National Monument serves as a gateway to the monument's wonders. Here, visitors can access information about the area's natural and cultural history, obtain park maps, and interact with informative exhibits. The exhibits provide insights into the natural environment, the history of exploration, and the significance of Cabrillo's landing. A visit to the Visitor Center is an excellent starting point for your journey of discovery within the monument.

Tips for Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

  • Plan your visit: Check the opening hours of Cabrillo National Monument and plan your visit accordingly. Consider visiting during weekdays or early mornings to avoid crowds and secure parking.
  • Pay the entrance fee: Cabrillo National Monument charges an entrance fee per vehicle or per individual. Be prepared to pay the fee upon arrival, or consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Pass if you plan to visit multiple national parks.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear: Dress in layers, as the weather can vary throughout the day. Wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots, especially if you plan to explore the trails or tidepools.
  • Bring binoculars and a camera: Binoculars will enhance your wildlife viewing experience, while a camera will allow you to capture the stunning vistas and memorable moments during your visit.
  • Respect the environment: Help preserve the natural beauty of Cabrillo National Monument by staying on designated trails, refraining from littering, and respecting any posted rules or guidelines. Leave only footprints and take only memories.


Cabrillo National Monument offers a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure. Whether you're exploring the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, marveling at the coastal vistas, or discovering the wonders of the tidepools, this national monument promises a memorable experience. Embrace the opportunity to connect with the rich history of exploration, witness breathtaking sunsets, and immerse yourself in the coastal splendor of San Diego's Cabrillo National Monument.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is Cabrillo National Monument?

A: Cabrillo National Monument is a protected park in San Diego, California that commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in 1542.

Q. What are the main attractions at Cabrillo National Monument?

A: The main attractions at Cabrillo National Monument include the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the Cabrillo statue, tide pools, hiking trails, and scenic views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Q. How much does it cost to visit Cabrillo National Monument?

A: The entrance fee for Cabrillo National Monument ranges from 10$ to 20$. It can be charges as per the vehicle as follows $20 per private four-wheeled vehicle, $15 per motorcycle, and $10 per person for those entering on foot or bicycle.

Q. What are the operating hours for Cabrillo National Monument?

A: The park is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Q. Are pets allowed at Cabrillo National Monument?

A: Pets are allowed in designated areas of the park, but are not allowed in the tide pools or on any of the hiking trails. They must be kept on a leash at all times and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

  • imageDuration Required
    1 hour

Address of Cabrillo National Monument

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr Point Loma, San Diego, CA 92106-3601

Opening & Closing time of Cabrillo National Monument

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

Explore More