Visit USA - America's Best Travel Guide

Cabrillo National Monument Beach

An out of the way local treasure, but worth the effort is the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. Take I-5, exit Rosencrans and follow route 209 up a windy and scenic road to reach the monument. At the summit you can experience the spectacular panoramic views of the San Diego Harbor and skyline, visit a monument of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European explorer to set foot on the western part of the United States, and glimpse one of the earliest lighthouses on the west coast, built in the mid 1800’s.

This is a great place to explore, while visiting San Diego, and can be a fun day out for the locals as well. Surfing, swimming and diving are prohibited but there is a fantastic trail that follows the old U.S Army roadway. The Bayside trail is about a 3.2 mile roundtrip hike. The hike is moderately steep, with a 300-foot descent, but offers amazing views and an array of colorful native plant life. Unfortunately there is not beach access from this trail.

Cabrillo National Monument boosts one of the last rocky intertidal areas open to the public. Tide pool exploring is a popular past time here. Visitors have a great change to check out the vibrant underwater wildlife along the San Diego coastline. It is best to explore the tide pools during low tide in the winter. As you are exploring you might also want to keep an eye out for the Gray whales. The Gray whales pass Point Loma during their annual migration. The best time to whale watch is during January and February. There are lookout points located at the top.

The visitor center should be the first stop. There you can find information on the monument, a snack shop, films, exhibits and panoramic views of the San Diego Harbor. There is also a bookstore with information about the area’s cultural and military history, the local wildlife, and the information on the famous explorers. There are several places to sit with a picnic lunch, to sit and just enjoy the view.

Parking will not be a problem. There is ample parking at the top of the hill. There is an entrance fee for the Cabrillo National Monument, which includes all day parking and a visit to their local history museum.

$5.00 per vehicle
$3.00 per bicycle, motorcycle or walker
Annual passes and senior citizen discounts are offered

Open 9am-Sunset
No camping
No fires
No alcohol
No pets (except leashed in tide pool area)
Public Restrooms available