Activities & Resources
Cabrillo National Monument050in San Diego, CA 92106
about Cabrillo National Monument:
Today, it is a San Diego's National Park, covering approximately 160 acres including hiking trails, tidepools, and a visitor center, which houses the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and the Age of Exploration exhibit, as well as an auditorium that screens films on the hour.
At the center of the park is a statue of Cabrillo himself, looking over San Diego bay from atop the 400-foot cliffs. The vantage point offers some of the best views anywhere of San Diego Harbor, the mountains to the east, the Coronado Islands and Mexico to the south. It's a favorite spot from which to watch the Pacific gray whales migrate back to Mexico from December through February.
Opposite the Cabrillo statue stands the 1855 Old Point Loma Lighthouse, one of the first eight lighthouses built on the West Coast. Visitors are welcome to tour the inside of the restored, furnished interior, as well as the Lighthouses of Point Loma exhibit in the Assistant Keeper's Quarters next door, and get a feel for what life must have been like for the isolated keeper and Assistant Keeper and their families. You will also learn how lighthouses and lenses work and the role that the lighthouses played in the development of early maritime commerce in California.
North of the lightouse, in the former Army radio station, the They Stood the Watch exhibit chronicles the defense of the coast during World War II by the 19th Coast Artillery and the history of Fort Rosecrans.
Just north east of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the beginning of the 1.25-mile, moderate Bayside Trail, a winding path down the cliffs lined with native coastal sage, one of the eight most threatened vegetation types in the world. It is steep and the footing can be a little tricky - best for children over eight. On the west side of the Park, wooden fences and dirt trails lead to a small but beautiful stretch of tidepools, regarded as among the best on the Southern California mainland. These are best seen during the daytime low tides of fall, winter, and spring.
The park has two Junior Ranger programs. Upon entering the park, children ages four to nine may request the Junior Ranger Activity Booklet, while older children may request a visitor use guide, Just For Kids. Just For Kids is a scavenger hunt that asks questions and encourages them to explore the park with their parents and fill in the answers. They can turn in the finished booklet to any park ranger at the visitor center and receive a Junior Ranger badge and certificate of completion.
Ranger-led talks about Cabrillo, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the area's military history and the flora and fauna of the area are presented on weekends and holidays during most of the year and daily during summer months. There is a wonderful book store operated by the park's non-profit cooperating association partner, the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, in the visitor center complex with all sorts of toys, books, and art items related to the themes and resources of the park so that you may continue your visit long after you depart.