Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

For my last birthday my sister, Shannon, gave me a U.S. Park Pass and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Providing unlimited access to over 2,000 parks around the country it’s absolutely perfect for an explorer like myself. I couldn’t wait to start using it so on my last visit to San Diego I headed to Cabrillo National Monument to check it out.

cabrillo national monument

In 1542 the explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo set foot on a beach and became the first European to visit the west coast. Little did he know that the area he called San Miguel would grow into the modern day metropolis of San Diego and almost 500 years later his actions would still be remembered.

To commemorate his landing an enormous statue stands at Point Loma marking this historic event. As you can see it’s a very popular spot for selfies and images of the surrounding landscape.

Funny enough, that’s not the exact spot he landed it just happens to be the perfect vantage point for the statue. The actual spot is on the beach below which is now part of a US naval base.

The famed statue may be the most popular spot at Cabrillo National Monument but there are plenty of other things to do in the park. There are tidepools and hiking trails and a small museum that could use a bit of updating. Unfortunately, I visited at the end of the day and didn’t have much time to really explore the park but I did make it to the Point Loma Lighthouse.

point loma lighthouse

In 1854 the lighthouse was built at the coastal headland to help sailors navigate into San Diego harbor. Unfortunately, fog and low clouds often obscured the light and it wasn’t much help at all. In 1891 the lighthouse was replaced by one closer to sea level and it ceased operation.

Despite its short history of operation it remains a beacon on Point Loma and has been lovingly restored. It’s a beautiful monument to history and a fitting reminder that those who came before us made mistakes, too.

Cabrillo National Monument was the perfect place to break in my U.S. Park Pass. It’s a picturesque, natural spot in a densely populated city that offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. Now I just have to decide where to go next!