Cabrillo National Monument and lighthouse
If you’re in San Diego this is a must see! Go on a clear day and you’ll never tire of the most amazing views of San Diego, the bay, Coronado, the open ocean and Mexico. If you’re lucky you’ll spot dolphins and even whales.
The drive to the monument is beautiful in itself and features Fort Rosecrans National cemetery and a drive through the military base where you can spot models of navy ships and unbelievable views.
After paying the entrance fee, everything is free. First, walk op to the charming old lighthouse. Visitors can go inside and get a glimpse of what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper in 1855 when the first light was lit until it was closed in 1891, due to the fact that it was located too high above the sea level so fog would often obscure the light from the ships below. A new light house was built at a lower location and can be seen from the whale overlook.
Inside the lighthouse a cozy living room and the kitchen are on the first floor. A short climb up the spiral staircase leads to the bedrooms and then you can climb up a bit further for a quick look at the top of the lighthouse. This part is closed off usually, but a few times a year it’s open to the public. Dates can be found on the official website. https://www.nps.gov/cabr/planyourvisit/open-tower-days.htm. Don’t forget to look down the center of the staircase from up there. Much artwork based on this view can be found for sale online and at their store.
The whale overlook next to the light house offers incredible ocean views and interesting facts on the kelp forest, whale migration and the surrounding waters. Follow the circle and make your way down to the visitors center and the Cabrillo monument. The visitors center has a small, but interesting museum, a theater and a store. I like to spend my time sitting on the wall by the monument and taking in the view of the beautiful San Diego harbor that was discovered by Spanish maritime explorer Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo in 1542.
There’s a short, easy and beautiful hike, The Bayside Trail, that takes you down closer to the water where you’ll get to see a searchlight shelter and a power plant from 1919.
If the tide is low I highly recommend visiting the tide pools afterwards. (drive/ bike. Don’t plan on calling an Uber as there is barely any cell service). You’ll more than likely get wet and the rocks can be really slippery. But, you may get to see sea anemones, starfish, a variety of crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, fish and I’ve even spotted an octopus!