Cabrillo National Monument
||San Diego, CA|
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Cabrillo National Monument gives you the most amazing feeling of being on top of the world! Stand on the observation decks overlooking San Diego Bay and feel the wind in your hair. Little sailboats glide by way below you. The blue-green water eases your cares. The wide-open spaces cure you of the claustrophobic feeling of the city. Hills covered in native plants spread out on all sides of you. A little lighthouse built almost more for aesthetic beauty than practicality sits atop a hill. And the marvelous white Cabrillo statue stands high on another hill.
There's plenty of walking to be done at Cabrillo National Monument. Bring a stroller if you have a lazy kid! From the parking lot, walk to the bookstore and visitor center, and enjoy the views of San Diego Bay and Coronado Beach from the sunny observation deck. Sit with your legs dangling over the edge and snuggle with your lover. Next walk to the regal statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the West Coast. When he came here in 1542 he was searching for a mythical channel between the Pacific and Atlantic that was said to lie north of Mexico. His sculpted facial features and proud stance are wonderfully done.
Walk past flowers galore to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1855. This sweet white lighthouse decorated inside in blue will delight you. Each room has been redecorated with Victorian furnishings. Here, the lighthouse keeper's family had to find creative ways to entertain themselves. Kids will enjoy seeing the musical instruments, crafts, and games that the lighthouse keeper's children used to play. The winding stairs are fun for kids to peer up, and to climb. The sea view out the windows must have been lovely to live with daily.
There's a military history museum, as well as bunkers along the trails. During World Wars I and II, the military painted Old Point Loma Lighthouse olive green and used it as a command post and radio station.
A 2-mile hilly hike along the Bayside Trail offers views and signs identifying the native flowers and shrubs. The Whale Overlook is a good spot to see California gray whales in January and February as they travel between Alaska and Baja California.
On your drive out, take Cabrillo Road to the left and it will take you down to lookout points and tidepools. The hills covered in shrubs and flowers are a joy as you drive down. Rows of palms surround the newer, more practical Point Loma Lighthouse at the bottom, built in 1891. This lighthouse was built because the old lighthouse was often shrouded in fog and was not equipped for foul weather because it was built without a foghorn! The poor lighthouse keeper had to walk the rocky shore firing gunshots into the air on misty nights to warn ships! Parking areas allow you to get out and take in the ocean air while you watch the tall grasses sway with the sea behind. Adventurous souls walk down short trails and stand on the rock ledges near the sea spray.
Come in September for the Cabrillo Festival when there is a living history camp with 16th century Spanish soldiers and sailors and a reenactment of Cabrillo's landing at San Diego Bay. At the festival, there is also Portuguese folk dancing, Spanish food, Native American crafts, and Kumeyaay basket weaving.
While you're at Point Loma, take a moment to drive along Sunset Cliffs, stopping to see the surfers at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
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Cabrillo National Monument is at the tip of Point Loma. Cost to enter is $5 per car.
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