Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego, California
On our February trip to Southern California we had the opportunity to spend an afternoon at Cabrillo National Monument which is right in San Diego.
In the image above you can see from the peninsula where the park is located that you are just across the water from the city of San Diego. It was a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine which inspired us to walk up to the lighthouse from the visitor center.
This is a gigantic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo the explorer for whom this park is named. The view from this spot out onto the water with the many ships and sailboats was amazing.
The lighthouse was open the day we were there and they had it set up to show what life was like back when the lighthouse was in operation. The historical information was interesting and helped us gain an understanding of how lighthouse life would have been.
Walking out onto the point beyond the lighthouse, we were able to view the ocean for migrating whales. No whales on this day but this a prime spot to watch for these awesome creatures. There was a shelter around the point so you would be protected from weather or wind if you needed. On the day we visited, there was no need because it was picture postcard perfect. I can’t help but be disappointed that we didn’t spot any whales but you can’t have everything.
The highlight of the visit was our time spent at the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. We had checked the low tide time on the tide tables before visiting and then again at the visitor center to make sure we hit it just right. The low tide allows you access to places covered in water at other times. We saw many tidepool creatures, including an octopus!!! The hike down to the water was a little slippery and rocky so I would highly recommend some sort of water shoe or sandals.
There were people with jeans and sneakers on but they were having a hard time wading through the water to see the best of the tidepools. There were quite a few people in the tidepools, including some park rangers, but it never felt crowded. I highly recommend this activity when you visit if you can time it right.
Here are a few treasures we found (and left) during our wading expedition in the tidepool area.
This is the biggest intact shell I have ever found in my life. It was gorgeous and as much as I wanted to take it home with me….I left it for someone else to discover and enjoy. I have this amazing image to remind me of the excitement of pulling it up from the sandy area around the tidepool.
- There is a $10 entrance fee.
- There are very strict hours for the park so make sure to check before you drive out there – Park Hours.
- As noted before, wear appropriate clothing and footwear
- There are restrooms at the visitor center and down at the tidepool parking lot.
- Tidepool visit: Learn ahead of time what you can touch and what you can’t and leave it all there. Prepare ahead of time. The tidepools might be hard for very young children but I would say 5 and up.
- The historic exhibits at the visitor center are small but interesting.
- There is a small gift shop at the visitor center.
- You can easily see everything in a couple of hours.
- Other attractions near-by: San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, Balboa Park, Coronado.
You can read more of my national park entries by following these links:
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Redwoods National Park (California)
- Channel Islands National Park(California)
- Death Valley National Park(California)
- Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
- Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
- Great Basin National Park (Nevada)
- Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
- Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)
- Joshua Tree National Park (California)
- Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
- Point Reyes National Seashore (California)
- Muir Woods National Monument (California)
- Zion National Park (Utah)
- Weir Farm National Historic Site (Connecticut)
- Pinnacles National Park (California)
- Paterson Great Falls National Historic Site (New Jersey)
- Morristown National Historical Park (New Jersey)
- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (New Jersey)