- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument Review
This 160-acre preserve marks the site of the first European visit to San Diego, made by 16th-century explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Cabrillo landed at this spot on September 15, 1542. Today the site, with its rugged cliffs and shores and outstanding overlooks, is one of the most frequently visited of all the national monuments.
The visitor center presents films and lectures about Cabrillo's voyage, the sea-level tide pools, and migrating gray whales. Interpretive stations have been installed along the walkways that edge the cliffs. The moderately steep Bayside Trail, 2½ miles round-trip, winds through coastal sage scrub, curving under the cliff-top lookouts and taking you ever closer to the bay-front scenery. You cannot reach the beach from this trail, and must stick to the path to protect the cliffs from erosion and yourself from thorny plants and snakes—including rattlers. You'll see prickly pear cactus and yucca, black-eyed Susans, fragrant sage, and maybe a lizard, rabbit, or hummingbird. The climb back is long but gradual, leading up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
The western and southern cliffs of Cabrillo National Monument are prime whale-watching territory. A sheltered viewing station has wayside exhibits describing the great gray whales' yearly migration from Baja California to the Bering and Chukchi seas near Alaska. High-powered telescopes help you focus on the whales' waterspouts. Whales are visible on clear days from late December through early March, with the highest concentration in January and February. More-accessible sea creatures (starfish, crabs, anemones) can be seen in the tide pools at the foot of the monument's western cliffs. Drive north from the visitor center to Cabrillo Road, which winds down to the Coast Guard station and the shore.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $140 & up -- San Diego: 4-Star Hotel, Save 50% Expedia
- $199-$259 -- 4-Star Resort Near San Diego w/Skyline Views Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa
- $8.56 & up -- Car Rentals across California CarRentals.com
- $139 & up -- San Diego 4-Star Gaslamp Quarter Hotel, 40% Off — $139 The Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
- $109 & up -- San Diego 4-Star Waterfront Hotel, 50% Off — $109 Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina
Just thought I'd post our trip report from this past weekend at the Big Sur Marathon. Read more
I’m just going to state the nitty-gritty to keep this post short. Read more
We will both be 22 years old by the time we fly out and have recently completed university. We are coming over to the USA to experience the big cities, the bars, the beaches, the culture Read more
· News & Features
Whether you're a cocktail aficionado or a mixology amateur, you'll learn a ton about your favorite drinks... Read more
When Hollywood came calling, these 10 hotels were ready for their close-ups.... Read more
There's much more to a hotel than just bedrooms and lobby bars—there are unique histories and quirky... Read more