Pets allowed
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Cabrillo National Monument depicts Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European explorer to venture to the America’s West Coast. This event took place in 1542, and the monument was constructed 350 years later in a popular park that overlooks downtown San Diego and the San Diego Bay. Visitors hoping to learn more about Cabrillo’s journey can head to the visitor center. There they will be greeted by rangers who are knowledgeable about the park’s history, and visitors are also encouraged to take a look at an exhibit entitled “Age of Exploration.”

Following a path from the visitor center to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse will take you to the park’s summit. This is the best place to take in the view of San Diego, and the lighthouse itself is beautiful. There are additional exhibits there that show visitors how the lighthouse was run in the 1880s. If you head southward along the Bayside Trail at this point, you will find Whale Overlook. Gray whales are migratory, and as such cannot be seen year round, but they are generally visible from this spot in the winter. San Diego is nearly in the middle of the 10,000-mile round-trip migration route. Other large sea creatures you might see include dolphins, sea lions, and seals. Even if you don’t catch sight of a marine mammal, chances are high that you will come across wildflowers and coastal sea scrub as you negotiate the path.

When the tide is low you can make your way down to the water west of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. This part of the park is frequented by tourists, and the tide pools see over 215,000 visitors annually. It is easy to see why: the tide pools are bursting with life! You are likely to encounter anemones, mussels, seaweed, California sea hares, periwinkle snails, limpets, and octopi. Despite the congestion, this attraction is definitely worth a visit.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Historic site. Easily accessible. Hiking and tide pools. Incredible views.


Dogs are prohibited on trails.


ADA accessible
Historically significant
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Picnic tables
Bird watching
Whale watching
Guided tours


Nearby Lodging + Camping


A great place to view the sunset.
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.