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checking out some of the animals around the tide pool
Cabrillo National Monument
Closest available address
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive San Diego, CA 92106
Park is open 9:00am-5:00pm. Some facilities close at 4:00 and 4:30.
Best time to visit
Cabrillo National Monument is a 160 acre park on the Point Loma Peninsula. The monument has a rich human history and also is rich biologically. Historical sites include a 19th century lighthouse and 20th century military structures. The primray natural attractions are an observation point to see migrating whales, tide pools and a walking trail. The park also has 3 museums and several films. Views of downtown San Diego are excellent on clear days.
Juan Cabrillo was a Spanish conquistador who in 1542 is credited as the first European to have landed in the present day United States. His exact landing spot is unknown but likely was in or near the monument. Once California became part of the US, the government built a lighthouse in 1854 on a prominent hill. A second lighthouse was later added. This area also was key to defending San Diego Harbor, and the US military constructed batteries, fire control stations and bunkers in World War I and II. A small plot was set aside in 1913 for a proposed monument to Cabrillo. More land preservation took place in the 1950s and 1970s.
Winter is the best time of year to see whales and also a good time to visit the tide pools. No whales were visible on this trip, but the tide pools were interesting. A volunteer naturalist was on hand to answer questions about the various animals. Only part of 2.5 mile Bayside Trail was hiked due to limited time. It starts off paved then becomes a dirt path and has a number of interpretive signs about the park. As for the historical attractions, the 20th century military structures and a related museum were the best, especially information about how the fire control system worked. The lighthouse was well preserved but was dull. A museum on the Spanish explorers had exhibits that were a bit dated but were still historically informative. Not to be missed is a film about gray whale migration. It’s one of three films shown here and was excellent. Overall, the park was better than expected. With a range of attractions and activities, it will have mainstream appeal. Note that on the 4th Saturday of every month, an artillery bunker from World War II is open to the public.
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Gar the Bold
3/27/2014 8:48:47 PM
The whale sightings are best between the middle of December and early March when the Gray whales are making their migrations to Mexico to mate. I have seen as many as 30 whales at a time making their passage.
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