On a Christmas trip to San Diego, my family and I decided to visit the Cabrillo National Monument, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the tide pools. As a former San Diego resident of seven years, I have visited countless beach destinations and love the unique attractions Point Loma has to offer. Now, that I have children, I wanted my kids to explore the tide pools, the lighthouse and learn a little San Diego history. Here are some tips for visiting the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.
The monument, tide pools and lighthouse are all located at the end of the Point Loma Peninsula. It costs $5 to enter this National Park. This includes access to the tide pools, lighthouse, monument, trails and, of course, all the breathtaking views. If you keep your parking receipt, you can re-enter the park for six days after your first visit.
The Cabrillo National Monument
While I was in college, I took a little girl I was mentoring (for my teaching education class) to the Cabrillo National Monument. The monument is of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a European explorer. According to the National Park Service, Cabrillo was “the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States.” At the monument, you have a great, almost 360 degree, panoramic view of San Diego and Mexico.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is an interesting place to visit. Through glass dividers, visitors can look at the bedrooms and living spaces to see what life for a lighthouse keeper was like in the 1800s. Kids will enjoy the corkscrew staircase that leads upstairs to a bedroom. A few times a year, lucky visitors can gain access to the top of the light house. Adjacent to the lighthouse is a small museum with a map that shows light houses along the California coast. With the push of a button, each location lights up and you can see where the lighthouses are on the map.
The Tide Pools
The tide pools are my favorite part of this National Park. Years ago, my husband and I saw a small octopus at this “rocky intertidal zone.” It is best to go here when the tides are low. The last time we went, the tide was at +1.7. Optimal viewing is when the tides are in a negative zone. We saw a lot of hermit crabs and sea anemones. However, remember, you shouldn’t remove any of the creatures from their natural habitat. Overall, this is a great place for children to walk around and explore. Wearing water shoes or flip flops with good tread will help prevent slips and falls.
Other Things to Do
There is a visitors center where you can pick up pamphlets. Those who want to work up a sweat might want to take a hike along the bayside trail. There is also a Military History Exhibit. Finally, you may want to check out the whale overlook and look for gray whales. The best time to do this is January and February.
Visiting the Cabrillo National Monument, Old Point Loma Lighthouse and tide pools are a fun way to spend the day while in San Diego.
More from Melissa:
Vacationing Along the Southern California Coast in the Winter: Tips From a SoCal Resident
Hidden Gems to Visit in San Diego, California
5 Day Trips from Los Angeles, California with Kids