Today, October 14, 2018, marks the 105thanniversary of the establishment of Cabrillo National Monument. The monument was originally built to commemorate the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, an explorer who became the first European to step foot on the American west coast when he landed in San Diego. The monument also happened to be one of my last stops on my southern California trip last month.
We drove through San Diego on a busy Saturday to get to the monument, and the first thing we did when reaching the park was check out the visitor center. The visitor center and the park itself overlook the center of San Diego and its harbor. The visitor center has all of the usuals of a proper national park visitor center with an information booth, gift shop, museum and auditorium. We did everything but the auditorium, and ended up a bit disappointed as the museum really struggled to capture the momentous moment of Cabrillo landing in San Diego. All of the artifacts at the museum were replicas, which was a massive disappointment. In fact, the monument really struggled to display its history in all aspects. An area dedicated to the site’s military history was rather lackluster, and large sections of the monument’s historic lighthouse were closed off.
Fortunately, Cabrillo makes up for this with the fantastic views it has around every corner. The upper level of the park has gorgeous views of San Diego. A statue of Cabrillo and a statue dedicated to the whales that migrate through the area were also standout features. After checking out the upper level of the park we drove down to the seaside portion of the park where the great views kept on coming. We walked the ocean cliffside, which are apparently a really fun place to be at low tide (we came at high tide). Walking along the cliffside and seeing waves crash against the rock walls made this place at some points seem like a west coast version of Acadia.
So despite its historical significance, your best bet for Cabrillo National Monument is to come expecting great views.