Many national monuments usually contain historic structures or memorials. And for many places in the world, such an attraction is not that frequented much unlike how people would flock theme parks and the likes. This is because most of them only offers statues with markings that tells a little about the place’s history. With that, locals would often just pass on it and foreign visitors would just take photos just to document their trip and then that’s it. If they’ve already been there, most likely, they will not visit again due to lack of other attractions and activities that you can see or do near the area.

But not all national monuments are like that. Among the national monuments in the world, probably one of the best is the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego California. Apart from the stories that it can tell you, you also have a lot of things to enjoy once you visit this place, which makes it stand out from the rest.

San Diego California is home to many world-class attractions. In fact, because of that, it is regarded as the America’s Finest City. Among the many frequented attractions that it has, many locals and foreign visitors alike also love to come back to the city because of the Cabrillo National Monument. For starters, this is because of the history that the monument holds which, by the way, makes it worth visiting by families, especially those with younger members.

Back in 1542, a European expedition set foot on what later became U.S.’ West Coast. This contributed a lot to the history of the place. Hence, in 1932, the site was designated as California Historical Landmark #56 and eventually, the site was named Cabrillo National Monument.

Aside from that, what makes people frequent the area are the activities that the site has to offer. Here, you can be as active or as relaxed as you want. And the best part of it is that it has activities for people of all ages.

Cabrillo National Monument Things to Do

1Unlimited Fun Learning

Known as one of the historical sites in San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument holds a lot of stories about its past. And the best part of it is that you can get a glimpse of it through the activities that the site has to offer, which makes it even more worth visiting, especially if you’re traveling with kids. One such activity is joining ranger-guided programs. Through this, everyone in the family can get interesting insights into the history of the place with the help of the site’s guides.

The path to Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument (Source)

Another thing that draws visitors to the monument is its lighthouse. Called as the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, this structure also saw a lot of stories from the past. And you can get to learn more about it as you tour the area. Today, its 1880s appearance has been restored and present life as it was for the lightkeepers, as well as their families.

Adjacent to the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the Assistant Keeper’s Quarters. Here, you can explore interactive exhibits where you can also get to hear more entailing stories of the lighthouses of Point Loma. With its interesting stories to tell, you can get to imagine what life was like in the area for its workers and even the locals.

Near the Assistant Keeper’s Quarters, you can find yet another historic military building that you need to check out too. For starters, this attraction also features exhibits that present the history of Fort Rosecrans. Whether you’re a history buff or just a curious visitor, it’s still worth seeing, especially if you’re travelling with your whole family.

The learning doesn’t just stop there. At the national monument, you can also get to sign up for workshops where you can learn more too. One of the recent workshops that the site held is the Conservation + Comics. Here, participants were guided by a biologist through a thematic exploration of the park. An art educator also joined in who led the participants in learning how t tell scientific stories through comics, hence the name of the workshop. And you might even get to join another workshop like this very soon too. All you have to do is to keep an eye on the site’s calendar of events.

2Relaxing at the National Monument

If you just want to appreciate the beauty of nature and the site, there’s no need to worry as you can do that at the Cabrillo National Monument too. One of its exciting yet more laid-back activity to offer is the self-guided walking tour. This is also ideal for when you just want a more solo time with your family as you can even just download sheets to work on that are available on the monument’s website. Through this, you can surely get to bond more with your family.

Cabrillo National Monument also has an auditorium where you can watch films – a perfect activity for when you just want to stay indoors and enjoy a more laid-back activity while you learn more too. But we’re not talking about action movies, romantic movies, or whatnot. Instead, the films that the site features at its auditorium are more focused on telling the stories of the site itself, as well as the interesting creatures that you can get to see in the area. In case you want to have of the time and film that the auditorium features to plan your visit well, check out the site’s recent film showing schedule:

  • 10 AM – In Search of Cabrillo
  • 11 AM – On the Edge of Land and Sea
  • 12 PM – First Breath: Gray Whales
  • 1 PM – On the Edge of Land and Sea
  • 2 PM – In Search of Cabrillo
  • 3 PM – First Breath: Gray Whales
  • 4 PM – In Search of Cabrillo

Note that the last film starts at 4 PM. Hence, if you don’t want to miss a film, we highly suggest that you visit earlier.

In addition to that, what makes the locals and tourists alike love the place the most is that it boasts of Instagrammable views. Especially during spring season, the wildflowers are in full bloom, which makes the site even more pleasing to the eyes. In fact, the views are so beautiful that many couples also choose the place for their wedding.

A wedding photoshoot at the Cabrillo National Monument (Source)

And speaking of sights to see, the site is also a good place to spot whales. This is because each winter the Pacific gray whales pass by the national monument’s western overlooks.

Here, you can also spot hundreds of bird species. This, in turn, makes it one of the good places in San Diego for birdwatching. Kids will love the sight as well, needless to say.

3Getting Active

Hikers at one of the trails at Cabrillo National Monument (Source)

Even if you’re an active type of person, Cabrillo National Monument is not to be missed as well. For those who are seeking outdoor adventure, the site has several hiking trails for you. But among all of those, our favorite are the Bayside Trail and the Coastal Trail.

Bayside Trail

The end of Bayside Trail overlooking the ocean (Source)

The Bayside Trail is actually 2.5 miles (round trip) offering great views of the ocean. Here, you can also get to see the Ballast Point where the European explorer Cabrillo landed. From this site, you can also get to see the downtown, Coronado Island, sandstone cliffs, and Tijuana.

As you explore this area, you can also get to see various plant life. In fact, the trail boasts of being one of the few places in the world where Coastal Sage Scrub can live. And if you were to visit this trail during colder months, you can even get to see the mountain capped with snow, making your hike even more worth it.

This trail also holds a part of the history of the place. Hence, you can get to see a searchlight shelter and a power plant that was built in 1919 and used in both World War I and II.

This is also a great place even if you are just looking to relax. This is because the place has plenty of benches too where you can just rest, reflect, and of course, enjoy the view of the natural surroundings.

Coastal Trail

The view at Cabrillo National Monument’s Coastal Trail (Source)

The Coastal Trail, on the other hand, is quite shorter than the bayside Trail. It only has a short one-mile round trip. In spite of that, what we love about this trail is that its hike ranges from easy to moderate difficulty. So even if it’s short, the trail still offers thrill for hikers.

Once you’re here, don’t forget to look upslode to the east to be treated with the beautiful view of the Native Mediterranean Coastal Sage Scrub and Maritime Chaparral plants. Of course, this place will also treat you with the stunning views of the coast.

The trail’s coastal area is also popular for fur parents as they can bring their dogs here. But be sure to leash them as leashed dogs are the only ones allowed in the area.

The national monument also holds festivals and other fun events. One of the notable ones is the Cabrillo Festival.

For starters, locals celebrate it to commemorate the day the European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo set foot came ashore in 1542. But even if you’re a tourist, you can still get to witness this fun festival. During this event, visitors, including families can get to enjoy more educational activities, cultural demonstrations, as well as entertaining folkloric performances that lets you get a peek of the locals’ culture and history. Apart from that, you can also get to enjoy dramatic music and dancing that bring the traditions of the Native American, Portuguese, Mexican, and Spanish cultures alive that became a part of the Age of Exploration. The best part of it is that you can also get to enjoy lots of booths that feature traditional food, as well as cultural artisans that showcase their wares. Moreover, you can get to see Kumeyaay Indians demonstrating intricate basket weaving techniques, preparing acorns to eat, and more. There are also flint knappers showing how Native Americans made arrow points, scrapers, and knives. Everyone in the family will also love the historic re-enactors offering a glimpse into the lives of soldiers and sailors, who explored New Spain with Cabrillo, Desoto, and Coronado, back in the 16th century.

Another thing that makes the Cabrillo National Monument worth visiting is that you can also get to explore other good attractions in San Diego. This is because the monument sits in a nice place near various other attractions in the city that are also worth visiting.

Attractions Near Cabrillo National Monument

Balboa Park

Balboa Park still looking gorgeous even at night (Source)

Eight miles from the national monument is where Balboa Park sits. Now what makes this place worth visiting is that it also has a lot of things to offer. And when we say “a lot,” we mean really plenty of attractions. Apparently, contrary to its name it’s not just a simple park sitting at the heart of the city. Apparently, it houses museums, cafes, gardens, and other entertainment venues.

For starters, it houses 17 museums that feature an incredible diversity of collections that tells a lot about the history and the culture of the locals. Here, you can get to see exhibits featuring the history of flight, trains, and automobiles. There are also arts, crafts, and collections about the culture of people in the city.

Apart from museum hopping, you can also get to enjoy gardens that will get you closer to nature and, of course, help you curate you Instagram feed with its picturesque landscape. One of our favorite gardens is the iconic Botanical Building. As its name suggests this attraction houses exotic plants, including cycads, palms, and orchids. Kids will also love its hands-on scent garden where you can pluck off leaves and see what various plants smell like. The best part of it is that it is free to visit.

Of course, you will be treated with beautiful surroundings. In fact, it is regarded as one of the most photographed places in the entire San Diego. So don’t forget to snap photos as much as you want for your Instagram feed.

If you want some peace and quiet even for a while, we highly suggest that you see the Japanese Friendship garden as well. As its name suggest, this place has all of the details in a typical Japanese garden. But, of course, the difference is that it’s in San Diego and you don’t need any plane ticket or your passport to experience a bit of Japan. Festivals are also held here so be sure to keep an eye on the site’s calendar.

If you need to fuel up or even just a quick kid-friendly fix, Balboa Park also has various cafes and restaurants scattered around the area. There’s no need to worry if you come hungry.

Picnicking is allowed as well, which makes the place even more worth-visiting. The most popular spot for this activity is the lawn in front of the Botanical Building. But you can also stop to eat throughout the park.

Birch Aquarium

Kids fascinated by Birch Aquarium’s Sea Dragon exhibit at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Birch Aquarium is also a must see, especially if you’re travelling with kids. Aside from being one of the educational sites in San Diego as it lets you get a peak of what’s in the ocean, this place also offers more fun as it offers various activities too. You can even get to see how they feed the animals. On top of that, the site holds various shows where everyone in the family will not just get entertained but will also get to learn about the animals, as well as their habitats.

If you’re feeling more like a daredevil, you can even get to swim with sharks. But note that you need to be an intermediate swimmer before you’re allowed for such an experience. Kids who are older than 10 are also allowed if they meet the swimming mastery level requirements.

And even if you have something to celebrate, including wedding, this place also has a spot for you.

Flower Fields

A glimpse of the flowers in full bloom at The Flower Fields (Source)

The Flower Fields is yet another one of San Diego’s Instagrammable places to boast of. As its name suggests, you will be treated with beautiful acres of flowers, which are always a great sight to see.

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Aside from the picture-perfect setting, you can also get to witness various events. One of which is yoga that’s perfect for those who are fitness buff.

The site also holds wine tasting events. Teamed with good music and a stunning view of the sunset, this event is surely not to be missed.

And also because of the beautiful setting that it boasts of, the Flower Fields also makes one of the good wedding venues in San Diego. Whether you want a place that’s Instagrammable, where you can relax, or where you can tie the knot, this place is not to be missed as well.

LEGO Land

A look at LEGO Land’s water parks’ Surfer’s Cove (Source)

Disneyland is so last year. Since you’re already in San Diego, why not go to San Diego instead? Kids and kids at heart will surely love this place as it is a theme park with rides that will keep your heart pounding. And the best part of it is that it doubles as a water park with equally exciting and fun slides and other LEGO-themed water attractions that will make your visit all the more worth it.

In addition to that, the site also has its own aquarium. Here, kids can get a good peek at what’s under the sea. Plus, they can get to enjoy interactive hands-on exhibits. Through this, kids will not just get to have fun but their trip is going to be more worth it and memorable as they can also get to learn.

And if you plan to stay longer to make the most out of your visit, LEGO Land also has accommodations to offer. Complete with interiors and other items inside the room matching the theme of the park, kids will certainly love their stay they would never want to leave. It’s so cool and fun that it is one of the most recommended water parks in the United States.

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Zoos and Other More Aquariums

Cute cubs at the San Diego Zoo (Source)

If LEGO Land’s aquarium isn’t enough, there are far more zoos and aquariums in town that will give you more places to hang out with your family. Of course, the attractions provide different experiences where everyone in the family can get to learn more about the animals that the zoos and aquariums houses, as well as their habitats. Through this, you can also get to learn more about the conservation of the animals that the attractions houses. Some of our favorites are the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the Wild Animal Park.

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Be Relax Spa

Inside Be Relax Spa (Source)

With numerous attractions and activities, you sure want to end your day by treating yourself to a relaxing spa. There are a lot of spas in the city but one of our favorites is the Be Relax Spa. Here, you will not just get massages but you can also enjoy other beauty services such as manicure, pedicure, facial care, and even waxing. They are also located in the airport so you might want to check out their services before you head home or to another location.

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