Visit the Point Old Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego

Light House at the Point Loma at the Cabrillo National Monument is a wonderful place to visit and connect with Old San Diego history and the gorgeous landscape where the light house sits. The historic area of Point Loma is also a natural preserve area where you can explore around the monument and lighthouse and then the beautiful and rugged coastline and down to the tidepool areas of the beach areas.

History of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The Light house sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the entry to San Diego Harbor – a perfect spot to have this old lighthouse to signal to all the ocean vessels coming into the harbor area. Surprising to note that this lighthouse was destined to be demolished at different points of history to its significant past.  Overlooking San Diego and at the tip of Point Loma which is 422 feet above sea level, this was where the lighthouse was started in 1854 and built in 1855 and put to service with a Fresnel lens that was used and had many prisms and bulls’-eyes to effectively radiate beams of light all through the light house and into the open sea area and leading ships safely into the harbor area. The lighthouse is two story’s and built in a Cape Cod style that reflected the simplicity of design made for lighthouses in the area and making it the highest lighthouse created in the USA.

The lighthouse had a relatively short lifespan of around 36 years in operation and had around 11 light house keepers with their families and assistants to run the lighthouse and surrounding area. There was a lot of turnover of these lighthouse keepers because of the isolation, lake of steady water supply and even low paid wages to the keepers and family. Over time a garden was added along with around 36 a barn, chicken coop and oil shed that was eventually converted to house assistants to the keepers.

History of the Point Loma Lighthouse

A new Point Loma Lighthouse established

Because of its high elevation and sometimes being shrouded with fog and clouds, a new Point Loma lighthouse was actually created in 1891 at a lower level and the old light house was abandoned and threatened to be demolished but was repurposed as a radio tower and signal tower, a tea house, an army post exchange and even a visitor’s center.

The last keeper, Robert Israel moved to watch over the new lighthouse and lived in two clapboard styled homes done in Mission Revival style that was popular during that time frame. Also, around the property were outhouses, two large water tanks, and an oil house completed the station and the barn from the old lighthouse was moved to the current site in the lower level. After 1960, the Ballast station was demolished but the new lighthouse that runs an automated beacon program is still operating on site.

A new Point Loma Lighthouse established

Changes to the Cabrillo National Monument

The Cabrillo National Monument was integrated with the National Park service and the lighthouse was rehabilitated around 1933 and included into the historic monuments of the national monuments area. The Original Fresnel lens was taken out for other uses but a similar one in the design of the original was placed back to the lighthouse for display purposes.

Today the original lighthouse on the high bluff is a popular attraction for visitors to hike to from the lower monument visitors center and enjoy some of the history, inside look at the lighthouse, furnishings and other memorabilia of the previous keepers and families that lived in this rugged and isolate area in San Diego.

Changes to the Cabrillo National Monument

Other places to explore around Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument, located in San Diego, California, offers more than just its iconic lighthouse and sweeping ocean views. While the monument itself is a must-visit, there are several other attractions and activities to explore in the surrounding area:

Tide Pools: The tide pools near the monument are a fascinating ecosystem to explore, especially during low tide. You can observe various marine life, including anemones, sea stars, and hermit crabs. Be sure to follow park regulations and tread carefully to protect this delicate environment.

Bayside Trail: This scenic trail winds along the eastern side of Point Loma, offering stunning views of San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, and the city skyline. It’s a great place for a leisurely hike or a bike ride.

Military History: Cabrillo National Monument has historical significance related to military installations. Explore the World War II bunkers and learn about the military history of the area, including its role during wartime.

Whale Watching: If you visit during the winter months (December to April), consider going whale watching. Point Loma is a prime spot for spotting migrating gray whales as they pass through the area.

Bird Watching: The park is home to a variety of bird species, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, and other coastal birds.

Visitor Center: Don’t miss the visitor center, where you can learn about the history, natural resources, and cultural significance of the area through exhibits and informative displays.

Cabrillo Statue: Visit the statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European explorer to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. It’s a symbol of the monument’s historical importance.

Cabrillo National Monument Junior Ranger Program: If you’re traveling with children, consider participating in the Junior Ranger program. It’s a fun and educational way for kids to learn about the park’s natural and cultural heritage.

Sunset Views: Point Loma offers some of the best sunset views in San Diego. Watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from the western side of the monument is a memorable experience.

In addition to these attractions, the nearby coastal town of San Diego offers a wealth of activities, from exploring the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter to relaxing on the city’s beautiful beaches. Cabrillo National Monument and its surroundings provide a rich tapestry of history, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities for visitors of all interests.

Other things to explore around Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego attractions and locations

Weather and best time to visit San Diego

San Diego, located in Southern California, boasts a mild and pleasant climate year-round, making it an appealing destination to visit at any time. However, the best time to visit San Diego largely depends on your preferences for weather and the type of activities you want to enjoy:

Spring (March to May): Spring is considered one of the best times to visit San Diego. The weather is delightful, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60-70°F (15-24°C). It’s ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, beachgoing, and exploring the city without the peak summer crowds. The famous Carlsbad Flower Fields are also in full bloom during spring.

Summer (June to August): Summer is a popular time for tourists due to the warm and sunny weather, with temperatures averaging 70-80°F (21-27°C) along the coast. This is the perfect time for beach lovers, as the Pacific Ocean is at its warmest. However, be prepared for more crowded beaches and higher prices during the peak tourist season.

Fall (September to November): Fall is another great time to visit San Diego. The weather remains pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 70-80°F (21-27°C) in September and gradually cooling down in October and November. It’s a less crowded season, making it an excellent time to explore the city and enjoy outdoor activities.

Winter (December to February): San Diego’s winter is mild, with daytime temperatures averaging around 60-65°F (15-18°C). While it may be cooler than other seasons, it’s still a pleasant time to visit, especially if you want to escape colder climates. The city’s holiday festivities and events, like Balboa Park’s December Nights, make it a festive and enjoyable time to be in San Diego.

In summary, San Diego’s pleasant climate allows for year-round travel. The best time to visit depends on your preference for weather and crowds. Spring and fall offer mild temperatures and fewer tourists, making them ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Summer is perfect for beachgoers, while winter is a great option for a more relaxed, off-peak visit to enjoy the city’s attractions and events without the summer crowds.

Check out these other posts to visiting SoCal areas

Things to do in Old Town San Diego

Fun Day Trips from San Diego

Visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields

Cabrillo National Monument

Best beaches in Southern California to visit

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Point Loma lighthouse
Point Loma lighthouse
Point Loma lighthouse

Conclusion to visiting Point Loma lighthouse

In conclusion, a visit to the Point Loma Lighthouse is a journey back in time to an era when maritime navigation relied on the guiding beacon of these historic structures. Perched on the picturesque cliffs of Point Loma in San Diego, California, this well-preserved lighthouse offers not only a glimpse into the maritime history of the region but also breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay.

Exploring the Point Loma Lighthouse and its surrounding grounds allows visitors to appreciate the dedication of the lighthouse keepers who once tended to its beacon. The informative exhibits and insightful ranger talks provide a deeper understanding of the lighthouse’s role in maritime safety.

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