Despite Cabrillo National Monument being just a short drive from Ocean Beach, we didn't come here the last time we were in town. When we first arrived, we were a little caught off guard because it looks like you are driving into a Navy base but the gate is open and a little ways down the road you stop at the pay station for Cabrillo. As of this writing, it cost $15 to enter Cabrillo by car and this gives you a pass you can use again as much as you want during the next 6 days.
We initially parked near the tide pools area, although it was hide tide and we couldn't access the tide pools. Do yourself a favor, go online and look at the tide schedule (just google San Diego area tide schedule) before you go to the beach in the event you want to look at the tide pools. Also check online (either with a weather app or the park website) about any alerts; there was a rough surf advisory almost every day we were there, which means if you are walking on rocks during high tide, you may get splashed!
There is a nice trail along the cliffs and rocks that is about a mile total, so we started out walking along here. We saw some really cool rock and cliff formations. The thing about the San Diego coastline is, every section of beach is different. The rocks and cliffs at Cabrillo are different than La Jolla, which are different than the Sunset Cliffs, and so on and so on. And of course, everything looks different as the tide changes!
After walking along the trail, we drove up to the visitor's center and parked there. Outside of the visitor's center, we saw great views of the bay, Coronado, downtown San Diego, and even Mexico, although it was a little hazy the morning we were there. There is also a trail near the visitor's center called the Bayside trail (which goes along the bay naturally) but we didn't walk this one. It looked really pretty though! After walking through the visitor's center and looking at the exhibits there, we briefly looked at the actual Cabrillo Monument and then headed to the Old Point Loma lighthouse.
I have a thing for lighthouses. I just love them! When I was a kid, I thought it would be cool to be either a lighthouse keeper or a fire tower watcher (weird, I know). This lighthouse is seriously one I could live in. It's very small but seriously has the perfect amount of space for me, James and the dogs. It has a an adorable little spiral staircase leading upstairs to the tower, which is actually not accessible to the public but you can look into it. The rooms of the lighthouse are also secured behind glass, but they are furnished and decorated with period pieces and overall it just looks like a place I could live. I loved the simplicity and stature of this lighthouse! Throughout the grounds near the lighthouse, there are also displays about military history and relics of WW2, which James found interesting. Although I am not so much into military history, the San Diego area is obviously a must visit area for those who are.
After walking around Cabrillo, we went to the grocery store and did some other mundane things. We needed to get snacks and non-perishable food to take on our trip to Joshua Tree (I didn't feel like bringing a cooler and ice so we stuck with sandwiches and "hiker food"). In the evening, we walked to a restaurant down the street called Hugo's Cocina. We noticed the night before it had a line out the door, so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Fortunately, they have a great variety of vegan options so we made a good choice! It's family style Mexican restaurant with your typical assortment of tacos, enchiladas, and combo options. I ordered a vegan quesadilla. It was HUGE so I had plenty leftover, which I ate the next morning for breakfast.
It was an early night because we had to get a good night's rest before our big adventure in Joshua Tree!