The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. This event marked the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what later became the west coast of the United States. This monument was dedicated on October 14, 1913. The National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
A heroic statue of Cabrillo looks out over the bay. The statue was executed by sculptor Alvaro de Bree for the Portuguese Government in 1939, who then donated it to the United States. The sandstone monument is 14 feet (4 m) tall and weighs 7 tons (6 tonnes). The adjacent museum screens a film about Cabrillo's voyage and has exhibits about the expedition.
The annual Cabrillo Festival Open House is held each October on Sunday. It commemorates Cabrillo with a reenactment of his landing at Ballast Point, in San Diego Bay. Other events are held above at the National Monument and include Kumeyaay, Portuguese, and Mexican singing and dancing, booths with period and regional food, 16th century encampment, and children's activities.
The park offers a superb view of San Diego's harbor and skyline, as well as Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island. On clear days, a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana and Mexico's Coronado Islands) are also visible.
At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been a San Diego icon since 1854. The lighthouse was closed in 1891, and a new one opened at a lower elevation, because fog and low clouds often obscured the light at its location 129 meters (422 feet) above sea level.
The area encompassed by the national monument includes various former military installations, such as coastal artillery batteries, built to protect the harbor of San Diego from enemy warships. Many of these installations can be seen while walking around the area. A former army building hosts an exhibit that tells the story of military history at Point Loma.
In the winter, migrating gray whales can be seen off the coast. Native coastal sage scrub habitat along the Bayside Trail offers a quiet place to reflect and relax. On the west side of the park is a small but beautiful stretch of rocky-intertidal coastline, where tide pools are accessible at low tide.