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Point Loma Lighthouse

San Diego Light House is a California Original

By by Bridget M. Rohrer

point loma lighthouse

Point Loma Lighthouse - San Diego

© Betsy Malloy 2002
  • Hours: Open daily, 9 to 5
  • Cost: National Park Entry Fee
  • Location: Cabrillo National Monument, directions below
  • How Long: Allow a half hour for the lighthouse, more for the rest of the park
  • Best Time to Visit: Clear days are prettiest

Erected in November of 1855, the original Point Loma Light House is one of the original eight Cape Cod influenced structures built along the California coast to aid sea navigation.

The lighthouse did not get off to a good start. First, construction costs reached more than $30,000 - much higher than the budget. Then, when the first-order Fresnel lens arrived, the builders could not fit it into the tower and a smaller lens had to be substituted. Finally, because of its elevation, the light was often shrouded in fog.

For 36 years, the tower was a beacon at the entrance of the San Diego Bay. At 422 feet above sea level, the location initially seemed to be good for ships entering the area. It was soon recognized, however, that the light was often hidden by low-hanging clouds and dense fog. The site was abandoned shortly thereafter for a new location closer to the water and at the tip of the Peninsula (1891). It's often called the Old Point Loma Lighthouse for that reason.

Visiting Point Loma Lighthouse

Old Point Loma Lighthouse is the centerpiece of the Cabrillo National Monument, which honors Portuguese navigational explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who first discovered San Diego Bay and charted the coast of California.

The National Park Service refurbished the interior of the Cape Cod-style lighthouse to the historic 1880s appearance - a reminder of a bygone era. Check at the visitor center to find out about ranger-led talks about the lighthouse. You'll find an exhibit about both of the lighthouses in the reconstructed assistant keeper’s quarters next to to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Also in the National Monument is the "new" Point Loma Lighthouse, down the hill toward the ocean from the old one. You can see it from the road, but it is not open for tours.

Where Is Point Loma Lighthouse Located?

Old Point Loma Lighthouse
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
San Diego, CA

Point Loma Lighthouse is located in Cabrillo National Monument, at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula and across the bay from downtown San Diego.

You'll find driving directions from all the major San Diego freeways at the Cabrillo National Monument website. If you're using a GPS, use the address above.

By public transportation, you can take San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus 28 or 84C, which stop hourly at Cabrillo National Monument.

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