With beautiful beaches, lots of history, and plenty of cultures that can be seen around the neighborhood, it’s no surprise that Point Loma has become a top vacation destination in San Diego! Point Loma is a coastal town that’s as fun to live in as it is to visit, with many local landmarks and historic sights that you won’t want to miss if you want to truly enjoy your time during your visit.
Point Loma is a peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean, bordered by the San Diego Bay, with plenty of beautiful beaches all around.
Therefore, you’re never far from the ocean and miles of coastline, where it’s easy to fully immerse yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of the neighborhood. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to visit all of Point Loma’s greatest attractions too!
Plan the Perfect Point Loma Vacation
Point Loma is nicknamed the birthplace of San Diego, and given the number of historic sights, it’s not hard to see why. Visit the landing site of California’s first European explorers, learn about the area’s rich history as a military base, or enjoy authentic cuisine at local restaurants. However you choose to explore, culture and history are always right around the corner.
This is also a great neighborhood for nature lovers, with many family-friendly attractions that bring San Diego’s marine life to the forefront.
Watch the migration of thousands of gray whales, and get close to sea life with tide pools on the beach. Other ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Point Loma include sailing, surfing, and walking through popular local shopping districts.
Explore the best of what Point Loma has to offer, and check out our top picks for the area’s best attractions, sights, and experiences.
Best Things to do in Point Loma, San Diego
From amazing tours of the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean to educational museums that call back to San Diego’s historic roots, there’s a little something for everyone in Point Loma!
Whether you’re a tourist on vacation or a local looking for fun activities for your staycation, check out these must-see selections, which include outdoor recreation, restaurants and markets, spectacular views, whale watching, entertainment venues, monuments, and more.
1. Visit Liberty Station
As a former Naval training center, Liberty Station is now a unique corner of San Diego where you can easily spend an afternoon walking around the area’s stores, historic monuments, and parks.
There are plenty of shopping boutiques here selling locally-made goods, as well as bakeries and sidewalk cafés where you can grab a bite to eat.
You’ll find most of the stores and restaurants in the Liberty Station Public Market, the first market of its kind to be open seven days a week.
There are also a number of breweries serving authentic San Diego craft beer and microbrews, which makes it a great spot for bar hopping. Check out this brewery tour at Liberty Station if you are looking for a fun thing to do while visiting.
Liberty Station is also a hub of art and culture, with multiple art galleries and military sites. Enjoy opportunities to make your own paintings, candles, and pottery, or visit The Lot, an upscale multiplex where you can dine and watch movies.
2. Visit Cabrillo National Monument
Located at the southernmost tip of the Point Loma peninsula, Cabrillo National Monument is a commemorative site recognizing the first time a European explorer set foot on the west coast of the United States. This monument offers stunning views of downtown San Diego from Point Loma.
It gets its name from Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who landed at the site back in 1542. This is a great location to learn about local history, especially if you take a tour or watch a presentation at the Visitor Center.
Cabrillo National Monument was an important location during World War I and World War II, and tourists can learn about the area’s extensive military history.
You can also visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The lighthouse was in operation from 1855 to 1891 and is now a local landmark and museum.
In addition to learning about history, Cabrillo National Monument is also known for its great hiking trails, tide pools, and opportunities for whale watching off the coast. You can book a tour with GetYourGuide to learn more about this historic monument in California.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Southern California
3. Eat Great Seafood at Point Loma Seafoods
There are few better towns for enjoying fresh-caught fish and seafood than San Diego, and the Point Loma neighborhood is especially notable for its seafood restaurants.
At Point Loma Seafoods, you can dine on fresh local catches like yellowtail, spiny lobster, white seabass, bluefin tuna, and swordfish, as well as imported seafood.
Point Loma Seafoods is famous for its smoked fish, and the restaurant uses real hickory wood in the smoking process.
In addition to serving hot, ready-to-eat dishes and sushi, Point Loma Seafoods is also a market selling seafood and fresh filets. In fact, the market opened its doors in 1963, quickly earning itself the reputation of always serving “the freshest thing in town.”
More than just a restaurant and market, eating at Point Loma Seafoods is an experience. Enjoy the soothing atmosphere of dining on the docks of San Diego Bay, with a scenic view of the sun reflecting on the gentle waves.
4. Go See Live Music at the Famous Humphreys Backstage Live
As one of the most well-known music venues in San Diego, Humphreys Backstage Live is an attraction in and of itself, offering great waterfront views from the property and frequently putting on Concerts by the Bay.
The venue has hosted a wide range of acts, from internationally renowned musicians to undiscovered local talents on the rise.
Additionally, music isn’t the only type of entertainment on offer. Humphreys Backstage Live also routinely hosts other performers like comedians and dance troupes, so be sure to check the calendar to see the upcoming events.
In addition to hosting live music and other events on their stage, Humphreys Backstage Live also has a bar and kitchen, perfect for a pre-show meal and a post-show cocktail or two. There’s also an attached hotel, the Half Moon Inn, so those traveling to see a performance can stay the night nearby and explore the rest of Point Loma’s attractions in the morning.
See Related: Best Things To Do in Temecula, California
5. Go Surfing at Nubes at Sunset Cliffs
Given San Diego’s significant surfing culture, it’s no surprise that Point Loma’s beaches are the perfect place to hang ten. One of the best spots to surf is at New Break, also called Nubes Beach, which is located right outside the Sunset Cliffs National Park.
In addition to jogging along the shore, sunbathing, and swimming, the biggest draw of Nubes is the surf. Take advantage of San Diego’s year-round sunny weather, as you’ll find the biggest waves in the fall and winter.
Average right-hand swells at Nubes reach around three to five feet, but when conditions are right, you can find waves of up to 12 feet tall. Visit at low tide for the safest experience.
Note that the area is best for experienced surfers thanks to the fast-moving waves and rocky seafloor. Wipeouts can be dangerous here, so they may not be the best choice for beginners and less experienced surfers.
6. Go Sailing in San Diego Bay
There are many ways to view the beauty of San Diego Bay, but one of the best options is by boat. In Point Loma, you can take a sailing tour of San Diego Bay to see the beautiful, calm waters and gorgeous coastlines from a whole new point of view.
You can either rent a sailboat yourself, which offers more freedom to explore at your own pace or take a guided tour, which offers a more in-depth look at many of the bay’s landmarks and historical sights. Taking a tour is a great way to learn about the area, as well as its unique culture and history.
Sailing in the bay is also a great way to see San Diego’s marine life. You may spot native seals and sea lions resting along the shore, or you can go further out into the ocean to do some dolphin and whale watching.
See Related: Best Things to do in East Bay, California
7. Experience Polynesia San Diego Style at Bali Hai Restaurant
The award-winning Bali Hai restaurant is an especially unique place to dine in Point Loma, as it provides diners with a fully immersive Polynesian culture experience, from the decor to the dishes.
The restaurant dates all the way back to 1954 when it first opened on Shelter Island. Bali Hai’s founding helped preserve the island’s tiki temple, which remains in place to this day as one of the world’s biggest original tiki temples.
Bali Hai started its life as one of many Christian Hut locations, but soon developed a life and personality all its own. It later received its iconic name, which translates to “your own special island,” a motto that still reflects the experience of diners to this day.
Currently, Bali Hai is considered a world-famous San Diego landmark. It serves many authentic Polynesian dishes with a local San Diego twist, as well as cocktails, including their signature mai tai.
8. Check Out the Sea Life at the Point Loma Tide Pools
The Point Loma tide pools are a must-see attraction for all nature lovers! While you can look at larger marine life up close in an aquarium, there’s no better way to see the many small fish, crabs, invertebrates, and other organisms that lurk beneath the surface of the ocean than in a tide pool.
Tide pools form along rocky and uneven stretches of shore when the tide goes out. Ocean water pools in these natural divots, catching many species of ocean life with it. Therefore, the best way to see tide pools is to visit during low tide.
The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument are especially popular, as they boast a high level of biodiversity, and the rocky shore is perfect for tide pool formation.
It’s common to see shore crabs, sea urchins, limpets, California sea hares, sea anemones, periwinkle snails, and even the occasional octopus or lobster.
9. Go On a Boat Ride With Wheels With San Diego SEAL Tours
If you want to see all the best locations and sights of San Diego with all the comfort and convenience of a single guided tour, you can’t go wrong with the San Diego SEAL Tours.
SEAL is short for “sea and land,” as these tours include top landmarks and attractions both in the ocean and on the shore.
SEAL Tours are able to provide such a varied look at San Diego because of the Hydra-Terras, a unique vehicle that’s a hybrid between a boat and a car, as it both floats and has wheels.
On a 90-minute tour, you’ll traverse the streets and cruise the bay, all while learning about the city with a focus on its military history. It’s common to see seals and sea lions during the tour as well.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly way to explore Point Loma and the surrounding neighborhoods, a SEAL tour is a perfect option!
See Related: Best Things to do in Big Bear, California
10. Visit Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Inside the Cabrillo National Monument, you’ll find the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which is more than deserving of its own attraction.
This historic lighthouse originally operated in the mid-to-late-1800s, though the area frequently suffered from low clouds and fog that all but blocked out the light.
Even though Point Loma Lighthouse is no longer operational, having been replaced with a new lighthouse in the area, it remains to stand, and it has been renovated into an educational museum providing a peek into an earlier era of San Diego.
The interior has been refurbished to showcase what it would have looked like back in the 1880s, and visitors are invited to check out the exhibits on display or take a ranger-led informational tour to learn more about this point in Point Loma’s history.
Visiting Point Loma Lighthouse is a great family-friendly way to experience the area’s history firsthand.
See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit
11. Visit Our Fallen Heroes at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Visiting the federal cemetery for members of the military at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is a meaningful experience worth your time while visiting Point Loma.
Located right before the entrance to the Cabrillo National Monument, this large cemetery spans over 75 acres, overlooking the bay, with a tranquil atmosphere perfect for honoring many of our country’s fallen heroes. It is both a California and San Diego Historical Landmark, and it was also recognized by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
Fort Rosecrans is named after William Starke Rosecrans, who served as a general for the Union in the American Civil War. It is the resting place of dozens of recipients of the Medal of Honor. It also has multiple memorials and monuments honoring battles through the years, which serve both a commemorative and educational purpose.
The cemetery is also the site of San Diego’s largest Memorial Day celebration, which takes place on the last Monday in May every year.
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