Explore Art, History and Family Fun in Point Loma

Many consider Point Loma to be San Diego’s Plymouth Rock. It was here that explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first set foot on the West Coast in 1542. Today, history echoes throughout Point Loma, while contemporary visual and performing arts, great restaurants, shopping and more make it a terrific destination for a family adventure.

Discover the Art and Culture of Point Loma


Get Up Close to History

From European explorers to San Diego’s military history, there’s plenty of secrets from the past waiting to be uncovered around Point Loma.

  • The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, but what really makes this site worth a visit is the spectacular view of San  Diego Bay and beyond.
  • Dating back to 1855, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses on the West Coast. Visitors can view the quarters where the lighthouse keeper used to live.
  • NTC at Liberty Station was once a functioning U.S. Navy base, and the Point Loma Legacy Exhibit allows visitors to peak into what life was like as a Naval training recruit.

Priceless Performances

san diego dance theater

Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater is just one of several performing arts groups based in Point Loma

Music and dance lovers should keep an eye out for live performances around the neighborhood all year round:

  • Malashock Dance presents creative, contemporary dance performances around town and at their studio at NTC at Liberty Station.
  • Also at NTC at Liberty Station, Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater stages performances at Whitebox, a modern and minimalistic theater space.
  • Every summer, locals gather for the Point Loma Summer Concert Series, featuring everything from rock to jazz, under blue skies in Point Loma Park.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City


5 Things You May Not Know About San Diego

Whaley House

1. Located in Old Town San Diego, the famous Whaley House, constructed in 1856 on a former gallows site, is one of only two officially-designated haunted houses in California. The Whaley House is often referred to as “the most haunted house in America,” inhabited by no less than seven spirits. The Whaley House is also the first two-story brick building in Southern California and the oldest two-story brick building on the West Coast.

Balboa Park

2. Balboa Park is the second oldest city park in America. This magnificent cultural complex is second only to the Smithsonian in size and is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West”; it has the highest concentration of museums west of the Mississippi and the largesturban cultural park in North America.

US Navy Flying over San Diego Bay

3. San Diego is home to the largest military complex in the United States; eleven major Navy and Marine Corpsinstallations are home to approximately 150,000 active duty military personnel.

Chicano Park

4. Chicano Park, located beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in the downtown neighborhood of Barrio Logan, is home to the largestcollection of outdoor murals in the country.

5. The 4,600-acre Mission Bay, with its 27 miles of beaches and abundance of grassy recreation areas, is the largest aquatic park in the world.


5 to Try: Exploring San Diego’s Military History

Photo from the MCAS Miramar Air Show

San Diego’s history, social and economic makeup are all tied to the Military’s presence in the region. As we celebrate the Marine’s 235th anniversary today, we wanted to share some great ways you can see and experience the Military’s rich history in San Diego.

MCRD Museum Historical Society – The society presents the history of the United States Marine Corps in San Diego. Visitors can see unique military collections, impressive military art, documents, and memorabilia exhibits.

Liberty Station – Formerly the site of San Diego’s Naval Training Center, Liberty Station is rich in history and culture with unique museums, historic buildings and restaurants.

USS Midway – The historic naval aircraft carrier museum allows visitors to explore galleys, officer’s country, sleeping quarters, and The Island!

MCAS Miramar Air Show – Each fall, the air show is held at the Marine Corps Air Station and draws thousands of people from around the region.

Fleet Week Big Bay Family Festival – Held in September, Fleet week honors the men and women of the military. The public is invited to climb aboard US Navy Ships and chat with Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

Guest Blogger

Veterans, It’s Your Day

Veterans Day Parade 2008Veterans Day falls on November 11, the anniversary of the Armistice of World War I — not a great battle but an achievement of peace.  Each year, San Diego honors United States veterans with the San Diego County Veterans Day Parade taking place downtown on Pacific Highway beginning at 11:00 A.M.  Everyone is invited to come and see one of San Diego’s most spectacular parades.

After the parade, you can visit the U.S.S. Midway Museum and watch as its newest addition — a restored World War II Corsair fighter plane — is lifted onto the fight deck.  Veterans will receive free admission to the museum and $1 from every ticket sold that day will be donated to the Veterans Village of San Diego.

While you’re there, check out the collection of military memorials along the bay, between the U.S.S. Midway and Seaport Village.

Building on the spirit of the occasion, LEGOLAND California has recreated the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in miniature.  The mini-memorial is situated in the park’s  Miniland, between the mini Lincoln Memorial and the mini Washington Memorial, just like the real thing in Washington, D.C.

Vietnam Memorial at LEGOLAND California

Also in honor of Veterans Day, Old Town Trolley Tours of San Diego will treat all veterans — active duty, retired, and honorably discharged — to an entertaining and enlightening city sightseeing tour on Wednesday, November 11.  Just bring your valid ID card showing active duty or retirement, or a DD214 (proof of release from the military), to any Old Town Trolley booth for your complimentary boarding pass.

And just so you know, the world-famous San Diego Zoo offers free admission all year round to active duty military personnel (U.S. and foreign) with valid military ID. Spouses and dependents receive 10% discount on the Best Value Admission, which includes bus tour and Skyfari aerial tram.

Here’s to making a happy Veterans Day happen in San Diego!

Guest Blogger

Marine Corps Aviation History Up Close

If you have spent any time driving near the Marine Corps Air Station on Miramar Road, you probably have driven past a collection of vintage military aircraft.  That collection is the pride of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, the only museum dedicated to Marine Corps aviation.

Visitor Services Squadron in front of restored TMB 3-E

Visitor Services Squadron with a restored TMB 3-E

I joined a group of Visitor Services volunteers on the trip up to Miramar to tour the museum and get a little history on the landmarks – a lot of history, actually.  With some notice to the museum you can request a tour from a docent, and we scored one of their major docents — a Sergeant Major docent, in fact.  Sergeant Major Mike Zacker, USMC (Retired), was there to take us through nearly one hundred years of Marine Corps aviation.  He gave an entertaining tour filled with military zeal and plenty of harrowing personal accounts, as one would expect from a four-decade veteran.

Aside from the impressive collection of aircraft and service vehicles, the exhibits housed within the museum building were extensive, with military artifacts dating back to 1918.  The stuff here is neat enough on its own, but listen to old uncle Alex: get one of the docents to show you around! They’re all retired military of some ilk, and it’ll be your very own interactive History Channel — with no commercials.

The newest addition to the collection: the T-34B “Mentor”

The newest addition to the collection: the T-34B “Mentor”

This attraction is about 20-30 minutes from downtown, and it’s a treasure for San Diego’s military presence, which includes the families who come to town to see their sons and daughters graduated, promoted or deployed.  Folks in uniform as well as their families are welcomed with open arms (the kind on your body, not the shooting kind).

Museum entry and docent-led tours are free but donations are accepted.  All donations are applied toward the planned construction of the new, world-class Marine Corps Aviation Museum.  When completed, the museum will house extensive, permanent aviation exhibits as well as an on-site restoration facility.  Hopefully, I’ll get to let you know when it’s done.

This weekend, September 5 & 6, will be your opportunity to climb inside the cockpits of four fighter jets on display during Open Cockpit Days!

Open Cockpit Days


“You and your submarine! Look where it’s got us now!”

That’s what Julie Newmar’s Catwoman said to Burgess Meredith’s Penguin in the uber-kitschy film version of the caped crusader – 1966’s Batman.  And, to paraphrase the sidekick of all sidekicks, “Holy Pen & Ink, Batman. It’s Comic-Con.”

In celebration of this week’s pop culture extravaganza and because I’ve always thought submarines were the craziest super-villain rides around, I’ve got the down-low on getting aboard two really hot Cold War-era subs at the Maritime Museum. 

Thar she blows, The Dolphin.

Thar she blows, The Dolphin.

First off, the newest edition to their collection the USS Dolphin. Just debuted at the museum in May, this sub served from 1968 to 2006 as a US Navy research vessel testing deep sea communications and other things we still can’t talk about because they’re still classified. Sailors on this ship sent the first ever underwater email and she held the record for the deepest dive for decades.

The Russians only gave them numbers, not names.

The Russians only gave them numbers, not names.

The Dolphin’s counterpart at the museum – though not on the high seas (she’s too tough for the Dolphin) – is the B-39 Russian Attack Submarine.  Launched in the early 1970’s, she patrolled the seas looking for…well, us. Throughout the cold war, this exact kind of sub is exactly what kept US sailors, many of them based out of San Diego, on high alert.  The craziest thing about this sub is that she’s totally 70’s with a completely wood paneled interior. Wood panelling. Underwater. Yup.

More photos, including torpedos and the aforementioned wood panelling, after the jump…

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Guest Blogger

Military Monuments Eternally Entertained

"This is Bob 'San Diego' Hope. You know San Diego, don't you? It's the southernmost town in Los Angeles."

"Thanks for the memories . . ."

Earlier today, I ran across a dedication ceremony for the newest memorial to be installed downtown at Tuna Harbor Park on the bay, just south of the USS Midway Museum.  (Yeah, I didn’t know it was called Tuna Harbor Park, either.)  Over 100 people including yours truly, along with Port Authority officials, veterans, a Marine Corps band, and even a Navy admiral, were there to pay tribute to the newest inductee into the collection of military memorials: Honorary Veteran, Bob Hope.

The new memorial, “A National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military,” is the crowning piece in the Port of San Diego Public Art program’s Greatest Generation Collection, which is a series of art pieces and memorials honoring people, events and military heritage from World War II to present day.  Bob Hope’s presence in the collection is fitting since that is just about the same span of time that he spent entertaining U.S. troops overseas.

The Greatest Generation Collection has several other powerful pieces strewn about the area, including the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, the popular giant sculpture “Unconditional Surrender,” which recreates the famous Life Magazine photograph from 1945 of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, and the bronze piece that gets me the most, “Homecoming.”  That’s the one that shows a sailor reuniting with his wife and child after a long deployment.  You don’t have to have served to understand the emotion behind that one.

"Unconditional Surrender"

"Unconditional Surrender"

With all the solemnity and emotion among the military monuments, they could sure use a visit from Bob Hope’s USO road show, which is what the new memorial depicts.  It’s actually comprised of 16 bronze statues — Bob “broadcasting from San Diego” Hope eternally entertaining 15 servicemen and women representing every branch of the military during every war since World War II.  The memorial says much by itself, but you can pick up a brochure about it, and the entire collection, from the Port of San Diego.

You’ll probably be down near Tuna Harbor Park at some point — visiting the USS Midway Museum or perhaps walking from Seaport Village to the Coronado Ferry — so odds are you’ll run into these pieces from the Greatest Generation Collection, as well as some other military heritage memorials.   Drop in on Bob’s show while you’re there and thank him for the memories.  (No, I never served.  I just have always liked Bob Hope.  If the Port of San Diego ever dedicates a Dorothy Lamour memorial, you know I’ll be there.)

"Thanks for the memories . . ."

"This is Bob 'San Diego' Hope. You all know San Diego, don't you? That's the southernmost town in Los Angeles!"