San Diego, California makes a good vacation for many reasons, but the appeal to history lovers is often overlooked. While it’s not Washington DC, San Diego has a rich history. It’s home to no less than four historic, fascinating monuments. If you’re traveling to get a sense of the story of San Diego, make sure you don’t miss these four monuments.
Cabrillo National Monument
The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates an important moment not just in San Diego history but in the history of the United States. It honors the day that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed at San Diego Bay in 1542. Cabrillo was a Spanish or Portuguese explorer and the first European to set foot on the West Coast of what would become the United States of America. In fact, he did so just 50 years after Columbus’s expedition. The statue of Cabrillo was designated by Woodrow Wilson in 1913, but wasn’t built until 1949. It now stands at the southern tip of Point Loma Peninsula. The Cabrillo Festival Open House is held on Sunday every October, including a reenactment of the landing.
Unconditional Surrender Statue
If you haven’t seen this statue, you’ve probably seen the WWII era photograph that inspired it: a sailor in Times Square grabbing a nurse (and complete stranger) and catching her in a passionate kiss the moment they heard the news of Japan’s “unconditional surrender.” The statue itself is a bit controversial, as is the kiss. Some have called it tacky and gaudy, while others find it quirky and fun. Largely, however, locals love the statue and it’s not likely to go away any time soon. It’s a great destination for taking a picture with your someone special, or just making a goofy pose.
Yokohama Friendship Bell
The Yokohama Friendship Bell covers a related moment in history, though a bit later along the timeline. The end of the war did not mean that all was well between the United States and Japan and for over a decade, tensions between the two countries were very tense. But in the 1950s, things began to improve, and in 1958, Japanese artist Masahiko Katori’s Friendship Bell was presented to San Diego as a celebration of the friendship between the sister cities of San Diego and Yokohama, Japan. The bell is a traditional Japanese bell, slender with an external wooden ram instead of an internal clapper. It is housed in a small single tier pagoda in Shelter Island.
Waldo Waterman Memorial
This memorial is a little harder to find unless you know what you stumble on it or know what to look for. It’s a plaque to honor the famous aviator Early Bird Waldo Waterman planted on the site of his first glider flight in July 1, 1909. You can find it at the corner of Maple Street and Albatross Street, in Banker’s Hill. Not only does the plaque include interesting bits of history, but the spot is tranquil and scenic.
If you love historic spots, you’ll love the historic Bed & Breakfast Inn at La Jolla. First built in 1913 as a residence for George Kautz and his family, it’s listed as Historical Site 179 on the San Diego Registry. But even more importantly, it’s located in La Jolla just a short drive away from all the action and history of San Diego proper. To book a room for your San Diego vacation, make a reservation today.
Check back next Monday for Why La Jolla is One of America's Favorite Towns.