Review: Cabrillo National Monument’s Above the fireworks

Review: Cabrillo National Monument’s Above the fireworks

On July 4th, I attended Cabrillo National Monument’s “above the fireworks” event.  It was a rare chance to be in the park after dark, and tickets are limited due to parking capacity! We had an amazing time and I was able to get some great photos of the fireworks over San Diego. There are 4 simultaneous displays going off at once to music broadcast over the radio. We didn’t bring one, but our neighbors were kind enough to turn their volume up.

San Diego bay fireworks
July 4th fireworks over downtown San Diego
Lighthouse at Cabrillo NM at night
Cabrillo Lighthouse after dark
Sunset from Cabrillo NM, home of the rare Torrey Pine
Sunset from Cabrillo NM, home of the rare Torrey Pine

I would definitely recommend attending next year- here are a few tips:

  • Arrive early if you are determined to sit in a specific spot.  The area near the visitor’s center and Cabrillo statue fills up quickly.  The traffic getting in is the worst when it first opens.  We arrived about an hour after opening and traffic was easy getting in.  We found a great spot up near the lighthouse, along the path through the bushes.  You could also claim a spot against the fence just in front of the lighthouse if you don’t mind standing for 20 minutes (place your chairs back against the lighthouse until the show starts).  You won’t have anyone in front of you.  This would be a great spot for photographers, and likely where I will be the next time I attend.
  • Pack blankets and jackets.  It is windy at Cabrillo so it gets pretty chilly after dark, and you are mostly sitting around waiting for the show.
  • Pack a radio.  They sync the fireworks with a local radio station.
  • When the show is over, wait until they close the park to leave.  The folks at Cabrillo do a wonderful job of getting all the cars out of the park efficiently.  The problem lies in Point Loma – you will hit Shelter Island/Harbor Island traffic leaving, no matter what route you go.  There are also detours in place, so we couldn’t get on the 8 where I wanted and that cost us about 40 minutes of traffic.  It took about 3x as long to get home as it should have.  We thought we could beat the rush, but we were in the thick of it.  So bring a flashlight, and enjoy the night view after everyone leaves.

In the end, it is at least 4 hours total for about 20 minutes of fireworks.  But you can occupy the rest of the time enjoying something rare – the park after dark!

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