Guide to Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

If you’re visiting San Diego and want to learn more about American history, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial will be a fantastic addition to your San Diego travel itinerary! In this guide, we deliver an overview of the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, including its location, history, and things to do during your visit.

Where is Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Located?

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial sits within the Mount Soledad Natural Park, on an 822-foot hill two miles east of La Jolla, with 360-degree panoramic views of downtown San Diego, Rose Canyon, and the Pacific Ocean. You can find it at 6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive, San Diego, CA 92037.

The best way to reach the Memorial is by car, but public transportation may be available. 

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is open to the public every day from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Admission to the Memorial is free, but charges may apply to parking. 

History of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial was established in 1954 and is the oldest continuously operating veterans memorial in the United States. The idea for the Memorial originated with a group of World War II veterans who wanted to create a place where all veterans, both living and deceased, could be recognized and honored.

In 1954, the 29-foot high Mount Soledad Cross, formerly known as Mount Soledad Easter Cross, was erected and dedicated as a memorial to the Korean War veterans but also served as a site for Easter services. After a 25-year legal battle started in 1989 by Vietnam War veteran and atheist Philip Paulson, it was sold along with half an acre of land at its base by the Department of Defense to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association for $1.4 million. It is now the centerpiece of Mt. Soledad National Cross Memorial. 

In 2000, a flagpole bearing the American flag and the six original Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial walls were dedicated, with room for over 3,200 black granite plaques. 

The most recent addition to the Memorial, completed in 2012, is five new walls with enough space to accommodate over 2400 new photo plaques of veterans from all six military branches who have proudly served and been honorably discharged.

Today, the monument has 11 concentric walls bearing the names and photographs of military men and women, from the American Revolutionary War to the current War on Terror, who selflessly gave their lives to upholding and protecting the great American nation. 

The long-standing Memorial is maintained by the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, a non-profit organization that relies on public donations and cash raised from the sales of plaques. Volunteers also contribute by cleaning the photo plaques and maintaining a trash-free environment.

Things to Do in Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

There are many things to see and do at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. The most popular attractions include the museum, Mount Soledad Cross, and the scenic views of San Diego city and the Pacific Ocean.

Here are some productive ways to spend time on Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial:

  • Browse through the photo plagues to learn about veterans’ sacrifices, unique stories, and accomplishments during their service year. 
  • Attend one of the special events like a concert or Memorial day ceremony held at the Memorial.
  • Climb up the steps to observe the Mount Soledad Cross. 
  • Watch the sunset and soak in the picturesque view of downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. Don’t forget to take pictures!
  • Have a picnic lunch on the lawn areas surrounding the Memorial.

You can use the online plaque locator on Soledad Memorial’s official website to find wars or persons of interest. And if there is a veteran in your life who has served in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard that you’ll like to honor, you can apply on the website with their honorable discharge paperwork (DD214). 

What Is the Best Time to Visit?

This question is synonymous with asking what’s the best time to visit San Diego. The city of San Diego is known for its lively and pleasant year-round climate, and if the weather in the city is clear, it will likely be the same on Mount Soledad. 

If you visit on Memorial Day (30th of May) or Veterans Day (11th of November), you may be able to attend a special event or connect with many people. 

Mt. Soledad National Memorial will tick all your boxes whether you are a veteran, a history lover, or simply want to enjoy the site’s breathtaking scenery. 

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