Liberty Station: Cradle of the Navy

  • New Tour!

San Diego’s relationship with the US Navy goes back over a century and continues to be an important part of the city’s economy and culture. Travel back in time when modern day Liberty Station was the Naval Training Center and millions of recruits were transformed into sailors. See where sailors slept, marched and learned important skills, and see if you can master a sailor skill too!

Liberty Station Navy Tour Highlights

  • Learn important sailor skills without having to drop and give us 20
  • Explore recruit life by visiting buildings essential to training such as barracks, the mess hall and training facilities
  • Pay tribute to the 52 submarines and their crew lost in World War II
  • Using historic photos we’ll compare the recruit experience with the modern-day visitor’s experience.
  • Celebrate completion of your “training” with a snack and a certificate at the former Enlisted Men’s club

Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, slider or comparable snack.

Exclusions: Food and drinks beyond what is included, souvenirs and personal shopping, tips/gratuities for your guide.

Schedule details

  • Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Meeting point: At the USS BRAVE art piece, in front of Moment Bicycles at 2816 Historic Decatur Rd Suite 135, San Diego, CA 92106.
  • Starting time: 10.30 AM
  • Ending point: Building 202, 2825 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
  • Chevron down Full Itinerary
  • By the time it closed in 1997 the Naval Training Center had seen over two million men and women pass through its gates on their way to becoming sailors or to learning a new trade or skill. In subsequent years the area has transformed into Liberty Station, a rich and diverse mixed-use community that honors its naval past. On this tour we’ll explore what this area was like when it was a base, and what visitors can see and do present day.

    We kick things off by exploring the heart of what was once Camp Paul Jones, the first camp established that housed 100-150 recruits per barracks, and get a feel for what it was like to be one of those sailors (without the requisite drill instructor!). Its park-like setting is full of secrets – such as what the meaning of its original use (“grinder”) is, the history of the large tree there (and what color is at top during Christmas), the design of the barracks’ roof that’s key to keeping it cool, or the connection between the current public art on display has with the camp’s Navy past.

    Then we’ll pass by the former dispensary, where early recruits received medical care – sometimes for the first time in their lives. We’ll view the former Sail Ho Golf course, because it wasn’t all work and no play on the base. Several golf pros have played there, and the course is even a final resting place for two people! At the historic entrance we get a feel for what it was like to enter the base as a new recruit, hear how the gate played a role in their daily lives, and what impact having the Marine Core Training Center had on Naval recruits.

    It wasn’t all men who served here, at least not after 1943 when WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) arrived, taking up residence in a nearby barracks that was women only and away from the men. We’ll then pass by the very first buildings on base which contained the Mess Hall and talk about what it take to feed so many people, multiple times a day.

    We’ll pause at a work of art that replicates the whale boat sailors learned to row in the nearby channel and learn a sailor skill or two. Perhaps the eagle eyed will find the hidden messages in the art. Afterwards we’ll head over to the heart of the base – the Command Center – where the top brass kept the base running. There we’ll view an exhibit that highlights recruit life including something dear to everyone – food! From there it’s on to Ingram Plaza, to learn about the person it was named for, and why that’s a better name than its alternative.

    Next up we’ll visit the Boats Memorial, dedicated to the 52 submarines and their crews lost during World War II. Then we’ll proceed across Prebble Field, where recruits marched during training and on their graduation day. We’ll celebrate their legacy, and your “graduation” from the tour and sailor training with a snack at a nearby eatery in the former Enlisted Men’s Club and a certificate of completion. Your guide will recommend additional ways to explore the Navy’s legacy at Liberty Station, along with how to enjoy the area’s many cultural organizations or provide information on its many restaurants.

    Additional Information

    Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, slider or comparable snack.

    Exclusions: Food and drinks beyond what is included, souvenirs and personal shopping, tips/gratuities for your guide.

    Dress standard: Please wear casual dress and comfortable shoes. Take current weather conditions into consideration.

    Your Trip: For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people.

    Closure of sites: Very occasionally buildings, parks and roadways are closed due to special events or routine maintenance. If this occurs, we will find a similar alternative for you to visit during your tour. If you have any concerns, feel free to email us at [email protected]

    Child Policy: This is a child-friendly tour. Children aged six and older are permitted on this tour at the rate listed above. Please select ‘child’ above when booking. Children under the age of 6 are permitted to join this tour free of charge. Please inform us at the time of booking if you’ll be bringing a child under the age of 6. You can do so in the special request box on the checkout page.

    Local Contact

    Office phone number: +1 619 432 7560
    Email address: [email protected]