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: Anchor inside historic entrance to Liberty Station, directly opposite 3001 Historic Decatur Road. Best parking is lot next to Brick and Corvette Diner.
  • 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 learn 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.

    Today we kick things off at the historic entrance of the former base and get a feel for what it was like to be one of those sailors (without the requisite drill instructor!). We’ll hear how the gate played a role in the daily lives of recruits, and what the impact was of having the Marine Training Center right next door.

    It wasn’t all work on the base which we’ll learn by viewing the former Sail Ho Golf course and learn about the pros who’ve played there, and how and who made the course their final resting place! We’ll also learn that 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 pause at a work of art that replicates the whale boat sailors learned to row in the nearby channel. Then we’ll proceed to the heart of Camp Paul Jones, the first camp established that housed 100-150 recruits per barracks. It’s park-like setting is full of secrets – such as what is the meaning of its original use (“grinder”), the history of the large tree there, 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.

    We’ll then 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 we’ll head over to Ingram Plaza, to learn about the person it was named for, and what its original purpose was.

    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]