San Diego is known for its year-round beautiful weather, idyllic beaches, and unbelievable attractions. The piercing blues of the ocean and the lush greenery of the palm trees are unforgettable. Just two hours south of Los Angeles along the Pacific coast, San Diego has everything you need for a great getaway and a dazzling Instagram feed.
We compiled a list of locations that are perfect to showcase the radiance of this city. These Instagrammable locations are the perfect spots to see with friends or family. Buckle up and get ready.
Pacific Beach is a trendy neighborhood in San Diego popular with 20-something surfers, college students, and sunbathers. This neighborhood sits right on the beach and is packed with lively restaurants and bars throughout Mission Boulevard.
From bar-hopping to boutique shopping, you’ll find a little bit of everything in Pacific Beach. Vintage seaside motels offer rooms with beachfront access, and there’s no shortage of cheap eats and happy hours, Mexican restaurants and clothing stores to explore.
Kate Sessions Park
Two miles inland from Pacific Beach, Kate Sessions Park features expansive hillside views of the city. A 79-acre park on top of Lamont Street at Soledad Road, it provides the perfect backdrop for your pics — an astonishing panoramic view of San Diego! Bring your roller skates to zoom along the sidewalks on the beach, or fly a kite in the Pacific breeze. This young and hip neighborhood embodies the San Diego experience.
Law Street Beach
Looking for a more laid back Pacific Beach experience? Law Street Beach might be more your speed. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a restful day. You will find many people sunbathing and taking advantage of the ocean’s playful currents. While Pacific Beach can get busy, once you start heading North, the crowds begin to thin. That’s one of the best perks of Law Street Beach. Parking here, however, can be a challenge.
You can watch the surfers all along the coast with a beautiful view of the bluffs. Keen for some food? There are several very good restaurants all throughout North Pacific Beach.
La Jolla Sea Caves
La Jolla is an upscale coastal neighborhood north of downtown San Diego with incredible beaches. Along the coastline, you will find magnificent bluffs and arches that make up the La Jolla Sea Caves. This is a must-see if you are in the area, and with a little effort, you can get some spectacular shots.
To reach the caves, you’ll need to snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard up to them. The caves sit between La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores Beach. If you are keen on walking up to them, the only available accessway is through Coast Boulevard. However, you won’t get the same awe-inspiring view from atop the cliffs as you would in the ocean.
Rather stay dry, or just want to hang out on the beach? Stop at La Jolla Cove for a breathtaking sunset, and don’t forget your sunscreen and a towel. The area is protected as a marine reserve so always remember if you pack stuff in, pack it out.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park
Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla is one of many beautiful San Diego parks. Get panoramic views of the ocean and lush green grass to sit in. Couples often take wedding photos in this coastal park. With good timing, you can also see seals, whales, or other marine life.
Take a walk north along the coast from The Walk Trail from the park and you will come across unique viewing points and never-ending beaches. This park is perfect to head to with family or friends to catch the sunset as well.
Coronado: Glorietta Bay Park
Coronado is a small island connected via the Coronado Bridge to mainland San Diego. It’s known primarily as a military installation for the U.S. Navy and as a training ground for the legendary Navy SEALs. The long sandy beaches are known for romantic getaways or family vacations, and routinely rank as some of the best in the United States. They say the sand literally sparkles on Coronado beaches due to the mineral maca in the sand.
Interested in making your way over to Coronado? The ride across the bridge itself is an adventure. At its peak, Coronado Bridge is 200 feet high, providing spectacular skyline views of San Diego. Once you get to Coronado, we recommend you head for Glorietta Bay. While the island has several gorgeous beaches, Glorietta Bay Park gives you a great view of the bridge you just crossed.
This great photo spot also offers a grassy park and a playground. Bring along a picnic to enjoy the view and hang out for the day.
Your photos in the heart of downtown San Diego will include glam, city lights, and food galore. The Gaslamp Quarter has restaurants, countless bars, comedy clubs, cigar lounges, live performance venues, and— our particular favorite—rooftop spaces to enjoy the perfect night.
This lively downtown neighborhood offers art deco and late-Victorian architecture. The Gaslamp Quarter is packed on weekends, with locals and tourists alike pinballing around the streets from bar to bar — everything you could want is within walking distance in this neighborhood. However, if you want to get a photo without a mass of humanity in the foreground, we recommend finding a rooftop bar or restaurant.
The Nolen is our favorite open-air rooftop hotel bar. It’s located on the 14th floor of the Courtyard Marriott, and you can get views of Coronado, Petco Park, and overall amazing city views.
At Point Loma, you’ll find the Cabrillo National Monument and a scenic view of the ocean and Downtown San Diego. Point Loma is located on the Point Loma Peninsula just west of downtown San Diego. This neighborhood is also home to many great restaurants such as Mitch’s Seafood. In San Diego, you will never run out of delicious food options.
Like much of San Diego’s coast, Point Loma is an incredible spot to catch the sunset. The orange glow provides a stunning photo and an even more incredible memory. Keep an eye on your weather app to check when the sun is setting so you can plan ahead!
Looking for the best sunset spot in all of San Diego? This may be it. Just north of Point Loma Peninsula sits Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. This spot is known for its dramatic bluffs, vivacious intertidal pools, and gorgeous ocean views. This is a popular natural spot for both locals and tourists due to its beauty.
Sitting on top of the cliffs and watching the view is amazing enough, but the fun does not stop there. Kick off your shoes and explore the tidal pools, or keep them on for a walk along the dramatic coastline. It will be busy during the sunset; this spot is well-known, so be sure to get there early. You won’t likely be disappointed gazing at the setting sun, as beautiful colors spray across the ocean and fade into the horizon.
Balboa Park in San Diego is a spectacular 1,200-acre historic urban cultural park. All across the park, you’ll find ponds, modern architecture, open spaces, and some of the best photo spots in the entire city. Balboa Park is a popular graduation photo location, and for good reason. It’s hard to take a bad picture here.
Our favorite highlights of Balboa Park include Prado House, Botanical Garden, and the California Tower. Looking for more culture? The Spanish Village Art Center is colorful and home to over 200 local artists! The art center is unique for its old-world Spanish architecture and famous for its painted patio tiles and brightly colored doorways. Rich with history, this art center invites the public to immerse themselves in the beauty of art seven days a week.
Carlsbad: The Flower Fields
From early March to early May, you can visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields for some spectacular views as far as the eye can see. Almost 50 acres of Giant Tecolote Flowers burst during the spring. The flowers highlight San Diego’s natural brilliance in a color explosion.
This quick 30-minute car trip outside of San Diego will be unforgettable. Be sure to bring the little ones to this amazing San Diego spot for the many other activities around the flower fields. Due to the seasonality of the flower fields, you’ll need to do a little planning, but visiting in early May is probably your best bet for maximum colors.
Potato Chip Rock
Further outside the city, this unique photo destination spot is perfect for those who want to get some outdoor time and don’t mind working for their photo op. Potato Chip Rock is a famous rock formation resembling, well, you guessed it, a potato chip. You can reach the rock via Mt. Woodson Trail, but it’s definitely not one of the easy ones.
This trail is eight miles round trip with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. However, this has become such a popular destination over the last few years that you’ll most definitely see other people on the trail. You’ll also end up waiting in line to get a photo by yourself on this iconic rock.
Potato Chip Rock is located about 45 minutes outside of San Diego in Poway, California.
Eagle Rock is another great photo destination for those who don’t mind a hike. You can find this rock along the famous Pacific Crest Trail set amidst a beautiful landscape of rolling grass hills and riparian oak trees. This rock is named for its uncanny eagle-like appearance.
This hike will provide much more shade than the Potato Chip Rock hike, but the drive to get there is a bit further outside of San Diego in Warner Springs, roughly 90 minutes away. As for the hike itself, the total distance is 6.5 miles, but with little elevation gain, so it’s fairly easy for those who don’t hike often.