Best places to take photos in San Diego, California

West coast, best coast? We’re not here to call a winner, but San Diego certainly makes a strong case with some of the best photo opportunities in SoCal. Read on for some of our favourite, Instagrammable locations for making and capturing memories with your loved ones. 📸

1. Scripps Pier

While the pier itself is not open to the public, it stretches out over the ocean like something out of a photo book, and it makes for a unique backdrop for beach photos. A photo directly underneath the pier is a must as you enjoy a stroll along this picturesque beach with views of La Jolla in the distance. Much quieter than many of the surrounding beaches, you can find oceanside peace and quiet at all hours of the day. Watch the surfers riding waves to the north of the pier 🏄  or swim and kayak to the south.

2. Windansea Beach in La Jolla

The sandy, La Jolla shores are a Californian classic, but the surrounding rocky bluffs are what make this spot unforgettable and a favourite for photo shoots. At sunset, the sunset cliffs turn golden with the skies. 🌅 Its quirky name is a shortened version of “Wind-and-Sea,” the name of the hotel at this spot that burned down back in 1940. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the simple surf shack with a palm roof perched at the end of the beach — it’s a historical landmark! 🌴

3. Oceanside Pier

You won’t get very far on your stroll down this lengthy pier without happening upon one of the many pelicans that choose to take a rest here. 🐦  Watch from above as surfers glide along the waves to the soundtrack of the gentle ocean breeze and crashing waves. With a dash of retro Southern California charm, this popular boardwalk is a photo-worthy paradise for humans and birds alike!

4. Balboa Park

Tiny travellers are big fans of these sprawling gardens dotted with fun and picturesque attractions. 🎠 A carousel, miniature railroad and the San Diego Zoo are just some of the activities to enjoy as a family. The Botanical Building and Lily Pond is a botanist’s paradise, as well as a favourite backdrop among our local Flytographers for your photo shoot. You don’t have to be able to name the variety of cycads, ferns, orchids and other tropical plants to appreciate (and smell) their beauty. 🌺

5. Coronado Island Beach

Swing by Seaport Village on your way to Coronado Island via the Santa Fe light rail. 🚃 The iconic, red-roofed Hotel del Coronado is the scenic backdrop to this beach, but the views are not all this spot is famous for. The mineral mica in the sands here make the beaches literally sparkle ✨, and it’s one of the many reasons postcard-worthy destination is beloved by both romantic couples and fun-filled families. With views of Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument in the distance, this oceanside getaway will be one to remember. Year-after-year, it’s ranked as one of the best beaches for swimmers, surfers and those who appreciate the simple joy of feeling your toes in the sand. Even the drive from San Diego over the Coronado Bridge is an experience. 🌉

6. Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla

This waterfront park and beach is another La Jolla classic. Watching the colourful sunsets from the cliffs, whale-watching, exploring the tide pools at low tide and climbing through the sea cave are just a few of the reasons why this spot is a not-so-hidden gem. If you’re lucky, you can even spot sea lions lounging in the Californian sunshine. ☀ With so many ways to spend an afternoon, this is one of the best spots to take photos and enjoy the views. 

7. Downtown San Diego

There’s more to San Diego than just scenic beaches. As a cultural hub and vibrant mix of historic, Spanish architecture and glittering high-rises, the streets are as entertaining as they are beautiful. The historic Gaslamp Quarter is popular for the variety of art galleries, boutiques, rooftop bars and gastropubs that make it a sophisticated urban playground for adults… all just a trolley ride away 🚃  During the daytime, great spots for kids include The New Children’s Museum, a fresh slice of pizza from the Little Italy district and skyline views on a harbour cruise around the bay.

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8. Old Town San Diego

Deep in the heart of San Diego county lies Old Town, the location of the first Spanish settlement in California. Listen for live mariachi performers as you wander among the many preserved, historic buildings, or experience traditional Mexican culture through your taste buds at one of the many festive, open-air cantinas. 🎉 This is one of our favorite places to visit California’s history firsthand. Annual events such as Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo, Día de los Muertos and 4th of July celebrations are beloved by locals and visitors alike. 

9. South Mission Beach

A swift 20-minute drive from the San Diego city centre lies South Mission Beach. 🏖 If you are looking for a great photo near a quintessential California lifeguard stand, this beach certainly won’t disappoint! The sprawling sandy dunes are the perfect canvas for your next family photoshoot or solo Modern Headshot session. With close proximity to other beautiful shores of the Pacific Ocean, including Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach, there is no shortage of things to do in this area. Plus, it borders Mission Bay, home to San Diego‘s infamous Sea World! 🐬

10. Law Street Beach

A stone-throw away from the more populous Pacific Beach is the local’s favourite, Law Street Beach and lookout. The grassy park area makes for a lovely spot to relax and take in the Californian way of life. 🌞 Make a note to bring a picnic and watch the sunset at this great location. You don’t want to miss the golden hour when the sunset paints the sky pink here (no rose-tinted glasses required – trust us). 🌅

Capture memories in San Diego

Are you inspired by these beautiful places for a photo shoot of your own? Book one of our local Flytographers to capture the SoCal magic for yourself.