15 Pretty Places in San Diego to Visit for First-Timers

Torrey Pines Oceanview

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Are you looking for some absolutely pretty places in San Diego to visit or take some photography?

There’s no doubt that San Diego has some of the most beautiful places to visit in all of California.

If you have never been to San Diego or any of its neighboring cities then now is the time to plan a vacation soon. 

Let’s not forget how amazing this city really is.

Here is a quick overview:

  1. Sunset Cliffs National State Park
  2. Ocean Beach & Pier
  3. La Jolla Cove
  4. Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve
  5. Cabrillo National Monument & Bayside Trail
  6. Coronado Beach
  7. Mission Bay Belmont Park
  8. Oceanside Beach Pier
  9. Chicano Park
  10. Seaport Village
  11. Centennial Park
  12. Old Town San Diego
  13. Balboa Park
  14. Carlsbad Flower Fields
  15. Mt. Woodson

It is a perfect city for those favorite Instagramable places, engagement photos, and night photography. 

If you are looking for pretty places in San Diego, then make sure you visit soon. It’s really at its best almost year-round. 

Why San Diego Has Some of the Most Beautiful Places

Located in Southern California, San Diego is a deniable one of the most popular places to visit in all of California!


Well, San Diego has gorgeous beaches (which is what we mostly cover here in this blog) that are not only beautiful but perfect for families looking for an awesome beach trip or getaway! 

Let’s not forget the unforgiving food! The authentic food is so close to the south of the border.

You’ll be missing out on a lot if you haven’t tried authentic Mexican food. Even if you don’t like Mexican food there are lots of other delicious things to choose from. 

Downtown is another place that is just beautifully gorgeous. It carries San Diego’s iconic locations such as Old Town, Little Italy, and Balboa Park.

All these landmarks are definitely must-sees after hitting the beaches. 

If you love photography then definitely make sure you stay here for at least one night.

Taking a stroll in the most beautiful place in San Diego can really make you want to become a photographer at night. If you aren’t already. 

Whether you own an iPhone, Android, or professional Canon & Nikon, the night photography is just undeniable!

Sometimes I feel like you are walking in a movie! 

Best Instagrammable Spots in San Diego

If you are spending a couple of days here or coming for a vacation on New Years then do not fret!

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Here we will show you some pretty places in San Diego to catch those amazing Instagrammable places.  

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

This is probably one of the most popular places to check out! Why?

Well, Sunset Cliffs have gorgeous scenery and undeniable views!

Not only is this beach a must-see year-round but it’s also perfect for walking.

Ocean Beach & Pier

This pier like many others around San Diego County is probably the best place to catch the San Diego beach vibe!

Yes, I do mean waves splashing around and amazing rock footage!

Don’t forget the gorgeous views from atop the bluffs! Can you really ask for more? 

Of course, any cool picture of the pier overlooking the water is really awesome!

So get creative as there are plenty of gorgeous piers in San Diego to check out.

Ocean Beach also has a dog beach where you can bring your pup to frolic in the water.  

La Jolla Cove

This beach is probably one of the most popular beaches among families and people everywhere.

A lot of people love taking pictures of the sea lions at the children’s pool area! It’s definitely a must-go!

If you do visit the sea lions please make sure to keep your distance and respect these amazing mammals since they also love their space.

Do not try and pet them or touch them in any way.

Check out how La Jolla is perfect for families.

Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve

One of the most iconic and popular beach hiking trails of all time.

If you love being active at the beach then do not disregard Torrey Pines Hiking Trail at all.

It’s the perfect combination of beach bliss and hiking scenery. I do both and love getting a great workout in.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo has everything from history to learning about sea creatures in their natural habitat.

There is also a hiking trail you can take when visiting this beach with the most gorgeous and panoramic views ever.

If you decide to visit in January or February you may catch some whales migrating! 

Either or the amazing photography you can capture here is absolutely breathtaking.

You can read our blog about the 15 things to do when visiting Cabrillo National Monument.

If you are exploring the tide pools then be sure you check out this blog here. 

Coronado Beach

One of the most iconic beaches out there.

Besides its gorgeous sunsets and dog-friendly beach area, there is so much more you can do.

The downtown area of Coronado is very hip and upbeat.

Hotel Del Coronado has become iconic in Coronado Beach, so it definitely pays to visit.

The best part is that Coronado has a dog beach area just for your pup.

Mission Bay Belmont Park

Belmont Park is known for its fun and upbeat beaches. There is always so much going on at this beach.

Let’s not forget the endless entertainment and mini heart thrilling amusement park or fair.

This place gets easily packed in the summer because of the fun entertainment.

If you are planning a day here with a beach and fair vibe mixed in then definitely visit Belmont Park in the Mission Bay area.

You find lots to do in one day.

It’s also the best place to take pictures at! 

Oceanside Beach Pier

If you’re looking to get some awesome pictures then make no mistake that piers may be the best places to look out for.

You can find so many different shots when including the pier.

Oceanside Pier makes no mistake about this.

You can easily replicate a great shot while enjoying the beach at the same time.

Don’t forget to also take a picture at the entrance of the beach pier!

You’ll see it when you find it.  

Chicano Park

If you really like visiting and including some awesome murals in the background of your shots then definitely look into visiting Chicano Park.

The wall murals are creative and perfect for those Instagram shots!

Though you do not want to be here at night, this place is very safe during the day.

The murals say a lot about the Chicano Movement.

Seaport Village

One of my favorite places to stop by before going to the airport is Seaport Village.

It is very popular among tourists so you can only imagine how busy it gets in the summer.

Since there is a lot of shopping and eateries along the way you can walk along the waterfront to a lot of different locations.

Make sure you bring walking shoes in case you have to park far.

Centennial Park

This park is located in Coronado but is probably one of the best places to catch a great view of the downtown San Diego Skyline.

The best time is probably early when the colors are perfect or evening.

This place is probably one of the most iconic to visit in all of San Diego because of its location across the Coronado Bridge.

Arrive early to avoid the crowds and to get plenty of parking. 

Old Town San Diego

Located near downtown San Diego this place is perfect to take pictures and chillax.

It’s a perfect place to bring friends and family and immerse yourself in the history of San Diego.

There are many perfect locations in the area to take pictures at.

You’ll definitely catch a glimpse of historic buildings, museums, and restaurants as you walk around. 

Balboa Park

This place is probably one of the most well-known in all of San Diego.

It is a beautiful park located at the heart of downtown and perfect for you to check out when visiting.

Balboa Park has a load of museums and unique places to take photos.

The most popular location would probably be the pond area at the entrance.

You can definitely take a lot of pictures anywhere since the place is filled with open spaces for hiking or picnicking anywhere.

Definitely, a must-see when visiting San Diego. 

Carlsbad Flower Fields (Seasonal)

This place is definitely one of the most gorgeous places to take photography!

You can visit for a day and walk down the fields to admire the gorgeous array of flowers.

You do have to pay an admission price when you visit, but it is definitely worth it!

As a photographer, you can really take advantage of this location. 

Hike Mt Woodson Mountain

Probably one of the most popular places to take pictures at.

If you like hiking then this might be a good place to take pictures.

At the top there is a flat rock shaped like a thin potato chip, you will always see a line of people waiting eagerly to get a photo atop the rock.

Nice, but a little overrated.

Best Places To Take Photos For Engagement In San Diego

Well, let me tell you that the beaches still come in number one as the most romantic and gorgeous places to take pictures.

Not only for engagement locations but also for wedding pictures.

I have seen many and I mean many at the local beaches.

It has become one of the most popular beach destinations ever. 

Some of the beaches that have the biggest places include places like La Jolla and Torrey Pines Hills and others like my favorite Cardiff-by-the-Sea. 

Beaches such as La Jolla Beach have become very popular for beach venues and wedding receptions.

The best time to go is, of course, sunrises and sunsets!

It’s really when the colors deepen and they become the most gorgeous. 

Best Places To Take Your Night Photography

I was contemplating for days whether I should take some awesome night photography or not! And finally decided it was time. I am glad I did.

As I walked around the warm streets of San Diego in the summer, I noticed that San Diego is even more gorgeous at night than it is in the morning. 

Yes, I am talking about taking absolutely amazing pictures during the night. Trust me.

You won’t regret it. Take the drive out there to take some awesome photography.

The best places are definitely in the San Diego Bay area.

Park at the metered lot and make your way around the city catching nice angles of the San Diego Bay area.

Another choice not too far off is called Centennial Park crossing the Coronado bridge. The views of the San Diego skyline are amazing.

If you are a photographer or just want to take really cool amazing shots then do not hesitate to come here.

Whether you go in the day or night, you are bound to take pretty epic shots!


San Diego is a beautiful city and there are so many places to explore.

We hope this list has provided you with some inspiration for your next vacation or day trip!

If you’re looking for some pretty places in San Diego, then this blog should give you a great start!

These are probably some of the most interesting points in San Diego that you must explore when here.

These are probably my favorite ones that come to mind. 

For starters, the beaches are always my favorite places to go.

The sunrise or sunset makes the picture that much more tropical and gorgeous. 

Whether you are visiting San Diego for the first time or have been here a thousand times or more, don’t forget that San Diego has some of the best places to take pictures! 

If you are in San Diego looking for engagement photos, the best Instagrammable locations, or even the best night photography then make this the number one place to look first. 

San Diego is covered with lots of new places to explore and take pictures.

With a little creativity, you can probably find a couple of hundred places to take pictures.

There are plenty of pretty places to take pictures. If you don’t know where to start then go on the beaches. The photography is just amazing there!

In the meantime, please share what other spots near us would make your bucket list. Or if you live here already, which one should be at the top of everyone else’s list?


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

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