Located on the rocky coast of the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. The city is bursting with sandy beaches, lush parks, and other unique locations loved by locals and tourists alike. If you’re seeking exciting places to explore, look no further, we reached out to locals to share their favorite beautiful places in San Diego. So whether you’ve just moved into an apartment in La Jolla, a house in San Diego, or just want to know where to go, be sure to check out this list.

Picturesque beaches

It’s no secret that southern California is known for its magnificent beaches and San Diego is no exception. Here are some of the most beautiful beaches and photo spots in San Diego.

1. Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach is a popular beach located only 14 miles north of downtown San Diego. It’s known for its strong surf and beautiful scenery, with rocky cliffs and palm trees surrounding the area. Here is what some of the locals love about Windansea Beach.

Sandy Brooks, founder of Timeless Event Planning mentions how Windansea Beach is also an excellent spot for wedding or engagement photos. “The view is perfect and not overly crowded with other couples trying to capture that same moment,” she says. “The streets surrounding the beach are also gorgeous and create a beautiful backdrop.”

groom holding bride as she kicks her leg up and kisses at the beach with the sunset in the background in the sand

2. Sunset Cliffs

Another well-known beach loved by locals is Sunset Cliffs. Boasting rugged coastal cliffs, natural rock formations, and scenic ocean views, it's no wonder it's considered one of the most beautiful places in San Diego.

Elijah Saldana comments on the beauty of Sunset Cliffs. “Sunset Cliffs is breathtaking because of its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding cliffs. The natural beauty of the area provides a picturesque backdrop for wedding ceremonies and photography. Additionally, the cliffs offer a unique and secluded setting for intimate ceremonies. The sunsets over the ocean are particularly beautiful and make for an unforgettable experience.”

groom dipping bride as she holds the train of her dress kissing and overlooking the sunset cliffs ocean view at sunset

Parks and historical sites

There is so much more to San Diego than just coastal views. Here are some of the most beautiful parks and historical sites the city has to offer. 

3. Balboa Park

“One of my favorite, most picturesque spots in San Diego is Balboa Park,” says Mallory Kessel. “It offers plenty of variety whether you'd like the scenery to consist of beautiful florals at the Alcazar Garden or Japanese Friendship Gardens; cacti at the Desert Garden, colorful architecture in the Spanish Village; or modern/Spanish architecture at the many museums around the park. Grab a cup of joe at the Prado, grab a bite at Panama 66 near the Sculpture Garden, and snap some photos around this must-see attraction. It'll be time well spent.”

groom carrying bride walking down aisle at balboa park san deigo

4. Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado, also known as The Del, is a historic and iconic hotel located on Coronado Island in San Diego, California. The hotel is a perfect location to get married due to its stunning architecture, beautiful beachfront setting, and rich history. The Del has a variety of indoor and outdoor venues that can accommodate both small and large weddings. The hotel's Crown Room, for example, is a grand ballroom with high ceilings, chandeliers, and ocean views, making it a perfect spot for a formal reception. The Hotel Del Coronado also offers a variety of packages for wedding services, including catering, photography, and floral arrangements. The hotel's experienced staff and on-site wedding coordinators are dedicated to making your special day unforgettable. With its beautiful location, historic charm, and professional service, The Hotel Del Coronado is a perfect location for a truly unforgettable wedding.

hotel de coronado with rainbow and blue sky at sunset

5. La Jolla

Jennifer from Experience Wildlife says, “La Jolla is one of my all-time favorite places to visit and photograph in the San Diego area. The beautiful ocean views are only matched with the vast amounts of marine wildlife that call these shores home. Stroll along the walkway and enjoy ocean views, take in the California sunshine and fresh air while exploring this cute seaside town, full of art galleries, cafes and street vendors. This is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to Southern California.”

6. Carlsbad

Carlsbad is located in North County San Diego is one of my favorite locations in all of San Diego,” states Cheri from Carlsbad Food Tours. “It’s a prime vacation spot for families and couples alike. Carlsbad “Village by the Sea” has 7-miles of beautiful beaches, a laid-back community feel, and plenty of kid-friendly activities and attractions to keep everyone happy. Not to mention the manicured golf courses, water sports, and five-star resorts. Carlsbad truly has something for everyone to enjoy.”

7. Del Mar

Del Mar is a beach city in San Diego known for its beaches, scenic coastal bluffs, and charming downtown area. Rochelle Cheever from The Elopement Experience shares, “One of my favorite places in San Diego is the beautiful sandy beaches of Del Mar which stretch out as far as the eye can see. The water is a deep blue, and the beach is dotted with people and dogs. I love taking my dog for a walk on this beach, as there is plenty of space to roam and play.”

Originally published on Redfin