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15 Magical San Diego Photo Spots (2023)

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California has a lot of pretty places, but San Diego is a place you’ll want to immortalize in your mind forever. Luckily for us, today’s technology can make that possible. From the miles of white sand beaches to the spunky city streets, there are some San Diego photo spots that you absolutely must hit while you’re visiting.

Sure, you can snap some pics of the exotic creatures in the San Diego Zoo, but you’d be missing out on some of the most unique sights San Diego has to offer. Luckily, we live in Nevada and make the trip to San Diego often, so we’ve scoped out all of the best Insta spots in SD.

Keep reading to see what San Diego photo spots you absolutely must stop at.

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Best San Diego Photo Spots

Potato Chip Rock

Skinny rock coming off a large boulder.

If you’re a hiker and want to see one of the most unique and precarious-looking rock formations, you’ll need to set out on Mt. Woodson Trail.

This route can be a bit of an undertaking and is about 7.4 miles round trip, taking about four and a half hours to complete. 

At the end of the trail, you’ll see a thin section of rock in the shape of a potato chip jutting out over the rocks below, and although it might look thin enough to snap, it’s been known to hold quite a bit of weight.

This fascinating photo spot is located in Northern San Diego County, near Poway, California.


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Sunset Cliffs

Sun setting over the ocean.

Sunset Cliffs is a 68-acre San Diego park that encompasses one and a half miles along the beaches of Point Loma.

It was dedicated in 1983, signaling to locals and tourists that this is not just your regular section of the coastline.

Sunset Cliffs provides views of rolling waves, striking cliffs, lively caves, and lush flora. Whether you’re coming out to go for a run, sit on the sand, or enjoy the cool Pacific water, the Sunset Cliffs scenery almost demands to be photographed.

This is one of the best places to take pictures in San Diego.

Windansea Beach

Waves crashing against the beach.

Named after a hotel called Windansea, short for “Wind and Sea,” that burned down in the 1940s, Windansea Beach is the jack-of-all-trades of beaches.

At Windansea, you can surf, spread out and lounge on the sound, and explore the sandstone points and wave-smoothed rocks along the shoreline.

This isn’t the best place to swim due to the rocks, but it is the place to whip out your camera and snap a few pictures, then post them to show all your followers how beautiful the place is.

Windansea Beach is one of the best San Diego Instagram spots.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Desert landscape with purple and orange colors.

Located 2 hours away and worlds apart from the San Diego beaches, Anza-Borrego Desert is California’s largest state park. It puts the textured desert landscape on display for all to see.

Explore this state park a bit, and you’ll find mazes of rock, badlands, cacti-encased hills, and even a few oases. This park is incredibly remote and largely untouched by the human hand, only accessible on primitive roads or on foot.

This is the place to explore the wilderness of California and maybe rent an ATV to cover as much ground as possible. This is one of the best photo spots in San Diego to catch wildlife on camera, including bighorn sheep.

Torrey Pines State Park

Cliff near the water.

Contrasting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Torrey Pines State Park is a wonderland of beaches, trees, and cliffs.

Torrey Pines State Park is named after the United State’s rarest pine tree, the Pinus torreyana. This kind of pine grows only in this park and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara.

With its diverse landscape, Torrey Pines is one of the most Instagrammable places in San Diego. And you’re there, do some hiking and explore the beautiful landscape.

The park is located about 25 minutes north of San Diego. 

Saigon Trail

People relaxing on the sand on the beach.

Also known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail or just the La Jolla Trail, Saigon Trail is a short hike, less than a mile long.

This trail leads hikers through a beautiful but somewhat challenging trail. But these challenges make for top-tier San Diego photo spots. You’ll climb through wind-smoothed sandstone slot canyons, up beachside hills, and even across a single wooden plank.

You’ll want to make sure you have good shoes and your camera at the ready during this hike. Although, you might want to put it away when you reach Blacks Beach, which is one of the only clothing-optional beaches in California.

Hotel del Coronado

Big white hotel with red roof near the ocean.

Hotel Del Coronado has been a San Diego icon for 130 years and is still kicking.

Victorian architecture with beachside colors is certainly a sight to behold. Each piece of the hotel, down to the stained glass windows, has an incredible history with even more incredible beauty.

And not only is this a beautiful spot to add to your Instagram, but also a place to relax and play. It should be high on your list of places to stay in San Diego.

You’ll want to be adding this to your list of San Diego photography spots. 

Old Town

Barrels and an old wagon near a cactus outside.

Delving deeper into the historical side of San Diego, Old Town is a quaint revival of the first European settlement in California.

Old Town is full of historic buildings, flowers, and signs that will make you pull out your camera, but there are also always events and festivals happening that you will want to capture.

Cinco de Mayo is one of these celebrations you’ll want to be around for; mark your calendars! 

Scripps Memorial Pier

Surfer walking with a board on the ocean.

Scripps Memorial Pier is not just one of San Diego’s photography spots, it is also a pillar in UC San Diego’s Oceanography Institution.

Originally built in 1916, the pier has since been rebuilt and restructured to continue to hold for generations. It has seawater filtering stations, serves to collect samples for the Institution, as well as measure surface currents.

This functional piece of architecture is one of the best San Diego photo spots as it extends out over the ocean and will provide a great focus point for your pictures.

La Jolla

People walking along a busy cliffside by the ocean.

La Jolla is one of the quaintest towns in California and definitely one of the best San Diego photo spots.

This little town offers some of the best views of the San Diego coastline. La Jolla has fascinating architecture, blue skies, and rolling waves.

When exploring the village, you might want to check out the La Jolla Caves, the Murals of La Jolla, and Mt. Soledad Veteran’s Memorial. These are just a few of San Diego’s top Instagram spots.

Seaport Village

Orange and blue sky over the ocean at night.

Seaport Village is where everything is happening in San Diego. This beautiful waterfront village owns some of the most amazing views of Coronado Bridge, and hundreds of boats docked there daily.

Snap a few pictures of the views, then return on the weekend to listen to free live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

White lighthouse surrounded by a white picket fence.

I don’t know about you, but there’s just something about lighthouses that just pulls me in. But I guess that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

Although, this old lighthouse wasn’t much use for guiding ships to shore. Old Point Loma was in use from 1855 to 1891, when it was decided that the fog obscured the view too much, and a new lighthouse was built closer to the water.

Luckily for us and our cameras, the lighthouse has stayed standing, a beautifully historic monument with so much past to capture.

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Striped flower fields with pink, orange, yellow, and white flowers.

The Carlsbad Flower Fields are an absolute must in San Diego photo spots.

Eighty-five years ago, Luther Gage began growing ranunculus seeds in his fields. Now, rows and rows of these colorful flowers incite awe in visitors daily. The fields transport you straight into a fairytale.

The blooms are at their best from early March to late May. If you are planning a professional photo shoot, you will have to submit a request for the shoot to be approved.

Coronado Island Beach

People walking on a sandy beach by a hotel.

If you’re looking to get the quintessential beach shot, look no further than Coronado Beach.

The sand here is so fine it almost cushions your feet as you walk. The waves are perfect for surfing, swimming, and fishing. You can have fires here, but flying objects like kites are not allowed, which is perfect to get an uninterrupted beach shot.

Coronado’s beachy feel makes it one of the most instagrammable places in San Diego.

Balboa Park

Historic building with lots of forestry.

Named the Cultural Heart of San Diego, Balboa Park is a section of the city that would take days to explore fully.

It houses 17 museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. I told you there were more than just exotic animals to photograph!

Throughout the park’s 1,200 acres, you’ll find superb San Diego photo spots at every turn. Just keep an eye out for the things you’ll want to remember forever.

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Final Thoughts: San Diego Instagram Spots

This city is absolutely full of beautiful scenery, unique architecture, visible history, and photogenic entertainment. These San Diego photo spots are must-sees, but they only scratch the surface of what the city has to offer.

Start here, and see what else you can discover in the wonderfully vast city of San Diego!

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