A summary of places to shoot in San Diego
San Diego has more species of bird than any other county in the U.S. You can also catch whale watching tours from Harbor Drive and you’ll see plenty of seals from a harbor boat tour, or simply see them basking on the beach in La Jolla. Add in San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and SeaWorld – then San Diego is a great place for animal and bird photography.
The sunsets over the Pacific Ocean can be magnificent, especially in the winter when storm clouds loom. I almost forgot to mention this, because I have almost started taking the great light and weather in San Diego for granted. When I first settled in San Diego I would grab my camera any time the sun settled toward the horizon, but now I think my library of images has all the sunset shots I need.
I have taken a lot of photographs in San Diego and still haven’t run out of interesting places on which to indulge my passion for photography. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite places below. It is by no means complete. Ask any San Diego photographer and I am sure they’ll have many other great ideas of places where you can take photographs during your vacation here.
Enjoy your stay in San Diego and feel free to contact me with any questions regarding San Diego photography locations.
San Diego original town with many restored buildings and tourist shops. Very colorful with a Mexican influence. Read more
Americas Cup Harbor has interesting flags and boat masts. Also a boat launch and fishing pier. Often a good place to see pelicans and seals.
Some interesting architecture and colorful planting schemes in the gardens. A nice place to spend a Sunday morning.
Crystal Pier is a place where you can get out into the ocean to take surfing shots without getting wet. There are many colorful characters along the boardwalk.
Check out La Jolla Cove for interesting ocean cliffs and tide pools. The Children’s Pool is home to the controversial seal population. Lucky Jim’s cave is a “must visit” if you can handle the stairs.
Star of India - Harbor Drive
A great collection of old sailing ships including the replica HMS Surprise from the Master and Commander movie. Harbor tours, cruise ships, Midway Museum, there is a lot here!
North of San Diego on Interstate 15, Grape Day Park in the center of Escondido has an interesting old rail depot, blacksmith shop and other historic buildings. The vintage car show and renaissance fair are big local attractions.
Coronado Ferry Landing
Ferry leaves downtown for Coronado on the hour and returns on the half hour. The Coronado Ferry landing is the perfect place to get a downtown shot with the setting sun reflected in the downtown buildings.
Hotel del Coronado
This is a premier San Diego landmark where the movie Some Like it Hot was filmed. It is a beautiful wood and red-tiled hotel kept in beautiful condition and is photographer friendly. Good place for a Christmas tree shot in the lobby during holiday season.
America’s largest little Italian neighborhood, you will actually hear Italian spoken here. Lots of interesting little cottage homes. The neighborhood hosts several street festivals a year and a weekly Saturday morning Farmer’s market.
Great place to get shots of the old wooden rollercoaster and assorted colorful fairground rides. You’ll also find a wave machine at the Wave House where surfers can hone their skills.
North of San Diego on Interstate 5, Carlsbad has a nice downtown area, beaches, an interesting power station, and a bird sanctuary.
This is San Diego’s nightlife area and has many historic buildings dating back to the days of the Stingaree . Wyatt Earp had a saloon here for a short time.
You should not miss Balboa Park near downtown. It’s great!!
A nice little surf town north of San Diego on Interstate 5.
La Jolla Glider Port
Watch completely sane people throw themselves over a cliff. Some very nice cliff top views.
La Jolla’s architectural gem by
Louis I. Kahn.
Vista Antique Gas and Steam Museum
More old tractors than you can shake a stick at, plus a working metal shop and home to a civil war reenactment in April.
Near Carlsbad, this park has some nice gardens, old buildings, and a muster of peafowl (or a flock of peacocks to be improper.)
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
About two hours drive out of San Diego downtown. It really takes a book to describe everything there is to photograph in the Anza Borrego desert, making a lie of the road marker that states, “This is the desert. There’s nothing out here. Nothing.”
Seems set up for photographers who like to shoot pictures of gentle decay with pretty plants winding around rusting farm implements.
Torrey Pines State Park
Lovely sandstone cliff area and beach just north of La Jolla.
Take a guided tour of the ballpark and visit the dugout of the San Diego Padres.
Carbrillo National Monument
Point Loma has ocean cliffs, tide pools, whale lookout, military planes and ships, views of downtown, an old lighthouse. Don’t miss it.
Mission San Diego
California’s first mission.