Places to Shoot

San Diego Photography Locations

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.

Old Town San DiegoOld Town

San Diego original town with many restored buildings and tourist shops. Very colorful with a Mexican influence. Read more

Shelter Island San DiegoShelter Island

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.

SDSU LibrarySDSU Campus

Some interesting architecture and colorful planting schemes in the gardens. A nice place to spend a Sunday morning.

Pacific Beach SurfersPacific Beach

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.

Ocean View from La JollaLa Jolla

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 Ship in San Diego HarborStar 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!
Read more

Escondido Old Santa Fe DepotEscondido

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 FerryCoronado 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 CoronadoHotel 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.

Little Italy San DiegoLittle Italy

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.

Belmont Park San DiegoBelmont Park

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.

Carlsbad California power stationCarlsbad

North of San Diego on Interstate 5, Carlsbad has a nice downtown area, beaches, an interesting power station, and a bird sanctuary.

Galamp Quarter street musicianGaslamp Quarter

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.

Balboa ParkBalboa Park

You should not miss Balboa Park near downtown. It’s great!!

Encinitas CaliforniaEncinitas

A nice little surf town north of San Diego on Interstate 5.

La Jolla Glider ortLa Jolla Glider Port

Watch completely sane people throw themselves over a cliff. Some very nice cliff top views.
Read more

Salk Institute La JollaSalk Institute

La Jolla’s architectural gem by
Louis I. Kahn.

vistaVista 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.


Carrillo RanchCarrillo Ranch

Near Carlsbad, this park has some nice gardens, old buildings, and a muster of peafowl (or a flock of peacocks to be improper.)
Read more

Anza Borrego Desert State Park at Fonts PointAnza 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.”

Bernardo WineryBernardo Winery

Seems set up for photographers who like to shoot pictures of gentle decay with pretty plants winding around rusting farm implements.

Peregrine falcon on a dead tree at Torrey Pines State ParkTorrey Pines State Park

Lovely sandstone cliff area and beach just north of La Jolla.

Petco ParkPetco Park

Take a guided tour of the ballpark and visit the dugout of the San Diego Padres.

CVN Carl Vinson from Point LomaCarbrillo 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 DiegoMission San Diego

California’s first mission.