San Diego Top 7 Amazing Engagement Session Locations
***San Diego top 7 amazing engagement session locations. As of 2022, I’m thrilled to let you know that this list has expanded to 12 locations! San Diego just has so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered! Hope you enjoy this while planning your adventure! There’re more tips at the end so keep on reading***
As I’m writing this, feeling so grateful to call San Diego home. This land has so much to offer and everything is within reach! Sometimes it can be hard to pick a spot because there’re just so much to choose from. Well, that’s such a good problem to have, right?! So let’s take a look at San Diego top 12 amazing engagement session locations! These places offer not only breathtaking views with a sense of adventure.
#1 – Mount Laguna: The Hidden Gem.
This area offers various type of landscapes from vast deserts to greenery and even snow in winter time. The best part: with only 1 hour drive from San Diego and you’ll be in a very different state of mind. So, visit this spot any time of year, it’s awesome at both sunset and sunrise!
View types: Desert – woods – mountains – lake – snow – fall color
Crowded: not at all
Note: Might be chilly and windy
#2 – Torrey Pines: The Famous Beach.
I think this is one of the reasons people say West Coast best coast! The trails here take you up to wide-open views of the Pacific Ocean, then down to the beautiful sandy beach where you can dance and play with the water! Plus, sunsets here are really dreamy!
Best part: Located near the heart of San Diego and springtime here is amazing as lots and lots of flowers blooming!! (any day also pretty!)
View types: Coast – beaches – cliffs – trees
Crowded: Can get very busy. Keep walking further on the beach and you’ll find a place for yourself!
Note: Parking can get crazy on the street so arrive early or park in the lot (ranges from $6-15), the lot closes at sunset
#3 – Ho Chi Minh Trail: Adventure Starts Here!
This hike is short (1.3 miles round trip) but strenuous uphill/downhill, the trail down to the beach can be slippery, but the rewards can make you totally forget about all the sweat! Best part: this all-in-one hike has a variety of landscapes, you’ll feel it as soon as you start at the trailhead!
View types: Coastline – beach – cliffs – city – greenery – canyons – a bit of Mars
Crowded: not so much, come here on a weekday and you’ll pretty much have the place for yourself!
Note: The trailhead is pretty hidden but plenty of parking on the street. Trail down can be slippery.
#4 – Anza-Borrego: The Ultimate Playground.
I don’t really know how to explain this special place, it’s literally an ultimate playground and there are just so much to do and explore! The drive here is inviting by itself and you’ll have a taste of Mars when visiting here! Gotta experience it by yourself! Best part: Spring = super bloom! Also, being close to Julian means apple pies on the way back!
View types: Desert, mountains, cliffs, canyons, out of space
Crowded: Not at all
Note: Camp here would make the experience whole! Summer might not be a good time going here.
Anza Borrego during the Super Bloom
With the right perspectives, everyone’s happy and none of the flowers are harmed during photo sessions!
#5 – Moonlight Beach: Not Only Moonlight!
This sweet spot has so much to offer from cliffs, beaches, a creek, and of course lots of sunlight! That kind of sunlight that makes you dance like a kid! Best part: Everything is so close to each other. Plus there’s an ice-cream shop that would make a good start or a happy ending for the shoot!
View types: Greenery, beach, cliffs, creek, somewhat tropical
Crowded: Weekend can get crazy. Visit during the week, walk further south and you’ll have the place for yourself
Note: Try that Handel’s Ice Cream while you’re there! I think everything there is gooood (and huge)!
#6: Lake Cuyamaca: Where Time Stands Still.
For those who love lakes, for sure you’ll be much in love with this one! It has a refreshing effect that makes couples relax and enjoy themselves more! Best part: you can come to this vast lake any time of year and it’s only less than an hour drive from San Diego, plus there are lots of camping spots around.
View types: Lake – mountain – open field
Crowded: not at all!
Note: Could have snow during winter. Also close to Julian = apple pies afterward!
#7 – Sunset Cliffs: The cliffs that live up to their name.
This place has some kind of magic that makes me feel new and refreshing every time here! Best part: It’s a big area and not hard to find an amazing spot there.
Views: canyons, cliffs, beaches, sunset
Crowded: Yup! Follow trails that take you further south or come during weekdays
Note: Awesome at both sunset and sunrise!
8) Black’s Beach: Naked beauty.
This secluded section of La Jolla is known as a popular nude beach in San Diego and a great surf spot for locals. The stairs down to the beach are short but challenging. Once you get down or closer to the beach, it opens up more space and better views of the Pacific Coast and La Jolla rocky cliffs. Because it isn’t the easiest beach to get to, you can enjoy some intimacy down there.
View types: cliffs, beaches, flowers (springtime)
Crowded: The more you hike down, the less crowded.
Tips: Black’s Beach is actually has hard, black sand, these would make interesting contrasts and feel great walking on. It’s a nude beach so if you two would like some steamy photos in nature go for it! 🙂
9) La Jolla Cove: Exotic cliffs.
This small, scenic corner of La Jolla is surrounded by cliffs and caves featuring stunning views every turn. It’s also a famous spot for snorkelers, swimmers and scuba divers. The views here look very different on a cloudy day and really feel a bit like the Faroe Islands somehow. On a sunny day, lights make an interesting contrast on the rock formation too!
View types: exotic cliffs, rocky, some greeneries.
Crowded: can get crowded, parking can be tough on weekends.
Tips: You can actually access to one of the caves via Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave!
10) Walker Canyon: Where the poppies bloom
These orange covered hills are within the most spectacular spots to see poppy blooms. The views here are just breathtaking with or without the bloom!
View types: Mountains, canyons, flower fields, dreamy
Crowded: Crazy crowded!
Tips: stay on trails and watch out for rattlesnakes. It’s crazy busy during the bloom (even early morning on a weekday) so arrive early to grab a parking spot. Best time to visit is probably morning time because the flowers will cover up after a while.
11) Cabrillo National Monument: Rich in history, abundant in views.
The Point Loma Lighthouse in the park is an iconic discovery of early settlers on the West Coast. Located at the southern tip of Point Loma peninsula, it has abundant views of the whole San Diego area. The eastern side offers a stunning views of the harbor and the city. Whale Overlook is on the southern side also has a good view of Mexico. Facing west are tide pools and rich ocean ecosystem. There’s essence California while we’re shooting here!
View types: coastlines, cityscapes, lighthouse, flowers (springtime)
Crowded: can get busy on weekends, keep walking
Tips: The visitor center is a good start. The park opens 9am-5pm so plan your shoot accordingly.
12) Julian: A sweet escape from the city
Charming Julian is one hour east of downtown San Diego. Nestled between Volcan Mountain and the Cuyamaca Range, Julian has an interesting combination of oak and pine forests. It’s famous for some of the best apple pies in SoCal. Besides delicious pies, Julian is also popular for its 4 season weather, thanks to its high elevation. For those who love winter adventures but won’t have enough time traveling to Lake Tahoe or Big Bear, this spot is for you! Come visit, explore the town, do a hike, have apple pies then head back in the same day!
View types: open fields, hills, greeneries, fall colors, flowers, snow
Crowded: not at all if you’re willing to hike (even just a bit hiking)
Tips: Julian is beautiful year-round but the harvesting season is mid August through October. When there’s snow, visit during weekdays or come early on the weekend because it’s always a long line of cars wanting to see snow here! You gotta try their apple pies too!
(Bonus) Imperial Sand Dunes. The Dazzling Dunes. This one is a bit far but if you’re a desert fan and up for an adventure, check it out! Layers upon layers of dunes will make you don’t want to leave. This is the place to run wild and play free!
View types: Desert, Africa vibes
Note: Bring extra booze for this one!
There you have it. These are my go-to, but I’m sure there are tons more so feel free to add yours in the comment below.
For more places around California, check out my post 33 California epic engagement locations here.
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