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Scenic Views of San Diego

When a place deems itself “America’s Finest City,” you’ve got to admire the confidence that it takes, considering the eco-diversity and compelling geography that courses through our vast and wild North American continent. That said, the good folks of San Diego have a pretty strong case. From the pristine gardens of Balboa Park to the jagged cliffs of La Jolla, the best views in San Diego are pretty much anywhere you happen to be looking. Beautiful places in San Diego are not hard to find, and a great place to start your search would be on a San Diego SEAL tour. Discovering the best view in San Diego is a satisfying reward for any traveler looking for memories that will last a lifetime. So, if you’re ready, let’s get into that San Diego views state of mind!

Best Scenic Views of San Diego

With so many Instagram-worthy delights to choose from in and around the city, narrowing down the best views in San Diego is no easy task, but we are more than up for the challenge. The following list of recommendations are our preferred hotspots for sightseeing, people watching or nature gazing, and are among the most beautiful places in San Diego.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

Named after the first European explorer to set foot on what would become the western coast of the United States, this park provides a unique San Diego viewpoint from a variety of picturesque spots, such as the Old Point Loma Lighthouse located over 400 feet above sea level, surrounded by fields of wildflowers in the spring. If you’re really in the mood to explore, the park also offers biking and hiking trails rated from easy to demanding.

Photo of beach next to cliffs with sun glare

Point Loma

In addition to having some of the best views in San Diego, this windswept peninsula is big on crashing coastal waves from the mighty Pacific, expertly prepared seafood and trendy places to shop, such as Liberty Station, a former Navy training facility.

Sunset Cliff Natural Park

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

The name itself implies one of the best views in San Diego, and this spot makes good on its promise. This park, located in the affluent Sunset Cliffs neighborhood of Point Loma, is a draw for sunburnt surfers and sun-gazers, as it is perched atop jagged cliffs bordering the Pacific Ocean’s western edge. Check out the stunning caves near Monaco Street, grab a bite on nearby Newport Avenue or just sit quietly and watch the sun melt into the ocean.

Mount Soledad

Mount Soledad

Arguably San Diego’s most iconic landmark, Mount Soledad, with its more than 800 feet of elevation, offers a widescreen, IMAX film-type of immersive experience to the ultimate San Diego viewpoint. San Diego views don’t come much bigger than this. Highlights include the towering Mount Soledad Cross and the quixotic home of famed children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

With sublime weather all year round, a jaunt to this vibrant beach community to soak in some of the best views in San Diego should always be included in your San Diego viewpoint itinerary. This laid-back neighborhood is a siren song for sun worshippers, travelers and locals alike, with plenty to see and do. “P.B.,” as it is affectionately known, is peppered with bustling restaurants and bars that come to life at night, a massive sandy coastline to dip your toes into and a weekly farmers’ market that offers up some of San Diego’s best farm-to-table delicacies.

Coronado Ferry Landing

Coronado Ferry Landing

Just west of downtown San Diego on a tiny peninsula jutting out to San Diego Bay is the quaint city of Coronado, just a 15-minute ferry ride away. It is from this vantage point where many of the shimmering depictions of the San Diego skyline have been photographed, making this one of the top candidates for taking in the best views in San Diego. From dawn to dusk, you are guaranteed to experience the ideal San Diego viewpoint from right here.

Mount Helix

Mount Helix

Known as the “Crown Jewel of East County” and sitting at roughly 1,300 feet above sea level, this landmark consists of a park with some of the best views in San Diego that are both panoramic and inspiring. The Easter sunrise services held here every year are considered to be the second oldest continuous service of its kind in the country.

Wide view of La Jolla Cove in San Diego surrounded by a curved stretch of seawall on one side and rocky cliffs on the other

La Jolla

If you only had one option to acquaint yourself with an authentic San Diego viewpoint, few would argue that La Jolla is your one-stop shop. With its seven miles of coastline, world-class shopping and dining, exemplary safety rating and prime real estate, La Jolla’s San Diego views are highly prized. There are a plethora of shoreline activities to dive into, such as the impressive Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, the sea lion and birdwatching at La Jolla Cove and the teeming sea life of La Jolla Underwater Park. Bar none, the best views in San Diego are found in this jewel of a city.

Cowles Mountain

Cowles Mountain

For more elevated, breathtaking San Diego views, lace up those comfy hiking boots and head for the desert trail that leads to this mountain’s peak. Not only will you experience the best view of San Diego but, on a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of Mexico itself! As you might expect, the turnout here can get rather crowded so make plans to visit on an off-day.

The Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens

Just a quick car ride outside San Diego’s city limits is an oasis of serenity where you can charge your inner chakras while surrounding yourself with some of the best San Diego views. This sanctuary on the clifftops of neighboring Encinitas is a Shangri-La of koi fish ponds, river stone-strewn paths through luscious greenery and flora of every stripe, from lotus blossoms to cacti. Former Beatle George Harrisson used to stay at the retreat when he was in town. Enough said.

Stonewall Peak

Stonewall Peak

Since it’s located an hour outside of San Diego, it may be more accurate to say that this mountainous locale serves up some of the best views of San Diego County. Within the confines of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the trail up Stonewall Peak is the most accessible. Make sure to make some room on your camera’s memory card to capture the wild, natural beauty you’ll encounter, such as deer, wild turkeys, streams and massive rock formations.

Image of san diego embarcadero from above

Embarcadero Marina Park

You won’t need to do much traveling to seek out your next best view of San Diego since this next destination is located right downtown. Bordering a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex known as Seaport Village, this is considered one of the most popular spots to get the best view of San Diego, and it’s also one of the most beautiful places in San Diego in its own right. The nighttime views of the bay and city are legendary here.

Powerhouse Park & Beach

Located just north of the popular 15th Street surf break, nestled between Coast Boulevard Park and Del Mar Beach, is one of the most beautiful places in San Diego. Whether it’s a day out with the kids at the barefoot-friendly park, equipped with a jungle gym, swings and slides, or a date night where couples snuggle on wooden benches watching the waves crash along the shore, this beloved park is all about amazing San Diego views.

Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock

This next destination is renowned not just for its jaw-dropping San Diego views but for the most astonishing views of the Pacific Ocean in all of Southern California. Not only is this natural wonder near the top of anyone’s most beautiful places in San Diego list, it’s one of the most dramatic hikes in the area. Potato Chip Rock is a fascinating geological formation that extends past the summit, over the edge of Mt. Woodson, situated roughly 2,000 feet above sea level — a San Diego viewpoint that’s definitely worth the effort.

Restaurants in San Diego with Beautiful Views

When the time comes to embark on a culinary journey through San Diego, you might as well take in the best view of San Diego while taking in a perfect dry martini. These discerning So Cal eateries made our faves list based on the excellence of the cuisine and their signature San Diego viewpoint. Bon appetit!

The Marine Room

Making a splash here entails more than just impressing your friends or a date with the elegance of this seaside country club-styled restaurant. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation during high tide, you will be treated to one of the greatest shows in nature as the waters of the Pacific literally crash against the restaurant’s windows. Formally appointed and bedecked in large, airy floor-to-ceiling windows, The Marine Room has found its way on many a fine dining bucket list. In addition to its contemporary menu rooted in modern French technique, this restaurant has been the recipient of countless awards, including Open Table’s 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for eight years running. Excellent food? Check! San Diego views? Double check!

Valle Guadalupe Valley Kitchen

The key to developing a San Diego viewpoint is understanding not only where the most beautiful places in San Diego are but what makes them so. San Diego views extend far beyond what you see in front of you to their cultural heart that is, in this case, inherently Mexican. Don’t miss out on the amazing, palate-pleasing fare from south of the border when visiting, and this restaurant does it better than most. Led by celebrity chef Roberto Alcocer, Valle offers a one-of-a-kind experience that includes the freshest seafood, an inviting atmosphere and a glimpse into the vibrant cuisine of the Baja region which, some consider, the best view in San Diego.

Pacific Coast Grill

Stunning San Diego views make this local favorite one of the most beautiful places in San Diego to dine in “America’s Finest City.” This waterfront seafood haven boasts amazing views overlooking Cardiff State Beach, and the menu is a reflection of that. The Asian-inspired selections here include plum-ginger braised ribs, Dungeness crab cakes, smoky lobster chowder and a handsome collection of sake and wine. They even have a host of gluten-free items for those with food allergies. If you’re searching for the best view in San Diego, the dog-friendly, second-floor patio is a wonderful spot to watch a So Cal sunset in all its glory.


Where can you find the most scenic views in San Diego?

Beautiful places in San Diego are not hard to find. From coastal beachfront to mountains and desert, the landscapes here are spellbinding. When you consider that median temperatures seldom soar past 75 degrees during the day and dip to pleasingly cool temps when night falls, it makes finding the most beautiful places in San Diego all the more rewarding. A great place to start would be to chat with your San Diego SEAL captain, as they know the lay of the land better than anyone. Here’s to your next exciting adventure in “America’s Finest City!”