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Favorite Spots to Take Pictures in San Diego

Landmarks, City Scapes and Animals Make Great Subjects

As a professional photographer, my travel plans always include finding the best places to shoot pictures. And San Diego has a bounty of great spots. Beautiful beaches, lush gardens, interesting architecture, public art and Southern California’s outdoor lifestyle all provide the perfect background for travel pictures. Here's a list of my favorite places to shoot in San Diego.

By: Julie Kremen, San Diego Photography Tours

10 Great Photography Locations in San Diego

Learn how to avoid the typical "vanilla" tourist snapshots and instead capture stunning images—taken from the best vantage points, at the best time of day. Whether you're an avid shutterbug or just a weekend warrior, a photography tour is a great way to see the sights and snap images to last a lifetime.

Colorful Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town

Populated with photogenic spots everywhere you turn—from historical adobe architecture, to people dressed in period dress (1822-1872), to reenacted crafts of the era (like blacksmithing, candle making, etc.), Old Town is a feast of wonderful photo ops. Whether tortillerias, festive decorations, beautiful landscaping, colorful dancers, or photographically fun specialty gift shops, Old Town is a nonstop delight for your eyes and your camera!

The Cultural Heart of San Diego - Balboa Park

Balboa Park

You could keep busy for hours just photographing its nearly twenty varied, scenic gardens (including thousands of species of exotic vegetation). But add to that exquisite Colonial Mediterranean architecture and beautiful tile fountains and you could easily spend a full day here, and never enter one museum or the zoo! Lose yourself in this tranquil cultural oasis in the heart of the city and make sure to bring plenty of memory cards or film.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

Dramatic vistas, tide pools and its two iconic lighthouses are only part of the picture which makes this captivating and stunning location the 8th most visited National Monument in the U.S., as well as a top San Diego photographic hotspot.

San Diego's Historic Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter features beautiful Victorian architecture to capture during the day, or stick around after dark to shoot the epicenter of San Diego nightlife. Day or night, you surely will want to bring your camera to this very photogenic neighborhood.

The Jewel of San Diego - La Jolla

La Jolla

From seascapes to sea lions to seagulls, grab your camera and head to sensational seaside La Jolla. Translated "The Jewel", La Jolla delivers on its name with spectacular cliffs, cormorants and crashing waves. You certainly won't run out of scenic things to photograph in postcard picture-perfect La Jolla.

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Along with its iconic bell tower, this historically important building complex has some hidden treasures inside—don't miss its enchanting courtyard and beautiful chapels. You could easily spend three hours here taking photos of the oldest of the 21 California Missions.

San Diego World-Class Attractions

San Diego's World-Class Attractions

It goes without saying that San Diego has some of the best show-stopping animal photography in America! Whether swimming, jumping, swinging or flying, there are endless animal photo possibilities in all three of these world-class attractions. Don't forget to check out the Photo Safari Caravan at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—a top-notch photo experience for up-close encounters with animals in the wild.

San Diego's Iconic Embarcadero

The Embarcadero

It's never a dull moment down on the embarcadero promenade walkway—whether bobbing boats, birds or bustling boardwalk activity. On the southern area near Seaport Village or behind the Convention Center, snap away at colorful boats with the harbor or Coronado as your backdrop. And, near the majestic Star of India, sunset produces pretty reflections on the water with the lights of the Pt. Loma Peninsula in the distance.

Chicano Park - National Historic Landmark

Chicano Park

You'll be challenged to find anything more colorful than Chicano Park's historic murals. Not only are they the largest collection of outdoor murals in the country that are painted by cutting edge artists, but their unique location on the pillars of the Coronado Bridge make them a geometric delight for photos.

Signs of San Diego

Neighborhood Signs

Hunt around San Diego's varied neighborhoods and discover the charm of each one through its signature landmark sign. With no two signs the same, you will have a fun time framing each one to highlight the individual feel of that neighborhood.

A photography tour is a fun way to see the city.  San Diego Photography Tours has professional photographer guides who have spent years in the field on assignment capturing sites all over the world—and countless hours scouting the best photogenic locations in San Diego, both well known icons and secret spots. They offer private walking or shuttled driving tours ranging from four hours to a full day. During their very hands-on tours, they help you to take better quality pictures and make sure you go home with great photos of San Diego.

More on capturing San Diego for your feed from Picture Paradise, Instagrammable San Diego


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Aaron Chang

During his time as head photographer for SURFING Magazine, Aaron Chang traveled the world capturing the most epic surf shots imaginable. Now he resides in sunny San Diego and shoots the scenic splendor right in his own backyard.


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hile any activity in San Diego is sure to bring a smile to your face, there’s something about being in the water that’s inspiring in a deeper way. It brings a sense of surrealness and peace that help define the good vibes of San Diego’s culture. The only way to feel it for yourself is to dive in.


Rob Machado

Australian-born, California-raised, pro surfer Rob Machado has spent most of his life atop a surfboard. Still one of surfing’s most iconic and beloved figures, he never strays too far from his favorite San Diego swells.


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