Mountains, beaches, bays, sky-scraping buildings—you better believe San Diego has some jaw-dropping scenery. Even for such a picturesque place, some spots are downright postcard-pretty. Some of these views are right off the road. Others require some work to attain. Either way, they pack in about as much of the beauty of California’s Beach City as is possible in one dramatic shot.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
From high atop the bluffs is an unbroken view of the blue sea and sky, a dramatic vista of the La Jolla peninsula, the Scripps Pier, and the coastline stretching north. Watch as an undersea canyon funnels waves onto the shores of Blacks Beach, as paragliders lift off into westerly winds, and as the sun makes a leisurely dip toward the horizon.
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
Cabrillo National Monument
Located at the southernmost tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, the Cabrillo National Monument occupies a special place: On one side, the vast Pacific Ocean. On the other, San Diego Bay, which can be seen in great detail, along with the downtown skyline backed by distant mountains. It’s hard to imagine a single view that takes in more of California’s natural beauty and history in one shot. Or one that’s any prettier.
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
From the 822-foot summit of Mount Soledad, the landscape tumbles headlong down to the breakers on La Jolla Shores, a mere half-mile away. Standing resolute over the city, the peak provides unobstructed views of nearly the entire region. As a National Veterans Memorial, it honors 3,500 soldiers while surveying La Jolla and miles of coastline to the north, as well as Mission Bay, downtown, and neighborhoods to the east.
6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive South
Kate Sessions Park
At a height just above the tallest palm fronds, this neighborhood park grants an intimate view of Mission Bay, the Ocean Beach pier, the downtown skyscrapers, and the Coronado Bridge. All seem almost close enough to reach out and touch. Up here, you’re pleasantly removed, but close enough to watch city lights wink on one by one under the setting sun.
5115 Soledad Rd.
Potato Chip Rock
Reaching this improbable rock formation near the 2,800-foot summit of Mount Woodson requires 7.5 miles of hiking. But boy is it worth it. Photos taken on the free-hanging granite sliver are sure to please followers. And for your sweaty troubles, you’re rewarded with a scenic hike culminating in a sweeping vista of the surrounding boulder-dappled landscape.
Mount Woodson Trail
Stonewall Peak Summit
With its moderate terrain and 4-mile roundtrip length, this trail provides excellent bang for the buck. Especially considering that its 5,700-foot summit provides dreamy views of vast stretches of wilderness, including San Diego County’s highest peaks and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Not long ago, the native Kumeyaay people inhabited these forested, hardscrabble lands. You can ponder what their lives were like as you climb the carved stone stairs to the bald rock summit, and Palomar Mountain and Cuyamaca Peak come into view.
Stonewall Peak Trail
A short drive or ferry ride from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island rests in the middle of San Diego Bay. On the shore closest to the downtown waterfront, only a short stretch of water separates grassy Centennial Park from one of the most impressive skylines in the United States. Reflected in the calm waters of the bay are dozens of San Diego’s biggest high-rises, many reaching heights of more than 300 feet, including the city’s tallest: the 500-foot, 34-story, obelisk-shaped One America Plaza.
1101 First St.
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