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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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20 Best Scenic Views in San Diego: Coastal + Downtown

Updated: Feb 28

20 Best Scenic Views in San Diego | Alpacka My Bags

Welcome to Southern California! Home to iconic cities like Los Angeles and San Diego, gorgeous weather, and an amazing coastline.


San Diego is a vibrant city with an incredible dining scene, friendly people, a fantastic downtown, and scenic beaches.


If you're visiting this West Coast gem, get ready for your expectations to be exceeded. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got to San Diego, but I loved every minute I was here and I'm so ready to go back.


With so much to see and do here, you'll want to arrive with a plan so you can make the most of your trip. Keep reading for the best scenic views in San Diego and get ready to hit the ground running (no actually, you might need to speedwalk to see them all).


Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through one of them. Read our affiliate disclosure. Thank you for your support!


Top 20 Best Scenic Views in San Diego


I've divided the best scenic views in San Diego up into areas so you can conquer them all in one go. I recommend starting up north in La Jolla and making your way back downtown.


  • Windansea Beach

  • Marine St Beach

  • La Jolla Tide Pools

  • The Wedding Bowl

  • South Casa Beach

  • Children's Pool

  • Point La Jolla

  • La Jolla Cove

  • Sea Cave


  • Stairs to Sunset Cliffs

  • Sunset Cliffs Cave

  • Swordfish Point

  • Smugglers' Cove

  • Sunset Cliffs Beach

  • Rum Runner Cove


  • Seaport Village

  • San Diego Convention Center

  • Embarcadero Marina

  • Gaslamp Quarter

  • Esplanade Canal



La Jolla's Best Scenic Views


This part of San Diego is the farthest north these views will take you. I stayed in the Carte Hotel by Hilton downtown, and from here to La Jolla is about a 20 to 25-minute Uber ride.


In my opinion, La Jolla has some of the best scenic spots in San Diego. If you're short on time, try to at least make it to Windansea Beach and La Jolla Tide Pools!


Now enjoy La Jolla's scenic ocean views. The locations below start at the southernmost spot and head north in order.


Note: If you want to go into the sea cave, you do have to pay $10 in the "Sea Cave Store" right above it. While I thought it was quite pricey, it was neat to see and the shop has fun souvenirs.



  • Windansea Beach

  • Marine St Beach

  • La Jolla Tide Pools

  • The Wedding Bowl

  • South Casa Beach

  • Children's Pool

  • Point La Jolla

  • La Jolla Cove

  • Sea Cave


Best Views in the Sunset Cliffs Area


Heading a little farther south, here are the best views in the Sunset Cliffs area. You can drive to the tip of Point Loma and pay to see Cabrillo National Monument, or keep your money and explore the free scenic places below.


From the Carte Hotel by Hilton downtown, it was about a 15-minute Uber ride to the Stairs to Sunset Cliffs, which is where I started my walk. The locations below start at the southernmost spot and head north in order.



  • Stairs to Sunset Cliffs

  • Sunset Cliffs Cave

  • Swordfish Point

  • Smugglers' Cove

  • Sunset Cliffs Beach

  • Rum Runner Cove


Best Views in San Diego | Downtown


While the beach views in San Diego are the best, downtown has some picturesque areas too. Take a look below for some pretty places in downtown San Diego.


I've included Esplanade Canal which is slightly out of downtown. However, it's a gorgeous view and you can walk through the Naval Training Park here too. It's a wide open green space with playgrounds and fields right on the canal.



  • San Diego Convention Center

  • Embarcadero Marina

  • Seaport Village

  • Naval Training Park

  • Gaslamp Quarter

  • Esplanade Canal


What to Bring With You


I enjoyed walking from scenic view to scenic view. I took an Uber up to Windansea beach and walked along the coast to the sea cave. The next day I started at the Stairs to Sunset Cliffs and walked to Rum Runner Cove.


If you want to enjoy as much of the coast as you can, plan to hike the journey! Bring the day hiking essentials with you and you'll be set for a San Diego scenic adventure.


  • Small Backpack

  • Water Bottle

  • Sun Protection

  • Camera

  • Hat & Sunglasses


How to Get to the Scenic Views in San Diego


Similar to getting around in Los Angeles, I recommend taking Uber (or Lyft) to get to a starting destination, walking as much as you like, and then catching an Uber back.


If you're staying downtown, the drive to La Jolla is about 25 minutes, and to Sunset Cliffs is about 15 minutes. If you enjoy exploring on foot, you'll be able to walk to all the downtown locations, except maybe the Esplanade Canal.


Find the Scenic Places in San Diego

Are you ready to explore San Diego? The nature here blew me away; I was not expecting such a pretty city when visiting San Diego, but I'm glad it exceeded my expectations.


Now you can make the most of your trip and get ready to hit the ground running when you arrive. Try to see as many of the best scenic views in San Diego as you can. They're all so stunning!


If you have the time or prefer to travel slower, take a book with you and read for a while at one of these scenic locations. The sound of the waves crashing on the cliffs is so peaceful, you won't want to leave such a pretty spot!


Bring your camera and enjoy San Diego! If you're traveling around Southern California, don't skip a visit to the iconic Los Angeles, and check out my ultimate LA itinerary.


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aboutME

Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.

 

I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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