10 Best Outdoor San Diego Engagement Shoot Locations

There are so many amazing San Diego engagement shoot locations. I’ve split the list into two sections–urban and natural. Here’s a rundown of my 10 best engagement photo spots!

Best Urban San Diego Engagement Shoot Locations

When people think of the best San Diego engagement shoot locations, all the wonderful natural locations come to mind. But you may be surprised just how many great urban San Diego locations there are for amazing engagement photos!

Urban locations are great for engagement photos for a few reasons: First, it’s most likely something totally different than what most people do. Originality for the win! Second, urban locations offer amazing backdrops, composition, and unique lighting when compared to natural locations.

Here’s a list of my five favorite urban San Diego engagement locations.

Balboa Park

You can’t mention gorgeous urban San Diego locations without starting with the iconic Balboa Park! With it’s gorgeous arches, long walkways, and a wide variety of locations, it’s the ultimate urban San Diego engagement shoot location.

balboa park 10 best san diego engagement locations

One of my favorite places to shoot Balboa Park engagement photos is in front of the San Diego Museum of Art. The elevated steps in front of the museum create a unique perspective. And in winter months, the flowering trees are in bloom, creating a wonderful backdrop for romantic portraits.

Another great spot is Alcazar Garden. From the colorful jacaranda trees in the spring to the year-round boxwood hedges, the garden has been one of my favorite San Diego engagement shoot locations for many years.

Finally, my last San Diego engagement shoot location in Balboa Park is the Museum of Us. Across from the museum is a plaza with several archways.

The archways and lights are wonderful repeating elements, and the background underneath the arches is really clean with a gorgeous gradient. The light is good at nearly every hour of the day.

East Village San Diego

With the completion of Petco Park in the early 2000s, the East Village area in downtown San Diego has undergone tremendous redevelopment. What were once warehouses are now restaurants, coffee shops, and cool boutiques. And, there’s a great little arts scene in this part of town, as evidenced by the multitude of huge murals on many of the buildings. All this stuff makes it a great San Diego engagement shoot location!

Even though it’s undergone lots of redevelopment, there are still little portions that are a little rustic. In the afternoon, the sun comes through all sorts of narrow passageways to create dramatic lighting. And, I love the public murals that have been going up over the years–they make great backdrops!

Another thing I love about shooting engagement photos in the East Village of San Diego is how the streets feel intimate in a way. Perhaps it’s because the streets are narrow and the buildings are tall, it doesn’t feel so large.

Downtown Coronado

Just off Orange Ave., there’s a part of Coronado that looks like it’s stuck in the 1950s. The whole vibe makes it one of my favorite San Diego engagement shoot locations.

The old storefronts are unlike anything else in San Diego. Cool patterns, interesting walls, and great light make it an amazing spot for engagement photos in Coronado.

Downtown La Jolla

For amazing variety, nothing beats downtown La Jolla for a San Diego engagement shoot location.

Dark and moody alleys? Check.

Expansive rooftops? Check.

Office buildings with creative lines? Check.

Empty buildings with amazing window light? Bingo.

State Street in Downtown Carlsbad

The East Village in downtown San Diego isn’t the only are to have undergone redevelopment in recent years. One of my favorite little streets is State Street in downtown Carlsbad. I feel they’ve struck a great balance between preserving the charm of the neighborhood and allowing space and freedom for some progression.

Like the East Village, there are a handful of murals on the sides of buildings. They make for colorful backdrops and relaxing engagement photos.

The basic structure of this quonset hut-style building has been preserved, while the interior underwent a remodel. I only really cared about these great lines in this cylindrical roof.

Of course, there’s great light coming through between the buildings, plus some blank white walls for some simple portraits. All these things make it one of the best urban San Diego engagement shoot locations!

Best Natural San Diego Engagement Shoot Locations

Off the streets and into nature! The great thing about having your engagement shoot in San Diego is that you can shoot in both types of locations in the same session!

La Jolla Beaches

Whether you want lucious sand or rocky cliffs, La Jolla beaches are some of the best San Diego engagement shoot locations.

Want sand? Look at Marine Street and La Jolla Shores.

Want tidepools and rocky structures, look near La Jolla Cove, below Cuvier Park, and Windansea.

Sunset Cliffs/Ocean Beach

Sunset Cliffs is one of the most popular beach areas in San Diego. And for good reason! It’s rocky bluffs sit high above the water, giving viewers unmatched views of the coastline.

It’s also one of the best San Diego engagement shoot locations! Here’s why…

First, the elevation of the bluffs above the water is spectacular. You get amazing views no matter where you look. One advantage to shooting at Sunset Cliffs are the little inlets of water, making for even more dramatic photos.

Just down the street from Sunset Cliffs is the Ocean Beach Pier. Near the pier is a tidepool area that’s absolutely gorgeous, perfect for sunset photos.

For a different look, you can shoot on the pier as well! My favorite time shoot on the pier is just after sunset, when you can get amazing silhouettes with gorgeous colors in the sky.

Ho Chi Minh Trail

A spot that’s quickly become one of my favorites is the Ho Chi Minh Trail (also known as the La Jolla Trail). The trail sits high atop Black’s Beach in La Jolla and offers views unlike any other in San Diego.

Of all the spots I’ve listed, accessing this one is probably the most tricky. What parking that exists near the trailhead is in an exclusive neighborhood, and it fills up fast. And, the trail is narrow in most spots, oftentimes zig-zagging up the side of a cliff. But the views? I’ll just leave these here…

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is one of the best San Diego engagement shoot locations for obvious reasons. It’s wide open, easily accessible, and there are plenty of amenities closeby. But it also has some unique factors that make this place a must-see!

First, it’s one of the few beaches that faces nearly due south. So as you’re looking at the water, the sun sets to your right, as opposed to dipping into the ocean as it does on most beaches in San Diego. This gives sunset photos a whole new look, as when you look west, the sun is setting behind Point Loma, so you’ve got this nice dark feature behind you in your photos.

Second, there are a bunch of dunes on the beach that actually spell out CORONADO. In these dunes are lots of native landscape, so you can mix in other natural elements in addition to the beach.

Finally, the light is just spectacular! When you face the sun during golden hour, the Coronado strand and it’s dark sand extends behind you, creating a wonderful contrast.

Torrey Pines Preserve

The Torrey Pines Preserve is a jewel of the coast. Miles of bluff-to-beach trails, native landscaping, and views for days make this one of the best San Diego engagement shoot locations.

If you park at the top near the Visitor’s Center, you can shoot there as well! It’s maintained much of its old charm, so it’s a great spot to shoot before you hit the trails and the beach.

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