Balboa Park is so huge, that I really contemplated breaking this one up into multiple locations. There are just so many distinct and different options within the park. There is gorgeous Spanish architecture, gardens, museums, and so many more hidden gems within the park. Balboa Park is most crowded on the weekends, but one of the best things about this park is that it’s huge. There are private nooks and crannies to use for photographs all over the place.
Things to know: Most areas of Balboa Park don’t require a permit to shoot there for an engagement session, but a few do. The Japanese Friendship Garden requires that you pay a $35 photoshoot fee per hour in addition to the garden admission price. If you are thinking of venturing inside any of the museums, contact them first to check their engagement photography and permitting policies.
Belmont Park is the perfect location for a fun engagement. If an engagement session at a boardwalk amusement park sounds right up your ally, this might be the perfect location for you. Grab a giant ice cream cone, and let the cuteness begin.
Things to know: Belmont Park is usually crowded, but if you choose a weekday parking is extremely easy to come by.
Pacific Beach is a great photo location because it has a number of great things to work with in a small area. You could get some urban shots around town, take a few shots at the beach, and even catch Crystal Pier in the background.
Things to know: This beach is generally crowded, and weekdays are going to be a best bet. The light is usually best at this beach the hour before sunset, but is also really nice early in the morning.
Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument is a truly unique location for an engagement session. There are gorgeous view of the bay, but most couples I work with love the lighthouse. The lighthouse is a really awesome spot for photos, but there is definitely a best time to be there. The mornings or weekdays are generally less crowded, so you are able to get way more.
Things to know: Parking at Cabrillo National Monument is $10/vehicle, but the parking pass is good for a week.
There are actually tons of different options for locations on Coronado island. Del Beach behind the Hotel del Coronado is one of my favorites. Another favorite location is on the opposite side of the island, but offers a unique view of the San Diego skyline. Centennial Park is the only place in San Diego where you can have your photo taken in front of the San Diego bay and the skyline.
Things to know: Best time of day for a photo shoot varies for locations on Coronado, ask your photographer for feedback on when would be best for you and your location.
Little Italy is the perfect place in downtown San Diego for an engagement session. It's a little bit artistic, very modern, and definitely urban in true San Diego-style. If you are looking for an urban, lifestyle vibe- this is the place for you. Also the perfect place for engagement sessions at a pizza place, for couples who LOVE pizza. I would probably do this... just sayin.
Things to know: Parking is kind of a monster in this area. Street parking is possible, but give yourself extra time.
Marian Bear Park
If you are looking for woodsy trails and gorgeous natural landscape for the background of your engagement session, look no further. Marian Bear Park is an absolute dream. If you know where to go, you can even find lots of wildflowers to work with here. A small stream runs through this park, and it's a great location to consider if you are thinking of bringing your dog!
Things to know: Wildflowers are seasonal, even in San Diego. If it rains, certain trails will close or flood. If you bring your dog, bring bags to clean up after your pet- always!
This gorgeous hilltop park overlooks the city, and has some of the best views in San Diego. There are unique wooded areas, huge trees, and gorgeous Spanish architecture. Taking advantage of everything beautiful about this park does mean a bit of a hike- not a difficult hike, just difficult in heels.
Things to know: This park is one a giant hill. I would recommend against wearing high-heeled shoes that might sink in the dirt as you walk around. At the very least- pack a spare pair of shoes.
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
This urban pedestrian suspension bridge in Hillcrest is an absolute gem. It's scenic, and a little bit scary- it's so high off the ground and it sways as you reach the middle. For engagement sessions? Absolutely adorable. One of my favorite engagement sessions was there.
Things to know: This bridge is a bit of a local hangout. You may not be the only ones there!
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a popular beach for a reason- the landscape is absolutely gorgeous. You have the option of taking photos on top of the cliffs, or the sandy beach below. There are lots of great hidden spots all around the cove.
Things to know: This location is best the hour before sunset or early in the morning. Weekends are crowded, and if you can shoot on a weekday- do that! Parking is difficult when the beach is crowded.
This San Diego beach is located very close to La Jolla Cove, but doesn't draw nearly as much of a crowd as the cove does. This is definitely because beach access is a bit more difficult. Unless the tide is low, beach access is limited or non-existent.
Things to know: Parking is usually very easy here, although the tide makes a huge impact on how much sandy beach will be visible!
Santa Fe Depot
This downtown San Diego train station is unique and so beautiful. The architecture and vintage tile are some of my favorite things about this location. If you are unfamiliar with how this might look as an engagement session, check out this travel inspired engagement session that we photographed at the Santa Fe Depot.
Things to know: Parking in this area is sometimes difficult. You could always take the train.
Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego has a charm unlike anywhere else in San Diego. There are so many interesting buildings and colors to work with at this location. The gardens at Old Town are also some of the best for photographs in San Diego outside of Balboa Park.
Things to know: This is a popular location, and parking is often difficult, although there are metered lots everywhere. Bring some change for the meter!
Scripp’s Pier & Beach
This is probably the beach where I photograph the most. The landscape has so much variety. You can choose to shoot on top of the cliffs, or down below on the sandy beach. There are interesting rock formations that are only accessible when the tide is low. The Pier is very architectural, and great for photographs.
Things to know: This is a popular beach specifically for photography of all kinds. Play nice and share the cool spots! There is no access to the top of the pier, but down below is fair game.
This modern architectural oceanfront masterpiece is the perfect blend of seaside and modern. There is so much to use at this location, from the architecture, to the clifftop view, to the easy beach access right next to Scripps Pier- there is just so much variety at this location.
Things to know: This location is a very popular wedding venue and conference center. You must call ahead if you plan to photograph there, even if you just want to use the outside of the building. Their weddings are indoor/outdoor and they might simply have something else going on.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
This cliffy beach is absolutely breathtaking. The views and cliff formations are some of the best in San Diego. At low tide, when the weather is nice, this might be my favorite beach in San Diego. There is so much to explore, and everything there is a gorgeous backdrop for photos.
Things to know: As with all cliffs- THEY ARE CLIFFS. Be so incredibly careful. It really is dangerous anywhere near the edge. The ground has been especially crumbly with all the recent storms, and I would never chance it. Never.
Torrey Pines is an amazing natural landscape in San Diego, with trails all over the cliffs that over look the beach. This location is has some really unique geological features, and lots of great photo opportunities.
Things to know: Expect to pay $10-15 to park in the lot, the fees vary by day and increase on holidays. This is a location that requires a bit of hiking to get around. Proper shoes, or extra pair of walking shoes is best!
Spanish Landing Park
Spanish Landing Park is the location for you, if you are looking for a different view of bay front San Diego. Boats line the harbor, and there are giant trees lining the walking path. This area isn't especially crowded.
Things to know: There are sometimes parties, events or barbecues going on over the weekends. This is a great weekday location.
Seaport Village is quaint and has some really beautiful views of the San Diego bay. It would also be a great location for a lifestyle engagement shoot- grab a cupcake and some coffee from Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes and have a mini-date be the inspiration for your bay front engagement session!
Things to know: Parking meters and close by parking lots make this location very easy to access. It does get chilly sometimes close to the bay- so dress appropriately for the season!
This swanky urban hangout is the perfect spot for an urban engagement in the heart of downtown San Diego. There are cool bars, great downtown backgrounds, and of course- the iconic Gaslamp sign that marks the entryway into the district.
Things to know: Expect to pay for parking, there is limited street parking but lots of options for parking lots. If you plan enough time, you can take advantage of the Convention Center area across the street!
Waterfront Park/San Diego Bayfront
Waterfront Park sits right on the bay in downtown San Diego. This location is close to the bay and the boats along the harbor. There are also great photos in the park and with the city behind you. It's a great urban photo location for an engagement session!
Things to know: There are meters everywhere, making this a very accessible location downtown-- unless there is an event going on! This is a popular event venue, so make sure there are no music festivals planned for the same night you plan to have your engagement session!
Get in touch to book your San Diego engagement session- I would love to hear which location is your favorite!