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San Diego's best photoshoot locations guide
Best Photoshoot Locations in San Diego

If you’re looking for the best photoshoot locations in San Diego you’ve come to the right place. These are my tried and true spots all over San Diego that are perfect for Engagement photos or for Family photos!!!

One of the biggest things clients always ask is “will it be crowded?” The answer will differ depending on the time of year, time of day and location of the photoshoot but these locations are my favorite because at each of them you can find spots that are private and beautiful.

These San Diego photoshoot locations span from the best beaches, to secret grassy fields all the way to parks full of oak trees you’ve probably never heard of before! This is the best of the best photoshoot locations throughout San Diego and I guarantee there’s the perfect option just for you!

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs will always be one of my favorite versatile photoshoot locations. Don’t google maps “sunset cliffs” and end parking where all of the tourists are head to THIS spot instead and you’ll find tons of exclusive spots to take photos. There is also a steep staircase for accessing the beach and tide pools. Definitely make sure you have comfortable walking shoes for trekking out on the bluffs and climbing over rocks on the beach.

Desert Gardens

The Desert Gardens Park is one of my favorite secret photoshoot gems in San Diego. Desert Gardens are a cactus oasis right downtown in San Diego at Balboa Park. The Desert Gardens are quite large so you don’t have to worry too much about privacy when it comes to a photoshoot. There are tons of unique spots and scenery settings in the Desert Gardens and parking is really easy. As a bonus you can walk over the bridge and hit up all of the incredible Balboa Park spots too.

San Elijo Field

If you’re looking for open space, endless grasslands and beautiful hills than the San Elijo Fields are for you!!! You can find them HERE. Make sure you park before going through the gate and you’ll see some little trails on the right which will lead to you all the open spaces. This location gets great open shade in the afternoon once the sun has dipped behind the hills. There’s tons of dead foliage which makes for stunning backdrops and some beautiful eucalyptus trees if you want some variation.

Coronado Sand Dunes

Did you know that just in front of the Hotel Del Coronado are these big and brilliant sand dunes that spell “Coronado?” Well if you’re not flying a drone over you may walk by without even noticing but these dunes are PERFECT for photos!! They give your beach session a little pizazz and if you’re doing a family session make for loads of fun for the kids. I love that you can walk by the water and run on the dunes all in one shoot! Hotel Del can definitely be crowded but because the dunes spell “Coronado” you have lots of options to get away from the crowds and basically have an entire dune to yourself.

Scripps Pier

Ok, Scripps Pier is definitely a popular photo spot, street parking can be tricky to find and you’ll have to walk down a steep hill to access the beach but the view cannot be beat! The good news is that even if directly under the pier is occupied you’ll be able to find some open shade either North or South of the pier depending on the time of year so you can shoot with the pier in your background.

Balboa Park

The classic and iconic San Diego photoshoot location, Balboa Park. I love Balboa Park, the variety of locations, the architecture, the walkways and the hidden forests. I do not love the crowds but hey what can you expect when you’re planning a session at one of the most popular places in San Diego. If you are hoping to get photos with the reflecting pond I recommend going at sunrise when it’s just your local walkers out and about. The walkways make for spectacular photo spots but you will definitely have to wait out passerby’s. I love the modern art museum as a backdrop and the huge Moreton Bay Fig Trees tucked just behind the arboretum. There is also a fantastic little forest called Palm Canyon which will definitely lend to more private spots. The Alcazar Garden is one of my favorite spots to capture some really beautiful photos. A huge bonus is you can walk just across the street and hit up the Desert Gardens as well!

Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach is a stunning spot for a photoshoot!! It’s a blend between the cliffs at Sunset cliffs and the beach front at Ponto. Windansea is basically a bunch of huge rocks on the side of the water that are stunning. Windansea is a popular spot for sunset watchers and photoshoots as well but you’ll be able to find your own little “bluff” without too much worry. I tend to prefer the northern end of Windansea beach because most people crowd at the southern side. If the tide is right you can also get down on the beach without any trouble.

Felicita Park

Felicitia Park is SENSATIONAL. It’s endless trails, ancient oak trees and beautiful creeks make for endless photoshoot location opportunities. There is tons and tons of open shade which means you can avoid the sun in your eyes and will have stunning backdrops!! If you love Oak Trees for photoshotos than Felicitia Park in Escondido is worth the drive!!! A great bonus for any families planning a photoshoot is that there’s a great playground you can bribe your kids with! There is a $3 park fee for entering the park so make sure you bring some cash with you.

Leo Carrillo Ranch

Leo Carrillo is another North County gem that offers tons of unique and beautiful photoshoot locations. It’s a pretty popular public park to have a photoshoot at but between the pepper tree groves, the ranch houses, the winding back roads and the open spaces there are tons of places to have a little privacy. They have these stunning peacocks that roam the property and are a great distraction for kids as well! The park does close at 5:00 throughout most of the year so depending on when your shoot is you may not be able to have a “golden hour” session here.

Batiquitos Lagoon

We’re back in North County San Diego again for this beautiful photoshoot location! Batiquitos Lagoon is a beautiful place to hike, explore and have your family photoshoot. If you wear the right kind of shoes you can explore some fun trails and find some really great, shaded and beautiful spots!

Ponto Beach

Ponto Beach is a great, easy to access beach location for photos. The jetty is so fun to walk out and shoot on and you can also get some beautiful photos by the bluffs as well. There’s usually some empty teal blue lifeguard towers that you can climb on as well for photos!!

Oceanside Harbor/Pier

If you’re into colorful walls, large beach expanses and piers then Oceanside might actually be the perfect photoshoot location for you! Oceanside can get a bad rap around San Diego but there are some stunning spots in the Harbor and under the pier that aren’t nearly as crowded as other piers in San Diego. One of my favorite little spots are these pink cottages on the strand that make for fun bright wall photos. I also love the backside of the Harbor for colorful wall options that aren’t too “out there.”

Mission San Juan Capistrano

The Mission at San Juan Capistrano isn’t in San Diego but it’s definitely a beautiful historic and unique photoshoot location. It does require a photography permit/reservation which costs $80 for non-members and you can only shoot there for an hour but it is WELL worth the time and money!

San Diego is full of incredible engagement and family photoshoot locations but I promise any of these will blow you away!

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