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The minute you get a glimpse of just one of the many scenic San Diego views, you’ll understand why the beachy beauty has earned the nickname “America’s Finest City.” Surrounded by white sand beaches with magnificent waters, the Southern California haven is the epitome of travel bliss: endless activities, clear skies and brilliant views.
Almost everywhere you go in the city promises classic scenic San Diego views, but we must admit we have our favorites. The Old Town Trolley – San Diego team knows the ins and outs of the city — trust us to help you do and see it all. When you’re not touring with us, you can be sure you’ll see even more of the best views of San Diego by visiting the parks, peaks and places below.
History of San Diego
In San Diego, history and beauty are often found hand in hand. Because scenic San Diego views are laced with significant moments in history, you’ll find the majestic beach town even more remarkable.
Take the Flagship ferry cruise across the bay, for example. When you board, you’ll step into an experience on the oldest working wood ferry in the country. At Mount Soledad, veterans are honored for their bravery and sacrifice atop the height of San Diego against the skyline. Many consider it one of the best views of San Diego. And with Old Town Trolley – San Diego, you’ll tour the coastal landscape’s top attractions, complete with a touch of its background — from the San Diego History Center to the Museum of Us.
10 Best Scenic San Diego Views
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is 1.5 miles of beauty extending along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline. One of the most breathtaking of all of the scenic San Diego views, Sunset Cliffs is a coastal dream. With 68 acres, there are many areas of the clifftop park to enjoy, each with their own perks.
Interested in one of the best views of San Diego? Sunset Cliffs Cave is an experience all on its own. Take this on if you’re up for a daring adventure complete with challenging climbs to reach the cave’s open ceiling that reveals the California skies. And despite its quirky name, Garbage Beach (also known as Rope Beach) is one of the most attractive beaches around Sunset Cliffs, and a prime surf spot.
Much like every seat is the best seat with Old Town Trolley – San Diego, you’ll be doing a 360 (or two) to take in the panoramic views at Soledad Mountain. Because history is deeply woven into the best views of San Diego, many of the sightseeing experiences tell the stories of who and what once was. Along with the landmark’s extraordinary viewpoints, you’ll see its veteran memorial wall honoring fallen soldiers who served the country.
Visitors hoping for scenic nighttime San Diego views will appreciate the scenery. Whether you visit as the sun goes down or make the trip at dawn to start one of your mornings in San Diego, the mountaintop view is picture perfect every single minute. You’ll get a full view of the city, ocean, neighboring mountains and everything in between.
What’s a trip to the golden coast without taking a dip? La Jolla Underwater Park is the ultimate place for scenic San Diego views plus adventures on, in and around the water. The park has four unique habitats that make it an ideal spot for scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking.
Between the marine animals and vast vegetation, you’ll see plenty of life about the beach — from California sea lions, sea turtles, fish and sea stars to kelp beds and reefs. To help sustain the environment’s natural beauty and protect its various wildlife, it is protected by the State of California Department of Fish and Game. As you take kayak tours, explore the cove or walk the shoreline, and remember to leave only footprints and take only memories.
Scenic San Diego views don’t end at La Jolla Underwater Park. An above-water experience, La Jolla Cove is a top attraction in San Diego. This is where you, your friends and your family will find the best spots for seeing the famous seals and sea lions, seaside restaurants and your fill of sand and sun.
Traveling families love La Jolla Cove for its scenic sights, calm waves and on-duty lifeguard (from around 9 a.m. to sunset). If you grab a bite to-go from a local restaurant, you can take it to one of the cove’s picnic tables to keep your beach day going. You’ll also have access to Ellen Browning Scripps Park, Belvederes (green viewing huts), the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail and conveniently close showers and restrooms.
Visitors rave over the scenic San Diego views and activities available at Torrey Pines Gliderport. Both locals and tourists find themselves stopping by to do everything from relax to paraglide. With so much to do at Torrey Pines, it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s lay out your day with a little bit of everything.
To start, you’ll be in awe of the view where the Pacific Ocean meets the coast. You’ll continue enjoying the surrounding area as you’re mesmerized by new heights — parasailing and hang gliding heights, that is. You’ll never want to come down after sailing the blue skies. At least you’ll have the Old Town Trolley – San Diego tour to welcome you back to the sights and streets of the golden coast.
Coronado Ferry Landing is a one-stop shop for food, fun and finds. Every inch of the landing has an experience to enjoy. You’ll have views of a lifetime for your day at the bay as you and your group live it up on the west coast. With some of the best views of San Diego, Coronado Ferry Landing is a must-visit for anyone new to the city.
Snag a souvenir or new signature fashion piece in the shopping village, catch a live musical performance or taste the local cuisine. And of course, the Flagship ferry cruises the San Diego Bay throughout the day, leaving every hour on the hour. The ferry offers scenic San Diego views on the water and an intimate look at the bay.
Vacations are all about reviving the body, mind and spirit. The Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens in Encinitas are a peaceful place to find yourself and your center. You’ll also discover some of the best views of San Diego during your visit to Encinitas, a cozy beach town situated near the city.
There’s no better place to embrace the beauty of the city and rejuvenate the mind. The scenic views make this the perfect backdrop for tranquility and wellness. After a deep meditation, open your eyes to the gloriously graceful grounds. The gardens are a magnificent symbol of zen. Revel in the koi ponds with cascading waterfalls, ocean views and tranquil atmosphere.
Cowles Mountain is protected within Mission Trails Regional Park, a collection of over 8,000 acres and 65 miles of trails. One of the most popular hiking destinations in San Diego, gear up for a day of hiking the trail to reach the mountaintop. With too many trails to count, you’ll have several paths to choose from to make your way to Cowles’ highest point. Visitors who’ve made the hike up the mountain appreciate the impressive scenic San Diego views.
Your workout will be well worth it once you reach the mountain’s peak. From sunrise to sunset, the full 360-degree views open visitors’ eyes to the beauty of San Diego. Be sure to take a photo to commemorate your journey to the top.
So how did this scenic San Diego lookout get the peculiarly memorable name Potato Chip Rock, anyway? Well, Potato Chip Rock is a natural tourist spot, popular for its thin ledge resembling a potato chip. Most say it’s a difficult but satisfying climb to the top, so pack and plan accordingly if you decide to make the trip.
Located on the Mount Woodson summit, visitors hike up for the view and, of course, the once-in-a-lifetime photo op. You’ll leave San Diego with an irreplaceable social media-worthy snapshot and even better memories once you and your team celebrate your successful exhibition to the top. Navigate the trail with friends and family or take the adventure solo on your trip to San Diego.
For travelers who love fitting in a lazy afternoon, you’ll love the leisurely vibes radiating from Kate Sessions Park. It’s one of San Diego residents’ favorite places to gaze at Mission Bay and the Pacific. The park’s grassy hill is elevated enough to offer a stunning spectacle of the city, yet gentle enough for a day of play or lounging.
Known for its Mission Bay lookout with some of the best views of San Diego, Kate Sessions has no shortage of places to observe amazing skies. Kate Sessions is one of the best, boasting one-of-a-kind views of the downtown skyline. Picture laying out a picnic blanket on the hill surrounded by your favorite foods and friends overlooking the San Diego coast. The perfect way to watch the sun set on your California getaway.
Tours and Transportation
Flagship Cruises & Events offers experiences with the best views of San Diego, inviting guests to see the city from the water. Aboard Flagship’s Coronado ferry, you’ll have your pick of two ferry routes between Coronado and San Diego. Leaving from Broadway Pier or the San Diego Convention Center, visitors have two convenient options to reach the bustling and beautiful Coronado Ferry Landing.
After securing your ticket online or at the nearby ticket booth, you’ll set sail with the captain and crew. Each ferry’s 15-minute ride is a relaxing moment to revel in the bay’s crystal clear waters. Flagship also provides narrated tours and dining cruises on the San Diego Bay.
There’s nothing like seeing the best views of San Diego with Old Town Trolley – San Diego. With a 25-mile detailed tour in store, you and your fellow travelers will have all the time you need to truly immerse yourselves in the Southern California oasis.
You’ll be in awe of the scenic San Diego views you’re introduced to as our tour guides share the city’s stories, past and present. Whether it’s your first time scoping out scenic San Diego scenic views, or one of your many trips to SoCal, Old Town Trolley – San Diego is the best hop-on, hop-off all-day tour of America’s Finest City.