Famous San Diego Landmarks & the Most Instagrammable Places to Take Pictures in San Diego
A good vacation can be the experience of a lifetime, and that’s definitely a set of memories you don’t want to forget. Of course, you want to make sure to take some photos to help preserve those memories - ones that will tell the story of San Diego and your time spent in this lovely city. Do yourself a favor and take our expert advice on the best places to take pictures in San Diego.
Best Ways to See Famous San Diego Landmarks
There’s plenty of great places to snap the perfect instagram photo of famous San Diego landmarks during your trip. Here are a few fun ways to help you get around while sightseeing...
- San Diego Harbor Cruises
- GoCar San Diego Tours
- Bike Rentals in Coronado
Many of the photo opps we listed below are located near some of the top attractions in the San Diego – so you can combine the best sights with the best things to do. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Best Places to Take Pictures in San Diego 1. Japanese Friendship Garden
Probably the closest you’ll get to an authentic Zen garden outside of Japan, it’s a soothing and peaceful oasis in the middle of Balboa Park – which is itself no small fry when it comes to beautiful gardens. In fact, the Japanese Friendship Garden is just one of many gardens located in Balboa Park – there’s also a cactus garden, an educational children’s ethnobotany garden, and the ever-popular rose garden. In my opinion, you’ll find the widest variety of flora in all of California right here in Balboa Park.
2. Giant Pandas at the San Diego Zoo
Beloved and known around the world as the emblem of endangered animals everywhere, it’s no surprise that first-person encounters with Giant Pandas are hard to come by. The San Diego Zoo, in addition to being quite possibly the best zoo in the country, is only one of 4 places in the nation to house these precious bears. While Giant Pandas tend to sleep a lot, that does make for some pretty cute pictures of snoozing bears. Due to their unprecedented success with their breeding program, the San Diego Zoo also often has a baby panda, which are very rare outside of China.
3. Gaslamp Quarter
This right here is one of the more popular San Diego landmarks to take a photo of. Although a lot of the area has now been modernized – you’ll probably recognize the Gaslamp Quarter from tourism brochures as a trendy shopping and dining area – it’s also one of the most historic sections of a very old city. The architecture is predominantly Victorian, although recent modernizing efforts have given it a charming eclecticism. The name is a reference to the type of street lamps that were popular in the original 19th century construction – some of which can still be seen on street corners today. A number of important San Diego attractions are also located here, including the popular Mardi Gras festival and a number of music festivals. Take a Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour for the full historical rundown.
4. Coronado Island
5. The Pond in Balboa Park
6. The Prado
7. La Jolla Beach and Cove
While you may be tempted to spend more time in the sand and surf than stand around with your camera, it’s well worth bringing along something relatively waterproof to get a series of photographs of the coastline in La Jolla Beach. It’s the epitome of the Southern California fantasy – blue green waters, endless skies, and burning white sands. La Jolla Cove is another popular spot that’s full of stunning tropical fish and plenty of seals, sea lions, and rare seabirds. It’s ideal for children, with its gentle waters and colorful variety of wildlife. Rent a kayak to travel to La Jolla Cove without the hassle and expense of parking.
8. Cabrillo National Monument
9. Torrey Pines State Reserve
10. “Unconditional Surrender” Statue
Perhaps better known as the “The Kiss,” this full-color statue on the San Diego waterfront brings to life the famous photograph of a returning sailor sweeping a girl off her feet. Located near the USS Midway Museum, this statue commemorates the end of World War II and the joy of returning soldiers and sailors from the conflict. It’s an instantly recognizable moment in time, and although the actual kiss took place in Times Square in New York City, San Diego’s strong maritime heritage makes it the perfect setting to honor the men and women who served in WWII.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does contain a bunch of our favorite places to take pictures in San Diego. From the most popular attractions to skyline views and scenic parks, there’s something to suit every taste when it comes to San Diego photo opportunities. Remember, a number of these famous San Diego landmarks and attractions are available with the Go San Diego Card, where you can save on combined admission prices vs. paying at the gate.