Pop the champagne because you’re freakin’ engaged! First of all, congratulations, and second of all, I know you’re already mentally planning your engagement session in San Diego. There are so many epic places to take photos in this beautiful city, so I made it a little easier by narrowing down my all-time fave spots! Keep reading for a breakdown of 10 of the best San Diego engagement session locations.
Up first on our list of best San Diego engagement session locations is Coronado! There are tons of things to do here, so you could really make an entire day trip if you’re up for it. This little island is a fan-favorite for both locals AND tourists… that’s how you know it’s good.
Would you believe me if I told you that Central Beach in Coronado was voted the #1 beach in America by Dr. Beach? Because it’s true! The abundance of mineral Mica makes the sand literally sparkle in the sun – it’s one of the coolest things to see. There are lots of oceanfront dining options for couples who want to get dinner afterward and make it a cute little date night! You can also rent a bike on the beachfront boardwalk if you’re lookin’ for more of an adventurous activity to get down with. And, of course, there’s sailing, surfing, kayaking, and even Venetian gondola cruises if you really wanna get wild and crazy!
Around Hotel del Coronado
No trip to Coronado is complete without a visit to the iconic landmark of a hotel. No, seriously, it was deemed a National Historic Landmark! Hotel del Coronado has welcomed some super cool people throughout history, even acting as a filming location for many Hollywood productions. Fun fact: an episode of “I Love Lucy” was filmed here in the 50s. The hotel’s most recent celebrity guests include people like Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr. Jenneriger Gardner, Oprah freaking Whinfrey, and tons more. You never know who you’re gonna see here! Although we’re not permitted to take photos inside the hotel, we can have just as much fun adventuring around and taking advantage of the outdoor scenery the area has to offer.
Another fan favorite, Silver Strand State Beach is another fantastic engagement photo location in Coronado, San Diego. It features extensive parks on both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay with a park area perfect for picnicking. There is a $15 parking fee for this beach, which results in slightly less foot traffic & more privacy for your session. The water in the bay area is usually a lot warmer and calmer than the rest of the beach, so I recommend hangin’ out here if you wanna get wet!
Balboa Park is probably one of the best not-so-hidden gems of San Diego. You could honestly take a trip to San Diego and only visit this park the entire time. It includes museums, gardens, restaurants, trails, and so many more unique experiences. Not to mention, the whole thing is 1200 acres of AESTHETIC AF-ness. The actual park grounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The hours of each individual location vary, but we’ll be sure to coordinate all the details once we’re officially planning your engagement session. If we shoot here and you fall absolutely in LOVE with the grounds, you can actually reserve certain outdoor spaces for your wedding!
Do you need a permit to take pictures at Balboa Park?
This is a commonly asked question, and the answer is no! If you want to take photos at any museums, restaurants, etc, then we’ll have to get permission from the owner beforehand.
If you search up “San Diego engagement photos” on Pinterest, you’ll probablyyyyy see photos on Sunset Cliffs at the top. This is because the Cliffs are FREAKIN’ GORGEOUS and should most definitely be considered when planning your San Diego engagement photos! Sunset Cliffs is a 68-acre regional park that sits right along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline. The cliff formations are out of this world and provide the BEST sunset views in all of San Diego. Since we’re at an elevation, we get an unparalleled view that regular SD beaches just can’t give us. Even if you don’t take your photos here, this location is a must-see for out-of-town visitors!
Anyone who says that Southern California isn’t diverse in landscape has clearly never been to Torrey Pines. This preserve is located right above the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Beach (another great engagement session spot!) and is 1,750 acres of pure coastal wilderness. We’re talkin’ pine forests, sandstone canyons, epic hiking trails, and of course, overlooks with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
The North Overlook let’s you get up close and personal with the infamous Torrey Pines trees that only grow here and off the coast of Santa Barbara. This overlooks also offers views of the Penasquitos Marsh, another state natural preserve! You can view almost all of La Jolla from the South Overlook, as well as San Clementine and sometimessss the Santa Catalina Islands on a super clear day. High Point is the best place to watch the sunset at Torrey Pines, but be prepared for a Stairmaster-level workout to get to the top!
For more information on all of the trails at Torrey Pines (and some tips & tricks, too!), check out this blog post.
Old Town San Diego is a site in itself, filled with historical architecture and the best handmade tortillas you’ll ever eat in your entire life. Need I say more?? Presidio Park is located in Old Town San Diego and is separated into five different areas: Inspiration Point, Palm Canyon, Padre Cross, The Arbor, and Mission Hills Park. All of these areas would serve as amazing engagement session locations, some of them are even popular elopement spots!
The picnic tables in Presidio tend to fill up pretty quickly, so we should definitely get there early if you want to snag one for you and your boo. The park itself doesn’t get insanely busy, so we won’t have to worry too much about it being too crowded for photos. Once we decide on a specific location within the park, I’ll scope it out beforehand and plan accordingly 😉
PS – there’s also an In-n-Out nearby that I would be totally down to go, eat, and snap some photos at. Just saying!
This 125-acre park is filled with expansive lawns, picnic areas, a butterfly garden, and even a wedding gazebo. There are 5 miles of hiking trails if you’re looking to go on a bit of an adventure and experience some of the epic views this park has to offer. Activity Gill is a particularly beautiful spot, where you can see the coast and miles of the north San Diego county communities. The only thing to note about San Dieguito County Park is that it’s not fit for a sunrise engagement sesh, due to it not being open until 9:30 a.m.
This is the last beach on our list of San Diego engagement session locations! Winsansea is in one of my favorite neighborhoods in SD: La Jolla. This is one of the best beaches for surfing because of the rocks and strong currents, so you’ll catch quite a few surfers here early in the morning during the summer. There are sandstone points along the beach that make it unique from the others we’ve talked about! There’s also a cute little surf shack at the south end (that has been deemed a historical landmark) that we could totally use as a backdrop for photos to really get the California vibe.
Gaslamp Quarter is where I took Becky and Marco for their downtown San Diego engagement session (check out the full blog here!) and it did NOT disappoint! We took photos on top of a parking garage, in the streets of downtown, and even at a local bar that fit their vision. This location is such a versatile one with so many things to do and see! It’s named the heart and soul of downtown San Diego for a reason – you’ll truly experience everything that SD embodies here at Gaslamp.
Time for some San Diego engagement session FAQ’s!
Now that you know all of my favorite San Diego engagement session locations, it’s time to answer some frequently asked questions!
How much should you spend on engagement photos?
This is completely up to you. Engagement sessions are the perfect opportunity for us to get to know each other and get comfortable being in front of the camera before the wedding day. I will say this: if you’re going to book an engagement session, you should do so with the same photographer you’re hiring for your wedding! Factor in an engagement session when planning your budget after browsing wedding photographer websites. If you’re interested in booking an engagement session with me, you can visit my Pricing + Info page for the deets!
Another expense to factor in is your hair, makeup, and outfit for your engagement photos! I’m totally here for couples who go all out for their photos and make them everything they dreamed of and more. But don’t forget to budget that extra trip to Aritizia!
How soon after getting engaged should you take engagement pictures?
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but… whenever you feel like it! Becky & Marco took their engagement photos literally a month after they got engaged, so it’s never too soon. I recommend booking sooner rather than later because once you start wedding planning, TIME FLIES! It might be hard to find time to plan and enjoy an engagement session when you’re in the thick of planning a wedding.
What month is best for engagement photos?
In San Diego (or anywhere in California TBH), popular locations can get real busy in the summertime. I recommend scheduling your engagement session during the ‘off-season,’ AKA outside the months of June-September.
Ready to book your San Diego engagement photographer?
LET’S DO IT! To get on my books for a San Diego wedding or engagement session, you can fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you soon. Since I know you’re gettin’ hitched, I would love for you to check out my favorite Outdoor San Diego Wedding Venues!