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Best Places to Watch the Sunset in San Diego

  • 5 min read

Best Places to Watch the Sunset in San Diego

San Diego has a lot going on and, no matter what you’re into, there’s so much for you to do and explore that you’ll never reach the end of it. And if you’re taking in the magic of San Diego, you should seize the opportunity to take in the magic of one of the city’s spectacular sunsets as well. There’s no better way to end your day (or start your night) there than by finding a great spot to watch the sunset from and immersing yourself in it. To help you do it right, here’s our list of the best places to watch the sunset in San Diego.

The Top of Mount Soledad

Just a mile away from La Jolla beach, Mount Soledad rears up more than 800 feet above the surrounding landscape. Alright, so perhaps calling it a mountain is a bit of an exaggeration. Still, it’s a decently tall hill, so standing on top of it gives you an incredible view of the city and many miles of coastline. When you see the sunset from the top of Mount Soledad, you see it from an amazing perspective. And, while you’re there, you can pay your respects to service members at the veterans’ memorial.

A Boat Cruise

Watching the sunset over the ocean is amazing. Watching it while out on the ocean yourself is an experience to be remembered forever. There are a bunch of sunset harbor cruises to choose from, so it should be pretty easy to arrange one even with short notice. You’ll not only get the sunset experience, but also a nice tour of the harbor, and the chance to see a lot of sea birds and other ocean life.

The Oceanside Pier

For another, easier way to see the sunset from the water, sort of, take a walk out to the end of the Oceanside Pier. It stretches out almost 2,000 feet, nearly half a mile, from the beach. You’ll have plenty of time to savor the sun going down toward the horizon as you stroll out over the ocean. It’s also an enjoyable way to get a little exercise, and you’ll be rewarded with quite a spectacle. And, when you get back from the end of the pier, you can get rewarded again with a dinner at one of South Oceanside’s restaurants or drinks at one of its bars.

Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach

For a similar experience without having to get so much exercise, head on out along Crystal Pier for the sunset. It’s a lot shorter, though still decently long. As a plus, it’s got some charming little cottages lining it, built in the 1930s. It gives you the interesting impression that you’ve gone a hundred years back into the past to watch the sunset. It’s a truly memorable experience.


Law Street in Pacific Beach

While you're in Pacific Beach (also known as PB), you can head over to Law St. on the boardwalk. There you will find a grassy area with people doing yoga, slacklining, picnics, and more. Here you can see the sunset and great a view from a high point viewing north PB all the way to Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. This is a very popular spot to watch the sunset. If you really want to experience Law St like a San Diegan, grab yourself a blanket and a burrito before you head over to watch the sunset. 

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

The San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center is maybe the biggest coastal wetland in the San Diego area. If you like natural beauty, there’s a lot to explore here. And when you explore it around sundown, you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset over the sage scrub-filled landscape. This is a sunset experience unlike anything you’ll get anywhere else in the whole city and its surrounding regions.

Fiesta Island

If you want to enjoy the sunset with your canine companion, head on out to Fiesta Island. It’s easy to get to by bridge, and there is plenty of beach space on the western side of the island where you can take your dog off the leash to run around and play. You’ll get a great view of the sunset over the Bay. And, after sunset, you can light a fire in one of the island’s fire pits, and you and your dog can enjoy a picnic dinner cooked over the fire. Or s’mores. Whatever you bring, just don’t forget the dog treats.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of San Diego. There are some nice rocky outcroppings to sit on for a great view of the sunset over the ocean and the low cliffs of the coastline, which you should be able to see miles of. When the sun goes down, you’ll wish you were a painter.

The Mission Beach Boardwalk

For a true San Diego oceanfront experience, take a walk along the Mission Beach Boardwalk. There are all kinds of restaurants there, as well as unique food carts and eccentric little shops. There are also constant street performances, including live music. As you explore the quirky Mission Beach Boardwalk, you can enjoy the sight of the sun going down over the ocean. You may even be able to watch it from a comfortable seat with a meal or a drink.

Sunset Cliffs

They’re called the Sunset Cliffs for a reason. And that reason is the fact that you can see some pretty incredible sunsets from them. There’s a good mile and a half stretch of cliffside, with grottos, arches, sea caves, and other spectacular natural features. The setting sun does some interesting things to the colors of the rocks sometimes. If you get there early enough, you can also take the stairs down to the beach and explore the cliffs from the bottom. The tide pools there are pretty interesting too.

Windansea Beach

For the most spectacular sunset experience in San Diego, however, you have to go see it from Windansea Beach. After all, Windansea is arguably the most beautiful beach in San Diego. The rock shelves look like they were sculpted. The plants flowing down these shelves contribute to the landscaped look. And when the sun catches the waves on fire, the rock of the shelves sometimes takes on an ethereal glow. When this happens, it looks very much like you’ve slipped into some strange, other world. It’s quite an experience. At Windansea beach you will also find the famous and one of the oldest landmarks in San Diego - the Windansea Surf Shack. 

Salk Institute

Another popular San Diego sunset spot is the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. This world-renowned research facility offers jaw-dropping views of the ocean and Coronado Bridge, making it one of the most gorgeous places in all of Southern California to watch the sun go down. The architecture of the Salk Institute is truly unique, so be sure to check it out both during the day and evening. If you're lucky enough to be there during the equinox,Twice a year the sunset lines up perfectly with the water channel at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, which is highly sought after for photographers.