The most beautiful sunsets often appear during the fall and early winter, making December and January some of the best times to watch the sunset in San Diego and La Jolla. Places along the beach often have incredible panoramic views of the ocean, which only adds to the beauty! Some spots are better than others, though; and some are a bit more hidden – which is why we’ve rounded up our favorites!
La Jolla Natural Park
La Jolla Natural Park (sometimes referred to as La Jolla Heights Open Space) is a hidden gem comprised of 42 acres of untouched natural beauty atop Mount Soledad that provides one of the best 360-degree panoramas of San Diego. Looking to the north, you can see La Jolla County Club’s golf course, with its much greener sea of rolling hills. To the west, the hike offers amazing views of La Jolla Village, and La Jolla Cove.
There is actually a path that leads up to the viewpoint from Al Bahr Drive; it winds through some chaparral and heads uphill to an opening in the brush and a small bench (you can also park on Encelia Drive and take a short walk to the viewpoint). Arrive a few minutes early to snag a spot on the bench or nearby. Trust us, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most incredible views in San Diego!
With a rugged, rocky coastline and a particularly picturesque surf shack, Windansea is a fantastic place to capture the perfect sunset shot. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to unobstructed views of the Pacific and an incredible sea of color as the sun begins to go down. There might even be some surfers in the background, but that just makes for an even more authentic La Jolla snapshot. Be sure to get there an hour or so before the sunset and snag a good viewpoint; it can get very crowded here during sunrise and sunset.
La Jolla Hermosa Park
This little spot is just off La Jolla Blvd. in Bird Rock. There are several benches that face strategically west and even a couple of grills – meaning you can bring some burgers and hot dogs down for a pre-sunset picnic! This park is definitely all about the views. It’s tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood, and you’d likely miss it if you drove by too quickly. There is a white fence bordering the cliffs below and a good flat spot behind it that makes for a great viewpoint area.
The park is located right at the intersection of Camino de la Costa and Chelsea Avenue. Get here a bit early, as the park is quite small and tends to fill up quickly on the weekends. Luckily, though, it isn’t nearly as well known as nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park so you’ll never get the big crowds.
This well-trafficked hiking area is aptly named, as it remains one of the most beautiful places to catch a gorgeous sunset in San Diego (it’s located in Ocean Beach). The sandstone cliffs here are rugged, jagged and turn a picturesque shade of gold as the setting sun hits them just before it sets completely. The colors you’ll be able to capture will definitely make for some frame-worthy shots. If you’re going to check out the sunset here, arrive at least one or two hours beforehand to walk along the oceanfront path and see the cliffs.
For the more adventurous, at some points along the trail you can trek down a path to get to the secluded beach below. Be cautious though; it can get wet and very slippery from the splashing surf. When it’s time to start taking photos, stake out a place on top of one of the rocks and try to get as close to the water as possible.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
No sunset roundup would be complete without the Gliderport! A local gem, this launch site sits atop the cliffs at a particularly picturesque spot. With nearly 100 years of flying history behind it, it’s one of the most historic aviation sites in North America. You can learn how to paraglide, hang glide, or – for the less adventurous – eat at the scrumptious Cliffhanger Cafe (open til 4pm). Plan to eat here first, then stake out a spot on one of the benches or the grass while you wait for the sunset to arrive. The views from here feature Black’s Beach to the south and Torrey Pines and Del Mar to the north.