San Diego is home to many things: Good food, entertainment, the blue ocean, the sandy beaches, the nice people, and last but definitely not least, the beautiful scenery. San Diego houses dozens of trails that lead to gorgeous city and ocean views that attract even the most avid hikers.
It is no wonder that San Diego is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. We’ve selected what we think are the most stunning viewpoints in San Diego. Have a look and tell us what your favorite viewpoints are!
What it lacks in ocean view, it makes up for in city and mountain views across all of San Diego. Pyles Peak is one of the five peaks in the Mission Trails Regional Park located in San Diego and hiking locals have created a challenge out it. They dubbed it the 5 Peak Challenge. For those that don’t know, the 5 Peak Challenge is when a hiker hikes to the five peaks—Cowles Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paay, South Fortuna, and North Fortuna—all in one day. The Mission Trails Regional Park has t-shirts and certificates available for those that complete the challenge.
Directions: Pyles peak has many trails that lead up to the summit, but the trail with lesser foot traffic is via Barker Way. To get there you may take the 15 and get off the 52 to Navajo Road. You will then exit 20A from the 125S. Follow Navajo Rd and Boulder Lake Ave. Barker Way is off of Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Boulder Lake Ave.
Quick Tip: Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks! The hotter days can be pretty brutal as there is no shade on going up the trails.
Of course, we couldn’t talk about the top five viewpoints without mentioning our own. Mount Soledad hosts beautiful scenic views of the ocean It is considered a bit of secret gem in La Jolla as most aren’t aware of our trails that lead up to the summit of Mt. Soledad (soledadmemorial.org). The dense vegetation and local wildlife such as rabbits, foxes, and bobcats has provided a natural feel within a city environment. As with any trail, keep an eye out for the wildlife. If the trails are too much, simply take a leisurely drive to the summit to enjoy the views.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll encounter clear views of La Jolla like you’ve never seen, allowing you to appreciate the city, the ocean and, on a clear day, Catalina Island. The hike to the summit is approximately 1.3 miles with plenty of rest stops so that you can enjoy the views.
Directions: The trail is right on Soledad Park Road off of Via Capri. You will see our Veterans Memorial right in the middle and near the two parking lots are two trails that go off in different directions along the mountain. Pick whichever you trail you fancy and have fun!
Quick Tips: The trails are a bit steep sometimes so make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear. Bring plenty of water and wear sunglasses. Due to no shade, the sun can get pretty harsh, especially during the Summer.
Hiking the Point Loma Trails toward the tidepools is a simple one mile trek, most would even call it a walk rather than a hike. It is a perfectly paved trail for tourists and locals who want an easy route to beauty. The Point Loma Tidepools paved its way to our top five due to its scenic ocean view, the abundance of wild flowers, the entertaining crabs and lobsters walking along the tidepool floor, and the magnificent red cliffs embracing the waves as they brush against the rocky walls.
Directions: To get to the Point Loma Tidepools, whether it’s from the 5 or the 163, you need to go on the 8 W towards Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. The streets will have directions to the Cabrillo National Monument. Once you arrive at the gate, you can ask an attendant for directions and a map to the tidepools.
Quick Tips: It is important to note that there is a fee of $20 to enter the park and the parking can be crowded. If you want the full experience of the tide pools, check out a tide chart to ensure that it’ll be low tide when you venture out there so that you may see the wonderful wildlife the pools have to offer.
Cowles (pronounced “coals”) Mountain is a mountain that is close to the hearts of many San Diegans. So much so, that students at San Diego State University painted an “S” on the side of the mountain in 1931 and later again in the 1980s. The history behind the mountain is just as wholesome. Cowles Mountain was in danger of turning into developed land, but the local government bought out the land so that Cowles will forever display its beauty to whoever climbs its trails.
From the summit of the mountain, you can see all of San Diego County and on a clear day, you can see Tijuana, Mexico. Cowles rises above the rest of the peaks at approximately 1600ft, the highest peak in San Diego. It is also the main peak to climb as part of the 5 Peak Challenge.
Cowles Mountain was such a popular hike that the park rangers arranged the challenge so that hikers may explore the other trails Mission Trails Regional Park. This hike in particular is about 3 miles long to and from the summit. It features a variety of California wildflowers and thus is one of the most scenic and beautiful hikes San Diego has to offer.
Directions: The Cowles Mountain Trail is off of Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive. If you’re not sure which trail is best for you, ask the park rangers at the Mission Trails Regional Park.
Quick Tips: Make sure you bring water as most of the trails have zero shade. If you’d rather avoid the sun and the crowds, the trails are also open at night! Don’t forget your flashlight.
University of California San Diego used to provide guided full moon hikes from the UCSD Outback Center. Due to current circumstances that may change according to government mandates, give them a call or check out their website to find out more information.
Finally, one of the most impressive viewpoints in all of San Diego: Sunset Cliffs. It’s an easy place to get to with a simple near 2-mile kid friendly hike with plenty of vegetation and wildlife. The breathtaking cliffside view of the ocean, especially at sunset, is as stunning and impressive in person as it is in the photos. We believe that Sunset Cliffs highlights the beauty San Diego has to offer.
Directions: From the 8 West, you follow Chatsworth Boulevard, to Catalina Boulevard, and make a right on Hill St. You then make a right on Amford Drive and follow the signs to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
Quick Tips: Swimming is allowed, but cliff jumping is not. Be mindful of the rocks at the bottom of the cliffside! At the time of this post, they are doing replanting and some renovations. They also close and open according to government mandates. Give them a call to see if the trails are open.
Thank you for going through our Top 5 viewpoints list. We truly love our city and we hope this helps your love for San Diego grow.