Best Places for a San Diego Sunset

If you travelled all the way out to the West Coast, a California sunset is probably on your list of things to do. If it’s not on your list, then get it on there! Having lived all over the United States, I can tell you first hand that there is nothing quite like a West Coast sunset. There is certainly no shortage of places to watch the sunset in San Diego, but we’d like to help you narrow that list down just a little bit to make sure you get the best San Diego sunset experience. Here are our best places for a San Diego Sunset. 

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs – Credit: Peter Tellone

This natural park is my top choice for seeing a great sunset every time. I mean the word “sunset” is in the name of the park. How could you go wrong? I have been at the cliffs on multiple occasions when people broke into a full on standing ovation after the sun dipped below the horizon. Take a walk from the main entrance along the fifty foot cliffs to find the best spot for you. This is also a great spot to check out during the day. There is just something so amazing about looking out at the ocean as the waves crash on the cliffs below you. Do this at least once!

Ocean Beach Pier

OB Pier – Credit: Joe Ewing

I prefer the OB pier over the pier in Pacific Beach because it is generally less crowded. Being on a pier during the sunset is just another classic California activity. I’d recommend grabbing some fish and chips at the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe. It’s pretty standard boardwalk greasy food, but it is fun at least for the novelty. There are also usually a good amount of surfers to watch riding in that last bit of daylight. If you decide to go with Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach instead, be sure to take advantage of Baked Bear right down the street for the best ice cream sandwich you’ve ever had.

Mt Soledad

Mt. Soledad Memorial

Being the highest coastal point in San Diego, you cannot really go wrong watching the sunset up here. You have 360 degree views of the entire city, the ocean, and mountains off to the east. This way you can enjoy the oranges and pinks of the sky while also watching the San Diego skyline start to light up. There is the added benefit of being able to check out a really beautifully designed military memorial. Sunset is a great time to honor our nation’s brave men and women at the Mt Soledad Veterans’ Memorial. I’d recommend driving up or, of course, riding an electric bike.

Mission Beach Boardwalk

If you’re in from out of town, the Mission Beach boardwalk is a must do. At sunset, the beach stays just as busy as it does during the day, but a certain calmness falls over the bustling beachside path. Check out the model next to the guard tower off of Mission Bay Dr for an explanation on the green flash, an elusive phenomenon that many locals don’t get to see for years. Personally, I’m still skeptical it even exists, but that’s mostly just because I’m bitter I haven’t seen one yet. I’d also recommend enjoying a drink at the Beach House if you are able to find a seat during sunset. Afterwards, hop on the Giant Dipper, a roller coaster built in 1925, at Belmont Park.

Downtown Rooftop Bars

For a slightly different perspective, try out some of the rooftop bars in the city. If you pick the right ones, you’ll get an incredible, expansive view of the entire city along with the bay and the ocean. I’d recommend either Mister A’s or ALTITUDE Sky Lounge. The ambience is a little nicer at the former, but you get a view of Petco park at the latter, which is awesome if there is a Padres game going on.

Bird Rock

Bird Rock at Sunset

Probably the most secluded spot of everything listed, Bird Rock is a nice contemplative and romantic spot for a San Diego sunset. I’ve never seen more than a few people here at any given time. You get to see some of the lovely and mind boggling coastal real estate backdropped by the last bit of sunshine for the day. This also keeps you within walking distance to some of the nice boutiques and restaurants in the little neighborhood of Bird Rock.

So there you have it! Our best places for a San Diego sunset! Enjoy!

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