31 Best Sunset Spots in San Diego (Local’s Guide!)

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Sunsets might happen every day, but that doesn’t make them any less magical.  Sunsets are especially beautiful in San Diego because you can watch the sun slowly sink into the Pacific Ocean, which can only happen on the west coast!  Where’s the best place to watch the sun set in San Diego?  Today I’m sharing the best sunset spots in San Diego where you can watch the sky light up and the sun go down.  If you’re looking to find a beautiful San Diego sunset, you’ve come to the right place!

Since I love a side of food with my sunsets, I’m also sharing the best restaurants in San Diego with a sunset view.  Keep reading for all of the details on exactly where to go to watch the sunset in San Diego! By the time you’re done, you’ll definitely want to include some sunset-gazing as part of your trip to America’s finest city, and check out my perfect 3 day San Diego itinerary for how to plan your trip here, and to keep the fun going after sunset, check out the best things to do at night in San Diego!

Scenic sunset on San Diego Bay from old wooden pier in Coronado Island, California. People and tourists fishing and walking and enjoying the view of the San Diego skyline downtown waterfront.

The Best Sunset Spots in San Diego

From Oceanside to Coronado Island, here are the 21 best sunset spots in San Diego.  Grab a blanket, some beach chairs, and a few snacks, and spend an hour of your day observing nature’s daily display of beauty.

1. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

You might guess from the name, but the sandstone cliffs in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park are one of the best places to watch the sunset in San Diego, if not all of the West Coast. 

The sun lights up the rugged cliffs during golden hour, turning them from shades of gold to orange as it sinks closer to the water. 

To get there, follow Sunset Cliffs Boulevard through Ocean Beach and Ladera Street.  Street parking is available on Ladera street, or in the small parking lot next to the park.

golden sandstone cliffs and palm trees at sunset

Make sure to stay back from the edge of the cliffs, especially after the sun goes down.

2. La Jolla Shores Beach

One of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches is La Jolla Shores Beach, and it’s a fine place for breathtaking sunset views at the end of the day.

surfers walk on La Jolla shores beach at sunset

The beach also has a number of fire pits available for public use, so bring some firewood and continue your festivities after the sun goes down.

3. La Jolla Cove

Just south of La Jolla Shores beach is La Jolla Cove, one of the most beautiful places to visit in San Diego and all of Southern California.  It’s with good reason!  

Tourists watching the beautifal sunset at La Jolla, San Diego, CA

From the cove, you’ll have a view of the rugged coastline that the cove is known for, and you’ll also be able to see up the coast for miles on a clear day. 

4. Windansea Beach and Bird Rock

Continuing south of La Jolla Cove you’ll find Windansea Beach in the Bird Rock neighborhood of La Jolla.

Not only can you see breathtaking sunsets from Windansea, but if the sun sets at low tide, you’ll also be able to explore the tide pools that this part of the beach is known for.   

5. Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial

The highest point in La Jolla is Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial.  From the top of Mt. Soledad, there are great views of the entire city and miles of coastline on a clear day. That makes it a great spot for epic sunset-viewing!

La Jolla coastline and sandstone rocks from the top of mt. Soledad

6. Mission Beach Boardwalk

For a true oceanfront experience to watch the sunset, hit the Mission Beach Boardwalk.  Amid the street performers, restaurants, and volleyball players, you can hang out on the sand and have a front row seat as the sun sinks down into the Pacific Ocean.

After the sun sets, check out Belmont Park for some fair-style fun.

7. De Anza Cove at Mission Bay Park

I love watching San Diego sunsets from De Anza Cove in Mission Bay Park.  You can see palm trees silhouetted against the vibrant colors of the sunset.  The entire view reflects off the calm waters of Mission Bay, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  

palm trees silhouetted against the sunset sky reflecting in the calm San Diego Bay

8. Kate Sessions Park

A local favorite in San Diego for sunset watching is Kate Sessions Park.  Perched on top of a hill on the south face of Mt. Soledad, you can see the entire bay, and all the way to downtown.  It’s the perfect place to bring a picnic dinner while you’re taking in the sunset views.

9. Ocean Beach Pier 

One of the best sunset views in San Diego is from Ocean Beach Pier.  Head to the end of the pier for the best views.  Just be careful not to trip on a stray fishing line!  It’s a popular spot for locals to fish, so there’s often fishing poles cast on the sides of the pier. 

10. Cowles Mountain

If you’re looking for a workout with your sunset, check out the sunset views from Cowles Mountain.  Part of Mission Trails Regional Park, the hike to the top of Cowles Mountain is a local favorite, and one of the highest points in central San Diego.

Make sure to bring a head lamp for the way back down.

11. Torrey Pines State Reserve 

Located just south of Del Mar, Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must-do for viewing sunsets in San Diego.  Miles of coastal trails line the top of the cliffs at this pristine reserve, all with an oceanfront view of the Pacific.

Beautiful sunset at Torrey Pines beach, West coast, San Diego, California

My personal favorite is hiking Razor Point Trail down to the beach, where you can walk back to your car on the beach.  Just make sure you’re going at low tide.

12. Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma

For a beautiful view of downtown San Diego and Coronado Island at sunset, head to Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. 

USA, California, San Diego, Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument

In addition to beautiful sunset views, you’ll also be able to check out the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and see exactly where the first European explorer first set foot on the West Coast of the United States.

13. Coronado Ferry Landing

If you’re looking for a good place to watch the sunset in Coronado, head to the Coronado Ferry Landing on the island’s east coast. 

Scenic sunset on San Diego Bay from old wooden pier in Coronado Island, California. People and tourists fishing and walking and enjoying the view of the San Diego skyline downtown waterfront.

From here you will have a backdrop of the Coronado Bridge, as well as the downtown San Diego skyline reflected in the San Diego Bay.

14. Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island

One of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen was from the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island.  Head to the Sun Deck to enjoy the fire pits and a glass of wine while you take in the sunset views over the Pacific, with Point Loma in the background.

palm trees silhouetted against a pink sunset sky in Coronado ca

It’s the perfect spot to spend a relaxing evening.

15. Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach

Another popular location to watch the sunset in San Diego is Crystal Pier.  Crystal Pier is a famous Pacific Beach landmark, with an interesting history.  Built in the 1920’s, it used to be home to an amusement park overlooking the water.

view from crystal pier in San Diego at sunset with a full moon

Today, you’ll find the Crystal Pier Hotel, a collection of adorable cottages perched on top of the pier.  It’s the perfect place to stay if you want an unobstructed view of the setting sun in Pacific Beach!

16. Balboa Park

If you want a unique sunset-watching experience in San Diego, head to Balboa Park.  Strolling through the park at sunset is a beautiful time to explore the architecture, gardens, and fountains. 

Base yourself near the Museum of Us, or the nearby bridge overlooking the 163 freeway for the best views of the sunset.

17. Sunset Cruise on the Harbor

There’s plenty of views of the water in San Diego, but why not be ON the water to watch the sunset?  One of the best spots to see the sunset in San Diego is on a sunset harbor cruise around San Diego Bay.   

After the cruise, you can walk around Waterfront Park or listen to the live music from street performers that often line the harbor side walkway.

18. Torrey Pines Gliderport

Just north of La Jolla Shores beach is the Torrey Pines Gliderport.  Although it’s a local favorite spot, most tourists don’t know about it, so it’s a good spot to see the sunset if you’re looking for a hidden gem.

While viewing the sunset over the ocean atop the rocky cliffs, it’s fun to watch the hang gliders floating down towards Black’s Beach below. 

19. San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center

If you’re looking for a great place to watch the sunset in North County, check out the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center.  The lagoon is one of San Diego’s largest wetlands, and has great sunset views over the coastal sage scrub towards the Pacific Ocean at sunset.  

As a bonus, check out Annie’s Canyon trail for one of San Diego’s coolest short hikes.

san elijo lagoon marshes at sunset

20. Fiesta Island

If you’ve got your dog with you, a great spot to watch the sunset is Fiesta Island.  Head to the west side of the island, where you and your pup can enjoy the massive dog park. 

While your dog enjoys being leash-free on the beach, you can take in one of the best sunset views over the Bay towards Mission Beach.

21. Fletcher Cove

Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach is the perfect spot for breathtaking views of the sunset, especially if you’re with family.  Kids will love the playground, and everyone will enjoy the view as the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean.  

After the sunset, head to Pizza Port for a slice or two.  It’s walking distance from Fletcher Cove and a popular place with locals.

Best Restaurants for Sunsets in San Diego

What better way to enjoy the sunset in San Diego than with a delicious meal to go along with your view?

Here’s the best restaurants in San Diego for watching the sun set.  

22. Altitude Sky Lounge

On the top floor of the Marriott hotel is Altitude Sky Lounge.  This rooftop bar overlooks Petco Park and has great views of the San Diego skyline, the bay, and the Coronado bridge.  I love grabbing a glass of wine and enjoying their giant fire pit while watching the sun sink below the horizon.

23. The Marine Room

La Jolla’s Marine Room has some of the best fine dining in all of San Diego.  Not only is the cuisine award-winning, but the restaurant is located directly on the beach in La Jolla.  This makes for amazing sunset-viewing!  

For a truly unique experience, visit The Marine Room on one of the restaurant’s High Tide Dinners, when ocean waves will actually crash against the glass wall of the dining area.

24. Mister A’s

Another fine-dining restaurant in San Diego that is known for its panoramic sunset views is Mister A’s.  

Located on the very highest floor of a building in Banker’s Hill, the outdoor deck at Mister A’s is one of the best places in San Diego to watch the sunset over downtown while you watch flights land at San Diego International Airport.

25. George’s Ocean Terrace  

It doesn’t get much better than watching the sunset with a glass of wine from George’s Ocean Terrace.  You’ll overlook the entire La Jolla Cove shoreline, as well as La Jolla Shores beach to the north.

Pro tip: order George’s Famous Soup.  You can thank me later.

26. Coasterra

One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego to take out-of-town guests is Coasterra.  The restaurant is on the water on Harbor Island, so the sunset views over the San Diego Bay of the city’s skyline are incredible.

For an added bonus, Coasterra features modern Mexican food, which most visitors to San Diego are hoping to get a taste of while they’re here.

27. The Sun Deck at the Hotel Del Coronado

I’ve seen some of the best sunsets in San Diego from The Sun Deck at the Hotel Del Coronado.  The view of the ocean with Point Loma as a backdrop makes for an incredible view.  Get there early to enjoy the setting sun from one of the comfy couches surrounding the many fire pits at the Sun Deck.

28. JRDN at Tower 23

JRDN is one of my favorite places for brunch in San Diego, but it’s also an ideal spot to watch the sun set.  Located inside the Tower 23 hotel, JRDN is perched up above Palisades Park in Pacific Beach, and has a fantastic outdoor patio with views of the setting sun with Crystal Pier in the background.

29. Cusp at the Hotel La Jolla 

For another great hidden gem for sunset-spotting, head to Cusp, the bar and restaurant on the very top of the Hotel La Jolla.  Many locals don’t know about Cusp, but it’s the perfect place to watch the setting sun over La Jolla, especially on a chilly day, because it’s all indoors.

Get there early to grab a seat at the bar, which will give you panoramic views over the ocean below. 

30. Pacific Coast Grill

If you want to be completely oceanfront, on the sand, there’s no better sunset spot in North County than the Pacific Coast Grill.   I love the Pacific Coast Grill for their happy hour!

There’s nothing like the beautiful views from their back outdoor patio, where there’s nothing but sand in between you and the setting sun.

31. The Rooftop Bar at the Mission Pacific Hotel

The Mission Pacific Hotel recently opened in Oceanside, and I’m loving it!  The modern coastal vibe is the perfect addition to the city’s ever-evolving downtown area.

While the entire hotel has a great sunset view, for the best sunset views, you should head to The Rooftop Bar on top of the hotel.  Savor the beautiful sunset while you sip on cocktails and enjoy a variety of appetizers and entrees from the bar.

What Time does the Sun Set in San Diego?

The sunset time in San Diego varies throughout the year.  To see what time of the day the sun will set, check out this guide.

What time of year are the best sunsets in San Diego?

San Diego sunsets are beautiful all year round.  But if you’re trying to time your visit with the best odds of seeing a gorgeous sunset, avoid the months of May and June.

May and June tend to be overcast and foggy, meaning you won’t get to see the sun dip behind the horizon.

September and October are typically clear, dry, and warm, and the city is less crowded.  Sunsets are beautiful in the fall in San Diego!

What is a Green Flash?

When you’re watching the sunset in San Diego, you just might get lucky and see a green flash as the sun sinks below the horizon.

A green flash is an optical phenomenon that happens in the moments when the sun dips below the horizon.  The flash happens because the Earth’s atmosphere causes the light from the sun to refract, or separate, into different colors.

Where to See a Green Flash in San Diego

I’ve lived in San Diego for over 20 years, and have seen the green flash only once!  That’s because a green flash is a rare occurrence that only happens when the conditions are just right.  

For that reason, there’s no “best” place in San Diego to see the green flash, although it is more likely to be visible when the sun sets over an unrestricted horizon, such as the ocean.

So for your best chances of seeing the green flash, watch the sunset at the beach.  If you don’t see it on your first try, there’s always next time!

Frequently Asked Questions about San Diego Sunsets

Here are answers to a few common questions about sunsets in San Diego.

Where can I watch the sunset in downtown San Diego?

The best spots for watching the sunset in downtown San Diego are Altitude Sky Lounge, the Top of the Hyatt bar, and the rooftop bar at the Andaz.

Does San Diego have good sunsets?

San Diego is one of the best sunset spots on the West Coast.  Not only does San Diego have natural beauty that glows at sunset, but its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means that you can watch the sun fade below the ocean horizon, which is truly spectacular.  

In addition, the abundance of public places close to the coastline mean that there are plenty of options for everyone to watch the sunset at any given night.

Map of the Best Sunset Spots in San Diego

Now that I’ve shared some of the best places to watch the sunset in San Diego, I’m mapping them out so you can go wherever is closest to you.  Here’s where the best sunset spots in San Diego are located.

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