Nov 7, 2023 - Things to Do

Our favorite places to watch San Diego sunsets

The orange glow of a sunset breaks through the clouds over the Pacific Ocean as surfers sit idly and waves crash into the shore.

Surfers catch waves and the sunset at Beacon's Beach in Encinitas, California. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

There is no bad place to watch a sunset in San Diego. Sometimes you want the views while out for an evening walk with your dog, or golden hour might call for a picnic or a relaxing glass of wine.

Here are some of our favorite spots to post up and watch the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean.

On the beach

There's something special about enjoying a sunset with your toes in the sand, and these beaches offer stunning views all year round:

  • Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach shows off at sunset whether you're on the beach or up on the pier.
  • Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is a family-friendly spot with fire pits for s'mores, volleyball courts and an overlook.
  • Coronado Island's long, sandy beaches and views of the city skyline make it a great spot for sunset, especially in front of the iconic Hotel del Coronado.

Elevated views

Clouds are illuminated with bright orange and pink at sunset on the ocean as waves crash into rocky cliffs.
Sunset Cliffs is one of the most popular spots to watch the sunset in San Diego. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

With a birds-eye view of the Pacific coastline, these spots are crowd-pleasers for visitors and locals alike:

  • Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach and Point Loma has earned its name. It's arguably the best place in the city to watch the sunset. Find a spot along the rugged coastline as you drive down Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and enjoy the view.
  • Beacon's Beach in Encinitas is a favorite neighborhood spot for locals who watch the sunset from up on the bluffs or in the water. Usually, the crowd has a few friendly pups.
  • Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla is an historic aviation site where you can get sunset views of Black's Beach and Torrey Pines from the grassy cliffs or from your car.
  • Cowles Mountain at Mission Trails Regional Park is not an easy hike, but the 360-degree views from the top of the mountain make the switchbacks worth it.

Grassy parks

If you’re looking for a nice, grassy spot to lay out some blankets, set up a picnic and let the kids run around without getting sandy, these fit the bill:

  • Kate Sessions Park in Pacific Beach is a sloped hill that offers views of the skyline and the water.
  • Sunset Point Park in Mission Bay has a sandy shoreline with fire pits, but its large, grass park is perfect for dog walks and gatherings at picnic tables.
  • Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach features a park that sits above the popular family-friendly beach for a picturesque sunset view.
Golden clouds are illuminated above the ocean at sunset and the fiery colors reflect on the shallow water and sandy beach.
Golden hour hits Beacon's Beach in Encinitas, California. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

With a drink

Want to watch the sun go down while sipping a cold beer or refreshing cocktail? We got you:

  • Monarch Ocean Pub in Del Mar brings ocean views and happy hour deals, plus live music on its deck.
  • Lahaina Beach House in the heart of Pacific Beach is a casual, cash-only beachfront bar with a big patio, perfect for sunsets.
  • Harbor and Sky's downtown rooftop is an upscale option for sunset views of the bay and San Diego skyline. Who doesn't love a rooftop bar?

On the water

A view from a sailboat on the ocean of a bright orange sun setting on the water with a sailboat passing by in the distance..
The view from a sailboat at sunset in San Diego. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

Watching the sunset from a sailboat on the San Diego Bay might be the best experience our coastal city has to offer. It’s even better when there are free snacks and drinks.


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