My Favorite San Diego Locations That Are Not the Beach

It's no secret that one of San Diego's big draws is the beaches we have. There are so many beautiful seaside locations that could make a great spot for your family photos. (Click here to read about my favorite beach locations.) Sometimes though, if you live near the beach and have had beach photos done a hundred times, you're in the mood for something that isn't the beach. If you're looking for that perfect non-beach location, here is a list of my top 3 picks (plus one more bonus location, you'll see why when you get to the end of this post!)

Balboa Park Presidio Park PLNU *Bonus Location*

1. Balboa Park

If you're a San Diego native, you probably just rolled your eyes upon seeing Balboa Park as number one pick. It might seem so cliché, but let me explain! My reason for choosing Balboa Park is because the variety of backdrops you can choose here are endless! There's the organ pavilion, the arched walkways of the Prado, the botanic building, the fish pond, the fountains, and the Spanish Village. In addition to those well known places, there is also the desert garden, the Zoro garden, and a variety of trails and canyons that provide a gorgeous backdrop for your photos. Here are just a few examples.

2. Presidio Park

Nestled above Old Town is the sometimes forgotten Presidio Park. You've probably seen the white mission-like building sitting on top of the hill near where the 8 meets the 5 freeway. That beautiful white building is the Juipero Serra Museum. It has a great view of Point Loma and the surrounding areas all the way to the ocean. (The hills are also great for ice blocking, which I can attest to thanks to one of my first dates with David back in the day.) From a photographer's perspective, Presidio Park is a great location because it has this beautiful arched walkway, an arbor, a wooded area, fun brick stairs, and the way the light comes in during golden hour gives me all the heart eyes!

3. Mission Trails Regional Park

Head out east on the 52 and pretty soon you'll get to Mission Trails Regional Park. This park has acres and acres of trails with a beautiful San Diego "mountain" backdrop. I love the wide open feel that this location has, and even when the grass isn't green (when is the last time it even rained around here???) it still catches the golden sun perfectly and makes the whole field glow with light. This is a good spot if you have kiddos that need to get to bed because the sun goes down behind the mountains earlier than actual sunset, and an earlier session time means an earlier bedtime! That's a win-win situation in my book :)

BONUS- Lake Cuyamaca

One thing San Diego is NOT known for is lakes. Mainly because we really don't have that many, and most are what I like to call "pretend" lakes, because they're man made reservoirs. Lake Cuyamaca is also man made from a dam built way back in 1880, making it the second oldest in all of California- fun fact! But I love it anyway, mostly because it's a ways up the mountain, away from the city, and you get that rustic, natural, outdoorsy feel that refreshes the soul. You just can't find a tree line like this in San Diego's city limits. So if you're not afraid of a drive (took me less than an hour to get here from my doorstep) and you want something woodsy, I highly recommend Lake Cuyamaca!

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