Where to Find the Best Views in San Diego
From the time I was a small girl, I loved watching birds fly overhead. I was even a bit envious that they were gliding through the air and seeing our beautiful world from on high. I often wondered what it would be like to enjoy their unique perspective.
San Diego is indeed a spectacular place to live and visit. As lovely as it is, however, seeing America’s Finest City from a bird’s eye view is simply unforgettable and offers some of the best views of San Diego. For many of us, coming home after our travels, or for those who arrive for a visit, we’re already getting a taste of paradise by just flying into the San Diego International Airport.
But the sky-high views don’t have to stop there. If you are looking for the best views in San Diego from high up, you have come to the right place. Here some awesome lofty places you’ll definitely want to check out.
1. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – La Jolla
The paths at Torrey Pines feature miles of wild, undeveloped coastal areas with windswept cliffs and unspoiled beaches. But the treasure trove at the end of some of its trails lead to spectacular scenic overlooks with sweeping endless vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Be sure to pack binoculars as you may just end up seeing pods of dolphins swimming by.
2. Historic Bi-Plane Ride over Downtown
Yes, you read that right. You can take a flight over downtown, Coronado, and the San Diego beaches in a historic 1920’s Bi-Plane. Whether you prefer a relaxing flight to enjoy some of the best views of San Diego or want a more adventurous flight, the pilot can make your dream come true.
You can choose between 4 itineraries, from the major sites in San Diego to beautiful coastal views. Check the itineraries here>>
3. California Tower at the Museum of Us – Balboa Park
In 2015, the California Tower reopened much to the joy of locals and visitors alike. Climbing seven stories and 125 spiral staircase steps leads to an outdoor viewing deck, and oh, are those views amazing.
Not only can you look out across Balboa Park, but you’re rewarded by an inspiring canvas of color from the harbor, mountains, and city beyond. And on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mexico.
4. Torrey Pines Gliderport – La Jolla
Perched on the steep sea cliffs of Torrey Pines in La Jolla where Charles Lindbergh took his first maiden flight, the Torrey Pines Gliderport services aviators of varying experiences. Even novice fliers can enjoy the thrill of paragliding by flying in tandem with a certified instructor.
Gliders take off and land from a picturesque location offering majestic views. From there you can enjoy vistas of the Pacific Ocean, the Torrey Pines cliffs, and the city of La Jolla. The exhilarating experience also provides aviators and viewers alike a sense of awe-inspiring aerial freedom.
5. Cabrillo National Monument – Point Loma
Situated at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. The park is home to numerous cultural and natural treasures including magnificent tidepools, the old Point Loma Lighthouse, and a museum and visitors center.
Views of the bay, Pacific Ocean, the downtown skyline, Navy ships, and the Coronado bridge are truly sensational.
6. Palomar Mountain Observatory – North County
At an elevation of 5,500 feet atop Palomar Mountain in North County, the Palomar Observatory offers visitors a unique chance to explore more of the world and cosmos around us.
Operated by Caltech, the observatory is a center of astronomical research with three active research telescopes on site. Both self-guided and docent-guided tours are available.
7. Skyfari at the San Diego Zoo
The gondola-like ski lift at the San Diego Zoo is an ideal way to enjoy a view from above. It is also the best way to get from one side of the zoo to the other. But, it’s far more than that.
Riders gliding high above the treetops are treated to sensational scenes of the zoo’s lush landscape and animals below. The gondolas also provide stunning views of Balboa Park, the stunning San Diego skyline, and distant waterfront.
8. San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge
How many times have we all crossed the bridge heading into Coronado and not really paid attention to those awe-inspiring views? That’s when having visitors in town reminds us how lucky we are to have such spectacular scenery around us as they ooh and aah at the scenery. And on the way back, take the ferry to San Diego.
The arching two-mile bridge peaks at 200-feet above the water sporting amazing vistas of the downtown, San Diego Bay, and Coronado Island. A myriad of sailboats, Navy ships, and the historic turreted Hotel Del Coronado in the distance are delightful.
Want to know a San Diego Fun Fact? Ronald Reagan was the first person to cross the Coronado Bridge. Next time you’re crossing over the bridge, treat yourself to a few glances of why we all love San Diego!
9. Mount Soledad – La Jolla
Sitting at an altitude of 822 feet, Mount Soledad is one of San Diego’s most prominent landmarks. The Mount Soledad cross erected in 1954 still stands despite more than 25 years of legal controversy, finally determining it would stay.
Home of the last residence of the late Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel and his wife Audrey, the setting offers some of the most amazing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla, North San Diego Coast, and Mexico.
10. Rooftop Bars With the Best Views in San Diego
Altitude Sky Lounge – Gaslamp
I guarantee there’s not a better rooftop bar in town offering views like the Altitude Sky Lounge at the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. It’s one of the city’s best and busiest rooftop bars. At 22 stories high, it not only offers panoramic vistas of the downtown, but it’s also a perfect spot to watch the Padres play at nearby Petco Park.
Born and Raised – Little Italy
It’s chic steakhouse dining at its best with waiters in formal white dinner coats, but it’s so much more. Visitors can toast the good life while living out their Great Gatsby fantasies at Born and Raised in the heart of Little Italy.
Mixologists here are masters of creating exquisite handcrafted cocktails and the rooftop bar offers magical twinkling views of Little Italy and the surrounding areas.
Bertrand at Mister A’s – Banker’s Hill
Located on the 12th floor in a penthouse setting, the iconic, award-winning Bertrand at Mr. A’s is a special occasion dining venue. For over 50 years, the historic dining establishment has been serving American cuisine at its finest.
Despite its sweeping skyline with bay and Pacific views, there’s an absolute thrill of excitement when huge descending jetliners roar past diners, practically at eye level.