A Roundup of The Best Places to Propose in San Diego

Whether you want sand and surf or a rooftop bar, there's a San Diego spot for you.
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Lauren Nowack
lauren nowack headshot
Lauren Nowack
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a freelance writer for The Knot Worldwide.
  • While Lauren has been writing her whole life, she began her career by travel writing and reviewing outdoor gear.
  • Lauren is passionate about encouraging people planning a wedding to make it exactly what they want and need it to be.
Updated Sep 11, 2023

When looking for the best places to propose in San Diego, it is vital to find the right balance of natural beauty, privacy and romance. This might look like a secluded walk on a beachside nature trail for some while others prefer a rooftop with a view. Either way, we've rounded up our favorite San Diego proposal spots with the help of award-winning wedding and event planner Rachel Weinshanker of San Diego Life Events to make sure you know just where to get down on one knee in this sunny city.

In this story:

How to Decide Where to Propose in San Diego

When dreaming up marriage proposal ideas in San Diego, some people want to ask the big question somewhere familiar and special to them as a couple while others want to dazzle their partner with a unique adventure. Weinshanker, who has owned San Diego Life Events for more than eight years and can help you plan the perfect proposal, shared the following questions to help you determine where to propose:

  • Are you hikers or beach-goers?
  • What type of scenery do you enjoy?
  • Will you be bringing anything with you, like a picnic, surfboard or other activity?

These questions will help guide you to the best proposal spot in San Diego.

The Best Time of the Year to Propose in San Diego

Weinshanker noted that San Diego gets quite hot between July and September, so "choosing a location with shade may be more practical" if that's when you want to propose. If you're hoping to go for a hike or propose on the beach, wait until the temperatures cool off later in the year or in the evenings. This is important to stay safe, but also to avoid being sweaty in engagement photos taken by a San Diego proposal photographer. For winter proposals, though, Rachel suggests bringing a light jacket to ensure there are no chills felt during the special moment.

Romantic Places to Propose in San Diego

When dreaming up San Diego proposal ideas, it is important to choose one that has a bit of whimsy or romance. Setting the mood through an incredible meal or experience is always a good idea.

San Diego Zoo

While you may not find the reptile house the most endearing spot for a San Diego Zoo proposal, how about asking the question while gazing upon majestic lions at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park or dreaming about your own family while watching the penguins play to their heart's content? Between the zoo's two locations, there are over 18,000 animals from more than 1350 species to enjoy. Standing in awe of the diversity of our world at this zoo is an unforgettable way to set the mood for asking one of life's biggest questions.

Vessel Restaurant at the Kona Kai Resort & Spa

Snuck in between Point Loma and Coronado is the picture-perfect Shelter Island, where Kona Kai Resort & Spa has beachfront property on the San Diego Bay. Located in the resort is Vessel Restaurant, which uses local and sustainable ingredients alongside harbor views to create a romantic ambiance. After your love says "yes", head over to one of Kona Kai's nightly bonfires to snuggle in and dream up your life together.

Aboard The Sternwheelers Boat Cruise on Mission Bay

The Sternwheels is a seasonal river cruise that gives guests a sightseeing tour of Mission Bay. The boat, which stays true to its turn-of-the-century design, gives off classic Americana vibes. With breathtaking sunset views and access to the Bahai Resort Hotel after you dock, this is truly one of the best proposal spots in San Diego. Add on a luxurious night at the resort after your cruise to turn your engagement into a weekend, or weekday, celebration.

Bernardo Winery

While San Diego is known for its numerous beaches, there are plenty of other beautiful places to propose in San Diego. Bernardo Winery is just that. As the state's oldest winery, it not only boasts delectable wine but timeless mountain views. With plenty of places to tuck amongst the vines for a private proposal spot, we'd keep this place in mind when choosing the best place to propose in San Diego.

The Best Beaches for a San Diego Proposal

If you're wondering, "Which beach in San Diego is best for a proposal", you've come to the right spot. To start, consider if you already have a connection to a sandy spot, such as the beach where you had your first date. If you don't have a certain one in mind, we've collected our favorite ones to ask the big question.

Sunset Cliffs

From sea caves to panoramic ocean views, Sunset Cliff Natural Park showcases all the best things about San Diego. Wedding planner Weinshanker agrees as this spot topped her list of the best places to propose in her city. If you're planning a December, January or February proposal, you may even catch a glimpse of the gray whales migrating to and from California from here. This is an especially good spot if you are hiring a San Diego engagement photographer to capture your big moment, as the stark contrast of the cliffs against the ocean and sunset is intensely romantic.

Ocean Beach & The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier

When planning your San Diego beach proposal, Ocean Beach and its pier should certainly be considered. Clocking in at 1971 feet long, the OB pier is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. This means it will put you out over deep waters, creating a sense of awe as you are completely surrounded by the ocean. This is one factor that makes Ocean Beach stand out as one of the best spots for a San Diego beach proposal.

In Front of Hotel del Coronado at Coronado Beach

Perhaps one of the most iconic spots in San Diego is the Hotel del Coronado at Coronado Beach. Many remember the 1958 film "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe which brought the stunning Victorian-style hotel quite a lot of attention. So, this well-known spot is not only a great backdrop for a proposal but can even double as a place to tie the knot.

Private Places to Propose in San Diego

If you're seeking a truly private place to propose, it may be worth hiring a proposal planner in San Diego to ensure your plans go off without interruption. Many incredible ones, such as Weinshanker of San Diego Life Events, can be found on The Knot Vendor Marketplace and will ensure your moment is just right.

Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park

Most cities have so many people buzzing about that it is difficult to find a place all to yourself. But, the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park has plenty of little spots to tuck away and drop to a knee, each one equally stunning and romantic. Whether next to a koi pond, under a gazebo or near a bonzai, there's a private place just waiting to be a part of your story here.

Mission Trails Regional Park

One of Weinshanker's favorite spots to see a proposal is at Mission Trails Regional Park. The gorgeous space has plenty of hiking for all skill levels, making it easy for anyone to walk to a secluded spot with breathtaking views for a proposal.

In the Air at Del Mar

Finding a private place often means you need to get creative and outside of your comfort zone. If you're up for it, take a hot air balloon ride at Del Mar or go paragliding over Black's Beach. These are just two ways to soar above everyone else for a few moments of privacy for your proposal.

La Jolla's Coast Walk Trail

If you've been wondering, "Where can I propose in La Jolla", hopefully, the Coast Walk trail makes your list. The walk, which is just over half a mile one way, gives beautiful views of the ocean and coast. Hikers can often spot sea lions on the rocks below, continue on trails nearby to find a private sea cave or even sign up for a sea kayaking class at the beach once you finish your walk. A beach proposal is a great opportunity to look into San Diego proposal packages to see if you can have help creating the perfect date.

Unique Places to Propose in San Diego

San Diego is as diverse as the people who make up the city, meaning there are plenty of unique locations to propose. If you want a one-of-a-kind moment, it is worth hiring a proposal planner in San Diego to make sure every detail is executed perfectly.

San Diego Natural History Museum

If you're looking for a place just a little out of the ordinary for your list of San Diego proposal locations, check out the San Diego Natural History Museum. With a myriad of exhibitions providing incredible insight into the world around you, you will marvel at the plants, animals and earth as you walk around. After you two have taken in all the beauty this earth holds, feel free to ask your partner to marry you and add your own mark to the world together.

On the Water

When dreaming up proposal ideas in San Diego, the ocean is one of the most popular spots to be. This does not mean you're limited to the beach, though. Take your beloved for a yacht cruise out on the water with San Diego Bay Cruises. This is one of our favorite engagement ideas in San Diego because it is both private and unique. Consider hiring a proposal planner from San Diego to set up the pier or beach with a little something when you return to celebrate.

The Best Rooftops For a San Diego Proposal

Whether you want a view of San Diego highrises or prefer looking out over the ocean from above, there are numerous rooftops in this southern city that are just right for making a marriage proposal. Here are a few.

Mission Pacific Hotel Rooftop

Tucked in the stunning area of Oceanside, the Mission Pacific Hotel rooftop bar and pool has an incredible view to enjoy alongside hand-crafted cocktails. Book a room at this beachside getaway after your proposal to turn your engagement into an unforgettable weekend. This rooftop is one of the best as it has a view of the pier and the unbeatable California sunset.

Topside Terrace Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Republic

Sitting atop the third floor of the boutique Hotel Republic is the Topside Terrace Kitchen & Bar. The open-air dining immerses you in the ambiance of downtown San Diego, creating a lively but intimate spot to drop to one knee.

Layover and Garibaldi at the InterContinental San Diego

Depending on the vibe you want, there are two rooftop restaurants to choose from at the InterContinenal San Diego. First, Layover is a relaxed outdoor lounge with firepits, light fare and drinks with views of the San Diego airport and naval station. As one of the more spacious rooftops in SoCal, it could easily be considered one of the more private spots for a rooftop proposal in San Diego. The other option is at Garibaldi, another restaurant located within the hotel, which describes itself as a "speakeasy-style alfresco restaurant" with sunset views.

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