If you’ve not yet visited Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, make it the next priority on your to-do list. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the north, Ocean Beach to the west, Santa Barbara to the East and the majestic Sunset Cliffs Natural Park to the South, Sunset Cliffs enjoys one of the most privileged positions of any neighborhood in the US. Chief among its attractions is the stunning Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre area of unspoiled natural beauty. With its vision to "create a park where people can enjoy San Diego's natural coastal environment as it once was, free from the effects of man and intended to inspire the user to reflect on the grandeur of the sea, and the beauty of the cliffs that was once Point Loma," the park has made Sunset Cliffs one of San Diego’s most enticing destinations. To discover more reasons to visit, keep reading.
1. You might see a whale
Sunset Cliffs National Park offers some of the most awe-inspiring views in California, with panoramic vistas stretching as far as the eye can see across the Pacific Ocean. As well as offering an excellent point to take in a breathtaking sunset, the park also gives keen wildlife spotters the rare opportunity to catch sight of a California grey whale as they make their annual journey from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
2. There are excellent hiking trails
Enthusiastic hikers will enjoy the chance to hike the Sunset Cliff Park Trail. Consisting of a 1.7 mile out and back trail, the hike is accessible all year round and offers some of the best views you’re likely to see on any hike in the country. Easy enough for kids to master, and dog-friendly to boot, the trail makes a great morning out for all the family.
3. It’s got wildlife galore
If you’re an avid wildlife spotter, the many species of birds and fauna that call Sunset Cliffs Park their home will delight you. The park houses a 50-acre hillside section that’s a designated multiple species conservation area, offering you the chance to take in California’s varied wildlife in its natural habit. Be sure to have your binoculars at the ready when you visit!
4. It’s the ideal spot for weddings
If you’re planning your nuptials and are looking for the ideal spot to hold the ceremony, Sunset Cliffs might be just the place. With the possibility of saying your vows at sunset while overlooking one of the most gorgeous areas in California, it’s guaranteed to give you the kind of fairytale wedding you’ve always dreamt of. As the official website for San Diego notes, you can take your pick between several points (including the Ladera Street area, the Luscomb Point area, and the Osprey Street area) although bear in mind each location only offers facilities to host 50 people at a time.
5. It offers easy access to Point Loma Ecological Reserve
One of the best things about Sunset Cliffs is the excellent accessibility it offers to San Diego’s most attractive destinations. The Sunset Cliffs National Park links directly on to the 640- acre Point Loma Ecological Reserve, a vast site dedicated to restoring the native coastal habitat, and a great place to spot some local wildlife. Expect to see raccoons, skunks, possums, bats, rabbits, ground squirrels, gray foxes, and even the occasional coyote.
6. It’s a surfer’s paradise
The coastline around Sunset Cliffs is recognized as a prime spot for surfing. If you want to battle the ocean, Luscomb's, Garbage Beach (named for the vast quantities of somewhat odorous kelp that clings to its rocks), and New Break all offer some excellent opportunities to ride the waves.
7. It’s amazing at sunset
At sundown, the locals join the tourists as they take position along the cliffs to enjoy one of the most stunning sunsets you’ll likely encounter anywhere in the state. The good news is that on chilly evenings, you don’t even have to leave your car to enjoy the view: the drive along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, which begins at Adair Street and continues south to Ladera Street, offers some of the best views in the area.
8. It’s perfect for bikers
If you’re a keen biker, the route along Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach offers a great ride. The San Diego River channel is a great spot for beginners, taking you on an easy journey from the south end of Ocean Beach near Dog Beach all the way along the San Diego River channel. If you’re riding with kids, this is the one for you. For more experienced riders, the Pt. Loma / Cabrillo National Monument route will offer a great challenge. Starting at Sunset Cliffs, the ride takes you all the way to Cabrillo National Monument, an excellent spot to take in some spectator views and historical sights.
9. It's home to some great restaurants
Granted, you might not find many restaurants dotted around the cliffs themselves, but venture into the residential area of Sunset Cliffs and you’ll find some great dining opportunities. Whether you prefer an Irish pub with live music, a German-influenced canteen, an authentic Mexican diner, or a burger from Hodadies, self-proclaimed supplier of the world’s best burgers, you’ll be sure to find something to tempt you. Failing that, there’s always the option to bring your own sandwiches and enjoy a sunset picnic on the cliffs.
10. It’s near the longest pleasure pier in the West
If you’re prepared to leave the beauty of the Sunset Cliff’s National Park, you’ll find a plethora of activities on your doorstep. One of the chief attractions of the area is Ocean Beach, a gorgeous strip of sand that offers plenty of opportunities for water sports, sunbathing, and hanging out at the many nearby surf shops, antique stalls, and taco stands. The beach is also the proud owner of the Ocean Beach Pier – the longest pleasure pier on the West Coast.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn