Searching for the perfect location to elope in San Diego? Oh, we are SO excited for you!! From Sunset Cliffs with its epic sunset views, to Balboa Park’s gardens filled with roses and tropical plants, to the infamous Torrey Pines Natural Reserve and State Beach, you really can’t go wrong when planning your San Diego elopement!
make it legit
Getting legally married in San Diego is easy! Simply obtain a San Diego County marriage license for $70 and make sure to get married within 90 days after you acquire your license. Good news: you don’t have to be a California resident to receive a marriage license in San Diego. Even better news: there’s no waiting period in California, so you can get married the same day you receive your license. Both you and your partner will need to be there, and make sure you have one form of identification (i.e., driver’s license or passport). Lastly, you’ll need one witness – you get to decide whether this is a friend, family member, or even your photographer! We love being witnesses for our couples.
If you want to get married at one of San Diego’s beaches, shoreline parks, or any of the locations on Mission Bay, you will need a permit. And let’s be honest – there are a lot of great places to get married in San Diego, but are you really going to go to San Diego and not get married on a beach/cliff overlooking a beach? Simply contact the city permit center located in the Balboa Park Administration Building (2125 Park Blvd., San Diego). They are open Monday – Friday, from 8 AM – 4 PM. Recorded information is also available at (619) 235-1169.
when to elope in san diego
Good news, my fair-weathered friends: the weather in San Diego is beautiful pretty much year-round. The pretty much part is thanks to the infamous ‘June Gloom’, which is very real and makes for a chillier climate and overcast sky. Tourist season is typically June through August, so if you don’t like crowds (or the idea of sharing your elopement ceremony with strangers), try to plan for a spring or fall elopement. That being said, even the winter months can still provide a beautiful and warm setting for your wedding!
San Diego Elopement Locations
Home of Hotel Del Coronado (“The Del”), sand dunes that spell ‘Coronado, and a charming town to explore, Coronado Island is an absolutely gorgeous place to elope. Coronado is a small island town located across the bay from downtown San Diego offering pristine white sands and clear ocean waters.
You don’t need a permit to elope at the dunes of the Central beach unless you want to bring your friends, family, coworkers…you get the point. Bring your honey, a photographer, your officiant (maybe they’re the same!), and you’re good to go. You can even enjoy a post-elopement sunset bonfire at North Beach, Central Beach, Glorietta Bay Park, and Coronado Shores. You can access the island by bridge or a ferry boat from downtown San Diego; there is plenty of street parking and free public parking lots available. We highly recommend staying at The Del if it’s within your budget!
silver strand state beach
In between San Diego and Coronado on the peninsula lies Silver Strand State Beach. The beach stretches for 2.5 miles and can be a quieter option if you’re looking to avoid crowds during your elopement. Camping is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and several large parking lots make for an easy-access beach. Imagine: you, your honey, watching the tide come and go, the ocean air, and being MARRIED! What more could you want for an elopement?
To get married at Silver Strand State Beach, there is a $100 permit fee, $125 site fee. Set up, decor, and activity plans must be fully disclosed, pre-approved, and included in the permit. Liability insurance naming California as an additional insured is required. Additional parking fees run $10-20/vehicle depending on the time of year. Heads up: Dogs are not allowed on the beach, in the tunnels, or on the bay side, but they are allowed on leash during day use and at the camping area parking lots.
With 1,200 acres of trails, museums, and the city’s world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park is a great spot to relax, explore, and marry your partner-in-crime! One of the best features of Balboa Park is its opportunity to get married and take photos in a variety of areas. Imagine being surrounded by 130+ colorful varieties of roses as you say your vows or amidst gorgeous arches in the Administrative Courtyard. Ceremonies are currently permitted at many locations. Here are a few of our favorites: Alcazar Garden, Administrative Courtyard, Rose Garden, and Redwood Circle. Obtain a permit at the Regional Parks Permit Center, located at 2125 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, or call (619) 235-1169/email Ask Parks for permit information.
With so many options in Balboa Park, we’re happy to help navigate which part of the park is best for you and your honey to tie the knot and obtaining the correct permit. Pro tip: Grab the best view in Balboa Park – head to the lookout tower of the California Tower in the Museum of Man for a 360-degree view of the park and San Diego.
Absolutely perfect for an adventure elopement, Torrey Pines State Reserve provides hiking opportunities, golfing, sunbathing, and of course: eloping! Known as a ‘wilderness island in an urban sea,’ Torrey Pines is a 2,000-acre nature preserve located atop a cliff providing a view that stretches west out over the Pacific Ocean and across the canyons to the east. Not only does it offer multiple hiking trails and a wide beach, Torrey Pines features picturesque spots along the cliffs and access to the world-renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Where to elope in Torrey Pines? North Overlook, South Overlook, and High Point are all fantastic elopement locations roughly 15-20 walking distance from the parking areas.
But really – can we talk about our nation’s rarest pine tree – Pinus Torreyana – for a minute? This beautiful tree once covered a large portion of Southern California but now grows only in Torrey Pines and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast near Santa Barbara. The park preserves the trees and one of the last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California.
While you cannot camp or picnic in the Reserve, you can certainly enjoy its high broken cliffs and deep ravines on headlands overlooking the ocean. Hike the famous Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop, an easy 2.3-mile route along the coast to see incredible wildflowers, or enjoy the 3.3 moderately difficult Torrey Pines State Beach and Broken Hill Trail Loop.
Pro-tip: Stay away from the bottom of the cliffs. Rockslides and cliff collapses occur frequently. Plan your time on the beach a minimum of 2-3 hours before or after high tides when more sand is available between the cliffs and the waves.
- No food or drink, except water, is allowed in the Reserve above the beach. Food, but not alcohol, is allowed on the beach.
- Dogs are not allowed anywhere at Torrey Pines.
- There are no trash cans in the upper Reserve or along the beach, so take what you brought with you! Trash and recycling bins or dumpsters are available in the beach parking lots.
Permits are $100, and site fees can range from $275-$375. In addition, a peace officer monitor is required and must be booked for a minimum of four hours at $79 per hour. You can quickly request a permit here. Entry fees per car are $12-25, based on current demand (or you can arrive early and park along Torrey Pines Road for free and walk-in.
Located in Ocean Beach (OB), Sunset Cliffs’ name is no joke – you really do want to be here to watch the sunset! We love this elopement location for its beautiful views and nearby beach city with a relaxed, fun vibe to enjoy for your post-elopement celebration. You’ll definitely want to plan ahead for eloping at Sunset Cliffs if you’re planning a beach ceremony – the beach practically disappears during high tide! Check out tide times here so you can have that picturesque beach wedding you’re dreaming of! You can also elope along the cliffs overlooking the breathtaking ocean view.
Good news: as long as you plan to keep things simple (i.e., no setup), there is no fee to elope at Sunset Cliffs!
Check out our Sunset Cliffs Elopement!
One word: tacos. If you’re like us and will do just about anything for a taco, eloping at Presidio Park, then celebrating in Old Town, San Diego is for you. With beautiful white arches and brick steps, this elopement location is a historic landscape surrounded by green lawns and trees. You can elope with the iconic Junipero Serra Museum in your background, then cheers to being married and drinking margaritas down the street in the afternoon!
There are four elopement location options in Presidio Park: Inspiration Point, Palm Canyon, The Padre Cross, The Arbor, and Mission Hills Park. You’ll need to submit this permit to the City of San Diego and budget $176 for your elopement. We recommend messaging a Parks and Recreation employee should you have any questions about these beautiful locations. Or, you can ask us, and we can help you figure out which site is best for you and your honey!
san dieguito county
Being a bit inland from the coast, San Dieguito County Park is a great option if you’re hoping for beautiful greenery in your background. The Lower Park on El Camino Real features 125 acres of manicured lawns, a pond with a fountain, and trails to adventure. The famous San Deiguito Bridges can be found by starting from the lower parking lot and entering the park, and past the two ponds. Continue through the large grass area to your right, back toward the trees. There you will find a trailhead. Take the trail until you reach a big intersection on your left. Take the trail to your left. When you reach a fork in the trail, take the right fork. Soon after that, you’ve made it! Now grab some great shots in your wedding attire on these bridges!
This elopement location is best during the weekdays due to family parties and visitors on the weekend, but enjoy the beauty of eloping on the lawn with no fees, just a first-come, first-serve basis!
Get it? Wind-and-sea! We love this location for a bit of an off-the-beaten-path feel. There’s even a designated historical landmark – a surf shack! – on the beach. (Hi, hello, can you please tell us you want to get married at this surf shack?). The area is surrounded by palm trees, beautiful homes and gardens, and great locations to take photos in your wedding attire! Take the stairs that descend the steep bluff and scramble down off the sandstone ledges to access the beach. Note – you definitely want to plan for low tide. Check out Windandsea Beach’s tide schedule here. There are about ten designated parking spots above the beach and street parking spaces if those are taken.
Things to do in San Diego
stone brewing world bistro and gardens
Stone Brewery is the largest brewery in Southern California and one you don’t want to miss! Imagine celebrating over an IPA and dancing with your partner for life among shady trees, bamboo-lined paths, and twinkling lights. The expansive restaurant features indoor and outdoor dining and bars and a bocce ball court, outdoor cinema space, and garden. This is a perfect place to have your first meal as a married couple! If you’re a true IPA fan, you can take a tour of Stone Brewery in Escondido (about a 45 minute drive from downtown San Diego) and enjoy beer being brewed right before your eyes.
hang glide and paraglide
Home to the origin of hang gliding, Torrey Pines Gliderport is the most historic aviation site in North America and Southern California’s premier location for paragliding and hang gliding. You and your partner can enjoy tandem paragliding and/or hang gliding if you’re up for the adventure! Paragliding costs $175, and hang gliding costs $225 – enjoy the breathtaking views and unforgettable experience together!
learn how to surf
There are so many opportunities to learn to surf in San Diego! Whether you want to take a group lesson or a private lesson, there are many companies happy to help you take to the plunge into surfing. Check out San Deigo Surf School and look to La Jolla Shores, Oceanside Beach, Tourmaline Beach, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach for waves best suited for beginners!
go on a kayak tour of la jolla cove
If you love California Sea Lions and Pacific Harbor Seals like we do, you can’t miss getting up and close to these guys!! Obviously don’t get too close; they don’t like us as much as we like them. You can even kayak the seven caves of La Jolla!
barhopping at the gaslamp district
Dance, barhop, celebrate being married!! Enjoy a plethora of bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. Check out Altitude Sky Lounge, Prohibition, and the Tipsy Cow to start – all three have very different vibes depending on what you’re looking for.
anza-borrego wildflower bloom
If you’re fans of wildflower blooms, you’ll want to plan a trip in March – the second week of March to be specific – to see the peak of Anza-Borrego’s wildflower bloom. Did someone say wildflower wedding?! We’re here for it.
san diego airbnbs
San Diego Harbor
Are you looking for a full-day elopement adventure? We’ve got you. Our Full Day Elopement Experience covers up to 12 hours of documentation, ensuring every minute of your elopement experience will be remembered. If you’re looking for where to elope in San Diego, and help creating an epic, unforgettable elopement adventure, definitely reach out – we can’t wait to create and capture the elopement of your dreams!