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From the sparkling downtown skyline to beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego has its fair share of iconic images. But there’s even more to this city than the visitor brochures tell you. This article outlines ten weird, wild and out-of-the way places for photographers to take awesome images.

1. South Bay Salt Works

Despite this business having been around for over 100 years, most locals don’t even know it exists. Located on an isolated stretch of the San Diego bay, this location earns a spot on the list for providing unique photography opportunities. Head here late in the afternoon to watch the sun perform magic on massive, shimmering dunes of salt and Orwellian machinery throughout.

Located at 1470 Bay Blvd, Chula Vista, CA 91911

2. Hope Cemetery

The final resting place of famous novelist Raymond Chandler, Mount Hope is home to some incredible Egyptian-inspired architecture in the form of towering gravestones and family crypts. Although not for the faint of heart, a keen-eyed photographer will find some great shots at the right time of day.

Located at 3751 Market St, San Diego, CA 92102

3. Border Field State Park

This location is exactly what it sounds like – a public park that butts up against the US/ Mexico border. While the park itself is nothing to write home about, the massive fence and ominous security buildings that tower above it are a sight to see. With such a contrast between textures and the thought inspiring imagery, this spot is perfect for someone savvy with black and white.

Located at 1500 Monument Rd, San Diego, CA 92154

4. Salton Sea (not really in San Diego, but close)

A short drive out of town will land you in one of the weirdest places in California. In the 1950’s this man-made marvel was touted as the next hot vacation spot for middle class suburbanites. Unfortunately, as the water dried up it over-salinated, killing the fish and the local economy along with it. Now it provides a home for a group of hard-core artists, hippies and apocalypse preppers who have turned the desert landscape and abandoned buildings into something Salvador Dali would be proud of.

Located off of highway 111

5. Tijuana Estuary

Long known as a place for big-wave surfers to cut their teeth, the waves outside of the Tijuana Estuary are dangerous, shark-filled and scary. But the estuary, which separates the U.S. from Mexico, provides some beautiful views of wildlife. Just be careful after dusk – this area is known to be a passage point for cartel Drug Smugglers!

Easiest access is by parking on Sunset road in Imperial Beach and hiking in.

 6. Ho Chi Minh Trail

You don’t have to fly overseas to travel this trail! Cut between the sheer cliffs near Black’s Beach, this slot canyon provides a challenging hike to the beach below. But be prepared to spend some time looking for it, as the entrance is a secret passage between the multi-million dollar homes that sit on La Jolla Farms Drive.

Located on La Jolla Farms Drive at N 32.887734    W 117.243721

7. Self-realization fellowship meditation garden

 

The self-realization fellowship in Encinitas sports a cliff-top garden that has some of the best views of the ocean in San Diego County. The smart photographer will bring a macro lens along as well, since the streams, ponds, trees and plants make for some Zen-like imagery.

Located at 3068 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

8. Chicano Park and Barrio Logan

Think about San Diego and you think about the Coronado Bridge, but most people don’t know that the underside is equally attractive. Chicano park in Barrio Logan is an urban area completely covered in bright paintings by famed Latino muralists. The park also bleeds into a strangely beautiful industrial park that provides distant views of the working shipyards in the area.

Located on Logan Ave beneath the bridge

9. East Village

 

Unlike the glamorous Gaslamp district, the East Village area of downtown has a lot more… shall we say… grit? Here you can find buildings sporting original architecture, alongside magnificent new structures like the glass-domed public library. Watch for the iconic red trolley rolling down the streets, and use your camera to capture the colorful side of life.

Officially begins around 10th and “C” street downtown San Diego

10. Coronado Sand Dunes

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By far one of the most beautiful places in San Diego, the beaches at Coronado are always a hit. But travel a ways out from where the tourists are shopping and you’ll find Sand Dunes that look like they’d be more at home on the East coast. Come here at low tide, and you can even find the remains of the S.S. Monte Carlo sticking up from the shore. Rumor has it that it was a notorious gambling ship that ran aground in the 1930’s.

Follow Daisy Ave. to its terminus at the beach

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