Tag Archives: mount soledad

My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Downtown San Diego from Cabrillo National Monument

For the most spectacular views of San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument. It’s free this week only.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Out & About San Diego

When you come to San Diego, there are three places you should go to see the gorgeous panoramic views of San Diego County:

  1. Mount Helix in La Mesa — Mount Helix has a private park with a large cross at the top. Great sunsets because you’re far enough inland to actually get sunsets instead of the coastal marine layer. Mount Helix is about 1,370 feet high.
  2. Mount Soledad in La Jolla — At 822 feet high, you can see the coastline from Mexico up to Los Angeles on a clear day. The marine layer usually burns off around noon, but then it rolls back in off the ocean as early as 5:00 p.m. on some days, so get thee yourself up there around 2:00 p.m. for the clearest views.
  3. Cabrillo National Monument — At the outer edge of San Diego Bay, these are the most spectacular views of Mexico, Coronado Island, downtown San Diego, and all that lies in the San Diego Harbor, including the Submarine Base and the Navy Air Base on Coronado Island.

Mt. Helix and Mount Soledad are free. All you have to do is drive your car to the top.

Cabrillo National Monument, being a government institution, costs money to get in. However, for this week only, from April 21 (yesterday) to April 28, it’s free!

Cabrillo National Monument map

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Downtown San Diego from Cabrillo National Monument

Submarine from Cabrillo National Monument


I’ll have lots more pictures this week. Meanwhile, I’m off to the San Diego Zoo in a couple of minutes, then back home to do a home inspection report, and then off to Cabrillo National Monument this afternoon.

Happy Sunday to all!

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos