It’s always an extra special treat when a past bride’s sister comes to me for her own wedding photos (and lucky me – I have two of those this year)! But when Sarah chose Balboa Park for her engagement photos (the same location her sister chose 3 years earlier) I knew I had to make Sarah + Brendan’s Balboa Park engagement photos different and unique to their love story. Fortunately, Balboa Park offers so much variety for your engagement session – with iconic architecture and beautiful nature alike. We fond so many great spots throughout Balboa Park during these two engagement sessions, so I thought I’d share our 10 Best Balboa Park Engagement Photo Locations. Plus – 2 Bonus photo spots as well!
Spanish Village‘s colorful charm makes is a whimsical and unique spot to take engagement photos. While sticking true to Balboa Park’s Spanish architecture with beautiful arches and tile roofs, what makes this location so special is the face all these little doors open up to individual artist studios! A perfect engagement photo location for artists, creatives, or anyone who enjoys some fun pops of color!
The Desert Gardens (also sometimes called Cactus Gardens) at Balboa Park strike all the right desert vibes for your engagement photos. With its neutral color palette of sands and sage greens, and beautiful variety of cacti from all over the world, this 2.5 acre park is one of our favorite Balboa Park engagement photo locations. (Bonus: the super cool twisty-turny Candelabra Tree at the entrance!)
Cabrillo Bridge, the main roadway into Balboa Park from the Uptown San Diego, is a great location for engagement photos because it offers views of San Diego’s skyline and the famous California Building tower in the background. Plus, the Museum of Us’s Scientific Library is at the end of the bridge has the cutest vintage windows and architectural styling that’s more modern/minimalistic than most other building in Balboa Park.
The California Building, which houses the Museum of Us, formerly known as Museum of Man, and the St. Francis Chapel across the way, have all the architectural stylings people know and love about Balboa Park buildings. Back up to capture the arches from afar or step in close for that Baroque detail – either way it doesn’t get more iconic than this.
Round the corner off the main drag and you’ll find these beautiful archways leading up to the Casa del Prado Theatre (also known as San Diego Junior Theatre). This special spot features the same Spanish-Colonial architecture of it’s big sister theatre but with less crowds (read: less competition to get a good shot).
Walking through Balboa Park’s Palm Canyon you would never guess you’re in the middle of a big city. Completely surrounded by greenery, and boasting the prettiest golden hour sunlight, Palm Canyon easily found its way onto our list of Best Balboa Park Engagement Spots.
A lesser-known spot, the Juniper Stairs lead down to Bridle trail and get the most beautiful golden hour light. (Trailhead is behind the public restroom at Balboa Dr and Juniper Rd).
The Alcazar Garden is a perfect blend of greenery/architecture, with a beautiful view of the famous Tower in the background. While it’s best captured in full bloom during the spring, its hedges and trees are green year-round so it’s a great spot for a Balboa Park engagement session even in the winter (these were taken early January). Bonus: the adjacent parking makes it easy to find.
I love a good “picnic in the park” engagement session and Selina + Mark had the cutest basket full of coffee and books with them! This grassy spot near the Dog Park was special for them because they always bring their dob, Caribou for walks here. (Balboa Dr and Juniper Rd, just south of Cabrillo Bridge)
An iconic spot for engagement photos in Balboa Park is the Lily Pond in front of the Botanic Building. While often busy with tourists and local alike, it’s always fun to stop there real quick for a couple quick pics. And it’s right across from the famous Casa del Prado, which get lit up in the evenings with colorful spotlights – so you might as well grab a shot in front of that too.
Bonus spot: Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden is popular for both engagement photos and weddings, and bloom season is usually around March. It can get really busy with crowds, and you will need to get a permit for professional photography (see details about that here), but gah, those pink blossoms are so pretty, aren’t they?
Another Bonus Spot: While often pretty busy, the Organ Pavilion remains a popular spot in Balboa Park for Engagement and Wedding Photos. Head out front to capture the whole bowl in all it’s glory, or spend time along the sides for beautiful pillars and archways.
Ok, there you have our 10 Best Balboa Park Engagement Spots (+2)! Did you have your engagement photos done in Balboa Park? Do you wish you did? Tell us below about your favorite spots for photos in Balboa Park!