The 10 Most Beautiful Buildings in San Diego

Salk Institute | © Chad McDonald / Flickr
Salk Institute | © Chad McDonald / Flickr

Nature usually steals the spotlight in San Diego, given its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Yet over the last two centuries, mankind has occasionally done a decent job of making beautiful things too. Here are 10 of San Diego’s most visually stunning buildings.

Hotel del Coronado

The sprawling Hotel del Coronado is a gorgeous, beachside Victorian resort that’s been around since 1888. Numerous notable figures have stayed here, including film stars, famous musicians, and several presidents. Among them are George Harrison, Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, JFK, Brad Pitt, and Madonna. It is still considered a luxury property today, with an on-site spa and dining options.

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Hotel del Coronado | ©Rennett Stowe/Flickr

California Tower

Building, Park
Map View
California Tower
California Tower | © Jennifer Boyer / Flickr
The California Tower is one of San Diego’s most easy-to-see landmarks at 200 feet (61 meters) in height. Designed by architect Bertram Goodhue in 1915 for the California-Panama Exhibition, it currently houses the Museum of Man. The Tower was closed to the public for decades but re-opened in 2015 for tours. Tickets for 40-minute tours are sold at timed intervals and cost $22.50 for adults, and $18 for children.

San Diego California Temple

This stunning church is easy to spot, as its tall spires and all-white exterior are visible from the freeway. It’s the 47th temple constructed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, opening in 1993. It is particularly noticeable around Christmas, when, according to the San Diego Times, thousands of lights adorn the 7.2-acre site in festive cheer.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints | ©Mr Mao Pics/Flickr

Geisel Library

Building, Library, University
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The famous Geisel Library of Universtiy of California San Diego
© Chon Kit Leong / Alamy Stock Photo
The Geisel Library, built in 1970 and designed by William L. Pereira & Associates, sits on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. Since 1995, it’s been going by its current name, which is a tribute to Theodor Geisel—better known by his pen name of Dr. Seuss—and Audrey, his wife. Several of Geisel’s personal effects, including drawings, notebooks, photos, and more, are housed in the library’s Dr. Seuss Collection. Audrey Geisel donated the items, as well as a significant financial contribution, to the library following her husband’s death in 1991.

Casa de Balboa

Museum, Park
Map View
Casa de Balboa | ©Osbornb/Flickr
Casa de Balboa lies in San Diego’s Balboa Park. It, like other landmarks, was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exhibition; however, this is not the original. This structure is a replica, constructed in 1978 after a fire destroyed the original. Inside you can find numerous organizations, including the Museum of San Diego History and Research Archives, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Railroad Museum.

San Diego Central Library

Building, Library, Park
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San Diego Central Library
San Diego Central Library | © Gary J. Wood / Flickr
The San Diego Public Library, founded in 1882, has had several homes throughout the years. In 2013, it re-opened in a nine-story building designed by architect Rob Quigley. Lots of natural light and sharp features make this a post-modern sight to behold, whether inside or out.

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