advertisement

When you're in a new place, do you get the urge to scramble up to the highest spot around to see the destination in its entirety? If you do, and if you're headed to San Diego, you're in luck: We've found the best places from which to take in wide swaths of the city -- and beyond. These suggestions also work to further budding romances. Warning: Not for acrophobes.

1. Mt. Soledad. From atop this 822-foot-high natural outcropping, you'll be able to see panoramic views of San Diego that stretch all the way down to Mexico; to the north, UCSD and the Torrey Pines golf course are visible. Atop the mount is a somber veterans' memorial marked by a 29-foot-tall concrete cross. Mount Soledad was also the chosen home of Dr. Seuss; his widow still lives here. www.soledadmemorial.com

2. SeaWorld's Sky Tower.

This 265-foot landmark in the popular theme park allows views, via its ascending elevator, of up to 100 miles in every direction on a clear day. Of course, you have to pay admission for SeaWorld to experience it. www.seaworld.com

3. Atop the cliffs at Black's Beach. From these La Jolla cliffs, which get as tall as 300 feet, you can see down to Tijuana and up to Orange County. The gorgeous view also includes a beautiful stretch of coastline, so keep an eye out for surfers, hang-gliders, and dolphins. www.sandiego.gov

4. Altitude Skybar, the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter Hotel's rooftop bar, offers a swank way to take in a 180-degree view of downtown, Coronado, the bay, and the Padres (if they're playing a home game at Petco Park). Come in the late afternoon to lounge around the lava-rock fire pit and sip down a specialty Cosmo or martini as you watch the sun go down. www.altitudebar.com

5. Cabrillo National Monument offers one of the world's best harbor views. From its Old Point Loma Lighthouse, you'll see the bay, the ocean, the skyline, the Cuyamaca Mountains, and Mexico. Watch, too, as Navy ships make their way in and out of the harbor. www.nps.gov/cabr

6. Bertrand at Mr. A's. If you like your views served with a side of refined Mediterranean cuisine, head to this Bankers Hill restaurant, which huge jets fly right past. Dine indoors or outside on the wraparound balcony; either way, you'll get amazing views of the downtown skyline, Balboa Park, Point Loma, Coronado, the bay, and the zoo. www.bertrandatmisteras.com

7. Coronado. To see the downtown skyline, head across the bay to Coronado. Its Ferry Landing Marketplace, a lively little shopping center along the water, attracts picnickers and diners for the excellent view across the bay. http://gothere.com/coronado/FerryLanding.htm

8. Palomar Mountain Observatory, on wildlife-laden Palomar Mountain, is home to massive telescopes used for astronomical research. While NASA employees and Cornell academics are getting views of the universe, you can get views of the surrounding areas, including Mendenhall Valley, from this 5,500-foot elevation. In the mood for a hike? Take the Palomar Mountain Observatory Trail, which offers observation platforms along the way. www.astro.caltech.edu/palomarnew

9. Atop the Sunset Cliffs at Ocean Beach is, as the name suggests, a fantastic place to watch the sun set into the Pacific. Check out the tide pools, dream homes, and the surfers, too. www.a-zsandiegobeaches.com/sunsetcliffs.htm

10. Top of the Hyatt offers one-stop sightseeing from the 40th floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The vertigo-inducing view extends from downtown all the way to Mexico. www.manchestergrand.hyatt.com