So excited to say that I am officially 7 months into living in the sunny state of California, I am reunited with my little family and I am in constant awe of everything California has to offer! I want to start by sharing my adventures around the South Bay area, where I first got my feel for the state after the pandemic guidelines started to lax slightly (however, we are still one of the most locked down states in the US). These are all outdoor locations that you can still access, which all require masks and enforce social distancing rules.
The Historical House and Gardens at Filoli
I need to start with the magical gardens at Filoli. I was so excited after finding this gem of a location after the first time I visited that I went home and bought an annual membership. The amount of Instagrammable photo opps and spots is endless, especially if you are down to get creative 😉 The historical restored mansion on the grounds is also open again! I got to explore this past weekend and I am in complete awe at the details and touches throughout the house that restore it back to its 1920-1960 beauty. Absolutely a must-see.
Tips: Weekends are obviously busier but I find that closer to closing time is less busy and easier to get shots in. You are allowed to bring a tripod and camera but cannot interfere with the experience of the other guests (i.e. putting the tripod in paths with people unable to walk through). Their membership is only $100 annually and they are a photoshoot locale for ALL seasons > check out a couple of the Fall pop ups below!
Location: The Historical House and Gardens of Filoli are located in the South Bay area, about 30-40 minutes from San Jose, and 10-20 minutes from SF.
86 Cañada Road,
Woodside, CA 94062
Hours: Mon-Sun, 10am-5pm
Price: $25/person/visit or $100/person/annual
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Continuing with Instagrammable spots in the South Bay area and moving onto the beautiful landscapes of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge first opened in 1974 with the mission to preserve and protect the wildlife habitat. There is a bit of walking involved in order to get to visible points and see all that the Refuge has to offer, but I can promise its worth it! Instagrammable spots are endless here.
Tips: I visited on a Saturday and found this spot to be almost empty, with exception of seeing a few others taking photos way off in the distance. Yay for open, empty spaces with all the Instagrammable opps.
Location: A true South Bay area location – but a little closer to San Jose with about 30 minute drive, and about 40-50 minutes from downtown SF.
2 Marshlands Rd,
Fremont, CA 94555
Hours: Mon-Sun, 7am – 7pm
Alviso Marina County Park
I must have a thing for nature all of a sudden because I find myself shooting at all of the lake spots! Alviso Marina County Park is a vast 20 acre bayside park and has some great Instagrammable spots, along with the best sunset views. There are walkways all along the water and paths weaving throughout the park. On the pathways to the water, they have scattered little yellow doorways throughout the park. Photo spot perfection!
Tips: You need to climb down a bit of a hill to get to the spot in the bottom left pictures, right next to the water, but there are little paths you can follow. Absolutely recommend capturing a sunset here if you can, the views are incredible.
Location: Another true South Bay area location located just south of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge noted above.
1195 Hope St.
San Jose, CA 95002
Hours: Mon-Sun, 8am-Sunset
Los Gatos Creek County Park
Closing out with the first park that I visited! My husband and dog accompanied me along on to Los Gatos Creek County Park and it was such a beautiful day with so much to see. I didn’t take many Instagram shots because it was more about family time, but there are SO many Instagrammable spots around this area – bridges, docks, massive tree enclosures over walking paths and more!
Tips: We went on the weekend in the afternoon and it was BUSY, even with Covid. Definitely go in the morning if you plan to go on the weekends to shoot! There is plenty of parking which is great.
Location: The final of my South Bay area locations and it’s a bit further from SF at roughly 55 minutes, and only 13 minutes from San Jose.
1250 Dell Ave, Campbell,
Hours: Mon-Sun, 8am-Sunset
The Pulgas Water Temple is also a great find in the South Bay area, but unfortunately has been closed since Covid and I have not been able to visit.
Make sure to check out my other posts for more Instagrammable spots in California!