The question — and the champagne — have been popped. Congratulations! It’s time to decide where to take your dreamy engagement photos. Luckily, The San Francisco Peninsula has several gorgeous locations for a photoshoot. Want the ocean waves crashing behind you? You’ve got it. Prefer a whimsical cottage garden? No problem. With a variety of natural scenery and settings to choose from, you can’t go wrong in selecting a location in San Mateo County.
PULGAS WATER TEMPLE
This hidden gem tucked in Redwood City will give your photos a warm, Mediterranean feel. Built in 1938, the Pulgas Water Temple commemorates the completion of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, which brings water to Crystal Springs Reservoir from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The manicured lawn and reflecting pool are lined with Cypress trees, and in the late summer, lavender blooms surround the area. The temple is easily accessible from the nearby parking lot, which is open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.
Immerse yourself in the history and natural beauty at Filoli Historic House & Gardens located in Woodside. There is no shortage of unique spots for photography in this magical setting. Formal gardens, green hedges, brick architecture, long pathways, and hidden nooks make for a variety of beautiful photos. There is something new to see during every season and around every corner. Filoli is open every day from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Check out their website for more information about tickets and their photography policy.
SEAL COVE TREE TUNNEL
Located 30 minutes south of San Francisco, the Cypress tree forest near Moss Beach is a popular destination for photographers. The large tree canopy creates an ethereal backdrop for photos. Make your way down one of the trails and there are staircases leading you right down to the beach or the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, which has a rocky seashore filled with marine life.
THE SAN MATEO COUNTY COAST
Rich in history, beauty, and community spirit, Pacifica is located just 12 miles south of San Francisco along the scenic coast of the Pacific Ocean. The hiking trails on the bluffs at Mori Point are a top choice for photography with sweeping views of the ocean. Other nearby favorites include Devil’s Slide Trail and Gray Whale Cove State Beach.
STANFORD ARIZONA CACTUS GARDEN
For a beautiful desert setting not far from the city, head over to the Arizona Cactus Garden at Stanford University. This popular spot among photographers is filled with growing cacti and succulents. The lighting is especially stunning near sunset when the sun pokes through the trees and cacti.
RUSSIAN RIDGE OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
Golden hour at Russian Ridge Preserve is unlike anything else. Near Portola Valley, this preserve has extensive mountain views of the San Francisco Bay Area. In the spring, there is a vibrant display of wildflowers that provides a colorful palette for photos.
ELIZABETH F. GAMBLE GARDEN
Bursting with flowers all around, Gamble Garden is a 2.5-acre property with several formal gardens, including a rose area and a cutting garden. The white gazebo is the perfect backdrop for photos, especially when it’s adorned with vines. The garden is open during daylight hours, and admission is free, though donations are encouraged. You can find more information in their photography guidelines.
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