La Jolla: The Jewel of San Diego
There are many treasures of this Mediterranean-style village that make La Jolla one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in Southern California: luxurious and historic hotels and resorts; fine dining with breathtaking ocean views; retail shopping that rivals northern neighbors Rodeo Drive and South Coast Plaza; sophisticated, world-class arts and culture, and a strikingly beautiful setting complemented by endless outdoor recreational activities.
Add to this extraordinary mix a rich history with numerous famous residents, from Gregory Peck to Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), and some of the nation’s leading scientific research centers, including the internationally renowned Salk Institute and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and visitors can experience an unparalleled leisure holiday.
The following are just some of the diverse offerings of La Jolla (pronounced “La Hoya”; translated from Spanish as “the jewel”) that guests can experience throughout the year.
For a comprehensive list of things to do in and around San Diego, head over to the Discover La Jolla | San Diego's Jewel by the sea
BEACHES AND WATER ACTIVITIES
La Jolla’s beaches and coastline are considered to be some of the most beautiful settings in the world; its aqua waters provide endless options for fun and relaxation.
- Lifeguards watch over families splashing in the rocky shallows off La Jolla Cove, a small patch of sand tucked between weather-sculpted sandstone cliffs. This area’s breathtaking views are a favorite subject of photographers and painters from around the world.
- The Children’s Pool, a small picturesque beach with a panoramic view that is partially protected by a large seawall, is just south of La Jolla Cove. The Pool’s original intent was to be a protected swimming area for children, but sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. Today, the beach is a popular home for hundreds of seals, and Seal Rock, a reserve for these marine mammals, is located just offshore.
- South of La Jolla Village, Windansea Beach is best known for its beautiful scenery and hard-breaking surf due to huge underwater reefs. Sunbathing is popular here, as large sandstone rocks create a secluded setting. Windansea is also home to a legendary Polynesian-style surf hut, built in 1947 by pioneer Windansea surfers and registered as a San Diego Historic Site. Today, the hut provides an excellent vantage point for watching the surfers and sunbathers below.
- North of La Jolla Village, La Jolla Shores was once recognized by the Travel Channel as one of the most family-friendly beaches in San Diego County. A wide boardwalk, which separates the beach from a large grassy park ideal for picnicking and volleyball games, parallels its mile-long sandy shore.
- Kayaking is popular along La Jolla Shores, as guests can paddle during low tide to
La Jolla Caves to the south and Scripps Pier to the north. Rentals are available and daily guided tours are provided by a number of companies including Hike Bike Kayak Inc and OEX Dive and Kayak. www.hikebikekayak.com, www.oeexpress.com
- The world’s first all women’s surf school, Surf Diva promotes, teaches and supports surfing for women (and men) of all ages with surf camps and private and coed lessons. www.surfdiva.com
- La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Preserve is a popular recreational area for scuba divers and snorkelers who can encounter the protected marine life in some of California’s clearest coastal waters with visibility often exceeding 30 feet.
- Blacks Beach, a two-mile long, sandy strip situated at the base of majestic cliffs, is north of La Jolla Shores and part of Torrey Pines State Beach. Because the cliffs tower up to 300 feet high, access to the beach is limited and difficult. The beauty and privacy of Blacks Beach have made it popular for nude sunbathing, a practice that is not officially sanctioned but prevalent.
For more information on La Jolla’s beaches, visit: www.lajollabythesea.com/beaches.
Recreational enthusiasts can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in La Jolla, from paragliding above the blue Pacific to golf on an internationally recognized golf course.
- Twelve championship tennis courts are available to visitors at The La Jolla Tennis Club, nestled in the village of La Jolla and host to tournament play since 1917. Also, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club resort offers championship tennis courts available to guests and members. www.ljbtc.com
- Set above Blacks Beach to the north of the Village, the Torrey Pines Gliderport has been the learning place for aviation greats including the Lindberghs, Boyles and many more. The Gliderport was first established as a soaring site in 1928 and has defined the history of motorless flight. Today, the Gliderport offers hang gliding, paragliding, scale models and sailplane flight. www.flytorrey.com
- At Torrey Pines Golf Course, home of the prestigious 2008 U.S. Open, golfers marvel at the views of the coastline atop cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean just north of La Jolla. Long recognized as one of the nation's foremost municipal golf facilities, it is truly a golfer's paradise. Torrey Pines hosts the annual Famers Insurance Open every January. www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com
- Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 2,000-acre reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Visitors hike the 8 miles of trails encountering native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. The reserve includes a visitor center and is host to guided nature walks on weekends and holidays to a vista point overlooking Peñasquitos Lagoon and the ocean. www.torreypines.org
- Visitors and locals alike enjoy a walk through the Village of La Jolla any time of day. A car is not required to experience different aspects of this enchanting coastal community. Shopping, galleries, dining, museums, hotels, beach activities and breathtaking natural beauty can all be found within the five-mile radius of the Village proper. Guided, historic tours and hikes are available from local companies.
La Jolla is one of San Diego’s most desirable shopping districts known for sophisticated, designer apparel boutiques; original jewelry shops featuring exquisite gems, and galleries offering luxury rugs and artwork from around the world.
- Sometimes called the “Rodeo Drive” of San Diego, La Jolla’s Prospect Street overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is lined with small specialty shops, boutiques, antique emporiums and art galleries. In addition to offering elegant, designer fashions in sophisticated apparel shops, La Jolla is also known for its exquisite and original fine jewelry of magnificent and brilliant gems.
- Girard Avenue, intersecting with Prospect Street, features everything from Armani to Meanley & Son Hardware. Stores like MOS (My Own Space) feature ultra-modern original furniture and funky, affordable accessories, while mainstays like Warwicks Stationers offer the finest in pens, stationary and literature, since 1896. Hipster clothing boutiques like Let’s Go make Girard Avenue appealing to every shopper’s tastes and interests.
- Along Girard Avenue, the Upper Girard Design District offers numerous home furnishing boutiques ideal for shoppers seeking unique luxury home décor items.
- Bird Rock, located at the south end of La Jolla along La Jolla Blvd., offers an upscale, eco-friendly environment for posh shopping. The recently revitalized merchant district boasts everything from an organic coffee shop and green nail salon, to designer boutiques adorned with fashionable shoes, bags and bikinis, and upscale children’s clothing boutiques. www.birdrock.org
Combining spectacular ocean views with award-winning menus that focus on farm-fresh organic ingredients, La Jolla’s chefs offer some of San Diego’s most exciting and unique fine dining experiences.
- The award-winning A.R. Valentien, located in the Lodge at Torrey Pines, serves a menu of seasonal provisions from local farmers’ markets, small growers, ranchers and fishermen. Chef Jeff Jackson emphasizes basic ingredients, minimal handling and simple flavors. www.arvalentien.com
- Set in the heart of La Jolla, Whisknladle takes a back-to-the future approach to food, making most items from scratch. Executive chef/partner Ryan Johnston’s philosophy is reflected in a diverse menu of upscale comfort foods on plates made to share. Everything is baked, churned, smoked, aged, cured and pickled in-house; Johnston also purchases ingredients from local growers such as Chino Farms. www.whisknladle.com
- The award-winning Nine-Ten restaurant, located in the historic Grande Colonial hotel, is one of the neighborhood's hottest bistros. Chef Jason Knibb, a 2010 Rising Star Chef winner, presents market fresh, evolving California cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere. www.nine-ten.com
- Overlooking scenic La Jolla Cove, George's at the Cove features executive chef Trey Foshee's creative regional cuisine in an atmosphere of modern elegance. Foshee’s cutting edge and ever-changing menu can be enjoyed in three of the restaurant’s settings: the first-story California Modern featuring an elegant dining room, the bistro-styled George’s Bar and the rooftop Ocean Terrace, spanning spectacular ocean views. www.georgesathecove.com
- A local landmark since 1941, The Marine Room is nestled along the sand of La Jolla Shores. The changing tides and dramatic waves crashing against the restaurant’s windows provide the perfect backdrop for executive chef Bernard Guillas’ sophisticated dishes like maple smoked bison carpaccio, thyme-rubbed free range veal tenderloin and lemon verbena lobster tail. Chef Guillas was recently inducted into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, becoming the only chef in San Diego to join the ranks of the 204 Master Chefs from around the world. www.marineroom.com
- At Roppongi Restaurant and Sushi Bar on Prospect Street, chef Stephen Window fuses East and West in dramatic and creative ways, including seasonal specialties and Asian-fusion tapas. Roppongi’s multiple dining areas include a sushi bar and covered patio with fire pit. www.roppongiusa.com
- Tapenade Restaurant on Fay Avenue features award-winning chef Jean-Michele Diot’s distinct southern French cuisine. As one of the finest French restaurants in San Diego, Diot’s style of French Provencal gastronomy fused with American cuisine creates one-of-a-kind, quality dishes www.tapenade.com
- Overlooking La Jolla Cove, Brockton Villa has been serving award-winning breakfast, lunch and seasonal dinner for 20 years. Using local ingredients and seafood, the menu includes fresh takes on classic American cuisine. Not to be missed is Brockton Villa’s world-famous Coast Toast French toast, served throughout the day. www.brocktonvilla.com
ARTS, CULTURE & SCIENCE
From theater bound for Broadway to cutting edge contemporary art and scientific innovations that help change the world, La Jolla entertains and inspires visitors in unexpected ways.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on Prospect Street features contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings and graphic art created since 1945. The permanent collection is displayed concurrently with temporary exhibitions, and the lush garden paths and landscaping at the oceanfront facility provide space for outdoor sculpture and installations. www.mcasd.org
- The Tony Award®-winning La Jolla Playhouse is one of the most respected and prestigious theaters in the nation. Theater-goers can enjoy innovative productions
May through October at the Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts and the state-of-the-art Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus. La Jolla Playhouse productions that have moved to
Broadway include the Tony Award-winning musicals Memphis and Jersey Boys, as well as The Who’s Tommy, Cry-Baby, Thoroughly Modern Millie and the Pulitzer Prize winner I Am My own Wife. www.lajollaplayhouse.com
- Also located on the UCSD campus, the Stuart Collection offers 16 site-specific works by leading artists of our time, including John Baldessari, Jenny Holzer, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Alexis Smith and William Wegman.
Self-guided walking tour maps are available. www.stuartcollection.ucsd.edu
- The La Jolla Music Society presents classical music throughout the year. The
Celebrity Series features a dazzling array of the world's most distinguished musicians and orchestras; music concerts are presented during the Revelle Series, featuring performances at the Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The nationally recognized, annual SummerFest program features an array of free enrichment events in addition to a variety of world-class concerts at locations throughout La Jolla. www.lajollamusicsociety.com
- The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is situated on a spectacular site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium presents undersea creatures in realistic habitats and allows visitors to experience the frontiers of marine science through interactive museum exhibits and participation in exciting educational activities. The aquarium reflects the work of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, world-renowned for its oceanographic research and instruction. www.sio.ucsd.edu
- The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, adjacent to UCSD, is also world-renowned for its medical research. Public tours, which focus on the institute’s unique architecture by Louis I. Kahn, are available. www.salk.edu
ANNUAL EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
Throughout the year, La Jolla hosts a number of San Diego’s most exciting annual events and festivals.
- An internationally recognized golf tournament, the Farmers Insurance Open is played every January on the spectacular Torrey Pines Golf Course.www.buickinvitational.com
- The La Jolla Motorcar Classic occurs every spring and lets guests admire timeless autos along the coast. http://lajollamotorcarclassic.com
- The La Jolla Half Marathon takes place every April. www.lajollahalfmarathon.com
- The Secret Garden Tour in May, sponsored by the La Jolla Historical Society, allows guests to tour some of La Jolla’s most beautiful residential gardens.www.ljhs.org
- The Annual La Jolla Festival of Arts and Food Fair takes place every June on the UCSD campus with award-winning artists, gourmet cuisine, contemporary music and entertainment. www.lajollaartfestival.org
- In August, La Jolla locales provide spectacular settings for the annual SummerFest, a renowned chamber music festival. www.ljms.org
- The La Jolla Rough Water Swim, the largest such swimming competition in the nation, takes place at La Jolla Cove every September. www.ljrws.com
- In early December, guests get into the holiday spirit during the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. www.ljparade.com