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Insider’s Guide to La Jolla

Insider’s Guide to La Jolla
Come see why San Diego County’s “Jewel” is such a special destination

Warwick’s

The nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and -operated bookstore is Warwick’s in La Jolla. That’s thanks to one William T. Warwick, who entered the book business in 1896 in Iowa. Life soon led him to this dreamy stretch of the Pacific coast, where he bought an existing bookstore, then married the widowed former owner, Genevieve Redding. The business—now run by their great-granddaughters—has become not just a local institution, but also a must-stop on any prominent national book tour. So check Warwick’s events listings whenever you’re in town, because chances are, so is an actor, politician, or celebrity chef who’ll be reading from a newly released book. And even on event-free days, a trip to this sprawling store is bibliophile heaven, with passionate staff recommendations for every genre. The San Diego–themed section is particularly good, with helpful hiking guides, gorgeous photography collections, and fascinating lessons on locals. (Leaf through Remarkable Women of San Diego: Pioneers, Visionaries and Innovators by Hannah Cohen and Gloria Harris.) On the second Tuesday morning each month, the shop hosts “coffee with a bookseller,” a free event where customers can talk books new and old over breakfast.

Everyday California

In and of itself, kayaking is a perfectly lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. But when you factor in caves, sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles, gray whales, a famous fault line, and masses of docile leopard sharks, “perfectly lovely” becomes “awe-inspiring,” as you’ll discover during a tour of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve with guides from local shop Everyday California. Mind you, not all the animals are guaranteed to show: You’re likeliest to see La Jolla’s famed leopard shark aggregations in the second half of the year, and the gray whale migration from mid-December through April. Still, on any given outing, dolphins could be swimming under you as a sea turtle bobs alongside you and a sea lion pops onto your bow. You’ll also visit the fabled seven sea caves, which include the Clam (the one you can paddle through) and Sunny Jim’s (where the local lore involves everyone from bootleggers to L. Frank Baum). Just east of the White Lady—a cave named for an ill-fated 19th-century honeymooner—you’ll see another La Jolla phenomenon: the Rose Canyon Fault line, exposed in a beachside cliff. Tack snorkeling on to your trip, and you’ll swim with marigold-hued garibaldi, shovel nose guitar fish, and many other colourful characters. Pro tip: Private tours aren’t advertised, but full buyouts are available if you’d rather sail solo—or with your own exclusive crew.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Possibly the last thing you expect when you pull up to this seaside California craftsman-style resort is a doorman in a kilt. But no sooner do you step into the lobby and stare out the lodge’s huge, wood-framed windows than you understand where the idea for this uniform came from: the homeland of the sport you’re about to see a lot of. You’ll essentially have a golf course for a backyard—specifically, La Jolla’s fabled Torrey Pines Golf Course, where you’ll get priority tee times. The scenery—velvety green cliffs, the area’s namesake pines, and the Pacific—is dreamy enough to satisfy even nongolfers. Among the spa, pool, yoga classes, and twelve kilometres of trails in nearby Torrey Pines State Park, there’s plenty to do when you’re not teeing up. And the indoor scenery is equally appealing: The 170-room hotel, built in 2002, was modeled after Pasadena’s iconic Gamble and Blacker houses. True to the arts and crafts movement that inspired the design, materials include wood, brick, and stone; and furnishings include Stickley furniture and stained glass.

George’s Level2

Given its prime La Jolla location—with a Pacific panorama to match—this stylish, modern bar could get away with serving almost anything. But lucky for spirits enthusiasts, George’s Level2 (one of three venues that make up George’s at the Cove) literally wrote the book on San Diego’s craft cocktail scene: Stephen Kurpinsky, head barman and director of spirits and beer, collaborated with his staff to produce Neighborhoods of San Diego, a beautifully bound compendium of drinks, each representative of—and photographed in—a distinct corner of the city. As you flip through the book, which doubles as the bar’s menu, you’ll get the local lowdown—learning, for example, that around 25,000 pedestrians enter the United States via the San Ysidro border crossing daily. But mostly, you’ll learn that choosing a drink here is nearly impossible. The most popular option is the La Jolla: tequila infused with mango, lime zest, and chili blended with fresh lime juice, agave syrup, and a saline-and-suspended-seaweed ice cube. If you’re looking for something with fizz, the Little Italy—with prosecco and balsamic strawberry shrub, among other treats—is the way to go.

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Windansea Beach by Myles McGuinness

Southern California

Discover San Diego County

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23
July
Average (°C)
June - Aug
23°
High
18°
Low
Sept - Nov
22°
High
15°
Low
Dec - Feb
18°
High
9°
Low
Mar - May
19°
High
13°
Low

Imagine 112 kilometres of sun-drenched coast, an inviting ocean, and a year-round daily forecast of 70°F/21°C, and you’ll understand why this southernmost stretch of the state is all about outdoor fun. Discover top theme parks and attractions like SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and LEGOLAND California.

The first European explorer to land in California, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, came ashore in San Diego in 1542.

Relax at legendary retreats like Hotel del Coronado, find art and culture in San Diego and surrounding cities like luxurious La Jolla, and enjoy world-class golf at Torrey Pines, and enjoy culture and diversity, all at the edge of a sparkling blue sea.

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Courtesy of L’Auberge Del Mar

L’Auberge Del Mar

Beachy vibes meet high-end elegance at this luxury resort just north of San Diego

L’Auberge Del Mar creates the illusion that you’re staying at your personal seaside villa, but it has all the amenities of a...

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Oceanside

Find exceptional restaurants, inventive breweries, and a thriving local art scene in Northern San Diego County

It doesn’t take an etymologist to figure out how Oceanside got its name:...

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Encinitas

Head north of downtown San Diego to experience one of the best surfing cities in the world

Encinitas isn’t just a city; it’s a vibe. Visit the coastal community 40km north of downtown San Diego and you’ll instantly get a...

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Del Mar

This San Diego County beach town is home to blissful ocean views—but it also knows how to throw a party

Despite Del Mar’s idyllic oceanfront setting, this little town just north of San Diego was, in many ways, born around horses. The...

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Chula Vista

San Diego County’s second largest city boasts authentic Mexican food, a burgeoning craft beer scene, and outdoor activities galore

About seven miles from downtown San Diego in one direction and the Mexican border in another, Chula Vista is quickly developing its own strong...

The San Diego skyline
San Diego Skyline by John Bahu

Spotlight: San Diego

San Diego County on a map of California
California dreamers, endless coastline & sunshine

As if all that sunshine isn’t enough, here’s a waterfront city brushed by perfect breezes, the light just right, the beer perfectly hoppy after a...

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Stretching 1,942 feet, the historic Oceanside Pier is the longest wooden pier on the Pacific Ocean.
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Giraffes at the San Diego Zoo

Spotlight: San Diego Zoo

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See rare and endangered species

Visiting this expansive zoo in San Diego’s Balboa Park is more than a chance to see animals from all over the world: it’s a chance to see one of...

Too darned pretty. Everywhere you look out there, everything's just too danged pretty! I'm usually the prettiest thing!
musician Little Richard on San Diego
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Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Southern California

Beach Towns & Big Thrills
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Your trip begins in California’s largest city. L.A. has nonstop action and things to do, but it can be a challenge to navigate, so planning your trip in advance is a big plus. Start in the coastal city of Santa Monica, with a wide, uncrowded beach, a signature pier topped by carnival rides and...

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Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons, and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks have plenty to see, even though they are less well known than Yosemite, roughly 75 miles/120 kilometres north. Within the borders of Sequoia & Kings Canyon are Mount Whitney, the...

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Discover quintessential sun and fun at these coastal charmers

Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you’ve got the recipe for some of California’s most appealing destinations. The Golden State’s beach towns stand out for...

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Gwynne Spann

Where to eat, what to drink

Endless Sun, Oceanfront Dining & Craft Breweries

With its endless sun and oceanfront location, as well as strong influences from Mexico, San Diego offers plenty of dining options—from flaky fish...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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John/ Flickr
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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Legoland California by Lucas Himovitz

Spotlight: Legoland California

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Magical Recreations, Rollercoasters & Smiles

It’s hard to say who enjoys Legoland more: the little ones running around in a magical world created by 60 million Lego plastic bricks, or their...

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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate play lands

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

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Lucas Himovitz
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The historic 101 Café in Oceanside is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant on historic Highway 101.
A lion cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
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San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Find out where the wild things are

Like a journey to Africa, a day at this spectacular park lets you see some of the world’s most magnificent—and endangered—animals at close range...

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
Thanks be to God, I arrived here...at this Port of San Diego. It is beautiful to behold, and does not belie its reputation.
Father Junipero Serra
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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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Alex Farnum
Surfers on a San Diego Beach
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San Diego Surfing & Surf Culture

Try your hand at hangin’ 10—or at least get the look

Sometimes it seems as if everyone surfs in San Diego County. When the surf is up, there’s a steady stream of dudes (and plenty of dudettes, too)...

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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

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November

Local and international talent gathers at the gustatory tribute to all that’s good about wine & food (and there’s beer too); the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is San Diego’s largest ...

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival attendees toasting with beers
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival by Kevin Hulett
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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-coloured pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Torrey Pines by Dave Lauridsen

San Diego Golf

Get your daily dose of greens at oceanfront courses

Perfect weather, challenging course, and incredible settings make San Diego County a golfer’s dream destination. It’s not surprising that many of...

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Julian

Visit a surprising mountain town that’s as American as apple pie

Poised between the desert and the coast, a little more than an hour’s drive east of San Diego, this surprising mountain town makes a great day...

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Jacques Yves Cousteau