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La Jolla

La Jolla

Find something for everyone in San Diego’s multi-faceted seaside jewel

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Although technically part of San Diego, the community of La Jolla feels like a destination unto itself: You could easily spend a few days in this enclave and get a full Southern California experience—along with a walkable village of hotels, shops, and cafés that possess a sophisticated vibe.

Things to Do in La Jolla

For starters, La Jolla (pronounced la HOY-uh) has a prime perch on San Diego County’s coastline. Located about 20 minutes north of downtown, La Jolla is home to the wide, white-sand beaches of La Jolla Shores, with surfing, snorkeling, and made-for-sunset firepits, as well as an adjacent playground for kids. Book a surfing lesson at Everyday California, an eco-minded ocean adventure company that can also accommodate snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking plans. Another option is Surf Diva, a local operation that started out more than two decades ago as an all-girls surf school but now offers programs for anyone looking to hang ten, as well as a shop with classic surf gear and fashions. Or head out onto the waters with La Jolla KayakSan Diego Bike and Kayak Tours and paddle or snorkel among La Jolla’s marine denizens, from colorful garibaldi to (harmless) leopard sharks. To see more aquatic critters while on land, explore the Birch Aquarium, affiliated with the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, or stand along the sea wall at a beach known as The Children’s Pool, and watch a large community of seals lounge, bark, and tend to their cubs. For more seal watching, visit the hilly village areas known as The Cove and Bird Rock. Another great option: Hike the ocean-view trails at the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, under the shade of the rare, long-needled pine trees that are common in this little pocket of the Golden State.

Arts and Performance in La Jolla

Don’t miss the cultural stops, too, like the La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San DiegoWarwick’s (the nation’s oldest family-owned bookstore), or the local art galleries such as Legends Gallery, where you can see out-of-the box paintings by the late Theodore Geisel, the longtime La Jolla resident better known as Dr. Seuss. (Insider tip: Look at the unique flora around La Jolla to see what may have inspired Seuss’s whimsical plants and trees).

Or, go see a future Broadway hit at La Jolla Playhouse, located on the University of California San Diego campus. Co-founded by Gregory Peck in 1947, the theater has been the birthplace of a long list of crowd-pleasing and Tony Award-winning hits, from Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Who’s Tommy to Jersey Boys and Come From Away. Come for one of its Page-to-Stage performances to watch (and offer feedback on) works still in progress. You can even bundle in a dinner of fresh seafood or a Kobe burger at the theater’s on-site James’ Place, helmed by acclaimed sushi chef James Holder.

Restaurants in La Jolla

No matter what you do in La Jolla, the ocean is always in plain view—and that includes dining. Book a table at beloved George’s at the Cove, colorful taco haven Puesto, Hawaiian-cuisine specialists Duke’s La Jolla, or seafood and farm-to-table-focused Nine-Ten. A few other culinary must-stops in La Jolla stretch beyond the Cove. The Marine Room, in La Jolla Shores, offers incredible “high tide” brunches and dinners where the tall waves crash into the giant windows as you eat. To the north, tee off at Torrey Pines Golf Course before indulging in a sumptuous meal at A.R. Valentien, the signature restaurant at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Places to Stay in La Jolla

Long accustomed to hosting visitors drawn to the city’s undeniable charms, La Jolla has no shortage of impressive accommodations. Book a room at the historic La Valencia Hotel, the Mediterranean-style “Pink Lady” that once hosted World War II soldiers about to ship out, as well as Hollywood A-listers. Dating to 1913, the Grande Colonial is another La Jolla institution; it  offers bicycles for rent at the front desk, as well as the aforementioned Nine-Ten restaurant. Other options include the hacienda-style Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa; Inn by the Sea, located in the heart of La Jolla Village; and the relaxed, Polynesian-inspired Pantai Inn, which has spacious suites steps from Shell Beach and Seal Rock. Tennis-playing beachgoers have their very own mecca here: at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, guests have 12 championship hard courts to choose from, plus the availability of lessons, camps, and clinics with USPTA pros; choose from luxury suites, beachfront guest rooms, and private cottages.

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