Things to do in La Jolla: beach fun, explore the coastline and downtown area (updated 2023)
La Jolla, just north of San Diego really fits into that perfect beach and Southern California culture and lifestyle. Gorgeous beaches, scenic coastal walks with dreamy sunsets, year round adventure and recreation activities are all there to fill your days and so many other fun things to do in La Jolla. If you’re looking for that quick getaway and what to do in San Diego, check out these fun & cool things to do in La Jolla, San Diego.
Why visit La Jolla?
Just a short drive north from San Diego and less then two hour drive from Los Angeles, La Jolla is that perfect getaway to relax and unwind, enjoy the outdoors and fantastic coastline. Adventure lovers will enjoy all the outdoor activities around the coastal areas and foodies will love the diverse food choices, craft beer and cocktail hang out spots and delicious bakeries and specialty shops to enjoy. This city caters to all the best of Southern California lifestyle and being outdoors. Check out all the inspiring places to see in La Jolla below.
Where is La Jolla located?
La Jolla is located in San Diego, California, along the picturesque coastline of the Pacific Ocean. La Jolla is approximately 12 miles (19 kilometers) northwest of downtown San Diego, making it easily accessible for a day trip or a short drive from the city center.
Check out the amazing wildlife along the La Jolla coastline
Along the coastline around La Jolla cove, you will find a lot of wildlife hanging out on the rocky areas next to the ocean. It’s fascinating to see wildlife up close right along the coastal areas. Just make sure that you leave enough space between yourself and any of this sea life – they are wild so don’t take any risks to get a perfect photo-op.
La Jolla activities – enjoy a coastal walk
The entire coastal area along the rim is mostly asphalt walkways and some dirt paths going through extremely beautiful areas. Spring and summer is ideal with the abundance of California wildflowers and other perennials that bloom along the coastal areas and is a perfect photo opportunity to get those pops of color into your composition or selfies. You can see so much amazing sea life and even visit the cool La Jolla sea caves by hiking or on the water in Kayaks.
Colorful coastal blooms on the trails in La Jolla
La Jolla attractions – beach time at La Jolla Shores Beach
Easy surf and access of water sports like SUPs and kayaks on flat sand with life guards and restroom/shower facilities make this one of the most popular beaches to hang out in La Jolla. Next door is Kellogg Park, a family friendly park with nice playground and enough parking. The one mile long beach is considered the calmest of the San Diego beaches and is next to the Underwater Park Ecological preserve. Check out the amenities and regulations visiting La Jolla beach here for more details and information.
Shopping around La Jolla village and malls
The shopping is fun and filled with cool galleries, eateries and unique stores catering to an upscale clientele base with a variety of shopping venues in the village area, La Jolla Village Square, La Jolla Galleria and Westfield shopping mall. Exploring the village area is fun with cool boutiques and international brands that cater to the La Jolla crowds and visitors to the area while being in a more open outdoor environment. Another fun activity, La Shores restaurants are always a popular gathering and hangout spot all day and late into the evening.
Delicious cookies for sale in the Village
A very cool and historic library downtown
Best things to do in La Jolla – the craft beer scene
The craft brewery scene is huge in San Diego and La Jolla has its own local breweries to thanks for keeping it local. Fun craft places around La Jolla include the popular La Jolla Brewing Company, Karl Strauss Brewing Company and new upstart Ale Smith Brewing Company. It seems like there are new breweries expanding coming into the La Jolla beach and surrounding areas as fun places to hang out and enjoy some of the delicious new crafts breweries in the area.
Ready to take a break – check out these popular places to eat around La Jolla
La Jolla has a vibrant and fun dining scene with a variety of popular local places to eat. Here are some recommendations for restaurants and eateries in the area:
George’s at the Cove
– This iconic restaurant offers stunning ocean views and a diverse menu. The Ocean Terrace is perfect for casual dining, while the California Modern dining room offers a fine dining experience.
– A charming and cozy spot known for its delicious breakfast and brunch. Try their signature lemon-ricotta pancakes or the smoked salmon scramble.
Duke’s La Jolla
– Named after Duke Kahanamoku, this Hawaiian-inspired restaurant offers fresh seafood and Pacific Rim cuisine. Enjoy oceanfront dining and a lively atmosphere.
Puesto La Jolla
– For tasty Mexican street food and creative tacos, Puesto is a local favorite. Their vibrant atmosphere and artisanal margaritas make it a must-visit.
– Located in a historic beachfront cottage, this restaurant offers American coastal cuisine with a focus on fresh seafood. Don’t miss their famous Coast Toast for breakfast.
The Marine Room
– Indulge in a unique dining experience as you enjoy high-tide dinners with waves crashing against the restaurant’s windows. The seafood menu is exceptional.
El Pescador Fish Market
– A casual seafood market and restaurant where you can savor the catch of the day. Their fish tacos and clam chowder are highly recommended.
– Located in the Grande Colonial Hotel, Nine-Ten offers a farm-to-table dining experience with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients.
– This contemporary American bistro is known for its innovative cuisine. The menu features a mix of classic and inventive dishes with fresh, local ingredients.
The Med at La Valencia
– Dine at this oceanfront restaurant in the historic La Valencia Hotel. Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired cuisine while taking in breathtaking views of the Pacific.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
– A seafood and steakhouse offering a sophisticated dining experience. Their seafood tower and live jazz music add to the ambiance.
Sushi on the Rock
– If you’re a sushi enthusiast, this spot offers a variety of fresh sushi rolls, sashimi, and creative Japanese dishes.
These are just a few of the popular dining options in La Jolla. Whether you’re in the mood for upscale oceanfront dining or casual bites, La Jolla’s culinary scene has something to satisfy every palate.
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary art and sculpture garden
This is a gorgeous contemporary art museum right on the coastline with a gorgeous sculpture garden that is open and free to the public while the museum has a priced entry. The museum is going through remodeling at the moment but the garden is open for the public. For more details of exhibits and rotating shows, check out the museum’s website here for an updated calendar and information.
Fine art in La Jolla – The Stuart Collection
If your into free and cool public art, there are 18 pieces of public art are located around the UC campus at San Diego site. Large scale public art pieces but regional and international sculptors are open for the public to enjoy, to check out the locations and artists at the site, visit the UCSD website here for more details and where to see the sculptures.
Weather and best time to vist La Jolla
The best time to visit La Jolla, California, largely depends on your preferences for weather and activities. Here’s a breakdown of the weather and the ideal times to explore this beautiful coastal town:
Spring (March to May)
– Spring is a fantastic time to visit La Jolla. The weather is mild and pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C).
– Wildflowers bloom along the coastline, adding to the scenic beauty.
– Ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, beachcombing, and exploring the local flora and fauna.
Summer (June to August)
– Summer is peak tourist season in La Jolla, thanks to warm and sunny weather.
– Daytime temperatures range from 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C), making it perfect for beach outings and water sports.
– Keep in mind that summer crowds can be significant, and accommodations may be more expensive.
Fall (September to November)
– Fall is another excellent time to visit as the weather remains pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).
– The crowds begin to thin out after the summer rush, making it a quieter and more relaxed experience.
– It’s a great time for hiking, exploring tide pools, and enjoying outdoor dining.
Winter (December to February)
– La Jolla experiences mild winters with temperatures ranging from 55°F to 65°F (13°C to 18°C).
– While it’s not as warm as summer, it’s still a suitable time for outdoor activities.
– Winter is ideal for observing seals and sea lions along the coast, as they often give birth during this season.
Overall, La Jolla offers pleasant weather throughout the year, but the spring and fall seasons tend to be the best times for a visit due to milder temperatures and fewer crowds. However, if you’re a fan of warmer weather and don’t mind the tourist influx, summer can also be an enjoyable time to explore this coastal paradise.
Enjoy a sunset moment along the La Jolla coastline
Finding a perfect spot on the coastline for that La Jolla sunset is where you want to be for a romantic end to the evening or just hanging out with some friends and enjoying end of day on the coast with a brilliant sunset. It’s not always going to be perfect, but the fun of enjoying the outdoors and witnessing end of day on the beach or coast line is a memory worth treasuring on your visit to this gorgeous area.
La Jolla Cove activities and enjoying the golden hour along the coastline
How to get around La Jolla area
Getting around the La Jolla area is relatively straightforward, with various transportation options to suit your needs. Here’s how to navigate the area:
Renting a car provides the most flexibility to explore La Jolla and its surroundings. There are several car rental agencies available, including at San Diego International Airport. Parking is usually available at hotels, beaches, and shopping areas, but it can be limited in some places, so plan accordingly.
Taxis and Ride-Sharing Apps
Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft operate in La Jolla. They are convenient for short trips within the area or for getting to nearby attractions and neighborhoods.
La Jolla is a bike-friendly community with bike lanes and paths. You can rent bicycles from local shops or use bike-sharing programs, such as DecoBike. Biking is an excellent way to explore the coastal area and take in the scenery.
La Jolla’s compact size makes it ideal for walking. Many attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other, especially in the Village area. Stroll along the coastal streets, explore the coves, and enjoy the ocean views on foot.
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates buses that connect La Jolla to other parts of San Diego. Bus routes 30 and 30C serve La Jolla Village, making it possible to use public transportation for short journeys.
Electric scooters are available for rent in La Jolla through various companies. They provide a fun and eco-friendly way to zip around the area for short trips.
Consider taking guided tours, such as walking tours or bus tours, to explore La Jolla’s attractions. These tours often provide interesting insights into the area’s history and culture.
If you prefer not to drive, you can arrange for car services or private transportation to take you to specific destinations or for longer journeys.
Some hotels in La Jolla offer shuttle services to nearby attractions or the airport. Check with your accommodations for availability.
With these transportation options, you’ll have no trouble getting around La Jolla and making the most of your visit to this beautiful coastal community. Whether you prefer to drive, walk, bike, or use public transit, there are choices to suit every traveler’s style and itinerary.
Adventure activities in La Jolla
There are so many fun adventure activities you can do on the land and in the water to have an amazing experience in La Jolla. For those interested in water adventure a snorkel or Kayak tour can be had with La Jolla Sea caves Kayak which is a fantastic way to see the coastline and sealife under the water. There are cool things to do on land like a fun bike tour of the area.
Another good thing to do would to kayak or sup and explore some of the cool caves and scenic coastal areas around La Jolla. There are many outfitters to choose from and tour with a local guides to show you some of the best places to explore along La Jolla’s beautiful coastline.
Popular beaches at La Jolla
If you are ready for a fun beach day around La Jolla, check out all these popular beaches to explore and enjoy a day outdoors:
Here are some of the popular ones you should explore:
La Jolla Cove
– Known for its crystal-clear waters, La Jolla Cove is a top spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, and observing marine life. The surrounding cliffs add to its picturesque beauty.
La Jolla Shores Beach
– This wide, sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beginner-level surfing. It also has a long, gentle shoreline, making it ideal for families.
– Windansea is famous for its striking natural beauty and powerful surf breaks. It’s a popular destination for experienced surfers and photographers.
Children’s Pool Beach
– Originally designed as a swimming area for kids, this beach is now often frequented by harbor seals and sea lions. It’s a unique spot to observe these marine mammals up close.
– Located beneath rugged cliffs, Black’s Beach is known for its dramatic scenery and strong surf. It’s a clothing-optional beach and a favorite among surfers and hikers.
– A hidden gem, Shell Beach is a quiet cove known for its tide pools. It’s an excellent place for exploring marine life and collecting seashells.
– Boomer Beach is a popular spot for bodyboarding and bodysurfing due to its powerful waves. It’s named after the “booming” sound the waves make as they crash.
Marine Street Beach
– A picturesque spot with steep wooden stairs leading to the shore. It’s a great place to enjoy the sunset and take in the beautiful coastal views.
– Hospital Beach is located near the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It’s a quiet and serene beach with tide pools to explore.
– As the name suggests, Wipeout Beach has challenging surf conditions, making it popular among experienced surfers seeking an adrenaline rush.
Each of these beaches in La Jolla offers a unique coastal experience, from swimming and sunbathing to surfing and wildlife watching. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach or an adventure on the waves, La Jolla has a beach for every preference.
Where to stay in La Jolla
Check out these fantastic places to stay while you’re visiting La Jolla – it’s about being central and in a good place.
La Jolla Beach Travel Lodge – right on the beach with great views and beach access, the lodge is in a great place, good front desk service with pool & spa. Well appointed rooms with standard amenities and nice toiletry
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club – fantastic location, great customer service with pool/spa and golfing and private beach, the rooms are clean and spacious with all the right amenities.
Pantai Inn – A hidden gem this exudes with customer service, beautiful rooms, well maintains with some ocean views, good breakfast service and easy access to the ocean.
Lodge at Torrey Pines – If you’re looking for that absolute California experience then a stay here is a must with great views, spacious rooms and a beautiful signature hotel to relax and enjoy the beautiful area.
Check out these other Trip Advisor suggestions for best deals and reviews.
Check out these fun outdoor experiences too!
Segway tour of La Jolla – a fun 2 hour tour passing through popular areas like Torrey Pines, La Jolla cove and village and other scenic coastal areas
La Jolla Coast Bike tours – a ten mile, two and a half hour tour of the scenic areas of La Jolla including vista points, coastal tours, the village and other attractions around the area.
La Jolla kayak & whale watching tour – a fun and unique way to experience wildlife including whales by kayaking around scenic areas where whales tend to pass through the La Jolla coastlines.
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