When you’re in the La Jolla “village” area (near the Cove), the best way to get around is not to drive. This area is dense enough that you can easily walk, bike, or roller skate around the neighborhood. Plus, parking can get a little difficult to find, so once you get a spot you might not want to risk losing it.
For the areas of La Jolla outside the “village”, such as around UCSD or Torrey Pines, a car will be the easiest way to get around due to the distances and hilly terrain of the surrounding area.
- Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St, +1 858 454-5872 (fax: +1 858 454 5835). T, Th-Sa 10AM-5:30PM, W 10AM-8:30PM, closed Sundays and Mondays. A nonprofit, membership library which sponsors art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and art classes. Admission is free.
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2300 Expedition Way, +1 858 534-3474 (fax: +1 858 534-7114). Every day, 9AM-5PM. The public center for the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography (of University of California, San Diego), this award-winning aquarium has many fantastic exhibits, with oceanic species from all over the Pacific Ocean displayed, as well as sharks, a tide pool, a large kelp tank, and a coral reef (with actual living coral). The museum also has some spectacular views of the ocean and La Jolla as well as some nifty tide pools where you can touch tide-pool animals. $11 adults, $9 seniors, $7.50 children/teens. Free for children age 2 and under.
- The Cave Store, 1325 Cave St, +1 858 459-0746. Built on top of a sea cave, this gift shop offers tours of a small cavern open to the ocean. $5 adults, $3 children 16 and under.
- Children’s Pool Beach, 850 Coast Blvd (near La Jolla Cove). This beach is a favorite breeding spot for harbor seals. The beach is closed Dec 15-May 15 during breeding season, but you can still observe the seals from a safe distance. This beach used to be the children’s beach, and there is an ongoing dispute between animal rights supporters and others who disagree about who should own the beach. Depending on the current turn of events, swimming may or may not be permitted. Occasionally, the seals vanish, but move a few hundred feet to the right, close to the cove itself
- Mount Soledad is a prominent landmark just to the east of La Jolla, overlooking much of San Diego. The top of the mountain is adorned by the Mount Soledad Easter Cross and Veterans Memorial. It is home to many rabbits and couples. Sunrise and sunset are the two favorite times to go here. The twisty roads leading to the hill are full of plant life and give access to multimillion dollar hobbit homes which look much smaller from the street than from down below, as they are on a sloping hill. There are a few hairpin turns and tight bridges that are worth finding.
- Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla, 700 Prospect Street, +1 858 454 3541 (fax: +1 858 454 6985). Th 11AM-7PM, F-Tu 11AM-5PM, closed Wednesdays. Permanent and changing contemporary art exhibits. $10 general admission, age 25 and under free.
- Salk Institute of Biological Studies. Near UCSD is this architectural monolith; the structure for this noted institution is built out of unfinished concrete and perched atop the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Two symmetrical buildings stare at each other across a courtyard, the length of which runs a wide river which reverses into a pool and, through a small waterfall, down towards the dining hall seating area. The building is surrounded by a moat, and sports orange trees in the courtyard. In addition, many doors are deliberately unlabeled to encourage scientific exploration. The Salk gives tours, but you must schedule them (they are early in the morning).
- University of California, San Diego. A combination of a small liberal arts college and a large research university, UCSD has a good reputation locally and offers some interesting sights. You can take a walk around the campus and observe a number of famous artworks and architectural structures.
- Be sure to see the Geisel Library, named for the noted author Theodore Geisel (you may know him as Dr. Seuss!). This library is truly outstanding and looks something like a giant UFO. Seeing it at dusk is preferable, when the lights are on and the spaceship look is complete. On one side of the library, a sidewalk paved to look like a giant snake brings you down to a monumental granite book carved with a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost.
- Also look for some of the campus artwork, such as “Stonehenge”, which is a realistic sculpture of stonehenge, and the SunGod statue, which is bright, flamboyant and huge, but somehow camouflaged in a dark lawn.
- There’s also a Che Cafe and Porter’s Pub, which should entertain some amount of counterculture. Next to Porter’s Pub there’s an outside glass blowing facility attached to a coffee shop, so you can sip coffee while watching people blowing glass. Adjacent to that is a blacksmith and pottery workshop.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
12600 North Torrey Pines Rd, +1 858 755-2063. Gates open at 8AM and close at sunset. The visitor center opens at 9AM. Interpretive nature walks leave the visitor center at 10AM and 2PM on weekends and holidays. If you walk into the park, it’s free. Otherwise, parking fees are $8 per car; $5 seniors ($7 on weekends & holidays); $4 disabled. No bikes, dogs, food and beverages allowed.
A 2000-acre reserve consisting of a plateau with steep cliffs overlooking small canyons and the beautiful Torrey Pines State Beach. There are a number of hiking and beach-access trails, and a variety of wild flora and fauna, including the rare Torrey Pine tree, for which the park is named. There’s also a wide variety of animals. Rabbits, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, hawks, hummingbirds, and owls are all a part of the landscape, so sightings are common — especially as sunset approaches. From agave and freesia, to sage and strand, visitors will also see plenty of wildflowers and plant life along the way.
There is a visitors center with a small museum on top of the plateau. Here you can pick up a map, check out a few exhibits, and gather any information that you may need before preparing for a hike down to the beach. The hike down from the visitor center offers excellent views of the ocean, but there are several other trails, such as the Broken Hill Trail, leading to the beach also with great views of the ocean – if you’re lucky, you may spot Gray Whales in the winter or bottlenose dolphins. The beach itself is at the base of scenic cliffs and is excellent for swimming. It is also one of the least crowded beaches in the area, and is also great for picnics, walking, and relaxing.
- Torrey Pines Gliderport, 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, 1 858 452 9858 (fax: +1 858 452 9983). Learn to hang glide.
- Lajollacooks4u, 2094 Caminito Capa (Mount Soledad), ☎ 858-752-4980. 10am-8pm. Unique activity for tourists. Gourmet hands-on cooking and dining experiences, Farmer’s Market and Foodie Tours.
- La Jolla Cove, 1100 Coast Blvd. A very popular beach for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, set against beautiful sea cliffs. The bluffs above the beach are grassy, making a great spot for picnics. Keep in mind that La Jolla Cove is part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, so fishing, scavenging, or “swimming devices” (surfboards, boogie boards, inflatable mattresses, etc.) are not allowed.
- Windansea Beach, in south La Jolla. This beach has no facilities, but is notable for playing host to a great number of talented and famous surfers. The simple “Surf Shack” structure there has been designated a historic landmark. There are huge, smoothly sculpted rocks on this beach that are fun to climb on on and look at.
- Marine Street Beach, in south La Jolla – A local beach with some rough and dangerous surf. This is a great spot for body surfing and body boarding. No facilities are available here.
- La Jolla Shores. In north La Jolla, this beach has some of the gentlest waves of any beach in San Diego. The beach is notable for being near the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus and it contains the Scripps Pier. This is one of the only beach boat launching areas in La Jolla, so it’s a popular spot for kayaking and surfing.
- Black’s Beach is in north La Jolla just below Torrey Pines State Park. Set against high cliffs, Black’s Beach is the largest nude beach in the country. Technically, there are two parts of the beach. There is the southern part located within the City of San Diego, where nudity is not allowed (although this rule is rarely enforced) and the northern part located within Torrey Pines State Park, where clothing is purely optional. Black’s Beach has one of the most powerful beach breaks in Southern California, making it a popular, but dangerous, surfing spot. To get down to the beach, you have three options. First, you can walk from La Jolla Shores, which is a long stretch. Second, you can go to the Gliderport and take a breathtaking path on the side of the cliff that goes straight down. Don’t come in high heels, although it’s a safe enough path for surfers to run by you with their surfboards. The top is a great spot to watch the sunset! Third, you can drive along the cliffs north from the Gliderport. Park in the last allowable spot, and take another breathtaking path down. The second path is less beautiful but takes you farther towards the unexplored parts of the beach. The second path forks at the very bottom of the cliff. If you take the fork, which goes into the canyon, you will arrive via a twisty path at the bottom of a hidden waterfall which is home to hummingbirds. It’s a few hundred feet in and well worth the walk. The full moon drum circle goes on here each month. Look for it on a rainbowgathering website. It starts at dawn and goes till dusk. People bring tents and sleeping bags, though most go back up the cliffs. This is a no alcohol event, but feel free to bring wood, a drum, juice and a trashbag to clean up.
- Torrey Pines State Beach, north of La Jolla. Stretched along Torrey Pines State Park and set against gorgeous cliffs, this beach is one of the most beautiful around. A salt marsh at the north end of the beach empties into the ocean. The beach is also a popular one for surfing and body boarding.
- Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club, 14050 Carmel Ridge Rd, +1 858 487 9224 ext 230
- Torrey Pines Golf Course, 11480 North Torrey Pines Rd, +1 858 452-3226. A stunning seaside public golf course noted for hosting the PGA Tour Buick Invitational every January or February.
- La Jolla Country Club, 7301 High Avenue, +1 858 454-9601,
There are a number of high-end shops and art galleries located along Prospect Place and Girard Streets in downtown La Jolla.
- Westfield UTC (formerly University Towne Center), 4545 La Jolla Village Dr (just east of La Jolla, in University City), +1 858 546-8858. M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-7PM (individual store hours vary). An outdoor shopping mall located just outside of La Jolla, in the University City area. Basically anything you’d find in your average suburban shopping mall with the addition of an ice skating rink, called Ice Town.
- Brockton Villa, 1235 Coast Blvd, +1 858 454-7393. M 8AM-3PM, Tu-Su 8AM-9PM. Well known for their breakfast and lunch menus. $12-$25.
- Cafe Japengo, 8960 University Center Ln, ☎ +1 858” 450-3355. Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM. Dinner Su-W 6PM-10PM, Th-Sa 6PM-10:30PM.. Delicious sushi and hip vibe
- La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect St, +1 858 454-0771. Best known for their Sunday Brunch.
- Porkyland Restaurant, 1030 Torrey Pines Rd, +1 858 459-1708. Mexican restaurant specializing, naturally, in pork.
- Shores Restaurant, 8110 Camino del Oro (On the corner of Avenida de la Playa and Camino del Oro), ☎ +1 858 456-0600. Daily 7AM-10PM. Located at the La Jolla Shores Hotel, offering seasonal cuisine, oceanfront views and a great selection of wines. Award-winning chefs, delicious American comfort food.
- Su Casa Mexican Restaurant, 6738 La Jolla Blvd, +1 858 454-0369. Lunch 11:30AM-4PM. Dinner 4PM-9PM Su-Th, 4PM-10PM F-Sa. An exceptional, and very vegetarian friendly Mexican establishment.
- Zunbar Coffee & Tea, 10920 Roselle Street #106 San Diego, CA 92121. Small cafe and coffee roaster. Excellent coffee and baked goods.
- Beaumont’s Eatery, 5662 La Jolla Blvd La Jolla, CA 92037, ☎ (858) 459-0474. Located in Bird Rock, just South of the La Jolla Village, Love the vibe in this American Fusion restaurant, Live music Thurs Fri & Sat.