16 of the Best Things to do in La Jolla This Season

16 of the Best Things to do in La Jolla This Season

  • Tiffany Torgan
  • 09/15/22

La Jolla, CA real estate is booming, and it's no surprise. It's widely known as a luxurious, seaside neighborhood in San Diego, that's touted as one of the best beach destinations in the world. Here, you can bask in the warm California sun while exploring the scenic landscape. Let's look at 16 of the best things to do in La Jolla this season.

1. La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores Beach
Whether you're visiting La Jolla for the day, or if you're lucky enough to call this neighborhood home, there are plenty of beaches to explore. La Jolla Shores Beach is the largest stretch of flat sand, and it's the perfect place to swim and surf on a hot summer day. Lounge on the beach or try your hand at surf lessons while the kids play at Kellogg Park next door. There are plenty of dining and shopping options nearby, but parking fills up quickly. Come early and stay for the day.

2. Explore the seven sea caves

The sea caves around La Jolla were historically a great hiding spot for smugglers. Today, they're the perfect place to explore. Rent a kayak and take a tour to get a closer look inside each cave, and get the scoop on the rich history of each spot.

3. Stop by Scripps Pier

Stop by Scripps Pier
Scripps Pier is one of the world's largest working piers, and one of the best places in San Diego to take photos. Visitors stop by to get family pictures, Instagram selfies, and romantic sunset shots under the pylons or near the pier. Stop by at sunset to get the full effect of the pier's beauty, or come first thing, to catch the sunrise in the clear, blue sky.

4. La Jolla Underwater Park

The La Jolla Underwater Park is a protected ocean area consisting of 6,000 acres that's filled with all kinds of marine life. Here, you can spot stingrays, sea turtles, kelp, and orange garibaldi, the official California state fish. Grab your snorkeling gear, your stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or scuba gear, and explore this magnificent ecological reserve. Fishing is permitted in some spots, but you'll have to have a license.

5. Visit The Cave Store

Visit The Cave Store

The Cave Store has a unique entrance to the only sea cave in California that's accessible by land. From inside the store, you can step down an old wooden staircase to enter Sunny Jim's sea cave that's filled with sea lions and ocean sounds. This ancient entrance was first built in 1902 by German professor George Shulz. Sunny Jim was named by Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, since he thought the cave's opening looked like a character on a British cereal whose name was also Sunny Jim.

6. Explore Ellen Browning Scripps Park

At Scripps Park, you'll find a large green space that's filled with unique trees. These trees are believed to be the ones that inspired Dr. Seuss to create the Truffula trees in his famous book The Lorax. This cozy spot is rarely crowded, and it's the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday picnicking, walking the dog, or playing frisbee with the kids. From here, you can access other destinations on foot. These include La Jolla cove, the Children's Pool, and several nearby beaches.

7. Check out the Children's Pool

Originally built in the 1930s as a safe place for children to swim, the Children's Pool has quickly become the best place in San Diego to watch seals as they sleep, play, and real under the warm, California sun. There's a rope barrier in place to keep seals safe from humans, and they happily hang out while onlookers ooh and ahh over their every move. Stop by anytime for free seal viewing, and don't forget to bring a camera.

8. Visit the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla

This unique spot is perfect for history buffs, curious school-age kids, and people who like looking at old maps. The Map and Atlas Museum showcases some of Michael Stone's collection of over 500 rare maps and atlases. Stone was a leading authority on cartography, and his collection spans over 500 years. Kids and families alike will enjoy this hidden gem, and it's the perfect place to escape the California August heat.

9. Explore Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Explore Birch Aquarium at Scripps
The Birch Aquarium is home to over 60 habitats of fishes and invertebrates from the Pacific Northwest, Mexico, and other places across the globe. The aquarium is run by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and it's filled with all kinds of interesting animals and sea creatures to observe. Stop by to watch the seahorses swim around, or explore the gain kelp forest. You can visit for the day, or stop by for the afternoon to avoid the relentless afternoon sun.

10. Check out the art scene

La Jolla is home to a variety of art galleries along Prospect Street downtown. If you love art, stop by the Artemis Fine Art Gallery and National Gallery of Fine Art La Jolla, or check the Dr. Seuss Legends Gallery to see the famous author's works in a unique way. Additionally, the Stuart Collection is a must-see. This collection of public art is located on the campus of UC San Diego, and it's free to observe. Download and print a map to explore and discover each piece along the way.

11. Lunch at La Valencia Hotel

Lunch at La Valencia Hotel
Photo courtesy of La Valencia Hotel
La Valencia Hotel, also known as the "Pink Lady," is an enormous, pink hotel that sits along the ocean's coast downtown. This luxurious hotel is a famous landmark that's housed some of Hollywood's most famous stars since 1926, but you don't have to be a guest in order to appreciate its beauty. Stop by to grab lunch at the hotel's restaurant, and enjoy scenic views while you dine with friends. Sip a handcrafted cocktail and share small plates of oysters or tuna tartar.

12. Stop by Torrey Pines Gliderport

You don't have to be a thrill seeker to enjoy Torrey Pines Gliderport. In fact, it's a scenic destination that offers panoramic views, where you can kick back and relax. Bring a picnic lunch to watch the paragliders in action, or pay for a tandem ride. If you want to try something new, consider hiring an instructor to teach you to paraglide on your own. The Cliffhanger Care also has a delicious lunch menu.

13. Explore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Explore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Home to the Torrey Pine tree, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a great place to hike with a view. Located on the bluffs above the beaches of La Jolla, you can spot dolphins and whales as you hike, along with a variety of rare plants and threatened animals. In order to keep the space clean and protect the natural environment, only water is permitted inside the reserve. During the summer months, guided walks are offered to guests, and children can get a Junior Ranger badge for participating as well.

14. Play a round at the Torrey Pines Golf Course

Play a round at the Torrey Pines Golf Course
The Torrey Pines Golf Course is a highly sought-after spot for golf enthusiasts since it's home to the annual PGA golf tournament called the Farmer's Insurance Open. Golfers can enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. If you want to reserve a tee time, make sure you do it far in advance. This popular spot fills up fast, and if you're a resident of California, you'll receive a discount.

15. Snorkel with Leopard Sharks

In late summer, hundreds of leopard sharks descend to the waters around La Jolla and La Jolla Cove to raise their young. These majestic animals are harmless, but their size can make them seem very intimidating. Growing to lengths of 4.5 to 5 feet, they're a splendid sight to see. If you're visiting La Jolla in August or September, stop by to watch the leopard sharks from afar, and if you're brave enough, rent a kayak or snorkel gear to get a closer look.

16. Brunch at The Cottage

There are plenty of fine dining locations to check out in La Jolla, but The Cottage is practically famous for its brunch scene. The restaurant was created from a small home, and the atmosphere and ambiance make it the perfect spot to eat and catch up with friends. If you plan on visiting The Cottage, make sure you go early, since it's always busy. For menu recommendations, we suggest you try the lemon ricotta pancakes or the Southern California omelet and pair it with a spiced lavender mocha or a mimosa made with fresh orange juice.

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