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    La Jolla San Diego: what to see between beaches, caves and La Jolla Cove

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    Martí Micolau

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    La Jolla is a popular coastal town of about 40.000 inhabitants overlooking the Pacific Ocean, not far from San Diego. Famous for the seals and sea lions that rest in the sun on the beach and on the rocks in front of the town, La Jolla looks like one of the most popular tourist spots in the county. A large beach of fine sand, small coves between the cliffs and an underwater ecosystem that is tempting to snorkelers, make it always crowded in the summer.

    Getting to La Jolla from San Diego is really easy. By car, just follow the coast, but if you are tight on time, you can also get there by taking the San Diego Fwy heading north. If you travel by public transport, the bus n.30 it will take you comfortably to the center of the village without having to make changes. From downtown San Diego it takes about an hour.


    • What to see in La Jolla
      • The Downtown
      • La jolla cove
      • Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave
      • La Jolla Shores
      • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
      • Mount soledad
      • The Children’s Pool e La Jolla Tide Pools
    • La Jolla climate: when to go?
    • Events in the city
    • Where to eat
    • Where to sleep in La Jolla

    What to see in La Jolla

    The seaside village of La Jolla is small but very lively and it is pleasant to walk among the little shops in the center as in the ones manicured gardens that line its promenade. Coming from the chaos of San Diego, here you feel in a decidedly more relaxed and peaceful environment, where in the summer people are on vacation without too many thoughts.

    The Downtown

    The innermost part of the town shows itself with class and style, like the most chic of our coastal towns. The palm trees scattered everywhere and the numerous green areas make it pleasant even on hot days, but it is also pleasant to turn around in the evening, when the souvenir shops light up in the central streets as well as the refined boutiques.

    The two main roads they are Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, but the whole central district deserves to be crossed far and wide. Here we discover that La Jolla doesn't just go for the sea: the Museum of Contemporary Art (700 Prospect St.) exhibits around 5.000 works of contemporary art. The museum is currently closed for restoration, but some of his works are temporarily on display at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

    One of the most characteristic areas of the center is undoubtedly the Cuvier Park (590 Coast Blvd. S.), also known as “The Wedding Bowl”, being a favorite of many couples as a location for the fateful yes. Geography lovers will be fascinated by the Map & Atlas Museum (7825 Fay Ave.), whose goal is to create awareness and appreciation for the artistic beauty of ancient maps and atlases. It can be visited for free on Wednesdays, Thursdays, 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, from 11am to 16pm.

    While it may attract little foreign tourists compared to nearby Sea World, La Jolla has its own oceanfront aquarium. In Birch Aquarium (2300 Expedition Way), in addition to seeing the classic pools, it is also possible to participate in interactive activities. If you are traveling with children, it can be cheaper and faster to visit than Sea World. The aquarium is open from 9am to 17pm and the cost is $ 18.50 for adults, $ 14 for ages 3 to 11 and $ 15.50 for ages 60.

    La Jolla also boasts a truly impressive example of religious (Mormon to be exact) architecture. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (7474 Charmant Dr.) is not accessible to non-Mormons, but I wouldn't miss a photo outside, with white spiers silhouetted against the blue sky.

    La jolla cove

    The main point of interest is a short distance from downtown. IS La Jolla Cove, a bay with a promenade framed by cliffs, where a long white beach flanks a stretch of rocky coast interspersed with small coves, flat rocks on which they rest seals and sea lions. Surely among the beaches of San Diego it is one of the most famous and photographed.

    La jolla cove it is an ecological reserve of 24kmq which contains four different habitats. For this reason it is not possible to fish, collect shells, use mats or practice water sports. To get as close as possible by car, you can park along Coast Boulevard for free (up to 3 hours with parking disc).

    The verdant stretches between the houses and the cliff Ellen Browning Scripps Park, which takes its name from the author of the barrier for the creation of the Children's Pool, which I will talk about shortly. In summer it is the best place to fight the heat wave, but it is also fun to walk among the squirrels before reaching the gazebo on the cliff from which to admire the Seal Rock. As the name implies, this is the preferred rock for seals to spend their days relaxing in the sun. All around seagulls and pelicans roar without the slightest fear of man.

    Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave

    In all of California, there is only one sea cave accessible by land: the Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, which is located right in La Jolla. To get there there is a short path that includes a steep staircase of 143 steps and a tunnel that allows you to reach it while enjoying a magnificent panoramic view of the ocean. Designed in 1904 by the German engineer Gustaf Schultz, this tunnel was used for alcohol smuggling during the Prohibition years. The entrance ticket costs $ 5 ($ 3 for children up to 16 years). An alternative is to visit the cave by sea by taking a canoe tour.

    Info on the La Jolla Sea Caves canoe tour

    La Jolla Shores

    To the north of the town it extends La Jolla Shores: a sandy beach over a kilometer and a half long, a favorite with surfers and kayaks, but especially divers. In fact, from here you can easily access the protected marine area under water. If you stay overnight in La Jolla, come here in the evening after dinner: it's easy to see the beach lit by scenic bonfires regulated.

    A small path of about 200 meters allows you to climb the cliff, from which you can have a beautiful view of the sea. Walking for about 3-4 kilometersInstead, you can walk to Seal Rock from the beach: definitely a nice coastal walk.

    Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

    Il Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is an eight square kilometer coastal state park with pristine beaches, a lagoon for migratory birds and cliffs overlooking the shoreline, all accessible via trails of varying lengths and difficulties. It is an ideal place for the birdwatching, but also to see other animals such as bobcats, foxes, rabbits, raccoons, coyotes. During the whale migration season, from the cliffs you can see herds of cetaceans.

    Mount soledad

    Not far from the center of La Jolla, just beyond the beautiful residential area, there is an exceptional viewpoint: the Mount soledad (6905 La Jolla Scenic Dr. S.). At the top of the 251 meters of the hill stands a 13 meter high concrete cross, in honor of the veterans of the Korean War. stands a 13-meter-high concrete cross, a prominent feature of a memorial honoring Korean War veterans.

    The Children’s Pool e La Jolla Tide Pools

    The southernmost area of ​​La Jolla is known for Children’s Pool. This swimming pool carved out of the sea with a concrete pier was designed for children, but soon it was also appreciated by seals and sea lions, who now spend their afternoons rolling in the sun on the small beach.

    A few steps away, we find another area that becomes unique during low tide. It's La Jolla Tide Pools, puddles that are created among the flat rocks. As the tide goes out, seagulls and pelicans come here to feast on small fish and shells.

    La Jolla climate: when to go?

    This stretch of coast is characterized by a fairly dry climate, despite the ocean. The wind and the scarcity of rain mean that the sky is almost always clear and it is also for its climatic conditions that La Jolla is called The jewel of Southern California. If you are planning a west coast itinerary take a look at the article dedicated to the California climate, but if you only travel around San Diego, you can learn more with the article on when to go to San Diego.

    Events in the city

    La Jolla is a lively resort, which in addition to natural beauty also offers events and initiatives throughout the year. Among the most characteristic are the following.

    • Concours d'Elegance. Exhibits of vintage cars, artisan stalls and dinners in various locations around the city enliven La Jolla in April. and also other related events including tempting dinners that take place in different locations in the city. The event aims to raise funds for the La Jolla Historical Society, an institution that preserves the local historical heritage, and for this reason it provides an entrance ticket to the event area.
    • 4th of July Fireworks at la Jolla Cove. The 4th of July is the evening of the fireworks par excellence in the United States. If you are in or around San Diego, the 30-minute fireworks display on the La Jolla waterfront is a moment not to be missed. The best view is from Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
    • Luau and Legends of Surfing International. As I mentioned, this area is a favorite with surfers. In August, the beach is filled with surfers competing as a team. There is never a shortage of the greatest surfing legends. The event continues at sunset with the "luau": the Hawaiian musical entertainment that accompanies dinner. Funds raised during the event typically go to San Diego's Moores Cancer Center. You can watch the surf competition for free.
    • Christmas parade. In Southern California, the holiday season is not experienced in the same way as on the east coast. Here the central streets of the city come alive with an afternoon parade, among bands, inflatable balls and a Santa Claus who seems a little out of place to move among the palm trees.

    Where to eat

    Finding where to eat in La Jolla is not difficult and there is something for everyone. If you're passing through, you can grab a burrito on the go at a Mexican fast food restaurant, but if you're staying longer and want to dine out, here are some tips. A fine restaurant from which you can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the sea is The Marine Room (2000 Spindrift Dr.). The award-winning venue changes the menu seasonally to include seafood, American cuisine but also globally inspired. From George’s at the Cove (1250 Prospect St.) the food is Southern California inspired in the company of the ocean view. The rooms are arranged on three levels and are different from each other: on the first floor the atmosphere is more intimate and in a contemporary style, on the second floor it is more casual, the third is a roof terrace.

    Il Duke's La Jolla (1216 Prospect St.) is named after the Hawaiian Olympic champion and father of modern surfing Duke Kahanamoku. The restaurant is very island beach style, serving meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner: pancakes, omelettes, coconut shrimp, fillet, sandwich, chocolate cake and milkshake. If you want a good sandwich instead, go to Burger Lounge (1101 Wall St.). It serves burgers for all tastes, including vegetarians, with a great focus on simple and quality ingredients. You can't help but appreciate the staff's warm hospitality, which doesn't hurt!

    Where to sleep in La Jolla

    There is no shortage of excellent accommodations in La Jolla. It dates back to 1913 on Grand Colonial Hotel (910 Prospect St.), a hotel in the heart of downtown refurbished according to its historical past. The rooms and suites, some with kitchens, are equipped with wi-fi, ocean or garden views. The property features an outdoor heated swimming pool, restaurant, concierge service, indoor and outdoor meeting space, laundry and valet parking ($ 30 per day).

    Near the coast, in the downtown, we point out theEmpress Hotel (7766 Fay Ave.) which blends Southern California beach property style with more luxurious features. This is also noticeable in the rooms and suites, which have hints of both European style and beach life. The hotel is pet friendly and hosts pets at a cost of $ 75 for the duration of the stay. At the customer's disposal there is a concierge service, restaurant, meeting room, business room, laundry and valet parking ($ 28 per day).

    Lo Scripps Inn (555 Coast Blvd. S.) is a B&B with 14 rooms each with its own style, some of them have a kitchenette. From the rooms with sea view you can see dolphins, seals and sea lions all year round and whales in winter, an extraordinary added value also increased by the presence of a veranda overlooking the ocean and by the fact of being a pet friendly structure. In the heart of La Jolla one block from La Jolla Cove is located The B&B Inn La Jolla (7753 Draper Ave.), a structure with a lush garden and 15 rooms each different in style and design. A three-course breakfast is also available in the room. A really nice option.

    Near a Hotel to La Jolla

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