In Spanish, La Jolla means "the jewel," an apt name for a beautiful town ringed with blue waters. It's one of California's prettiest oceanside towns, and home to several of the state's best beaches.
You can plan your day trip or La Jolla weekend getaway in a jiffy using the resources below.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like La Jolla?
- Get a Preview: Take a look at our La Jolla Photo Walking Tour.
- La Jolla is popular with shoppers, romantics and outdoor adventurers who can surf, kayak, scuba dive and bicycle here. It's also a great foodie destination with some of San Diego's best-rated restaurants and a good place to go just to relax. The La Jolla Playhouse is well worth a trip if you like the theater.
Best Time to Go to La Jolla
La Jolla and San Diego weather is good anytime, but it may be rainy in winter.
If you're an active vacationer like me, don't miss a chance to do little or nothing for a change. A splendidly-beautiful La Jolla day is sure to drain all the busy out of your body.
5 More Great Things to Do in La Jolla
Beaches: When people say San Diego has great beaches, they really mean La Jolla has great beaches. La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores and Windansea are not only the best in San Diego but perhaps the best in the state and La Jolla Shores may be the California's most beautiful beach, with a wide, gently-sloping beach and panoramic views. A morning or sunset walk here is enough to relax the most stressed-out among us, and it's even better when the tide is going out, coating the sand with a mirror-like water layer.
Birch Aquarium: This small aquarium is packed with interesting stuff, and it won't wear you out.
La Jolla Playhouse: This theatre company won a well-deserved Tony Award for Regional Theater in 1993.
- Go for a window-shopping stroll along Prospect Avenue and the side streets that run into it. With few chain stores in sight, you might just find something you can't leave without. For a private walk with places to sit and enjoy the view, take the steps going down next to 1298 Prospect. Follow the wooden fence beside the cave entrance, then walk along the dirt path. You'll find few people here, but you won't be alone. A large colony of cormorants and a seagulls inhabit the cliff face below.
Walk Around: For a more structured walk, try a guided walking tour. Hike Bike Kayak offers an excellent, one-hour tour focusing on the natural beauty of the La Jolla coast and the city's history. Where Tours visits five art galleries, the La Jolla waterfront, a hidden mermaid statue and the Sunny Jim sea cave.
- Go Kayaking: Hike Bike Kayak offers a tour of the La Jolla Sea Caves, and no experience is required.
Isn't It Romantic?
It's hard not to feel romantic in a setting as pretty as La Jolla's. Best bets to get you even more in the mood include dinner on the patio at Nine-Ten restaurant or a sunset dinner overlooking the ocean at George's at the Cove.
Annual Events You Should Know About
- La Jolla Festival of the Arts: One of the top-rated art festivals in California, held in late June.
- La Jolla Concerts by the Sea: Free concerts held every Sunday, June through August
- We know it's popular, but the visit to Sunny Jim cave is only marginally interesting, and the 145 stairs are a bit of a climb if you aren't in shape.
- La Jolla is home to some top-notch restaurants, and many of them serve their excellent cuisine at lunch, but at a lower price than at night. George's at the Cove is an especially good place to use this strategy, since you can see the ocean from their windows better in the daytime, anyway.
- It's harder to find a parking spot on La Jolla on a weekend than it is to find gold on the beach. If you're there for the day, you've gotta find someplace to park your ride, so these tips might help. There are no parking meters, but streets nearest the water do have a one hour time limit. Go a little further away for two hour parking, and be sure you observe the time limits. Parking enforcement is active here even off-season. You'll find a few paid lots scattered around town and the ones on the edge of downtown are a little cheaper. Your best bet may be a parking lot so hidden that few people notice it. Turn downhill onto Coast Blvd. from Prospect and you'll find it on the left, across from the Cave Store. Vehicles more than 6'5" won't fit in this one, though.
- La Jolla is busier on weekends than during the week. If you can plan your visit Monday through Thursday, you'll almost have the place to yourself.
- To enjoy La Jolla at its scenic best, check the low tide times before you go. Head for La Jolla Shores as the tide is going out and visit La Jolla Cove at low tide when the tide pools are revealed.
A weekend getaway is a great time to enjoy a leisurely brunch. The Cottage serves fresh cuisine in beach bungalow atmosphere, and The Marine Room at La Jolla Shores has been voted the area's best Sunday brunch. For a simple breakfast, few tourists and terrific views, follow Coast Blvd. to the Goldfish Point Cafe.
For dinner, you won't find a better meal than at Nine-Ten restaurant. The Los Angeles Times calls it a "serendipitous discovery" and we just say an enthusiastic: "Yum!" to everything we tried. Mid-day, a table on the sidewalk is fun for people-watching, but in the evening, their back patio is super-romantic.
Where to Stay
If your budget allows, choose a place in the village, close enough to things that you can walk. You'll have more fun if you aren't worrying about finding a parking spot or fretting that you're overstaying your time limit.
La Jolla is about 15 miles north of downtown San Diego and 110 miles from central Los Angeles. La Jolla is a 20-minute drive from downtown San Diego via Interstate 5 north.
The nearest commercial airport is in San Diego.