Looking for a getaway with expansive ocean views, friendly sea lions, fine dining options, five-star accommodations, buzz-worthy art galleries, beckoning beaches and more? Then La Jolla, California, the upscale seaside community located within the city of San Diego, could be just the place for you. This coastal retreat attracts visitors from near and far, but here are seven reasons why we love La Jolla—any time of year.
1. Indulge at La Valencia Hotel
The vintage, coastal luxury La Valencia Hotel is immersed in historic La Jolla glamour. Lovingly referred to as the “Pink Lady,” this 114-room oceanfront resort, which opened in 1926, has hosted celebrities such as Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Ginger Rogers. Rooms range from smaller vintage abodes to spacious villas and a 10th floor, 800-square-foot penthouse with panoramic ocean views and a large wet bar. The hotel’s location within the Village of La Jolla puts you close to shopping, dining or watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. The hotel is scheduled to open a boutique spa next December, adding to property’s already lengthy list of posh amenities. While you’re there, be sure to lounge by the seaside pool, partake in sunset garden yoga or indulge in the Paella Mondays at Cafe la Rue.
2. Explore a secret cave—via a gift shop
Since it was established in the early 1900s, this iconic attraction has been luring visitors with a 144-step tunnel leading from the Cave Store, a gift shop, to Sunny Jim Sea Cave. The stairs can be wet and slippery, but the handrails make it easily accessible to all ages. The views from the cave are worth the f$5 entrance fee.
3. Get naked (and see a midcentury masterpiece) at Black’s Beach
If you’re in need of a full-body tan, this two-mile, difficult to reach beach is perfect—it’s famous for being clothing optional, as well as for offering some epic waves. This strip of sand is part of both Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach and is only accessible via steep trails from the Torrey Pines Gliderport parking lot or further south by a long, sloped paved road at Blackgold and La Jolla Farms Roads. Just south of this secluded beach, visitors can view the quirky Mushroom House, a midcentury marvel that is now abandoned.
4. Snorkel with hundreds of friendly leopard sharks
Ever wanted to swim with sharks, but were too afraid? Here’s your chance to give it a try. La Jolla Cove, which is part of the the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, is known as a breeding ground for harmless leopard sharks, who can be seen by the hundreds just off shore. You’re also likely to encounter garibaldi (the state fish), shovel nose guitar fish, dolphins, bat rays, sea lions and turtles. Grab your own snorkel gear or book a guided tour that includes rental gear through Everyday California Adventures. The sharks are typically most prevalent at the end of August. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
5. Marvel at Fallen Star House
The sky might not be falling, but this house looks like it is. As part of the Stuart Collection art installation at UCSD, an actual home appears to be falling off the side of a building. It is an unusual and captivating collection of site-specific artworks by leading contemporary artists. Free guided rooftop tours are available year round.
6. Ride an electric bike up Mt. Soledad
Book a tour with San Diego Fly Rides to bike up to the top of Mt. Soledad, San Diego’s highest coastal point with views all the way to Mexico, and down through the poshest neighborhoods in La Jolla. Don’t worry about getting tired; just hit the power button on these electric bikes and zoom up the hill effortlessly—a thrilling ride for ages eight and up.
7. See a show at legendary La Jolla Playhouse
This Tony award-winning non-profit theater, located on the UCSD campus, has been hosting plays since 1947, with multiple shows going on to become Broadway hits. The theater also has a successful Education & Outreach Department that provides theater experiences for youth.