La Jolla may be the most scenic and fun-filled beach town in San Diego County. This Southern California city includes dramatic cliffs plunging down to the sea, gorgeous beaches, sunbathing seals, clear ocean water, and a quaint village full of boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Whether you are visiting La Jolla for a day or a week, there’s no shortage of things to do. Here are 12 fun things to do while to get the most out of your stay in La Jolla.
Walk the beach to Scripps Pier.
The Scripps Pier, officially called Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, is located at the north end of the La Jolla Beach. The walk from Avenida de la Playa along the beach to pier is just over a mile of the softest sand underfoot and fantastic views in every direction.
Have breakfast at Caroline’s Seaside Cafe overlooking the ocean.
Fantastic breakfasts and an amazing view – what more could you ask for? Caroline’s Seaside Cafe is located near the Scripp’s Pier with a front row view of the ocean. Get there early (opens at 8:00 am) to avoid the long waits and get a table with a beach view. The breakfasts are freshly made, the portions are large, and the options are endless. I suggest the Mediterranean Scramble and an ice tea (any where I can get a truly fantastic ice tea will always get my endorsement, and Caroline’s ranks up there with the best of the ice teas).
Sink your toes into the soft sand of La Jolla Shores Beach.
This beach has the softest sand I’ve ever seen – it’s like powdered sugar! You will want to sink your feet into this sand and wriggle your toes. It also makes for a fantastic walking beach because the sand is flat and of the perfect consistency just at the edge of where the waves wash up on the shore. It’s perfect for sinking down into while stretched out on a beach towel, but also heavy enough to build sand castles.
Tour the ocean caves by kayak.
Rent kayaks or join a tour and paddle to the seven sea caves carved into the cliffs. I recommend the guided tour by La Jolla Kayak for a fun and fact filled adventure over the waves and through the caves. On the way to the caves, keep your eyes on the clear water to see the orange Garibaldi or gentle leopard sharks swimming by your kayak.
Snorkel La Jolla Cove.
Grab your fins and goggles and dive into the water off La Jolla Cove to see a plethora of marine life. This area is part of an ecological reserve so the fish, turtles and mammals are in abundance. See the California state fish, the Garibaldi, which looks like a giant goldfish. Leopard sharks are common here, but no need to be afraid of them as they feed off clams, crabs, worms and little fish. You may even see one of the turtles who call the reserve home, though they are quite rare. For the really brave, snorkel over the La Jolla Underwater Canyon, which drops to depths of 600 feet.
Enjoy an outdoor lunch on Avenida de la Playa.
Just two blocks from La Jolla Shores Beach on Avenida de la Playa is a short stretch of quaint beach shops, sporting equipment rentals, and lots of restaurants with sidewalk seating. A full block of the street is closed to auto traffic and set up with outdoor dining areas draped in greenery and lights that reminds me of the sidewalk cafes in Europe. Enjoy an appetizer and cocktails, dinner and wine, and relax while watching the people coming and going from the beach.
Shop Girard Street.
Girard Street in La Jolla is a shopper’s paradise with five long blocks of boutiques, trendy designer shops, art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants that ends at the La Jolla Open Air Farmers Market. Even if shopping is not your favorite pastime, this street is still worth a strolling browse. Find everything from books and toys to paintings and sculptures.
Take a photo of La Jolla’s famous seals.
Seals love the rocky shores of the beaches and the La Jolla Cove. Cuvier Park has a paved trail on the clifftop that overlooks the shoreline and the seals are nearly always visible from the many vantage points on the walkway. Take lots of photos, but please don’t disturb the wildlife.
Rent a bike to see all of La Jolla from downtown to the beaches.
Renting a bike is a great way to see all of La Jolla in one day. Bike the coast line to see the beaches and the coves. Bike down Girard Street to see the shops and galleries, and stop for a coffee. There are also three dedicated bike trails of varying lengths, all paved and wider than hiking trails. For an easy ride, try the Faye Avenue Bike Trail or the Rose Creek Bike Trail, each about a mile. If you want a longer ride with a view, try the 6.5 mile Rose Canyon Trail. And for the most scenic of the trails, hit the 12 mile Mission Bay Bike Path loop.
Grab a coffee at Girard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery and indulge in a sweet.
Girard Gourmet on Girard Street makes a fabulous fruit tart and is famous for their cookies. Stop for a coffee or an ice tea and grab a sweet to enjoy on a sidewalk table while watching the shoppers stroll up and down this upscale block of shops.
Look for the Bubble Pirate.
The Bubble Pirate can often be found in the clifftop parks, blowing monstrous size bubbles. He’s easy to find because of the running, laughing kids chasing the bubbles as they float away.
Tour the Mt Soledad National Veterans Memorial and enjoy the view.
The Mt Soledad National Veterans Memorial is humbling and inspiring. It is the only memorial that honors veterans both dead or still living. After viewing the plaques and reading the stories of those who have served our country, look out from the steps of the memorial and take in nearly all of San Diego County. The panoramic view from the top of Mount Soledad on clear day spans from downtown San Diego in the south to the mountains in the east and beyond Torrey Pines to the north.