La Jolla, a coastal town 10-miles north of San Diego, known for its mild weather, sparkling beaches and posh village scene have made it a favorite spot for local San Diegan’s and visitors alike. Dust off your bike and pack your camera, bathing suit, goggles, and fins for a jewel of a day in one of California’s most beautiful towns.

Begin, by winding along swanky Prospect Street: lined with boutiques and upscale restaurants. Head towards Girard Avenue, a wide steep road south of the strikingly pink La Valencia Hotel and ride down the hill toward the ocean.

Stop for breakfast at Cody’s All American Café, a picturesque yellow cottage on the southeast corner of Girard Avenue and Coast Boulevard South, where outside tables facing beautiful Ellen Scripps Browning Park are coveted. Try one of their delicious gourmet omelets or Blue Crab Eggs Benedict.

Afterwards, bike south along the cliff-side path on Coast Boulevard, keeping your eyes peeled for pelicans, cormorants, sea lions and dolphins. From here you’ll reach the Children’s Pool, a man-made sheltered beach that was originally built for safe swimming. A harbor seal community now lolls on the sandy half-moon beach. Walk out onto the seawall for a closer look and great photo opportunities of the lazy creatures.

Head back to Coast Boulevard and pedal up Jenner Street to Prospect Street all the while taking in the gorgeous scenery. Follow the road north to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and spend the rest of the morning viewing ground-breaking modern art, then take a stroll along the terrace that juts out over the ocean providing magnificent views. Stop for a quick sandwich or salad at the Museum Café, where entrees are European in flavor and style.

Next on the agenda- a little fun in the sun. Head to La Jolla Cove at the northern end of Ellen Scripps Browning park by riding north along Prospect Street, down Girard Street to Coast Boulevard. When you reach the end of the park, an on-site restroom is available for changing and a quick rinse off after your time on the beach. Take one of the two staircases down to the beach. The crescent shaped cove cradles a sea cave on the western end and a more private stretch of sand on the eastern side. Strap on your fins and goggles and dive into the calm water. This is one of few places in Southern California that offers excellent snorkeling and scuba-diving opportunities. Flashy orange Garibaldi fish are guaranteed to be spotted amidst the waving green seaweed.

Afterwards, bike northeast towards the top of the steep hill to The Cave Store. Here you will find a two-story wooden building and the entrance to the only land accessible sea cave in La Jolla- a 144-step staircase- that was tunneled through the cliff down to the water in 1902. The landing is where bootleggers stored smuggled alcohol during the Prohibition, but today is frequented by sea kayakers and snorkelers.

Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through La Jolla Village and Prospect Street. Packed with upscale boutiques, art galleries and hotels, the village is a wonderful place to window shop, relax and indulge in the atmosphere. Check out photographs of famous musicians at the Morrison Hotel Gallery and modern sculpture at the Tasende Gallery. Check out Warwick’s La Jolla on Girard for gifts, books and artisan jewelry or MOS My Own Space, a unique furniture and accents showroom, also on Girard.

After a full day of art, sun, fun and biking enjoy dinner at George’s California Modern, offering sophisticated contemporary cuisine with a sweeping ocean view. If you are in the mood for more casual dining try George’s rooftop bistro, Ocean Terrace, directly above the main dining room. Both restaurants serve fresh seasonal fish and are known for their extensive wine lists.

After dinner, catch a play at the La Jolla Playhouse, a nonprofit theater co-founded by Gregory Peck 60 years ago. The playhouse is dedicated to staging innovative new plays and a great way to end an evening in this jewel of a town.

Your first visit to La Jolla, surely won’t be your last.

Getting There: From downtown San Diego take the I-5 north. Take Hwy. 52 West to La Jolla Parkway and continue as the street becomes Torrey Pines Road. Follow Torrey Pines Road to the signalized intersection at Prospect Street and turn right.

What & Where
Cody’s All American Café (8030 Girard Ave; 858-459-0040)
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (700 Prospect St.; 858-454-3541)
Museum Café (700 Prospect St.; 858-456-6427)
Ellen Scripps Browning Park (1915 Scripps Park)
La Jolla Cove (1100 Coast Boulevard)
The Cave Store (1325 Cave St.; 858-459-0746)
Tasende Gallery (820 Prospect Street; 858-454-3691)
Morrison Hotel Gallery (1230 Prospect Street; 858-551-0835)
Warwick’s La Jolla (7812 Girard Ave.; 858-454-0347)
MOS MyOwnSpace (7840 Girard Ave.; 858-459-0099)
George’s California Modern (1250 Prospect St.; 858-454-4244)
Ocean Terrace (1250 Prospect St.; 858-454-4244)
La Jolla Playhouse (2910 La Jolla Village Dr.; 858-550-1010)

About the contributor: Emily Mayer is a San Diego native currently writing and teaching English in South Korea. She graduated from the University of Redlands, California with a degree in Creative Writing. Emily and her husband Steve love traveling the world and exploring new places. She can be contacted at emily.mayer@gmail.com

About the photographer:Joanne DiBona is the Communications Manager for the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau and serves as the official photographer and writer for the tourism marketing association. She is also a widely-published travel writer and photographer. Her images of the San Diego region have appeared in travel publications and on websites around the world. When not capturing the beauty of her San Diego home on camera, she enjoys traveling the world together with her husband and fellow photographer, Tony. She can be reached at jdibona@sdcvb.org