Fifteen minutes beyond San Diego lies the once-sleepy seaside village of La Jolla, the Spanish term for “The Jewel”. La Jolla is a coastal town known for its mild weather, sparkling beaches and its posh village have made it a favorite spot for local San Diegan’s and visitors alike.
Exploring the La Jolla Coast by Bike
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. With its sandstone cliffs, picturesque beaches, shopping, and dining, La Jolla is the perfect destination for a perfect day.
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.
Breakfast in La Jolla
Start your day at Brockton Villas. Once a charming beach cottage built in 1894; it was then converted into a restaurant in 1990. Ask for a table in the West Veranda, a covered porch with tables overlooking La Jolla Cove. Try their world-famous Coast Toast, similar to a soufflé, it is extra rich with a hint of orange. If you are seeking a savory dish, try their steamed eggs, which are made without butter or oil.
Another great breakfast spot is The Cottage, acclaimed by Epicurious.com as one of “America’s Top Ten Breakfasts” and Departures magazine as “Best Secret.” Built in the 1900s, this refurbished cottage was relocated to its current location on Prospect Street. The famous country-style French toast, featured on their cookbook cover, is stuffed with strawberry compote & Marscarpone cheese.
A third breakfast choice is 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.
Bike La Jolla’s Cliff-Side Path on Coast Boulevard
Afterward, 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. Walkout onto the seawall for a closer look and great photo opportunities of the lazy creatures.
There is a paved sidewalk that hugs the coast and allows you access to the beaches and tidepools. Visit Casa Beach (also known as the Children’s Pool), a gathering place for harbor seals. There is a wealth of coastal wildlife to experience, including flocks of pelicans on the rocks, and if you’re lucky you may even spot gray whales and bottlenose dolphins offshore.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
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.
Free public tours are available every Thursday at 6 p.m. and weekends at 2 p.m.
La Jolla Cove
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.
Afterward, 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 Prohibition, but today is frequented by sea kayakers and snorkelers.
Explore La Jolla Village and Prospect Street
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, unique furniture and accents showroom, also on Girard.
Dinner in La Jolla
After a full day of art, sun, fun, and biking enjoy dinner at George’s at the Cove, offering sophisticated contemporary cuisine with a sweeping ocean view overlooking La Jolla Cove. The restaurant serves fresh seasonal fish and is known for their extensive wine lists.
If you want a more casual experience, try George’s Bar which was named “Best View & Outdoor Patio,” by Ranch & Coast magazine. Dining at George’s Bar allows you to partake in the same bistro-style menu as Ocean Terrace that’s inspired by California’s freshest ingredients, offering everything from grilled fresh fish tacos to flat iron steak.
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 (1025 Prospect St; 858-459-0040)
Brockton Villa (1235 Coast Blvd.; 858-454-7393)
The Cottage (7702 Fay Ave.; 858-454-8409)
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 at the Cove (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)
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, here are a few recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses and La Jolla Travel alerts.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org