My Kind of Place
La Jolla, California is like a second home to me. My family has vacationed in this beautiful seaside town for many years. Since my husband grew up nearby, we also get to visit his family while there. So it’s a win/win for us.
La Jolla is known for its great beaches, surfing, shopping and restaurants. La Jolla encompasses La Jolla Shores south to Bird Rock along the coast and areas inland as well. Each area of La Jolla is slightly different, giving visitors options as far as where to stay and explore.
We prefer staying along the coast, whether it’s near La Jolla Village or in the Windansea Beach neighborhood. We most often rent a home through SeaBreeze Vacation Rentals in one of these areas. A lot of their properties are dog-friendly as we always have Scout the Beagle Hound with us.
Starting from La Jolla Shores and moving south along the coast, I will give you a brief synopsis of each area.
La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores sits below Torrey Pines Rd and is a relatively quiet neighborhood that has a fantastic beach! There is a huge parking lot, bathrooms, rinse stations and a long beautiful flat sandy beach that runs quite a long ways and makes for great walking.
At the north end of the beach you will see the Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Pier. This is a private working pier so you can’t walk out on it, but you can walk underneath it. From La Jolla Shores Beach you can also take kayaking tours that take you out to La Jolla Cove and to explore a cave. I’ve done it and it’s really fun!
La Jolla Village
La Jolla Village is mainly a big shopping village with lots of restaurants. There are plenty of name brand stores, but it’s the unique ones that I tend to frequent. Warwicks of La Jolla, www.warwicks.com, is my favorite store by far. It’s a combination bookstore, office supply store and gift store all in one! I am an office supply junkie! Seriously! I go there every time I am in town and have gotten lots of gifts, supplies and books there over the years.
Cody’s of La Jolla, www.codyslj.com, is probably my main go to restaurant in La Jolla Village. It is only open for breakfast and lunch though. Cody’s has a great view of the ocean and sits just up from Scripps Park. Seating outside is a premium, so you will most likely have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it! I love their Eggs Benedict or the Lobster Roll, depending on the time of day.
I generally walk to the village in the mornings along Coast Blvd to the Children’s Pool and then on to Scripps Park. At the Children’s Pool you will find harbor seals below in the surf and on the beach. You can sit above on benches and watch the seals for as long as you like. Or, there is also a walkway out to the ocean that is open as long as the surf isn’t too high.
Scripps Park is a beautiful grassy park overlooking the ocean with lots of trees and a nice set of bathrooms. There is parking along Coast Blvd, but be warned, it is hard to find an empty spot. Hanging out in the park is worth it though, as you will often spot sea lions, pelicans and seagulls on the cliffs below the park. The park is also a great place to take pictures!
La Jolla Cove
Scripps Park is the beginning of what is considered the La Jolla Cove area. On a weird note, the park is also a put in/take out point for swimmers who swim across to or from La Jolla Shores. I believe it is about a mile swim one way. I am always astounded at the people who do this! Incredible!
From Scripps Park, you can continue to walk along the sidewalk north above the cove and then continue up into the village or continue along a dirt trail that keeps you above the cove overlooking the ocean.
Windansea Beach is a surfing type neighborhood south of La Jolla Cove. You will often see locals, of all ages, surfing the great waves there. There are only a few hotels and some scattered restaurants in the area. We have probably stayed in this area the most.
Nautilus Street and Neptune Street is the “main” hub of Windansea I would say. Neptune runs along the ocean and I walk along its sidewalk from one end to the other several times a day and watch the surfers. I always try to catch the sunset too! It’s just perfect!
There is a small parking area on Neptune with about 20 spots or you can parallel park along the side streets. There is an iconic surf hut that sits below the parking area that is used by surfers, lifeguards and people taking pictures.
If you are in this area, stop by Cafe Vahik’s, www.cafevahik.com, for a coffee or chai and breakfast or lunch. He is on Playa del Norte Street, up from the beach on the left before La Jolla Blvd. I go every time I’m in town, almost every day!
On the right, across from Vahik’s, you will see Su Casa, www.sucasarestaurant.com, a Mexican restaurant. We again go every time we are in town. Great drinks and make sure you do the guacamole at the table! It’s yummy and fun to watch them make it.
Another favorite eatery is The Promiscuous Fork, www.thepromiscuousfork.com, on La Jolla Blvd just north of Nautilus St. It is a tiny place that has a few high tables and barstools along a counter, but the food is gourmet. Very yummy!
Continuing south from Windansea, you will find yourself in the Bird Rock area. This is a little stretch of La Jolla Blvd. that has some boutiques, a couple coffee shops and several restaurants. If you are looking for authentic California tacos, look no further than Don Bravos, www.donbravogrill.com. It’s a little taco shop with an ocean view that the locals love and we hit up every time we are in town.
Across the street from Don Bravos is Bird Rock Surf Shop and Cafe, www.birdrocksurfshop.com. Back in the day, one of my sons took surf lessons from them. We always stop in to say hi to Ben, the owner, and his golden retriever Maverick. Scout the Beagle always comes with us so she can say hi too!
Dogs on Beach
Speaking of dogs, Scout is always with us in La Jolla. And, Scout loves the beach! La Jolla beaches have posted signs about dog hours on the beach. The hours differ in the summer months from the winter months, so make sure to read the signs if you have a dog that wants to play on the beach.
La Jolla Prices
Well this should give you a pretty good idea of La Jolla and what area you would like to stay and visit. High season there is the summer and around the Christmas/New Years holidays and the prices can be high. But other times of the year, they aren’t that bad. If you go or if you’ve been, and you love it, let me know your favorite places so I can check them out.