La Jolla Travel Guide

Once you’ve seen the pristine beaches and fine-dining restaurants of La Jolla, only 15 minutes from San Diego, you’ll understand why this place is called "The Jewel" in Spanish. From art and culture to beach activities, La Jolla vacations are filled with fun in one of the most exclusive locations in the country.

Does this mean that La Jolla is outside of your budget? Not necessarily; let VacationRentals.com show you a range of options to make your southern California dream trip come true!

What to Do in La Jolla

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Under the Southern California Sun

Start your trip at The Cove, a La Jolla landmark, where you can explore the reefs and caves with swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. La Jolla vacations will be full of water activities from boating and fishing to surfing and scuba. Underwater photographers come from far and wide to see the spectacular reefs, fish, and kelp at this site.

La Jolla vacations are the perfect time to try a new activity. After a few days of sunbathing on the golden beaches, try something new, whether it’s kayaking or your first surf lesson. For more experienced surfers, La Jolla and San Diego have excellent surf locations. Try a local favorite, Windansea Beach, to catch some waves.

If you prefer your activities on land, head out for a round of 18 on one of the local golf courses. Torrey Pines Municipal Golf course is open all year long and is situated on the top of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Besides the fantastic views, the quality of the course will keep you coming back again and again.

la jolla travel guide

Arts and Culture

Beyond the beauty of the beaches and the rocky coastline, La Jolla vacations are special for the amount of arts and culture that are on offer. The art galleries in this sophisticated destination offer a range of work, from textile arts to contemporary painting. For some of the best galleries in town, visit Quint Temporary Art, La Jolla Fiber Art, and the K Nathan Gallery.

The fun during La Jolla vacations continues once the sun goes down. Catch a play at the La Jolla Playhouse, listen to a jazz concert at the Athenaeum, or attend an art exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – La Jolla. If you’re a book lover, check out the schedule of visiting authors to La Jolla; you might just be surprised if one of your favorite writers is in town for a reading!

Family Fun

La Jolla vacations aren’t only for adults. While there are plenty of reasons to leave the little ones at home, they will love a trip to La Jolla as well. Bring your beach toys for building sand castles, and don’t forget your snorkeling mask and flippers!

Beyond the beach, kids will love the Birch Aquarium. Located on the coast overlooking the Pacific, this is the perfect place for kids to encounter underwater creatures. For a rainy day there’s always the chess club and craft or story time at the La Jolla Library. For some real family excitement, book a scuba diving tour; you might even see a shark!

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What to See in La Jolla

There are many attractions in La Jolla that attract different types of travelers. Scuba divers come to see the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park ecological reserve while art buffs are drawn by the Museum of Contemporary Art. If you have an interest in underwater life, don’t miss the Birch Aquarium, part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

For whale watching, don’t miss tours of La Jolla Cove. This is also a great place for kayaking and snorkeling. For travelers planning La Jolla vacations in June, check out the La Jolla Festival of the Arts, featuring local art, music, and food. Some travelers might be looking for an adrenaline rush and Torrey Pines Glider Port gives just that. Give hang-gliding a try on this 300 foot cliff overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach.

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Where to Shop and Eat in La Jolla

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Exclusive Shopping

Vacations to La Jolla are full of exclusive shopping. Bring your credit cards and maybe an extra suitcase or two because the boutiques, art galleries, and crafts are not only of great quality but are numerous as well!

The streets of downtown La Jolla are full of tempting storefronts. It will be difficult to know where to begin, and well known options such as Armani Exchange will be just as tempting as some of the charming boutiques. For something one of a kind, don’t miss out on the Designer Consigner of La Jolla. Take a stroll along Prospect Street for a variety of options.

If you prefer antiques, browse the treasures at Antique Maps, Ark Antiques, or Echoes Boutique. Travelers that are in the market for jewelry will have a wide range of options, but some local favorites are Jewel of La Jolla, Venetian Jewelers, and the Artful Soul. La Jolla Rugs is the perfect place to pick up a unique rug, and Esteban Interiors has some interesting pieces for the home.

fine dining

Fine Dining on the Pacific Ocean

Many foodies plan La Jolla vacations for the reputation this town has built for fine-dining. Not only are the restaurants award-winning and serve local, fresh cuisine, but many also offer fantastic views over the Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for a restaurant that has it all, from cuisine to atmosphere, look no further than La Jolla.

Georges at the Cove has an excellent ocean view and is known for its contemporary California cuisine. Another award-winning option is the Marine Room, also with an incredible sea view, that has been delighting diners since 1941. For sushi try the Roppongi Restaurant and Wine Bar, or try Tapenade Restaurant for a classic French experience.

There are plenty of less formal options in La Jolla as well. Treat your family to breakfast at Brockton Villa, known for their gourmet coffee. If you’re in the mood for Italian, the satisfying wood-fired pizzas at Piatti Ristorante & Bar are simply delicious. No matter what you’re craving, La Jolla is a sophisticated town with an incredible diversity of dining options.

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When to Visit La Jolla

Southern California enjoys year-round warm temperatures making La Jolla vacations possible all year long. There are points in the year that are more popular for travelers, especially the summer months of June through August when schools are closed and families are traveling. Even during the summer months, this area of California is known for low humidity and pleasant temperatures.

Some visitors might say that the most pleasant time to visit La Jolla is during the spring and fall, before and after the crowds. From February through May and September to October, you will experience fewer crowds and possibly better prices. The off season is from November to January. Although cooler temperatures and some rain mark this season, they are still very pleasant in La Jolla. To avoid peak prices, plan your trip around holiday weekends including Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

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What to Bring to La Jolla

La Jolla vacations can be as casual or fancy as you desire. If you plan on indulging in the fine-dining and theater scenes, be sure to pack along your high heels and a few nice outfits. If you prefer to enjoy casual waterfront dining, you’ll fit in with sandals and casual clothes. For the beach, don’t forget your bathing suit, sunscreen, a juicy novel, and some entertainment for the kids.

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Local Services in La Jolla

La Jolla has built a reputation as one of the most exclusive areas along the coast. Local services have contributed to this reputation—expect to find a great variety of choices for shops. ATMs and banks are widely available, restaurants and bars have long opening hours, and the tourist center is a helpful place to begin your trip.

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What to Know About La Jolla

While La Jolla is the perfect place to enjoy fine-dining, art, and shopping it is also a nature lover’s paradise. If you’ve never given kayaking or scuba diving a try, there is no better backdrop than La Jolla for your first lesson. Make the most of your beach vacation this year by trying a new activity!

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Getting to La Jolla

Most people traveling to La Jolla arrive via San Diego International Airport. La Jolla is located just 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. If you choose to rent a car at the airport, this might give you more freedom to explore during your trip. If you don’t want to be bothered with a rental, a taxi from San Diego won’t be prohibitively expensive.

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Why La Jolla Vacation Rentals?

In one of the most beautiful coastal destinations in the country, you deserve your own space! Stepping out onto the balcony of your own vacation rental will beat staying in a hotel any day. Be a part of this vibrant community by renting a villa and get a taste of the good life. Whether you plan La Jolla vacations for the water sports or the shopping, you will be glad to return to the comfort and space of a rental at the end of a relaxing day!

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