Explore La Jolla

Things to do in La Jolla and San Diego

Live like a local while you’re in town…

Travel & Leisure names La Jolla one of "America's Favorite Beach Towns"!

At the Grande Colonial hotel, we believe there’s a big difference between staying in La Jolla and actually experiencing La Jolla. We can’t wait to show you the fascinating places and fun things to do that only folks who love the area can really tell you about. Folks like us.

If you’re wondering what to do on a Thursday evening, looking for a fun place to take the kids or would like to hear about local events taking place in and around La Jolla during your stay, we’ve got the inside angle on it all. Ask us how you can snorkel with Leopard Sharks or learn to surf on Pacific Beach. Ride the roller coasters and bumper cars at Belmont Park or take a horse-drawn carriage tour through charming Seaport Village. Play the ponies at Del Mar Racetrack, plan a wine tasting adventure through Temecula Wine Country or commune with sunbathing harbor seals at the Children's Pool beach (named by TripAdvisor as one of the 2013 "Top 10 Wonderfully Unique Beaches" in the world).

Take a stroll through the Village of La Jolla and you'll find your choice of restaurants – from five-star fine dining to funky fish taco shacks and sidewalk cafés. There are world-class art galleries, eclectic antique shops and enough fashionable boutiques to rival Rodeo Drive. All with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. 

For your planning convenience, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite attractions and things to do in and around La Jolla.

Nearby Sights & Visitor Attractions

The Children's Pool at La Jolla Cove (walking distance)

Originally conceived as a protected swimming area for children, the sea-walled Children's Pool began to fill with sand and eventually, sea lions and harbor seals. Today, it is a great place to take the kids and walk along the seawall for gorgeous 360-degree views of La Jolla and the Pacific ocean....and the harbor seals basking on the beach below.  It was also named by TripAdvisor as one of the "10 Wonderfully Unique Beaches" in the world.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps (2.5 miles)

See the wonders of the ocean come alive! The mission of Birch Aquarium is to provide ocean science education, to interpret Scripps Institution of Oceanography research, and to promote ocean conservation.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Belmont Park (6 miles)

Overlooking the beach, this classic amusement park has something for kids of all ages – and parents too! Rides and attractions include the legendary Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, Beach Blaster and the Flowrider Endless Wave. There are also restaurants, shops and a giant arcade.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (9 miles)

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park presents the opportunity to experience the history of early San Diego by providing a connection to the past. Learn about life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872. Visitors are offered a glimpse into yesteryear, as converging cultures transformed San Diego from a Mexican pueblo to an American settlement.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Sea World (9 miles)

This beloved 200-acre marine park lets guests explore the mysteries of the deep and learn about the oceans and their inhabitants. SeaWorld's beautifully landscaped grounds center on a 17-acre lagoon, with flamingo and pelican ponds and a lush tropical rainforest. Shamu, the world-famous killer whale, is the star of the park along with his expanding family, which includes playful baby whales, dolphins and sea lions.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

USS Midway (13 miles)

Request permission to come aboard the Navy's longest-serving aircraft carrier for a self-guided audio tour that takes in berthing spaces, the galley, sick bay and, of course, the flight deck with its restored aircraft, including an F-14 Tomcat.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Balboa Park (15 miles)

Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban cultural park. Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all in the beautiful and timeless setting of this must-see San Diego attraction.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

San Diego Zoo (15 miles)

Enjoy a walk on Southern California’s wild side. More than 4,000 exotic creatures reside at this celebrated zoo, started in 1916 and run by the Zoological Society of San Diego. The zoo is also an accredited botanical garden, featuring with more than 1 million plants on its 1,900 acres.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Legoland California (25 miles)

Picture an entire amusement park dedicated to – and practically built out of - Legos. Opened in 1999, this 128-acre theme park is the ultimate monument to the world's most famous plastic building block. Explore more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including hands-on interactive displays; a life-size menagerie of tigers, giraffes, and other animals; and scale models of international landmarks (the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, and so on), all constructed of LEGO bricks.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Tijuana, Mexico (30 miles)

Just across the Mexican border, Tijuana offers a glimpse into genuine Mexican culture. The “most crossed border in the world’ remains a remarkably friendly jungle, a vibrant and fascinating cocktail of cultures that’s perfect for people-watching even if you’re not planning on participating in the mayhem.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

San Diego Zoo's Safari Park (formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park) (32 miles)

This "zoo of the future" transports you to the African plains and other faraway landscapes. Originally a breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo, the 1,800-acre Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) now holds 3,500 animals representing more than 400 different species. What makes the park unique is that many of the animals roam freely in vast enclosures, allowing giraffes to interact with antelopes, exactly as they would in Africa.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Arts & Entertainment

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (One block)

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is one of only 16 nonprofit membership libraries in the United States. This rare cultural institution offers accessibility to resources and programs found nowhere else in the region. The Athenaeum also presents an eclectic, year-round schedule of art exhibitions, concerts (classical, jazz, and new music), lectures, studio art classes through its School of the Arts, tours and special events.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

La Jolla Historical Society (0.2 miles)

The La Jolla Historical Society is dedicated to the discovery, collection and preservation of La Jolla's heritage and traditions – through a wide range of interactive exhibits and programs.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Museum of Contemporary Art (0.3 miles)

With two locations, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950. At MCASD in La Jolla, take in the fabulous ocean view from the Edwards Garden Gallery, or lunch on the patio at the Museum Café. The La Jolla branch also houses the Museum’s X Store, filled with a selection of contemporary art books, apparel, and innovative design objects.   FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

La Jolla Playhouse (3 miles)

La Jolla Playhouse, a Tony Award-winning professional non-profit theatre, is nationally acclaimed for its innovative productions of classics, comedies, dramas, new plays and musicals.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Nearby Shopping Destinations

Westfield UTC at La Jolla (5 miles)

Located just east of the 5 Freeway in La Jolla, this outdoor mall has an ice skating rink within the food court, and plenty of popular stores such as Nordstrom, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, the Apple store and many more.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Fashion Valley (12 miles)

Browse San Diego's finest collection of stores in a beautiful outdoor shopping center - featuring 200 stores and restaurants and an 18-screen movie theater.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Mission Valley (12 miles)

Boasting a movie theater popular among the teen set, this outdoor mall is anchored by national retailers like Nordstrom Rack, Macy's, Target and Macy's Home Store.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Horton Plaza (13 miles)

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District, this mall features eye-catching Escher-style architecture, with multi-levels of classic retail shops and department stores including Macy's and Nordstrom.  FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

Seaport Village (13 miles)

14 acres of historic waterfront shopping and dining with quaint cobblestone paths and a slate boardwalk. Seaport Village also features romantic horse-drawn carriage rides, the turn-of-the-century Broadway Flying Horses Carousel by Looff (circa 1890).    FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK!

If you have any questions about these recommendations or need assistance with tickets, directions or general information, please don’t hesitate to stop by our front desk. We’re more than happy to help you plan your day in La Jolla.

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