From the crashing waves on miles of beaches to culinary creations from some of the region's most acclaimed chefs, La Jolla abounds with sights and attractions for every travel itinerary. And for those visiting during the 100 days of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, our list of "must see" attractions (many of which are FREE and within walking distance of the Grande Colonial hotel) ensures you won't miss out on a thing.
Hike the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, the reserve is a 1,750-acre park dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. A coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyons, the park has a series of well-kept trails that wind along the cliffs offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. With both easy, family-friendly paths and more advanced trails, the park provides a great hiking experience for all levels.
Relax at Ellen Browning Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove (1100 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Considered one of the most photographed locations in San Diego, Ellen Browning Scripps Park is a popular place to hang out in the village of La Jolla. La Jolla Cove, the northern beach in the park, has tide pools at low tide, a cave to climb through, and often sports a gang of harbor seals posing for photographs. Boomer Beach and Shell Beach are on the western side of the park. These beaches can be narrow at high tide but are otherwise fun sandy spots. All three have lifeguards on high alert during peak times. The park has large grass lawns, and picnic tables, barbecues, and benches are abundant. Restrooms are provided near La Jolla Cove. Free street parking is available next to the park.
Soar the Skies at Torrey Pines Gliderport (2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037)
Soaring above the 300-foot cliffs at Torrey Pines in La Jolla is a breathtaking experience on its own, but the unique location of the Torrey Pines Gliderport, a premier spot in San Diego for paragliding and hang gliding, makes the experience a bit more unusual. The Gliderport is located just above Black's Beach, a small stretch of sand beneath the bluffs where clothing is considered optional. Flight lessons or tandem flights are available for those looking to enjoy the sights of San Diego's orange-tinted cliffs, blue Pacific Ocean and the often-tanned nude sunbather.
Watch the Seals at the Children's Pool (850 Coast Blvd. La Jolla, CA 92037)
Located a block from the Grande Colonial is La Jolla's Children's Pool, originally intended to be a swimming area for kids, as its name implies. The seawall was built in 1931 to protect the area from rough waters. However, the protected area has gradually filled up with sand to form a little beach that seals and sea lions have called home since the early 1990's. Residents and visitors alike enjoy catching glimpses of them basking in the sun, swimming the coastal Pacific waters, and sometimes nursing their pups. Cameras are a must!
Snorkel with the Leopard Sharks at the La Jolla Underwater Park Preserve (8200 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Every year, thousands of leopard sharks head to the shores off the coast of La Jolla Shores Beach to mate and then hatch their young. The leopard sharks are beautiful — and harmless — and snorkeling alongside them makes for an incredible afternoon out with the family. These little guys are hard to miss and are distinctively marked with dark brown spots on a silvery, gray background that resemble a leopard print. They congregate at La Jolla Shores, where the water is warmer and shallower and easier for them to search for food in the sand and kelp forests, which are protected by the La Jolla Underwater Park Preserve. End of August and September are usually the best times to see Leopard Sharks, as this is towards the end of the mating season and there are higher numbers of sharks. The ideal time to go is during the day, when there are calm waters and when it's sunny (as they will be easier to spot). Wade out up to your knees or hips, and you'll see them swimming around your feet!
Shop at the La Jolla Open Aire Market (7335 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Each Sunday nearly 150+ vendors participate in the La Jolla Open Aire Market providing shoppers with bountiful choices in fresh, locally grown produce, international food, and unique handcrafted arts and gifts. This free market has cultivated the finest local farmers, artisans, and food vendors to make up one of the best farmers markets in San Diego. Open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The La Jolla Open Aire Market is free and fun for the entire family. Come picnic, and enjoy the weekly musicians, and participate in our family fun days!
Play at La Jolla Shores Beach (8200 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Over a mile long, La Jolla Shores Beach is a long, wide, and very popular beach, tucked into gaps between rocky points. Lifeguards are on-hand daily for swimmers and surfers to safely enjoy the surf. It's tops for picnicking, sunbathing, playing in the water, and people watching. Kayakers put in at the south end of the beach and paddle out to see La Jolla Caves. Beach walkers can head north for a long way by passing under the Scripps Pier and continuing all the way to Black's Beach (warning this area is clothing optional). The beach is in front of Kellogg Park which has a children's playground, and two grassy areas for picnics.
Browse the Books at the historic Warwick's Book Store (7812 Girard Ave. La Jolla, CA 92037)
Located in the Village, Warwick's is the country's oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore. In addition to a highly curated selection of books, Warwick's regularly hosts author events and signings. Beyond books, Warwick's is also well known for its extensive, beautiful and unusual selection of gifts, jewelry, stationery, fine pens, leather, office and art supplies
Step Back in Time at the La Jolla Historical Society (780 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037)
The La Jolla Historical Society inspires and empowers the community to make La Jolla's diverse past a relevant part of contemporary life, serving as a resource and gathering place where residents and visitors explore history, art, ideas and culture. The adjacent Wisteria Cottage galleries provide for high quality, rotating exhibitions that explore the rich culture of La Jolla and interpret history for contemporary audiences. The Society's archives include photographs, postcards, architectural drawings, collections of local newspapers, street and land use files, and business and personal documents.
Get "Artsy" at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (700 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Showcasing a recently completed, multi-million-dollar renovation, the MCASD is known as "art with a view." Designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf and the New York-based firm Selldorf Architects, it's a space worthy of both the view and the art that now hangs on its seemingly endless walls. Originally the former home of Ellen Browning Scripps — designed by famed architect Irving Gill in 1916 — it became a museum in 1941, then was renovated multiple times throughout the next few decades. The museum is very family-friendly and provides for a lovely place to spend time while visiting La Jolla.
Hang Ten at Windansea Beach (6800 Neptune Place, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Windansea Beach in La Jolla is located in a residential neighborhood, at the west end of Westbourne, Nautilus, and Bonair Streets. The name is a shortened version of "Wind-and-Sea" and comes from a hotel that was located at this spot named Windansea that burned down in the 1940's. Like a lot of La Jolla's beaches, this one is just large enough to spread out for sunbathing and watching the expert surfers hanging ten amidst the rocky coastline and strong currents. At the south end of the beach there is a simple surf shack with a palm roof for shade that has been designated as a historical landmark.
Kayak the Seven La Jolla Sea Caves (Sunny Jim's Cave Store, 1325 Coast Blvd., a Jolla, CA 92037)
The timeworn cliffs of the La Jolla coastline have, over their 75 million years, had caves carved into the sandstone. Weather permitting, visitors can coast into these seven caves for a breathtaking experience. All of the caves can only be explored by kayak, except for Sunny Jim, which you can hike down into from a small tunnel leading down from the Cave Store. A number of local kayak companies provide fully guided kayak tours taking you along the La Jolla Sea Caves, and through the Ecological Reserve, home to leopard sharks, Garibaldi (California's state marine fish), lush kelp beds, sea lions, and even the occasional pod of dolphins! Ideal for all ages and doesn't require any kayaking experience.
Honor the Past at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial (6905 La Jolla Scenic South, La Jolla, CA 92037)
Considered one of the most unique veterans memorials in America, the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial honors veterans, living or deceased, from the revolutionary war to the current war on terror. Boasting one of the best views in all of San Diego County, the Memorial has stood at the height of San Diego since 1954. It has gone through many trials to be what it is today—A Beacon of Freedom. Thousands of people that stood before the memorial were able to honor and recognize the thousands of military men and women who sacrificed for this country. It is truly a must-see.