Welcome to La Jolla! Also known as the Jewel, La Jolla sparkles year-round in the sun and offers as many facets as you have the time and energy to explore. Our Visitor's Guide will get you started on the right path – whether that leads to your hotel, shops, restaurants, golf courses, tennis courts, the ocean, or some other adventure.
You won't lack for accommodations here in La Jolla. They include a full range of hotels, motels, and inns, from the most luxurious to the cozy and simple. Two hotels that have been attracting visitors and many celebrities to La Jolla for decades include The Grande Colonial, built in 1913, and La Valencia, built in 1926. Also known as the Pink Lady, La Valencia is a popular venue for weddings and Sunday brunch. It includes several restaurants, including the Whaling Bar, where you'll feel transported back in time to a Raymond Chandler novel. (Chandler lived in La Jolla.) North of La Jolla, you'll find the Estancia La Jolla Resort and Spa, the Lodge at Torrey Pines, the La Jolla Shores Hotel, and the Hilton La Jolla. Smaller boutique hotels in the Village include the Empress Hotel, Hotel Parisi and the Bed and Breakfast Inn. Just south of downtown La Jolla you'll find a Travelodge and Travel Inn Express.
Many of La Jolla's hotels include well-known restaurants, but you won't have to walk or drive far to find whatever type of food or meal you want. Popular breakfast eating spots include Brockton Villa, overlooking La Jolla Cove, Harry's Coffee Shop, a local favorite since 1960, the Brick and Bell Cafe, known for its fabulous scones, The Cottage, and Pannikin Coffee & Tea. Favorite lunch and dinner restaurants are George's at the Cove, the Crab Catcher, Rappongi (Asian-fusion, with half-off prices during happy hour), Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, Spice Kitchen (Thai), Zenbu Sushi Bar, Tapenade (French), Mandarin Kitchen, and Su Casa (Mexican). For dessert, there's Michele Coulon Dessertier, Girard Gourmet, or Cups, an organic cupcakery.
Most of La Jolla's shops and businesses are located in the downtown area of La Jolla, also known as the Village. The two main streets are Girard Avenue, which runs east and west, and Prospect Street, which parallels the ocean running north and south. Here you'll find whatever you need – clothing, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, books, pet supplies, hardware, furniture, rugs, beauty supplies, and home décor. Clothing stores for men, women and children include, Gap, Banana Republic, Talbot's, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Bahama's, as well as several high-end boutiques and consignment shops. Warwick's is the oldest family-owned bookstore in the country and includes a popular stationery and gift department. Dennis Wills, owner of D.K.Wills bookstore, offers an eclectic selection of new and used books and friendly conversation to accompany your purchases. Walk into Burns Drugs or Meanley & Son Ace Hardware on Girard Avenue and enjoy a nostalgic 50s feel but modern service and merchandise. On Sunday mornings, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., La Jolla Elementary School playground and parking lot are transformed into the Open Aire Farmer's Market, one of the largest in San Diego County, featuring more than 30 food court vendors, 40 certified farmers, and 80 artisans selling original artwork, jewelry, clothing, plants, and other gift items.
If you prefer to do more than shopping, eating and walking, you'll find that La Jolla is a sports lovers' paradise. You can hike at Torrey Pines State Preserve, cycle along the coast, hang glide at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, golf at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, and play tennis at several courts throughout La Jolla. You can also enjoy swimming, snorkeling and diving at the Cove or at La Jolla Shores, kayaking, with tours through the shoreline caves, and, of course, surfing at many of the local surfing beaches. La Jolla includes 13 beaches in all, from north to south. It's best-known surfing beach is Windansea, where surfers have been riding the waves since the 1930s. In 1968, American journalist Tom Wolfe wrote about Windansea in his book, "The Pump House Gang."
If keeping fit is important to you, even while you're on vacation or a business trip, you can stop in at several La Jolla gyms and fitness studios. The largest gyms include La Jolla Sports Club and 24-Hour Fitness, both conveniently located in the heart of the Village. There are two major yoga studios also located in the Village, La Jolla Yoga Center, and Prana Yoga, both with a full range of classes offered in the daytime and evenings. There are also several studios specializing in Pilates, weight lifting, spinning, cardio barre, and personal training. For low-cost exercise options, check out the La Jolla Community Center on La Jolla Boulevard and the YMCA, with two local branches.
You'll find it easy to pamper yourself here in La Jolla too, with several day spas, skin care specialists, massage therapists, and beauty and nail salons. Those who prefer a traditional barber shop will find friendly and professional service at the Village Barber Shop on Fay Avenue, across the parking lot from Vons.
Nearby attractions include the Birch Aquarium, the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), and the Salk Institute, designed by famed architect Louis Kahn. If you are a fan of architecture and sculpture, you can sign up for a walking tours at both UCSD and the Salk Institute and if you enjoy looking at and learning about sea life, you can visit the Birch Aquarium, open daily. You can also visit the Scripps Pier (normally closed to the public) from July through October when the Birch Aquarium and the Scripps Research Institute team up to offer full moon tours. Another popular walking tour is offered every second and fourth Saturday at 10 a.m. by the La Jolla Historical Society, located on at the west end of Eads Avenue, just off Prospect Street. For 90 minutes, they will take you through the historic parts of La Jolla. You can also pick up a booklet on a self-guided tour of La Jolla at the Historical Society, the Museum of Contemporary Art, bookstores, or the La Jolla Visitor's Association, 7966 Herschel Avenue.
The Jewel's many facets will most likely keep you occupied for several visits, but if you do decide to explore outside of La Jolla, San Diego's other attractions are not far away. Sea World, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, for example, are only 20 miles from La Jolla.
If you love the arts, music and theater, you'll find more than enough to appreciate here in La Jolla. Cultural pillars include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the La Jolla Music Society, the Athenaeum, and the La Jolla Playhouse. Not a day, night, or weekend goes by in La Jolla without an art gallery opening, a reading, a lecture, a concert, a festival, a parade, or a house and garden tour of some kind. Whether you're a music lover, a wine connoisseur, a classic car enthusiast, an avid reader, or just like to greet Santa Claus in December, you'll find a cultural or community event to enjoy in La Jolla. And in the midst of La Jolla's friendly spirit, you may even feel like more than a visitor!