La Jolla is the quintessential California beach town.
Where the furrowed landscape of San Diego meets the shimmering blue Pacific lies the picturesque community of La Jolla, California. Often called California’s Côte d’Azur, La Jolla’s scenic coastline offers unmatched natural beauty—from white sand beaches lined with palm trees to craggy inlets and sandstone cliffs dropping to the sea. The name La Jolla is an adaptation of the Spanish word la joya, which means, “the jewel.” And it’s no wonder; La Jolla truly is a jewel by the sea.
Perched on a bluff affording spectacular panoramic views, tony downtown La Jolla is replete with gorgeous hotels, art galleries, jewelers and cafés. The area bound by Prospect Street and Girard Avenue offers countless opportunities for shopping and fine dining. Upscale national retailers like Ralph Lauren and Armani Exchange sit side-by-side with smaller, local boutiques. There are also many fine restaurants to choose from—for everything from surf & turf to exotic foreign foods like Indian, Thai or Mexican.
Of course La Jolla’s many beaches are a huge part of its allure, each offering something unique and special. Broad, sandy La Jolla Shores stretches for just over a mile and is perfect for swimming, body surfing or just lying out to catch some rays. There’s a grassy park adjacent to the sand with a play area for children and boardwalk that’s perfect for jogging, cycling or rollerblading too.
To the south is a rocky outcropping that forms La Jolla Cove. The water here is usually very calm and clear. In fact, the area is protected as the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve and offers exceptional opportunities for snorkeling and diving. With visibility reaching up to twenty feet, a variety of marine life can be viewed here, including colorful fish, moray eels, and even stingrays, bat rays and leopard sharks. If staying above the water is more your thing, kayaking is very popular in the Cove. If you don’t have your own, it’s possible to take a tour or rent one on Coast Boulevard or Prospect Avenue. The cove’s rugged landscape includes several offshore caves and rock formations that are definitely worth exploring.
Adjacent to La Jolla Cove is the Children’s Pool, a cozy inlet that’s protected from the rough surf by a concrete breakwater. California sea lions and harbor seals have made this their home in recent years, so swimming isn’t advised here anymore. However, you can still find a patch of sand for yourself and watch these lovable creatures up close and personal. There’s a railing along the top of the breakwater, offering great overhead views of the lazy animals as they bask in the sun.
Above La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool is Ellen Browning Scripps Park; a wide grassy area dotted with Torrey pines and cypress trees. The park is a great place for a picnic, throwing a Frisbee around or as a place for the sand-phobic to relax and get a tan. It’s also an idyllic perch to watch the sun as it slowly dips into the Pacific.
If you continue south along the coast you’ll next reach Windandsea Beach, a true surfers’ paradise. Located a little farther away from the tourist crowds, this beach is ideal for those seeking strong waves and incredible surf breaks.
Another great place for surfing is in the opposite direction, at the far northern edge of La Jolla, at infamous Blacks Beach. Accessible from La Jolla Shores at low tide, or by hiking along a precipitous path down three-hundred-foot high sandstone cliffs, Blacks has been clothing-optional for decades. Although officially it’s not legal to go au natural there, the beach’s isolation limits the number of visitors and those that do come usually look the other way.
La Jolla is the quintessential California beach town. Beautiful beaches, postcard-perfect vistas and a laid-back yet cosmopolitan lifestyle make La Jolla the ideal vacation destination.
When to go: San Diego has a mild, Mediterranean climate so most of the year the weather is very pleasant. The summer months of July through September are peak season in La Jolla. Year-round high temperatures average between 67 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows run between 44 and 62 degrees. The weather may be unpredictable in May and June where the fog rolls in (known locally as “May gray” and “June gloom”). However, it usually burns off by late afternoon and there’s nearly always a refreshing sea breeze.
How to get there: To reach La Jolla from downtown San Diego, take I-5 north to the La Jolla Parkway exit. After cresting the hill, the road turns into Torrey Pines Road. To get into downtown La Jolla, turn right onto Prospect Street. If you’re heading south, exit I-5 at La Jolla Village Drive and turn right. Make a left onto Torrey Pines Road, continue along the coast, and then make a right onto Prospect Street.
Thank you to Michael Figueiredo, from www.struxtravel.com, for this great guest post. Make sure you visit his site please.
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