From art galleries and trendy boutiques to world-class golf courses and stunning beaches, La Jolla's attractions please travelers from far and wide. Each district is uniquely different, yet all are similar with respect to one important facet: top-notch quality.
While La Jolla is most well known for its incredible shoreline, the city's upscale business district is hardly modest. Located on the eastern side of La Jolla, law firms, financial institutions and tech industry outposts dominate this district, along with modern shopping centers and a wealthy residential area. The world-famous Scripps Memorial Hospital & Medical Research Center resides here, as well as the San Diego Mormon Temple , a remarkable place of worship that, oddly enough resembles an ice castle.
Perhaps the most notable establishment in this region of La Jolla is the University of California at San Diego , which hosts a world-renowned medical school and a number of other rigorous academic programs. If you're in town in the spring, embark on a Grunion Run with some of the University's marine biologists. Prefer indoor entertainment? The University is home to one of the region's most popular attractions, the La Jolla Playhouse, founded by Hollywood stars and now famous for showcasing new, cutting-edge plays.
Another popular site in the vicinity is Mount Soledad , where you'll find the colossal and controversial Easter Cross, as well as a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole county, from the northernmost beaches to the Mexican border.
La Jolla Village
Known to locals as "the Village," La Jolla's downtown area, though geographically tiny, is jam packed with enough shops, restaurants, hotels, salons and galleries to draw hordes of wealthy patrons from around the region and around the globe. Girard Avenue is widely acknowledged to be La Jolla's main drag (home to everything from surf shops like World Core to fine-art galleries like Images of Nature and elegant boutiques like Neroli ), although Prospect Street has often been dubbed "the Rodeo Drive of San Diego" (thanks to specialty shops like such as Aja and perhaps despite neighborhood haunts like John Cole's Book Shop ). Art lovers will be glad to know that the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art is located here in the village, along with smaller operations like the Cosmopolitan Fine Arts gallery.
If neither art nor shopping are your cups of tea, La Jolla Village also features the La Jolla Recreation Center and La Jolla Woman's Club , great places to spend an afternoon, both in buildings designed by renowned architect Irving Gill.
After a day of patronizing the arts and spending some cash at upscale boutiques, travelers need not venture out of the Village for a delectable meal. The Spot and Roppongi are popular establishments. Nightlife also flourishes in the area, as top comedians perform at the La Jolla branch of the Comedy Store .
Perhaps the most memorable of La Jolla's districts is the Shoreline. La Jolla is home to one of the most spectacular waterfronts in Southern California, complete with remarkable caves, cliffs, beaches and sunsets. Children young and old gather in droves for unbelievable seal watching at Children's Pool Beach . Nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park is a green and inviting cliff-top open space perfect for a picnic, a mid-afternoon snooze or a game of volleyball. If you get tired of the sun, venture into La Jolla Caves , an underground cavern just as much a part of the local ecosystem as the shore itself.
La Jolla's beaches are eminently welcoming to surfers, sunbathers, snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers, and all of these activities make for superb means by which to enjoy this geographically dramatic stretch of coast. Feel at home in the chop? Treat yourself to a surfing lesson courtesy of Surf Diva . If Earth-bound thrills such as these prove too tame, take to the skies! Paragliding and hang gliding are offered at Torrey Pines Gliderport .
Travel a short distance north from La Jolla Cove and see marine life up close at Birch Aquarium . This world-famous oceanographic museum, operated by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, showcases marine life native to the entire continental shelf, from the sounds of the Pacific Northwest to the warm waters of Baja.
Even though La Jolla's beaches and caves are heralded throughout Southern California, one of the coastline's most popular attractions has nothing to do with sand or surf. Torrey Pines Golf Course , the only public course on the PGA circuit, offers two challenging 18-hole courses, and spectacular views of the surrounding natural beauty.
After so much activity, complete the day by dining just above the waters of the Pacific. George's At The Cove and the Crab Catcher , both perched on the cliffs above the cove, draw diners from all around the region eager to feast on tasty food and breath-taking ocean views. Cody's , on the other hand, is a neighborhood favorite with a splendid view of Ellen Browning Scripps Park across the street.
With numerous establishments perched on cliff tops overlooking the famous La Jolla Cove, this city's restaurants are well known both for their unforgettable views and delicious cuisine. Many La Jolla restaurants have had great success combining spectacular ambiance with creative culinary innovations.
Several top-notch eateries shine in the business district of La Jolla. Donovan's Steak & Chop House pleases customers with an elegant dining room, vast wine list and premiere red-meat entrees. Bully's is another sure bet for great steaks, fine wines and a true taste of old La Jolla. For a dining experience both more modern and more laid back, hit Rock Bottom , a restaurant and brewery popular for its eclectic pub-grub menu, house-made beers and a lengthy Happy Hour.
To cash in on the epic ocean views throughout the city, hotels in La Jolla tend to house top-notch restaurants, bars and clubs on their upper floors. Humphrey's La Jolla Grill , located on top of the Radisson features dramatic panoramas, sumptuous cuisine and live entertainment. Clay's , perched on the 11th floor of Hotel La Jolla , has full-length windows overlooking the city and the Pacific, as well as upscale American entrees and live jazz.
La Jolla Village
Known to locals as "the village," La Jolla's downtown hosts some of the finest eateries in Southern California. This section of town is most trendy, ranging from quirky cafes to happening nightlife. Only in La Jolla would one find artwork for sale in a coffee shop. Harry's offers exactly that, welcoming the morning crowd with homemade breakfast specialties and innovative works of art. Mission Coffee Cup is another informal diner, also praised for its fresh-cooked American breakfasts. While the ambience is not particularly notable, it's always crowded with locals for one simple reason: the food is just plain delicious.
The following trio of cafe-style lunch spots is all about gourmet versatility. Whether you crave a hearty panini or a sweet little tart, they've all got you covered. Go to Girard Gourmet and grab a luscious salad, an inspired sandwich or a decadent dessert. Or go on in to Come On In , a delightful bakery styled to evoke the French countryside, which is popular among the daytime village crowd thanks to its coffeecakes, scones and muffins (and meal-sized lunch plates). The Living Room Coffeehouse serves a nice mix of pastries and lunch items as well, complete with a lively atmosphere of eclectic decor and jazz music.
In the evening hours, Roppongi sets the standard as one of La Jolla's most notable trend-setting storefronts, offering a cutting edge menu of Asian fusion meals. Other favorite Asian restaurants include Yen's Wok On Pearl and Royal Thai Cuisine . For something less exotic but perhaps more relaxed, stop at The Spot . Serving steak and ribs, this establishment draws a huge thirty-something crowd on weekends. If you like your meaty dinners preceded by a serving of chips and salsa, look no further than Su Casa , home to everyone's traditional south-of-the-border favorites.
Although La Jolla Village boasts the city's most trendy eateries, dining along La Jolla Cove is a memorable experience for travelers of every stripe. Several restaurants line the cove, each offering spectacular views of the Pacific. Trattoria Acqua offers gazebo dining, with modern pizza and pasta entrees. George's At The Cove and the Crab Catcher , both perched on the cliff above the water, feature splendid views from their respective terrace-dining facilities (as well as fresh seafood entrees).
When you tire of old seafood standbys, Azul La Jolla 's brand of Mediterranean cuisine might fit the bill—and with yet another breath-taking view of the ocean. Perhaps the most sophisticated venue along the shoreline is Top of the Cove, where contemporary French cuisine, live piano music and elegant decor attract the most discriminating of La Jolla locals.
For something a tad cozier, grab a table by the fireplace or out on the front patio at Cody's , a neighborhood favorite whose simple charm does not detract from the elegance of its cuisine. Finally, if you've had a long and active day and crave nothing more than a big gut-busting burrito, pop into Alfonso's , a classic Mexican restaurant well-known for its icy-cold margaritas and grill-fresh carne asada.