La Jolla, California is known as San Diego’s Jewel by the Sea. It’s a beautiful, enchanting beach city and is brimming with fun activities for the whole family. Most of these things to do are free or cost very little and are definitely worth checking out whether you’re a long-time local or just passing through. There’s no better place to call home than La Jolla; you will never run out of fun things to do and you can’t beat the location.
Here’s a list of 10 activities for your next La Jolla adventure-filled day.
1. Visit the Birch Aquarium
One of the top attractions in La Jolla is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Featuring 60 different habitats, you’ll have the chance to see coral reefs, sea turtles, eels, sharks, seahorses, kelp forests, sea dragons, and much more. Birch is an oceanographic museum where you can learn about discoveries by Scripps Oceanography researchers on climate, earth, and ocean science. There are plenty of interactive elements for the whole family.
Insider tip: The aquarium is open from 9:00–5:00 daily and reservations are strongly encouraged because it can get busy, especially on weekends.
2. Go snorkeling in La Jolla Cove
Get those underwater cameras ready! One of the all time best places to snorkel in Southern California is La Jolla Cove. You’ll get to experience the breathtaking underwater views of the ocean including marine gardens, fish, sea anemones, starfish, and more. You’re welcome to bring your own gear if you have it, but there are also lots of places to rent the equipment near La Jolla Cove if you need to.
Insider tip: The sea floor of some of these snorkel spots has sharp rocks so it’s usually recommended to wear water shoes so you’re comfortable.
3. Hike the Torrey Pines State Reserve
The panoramic views of Torrey Pines are well worth the short hike to the top of the cliffs. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or something to get your heart rate up, there are lots of different trails you can take so there’s a path for every skill level. Torrey Pines is known for its scenic views of the ocean, but you won’t want to miss the self-guided tour of the geology, plant life, and replies along the way.
Insider tip: Be sure to check the Torrey Pines State Park website for trail closures before you plan your trip because depending on the weather, there might be some detours.
4. Go kayaking and explore the La Jolla sea caves
One of the most famous attractions of San Diego is the captivating sea cave experience. You can opt for a self-guided and kayak on your own or reserve a guided tour where you’ll be taken through the Ecological Reserve and along the La Jolla Sea Caves. Pay close attention to the water and you might be able to spot leopard sharks, colorful fish, kelp beds, and, if you’re lucky, you might even come across a pod of dolphins.
Insider tip: Bring your phone in a waterproof bag if you’re planning to take any pictures; even though you’re inside the kayak the whole time, water will be splashing around.
5. Visit Scripps Beach for a picturesque view of Scripps pier
The Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier is an icon of San Diego and the perfect place to capture frame-worthy photos at sunset. The pier was originally constructed in 1916 but was reconstructed in 1988 and has been considered one of the world’s largest research piers. Due to the nature of the research that is conducted on the pier, it’s generally not open for public tours. However, Scripps Beach is one of the quieter beaches in San Diego so if you’re looking for an amazing pier view, this is the spot for you.
Insider tip: On the day you plan to visit, Google what time golden hour is for optimal, even lighting to capture the best photos of the pier.
6. Enjoy the view of seals at La Jolla Children’s Pool
Another one of San Diego’s top attractions is the La Jolla Children’s Pool, the habitat of local harbor seals. The name is a bit misleading because originally the seawall was built at this small beach so that it’d be a place for kids to swim, but over time it’s filled with sand and some harbor seals decided it was a good place to call home and have taken over. There are some excellent vantage points in this area to sit and watch the happy seals play and sunbathe.
Insider tip: Grab some gelato at the ice cream shop around the corner and bring it with you when you walk along the path to watch the seals.
7. Search for sea creatures at the La Jolla tide pools
The rocky surface, cliffs, water, and sand come together to form the best tide pool spot in all of San Diego. With multiple sections to explore, you’ll find endless tiny marine life including hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, tube snails, crabs, sea anemones, tiny fish, pretty shells, and more. Tide pooling is the perfect activity for the whole family and is completely free!
Insider tip: The best time of year to look at the tide pools is between December and March when there are minus tides. For any other time of the year, be sure to check and make sure it’s low or minus tide.
8. Shop local at the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market
The La Jolla Farmers Market is filled with local artisans, seasonal flowers, fresh produce, delicious food, and of course plenty of sunshine. The farmer’s market is popular with locals and tourists alike, and it takes place every Sunday from 10:00am–1:00pm in downtown La Jolla.
Insider tip: Come hungry! The aroma of baked goods fills the open market air and you’re probably going to want to try some while you’re there.
9. Watch the surfers at Windansea Beach
Windansea Beach is a well-known spot for skilled surfers and for sunbathing. Due to the rocks and strong currents, it’s not a popular area for swimming. The unique name of this beach coms from the Windansea hotel at this spot which burned down in the 1940’s. There’s a palm roof surf shack at the south end of the beach that’s now been designated as a historical landmark and gives the whole beach a nice, tropical vibe.
Insider tip: The parking is mostly street parking in the nearby neighborhoods so if you’re planning to go on a summer weekend, plan to get there early!
10. Dine at one of the waterfront restaurants and watch the sunset
With so many amazing restaurants to choose from, you pretty much can’t go wrong with any that you select. A few of the most popular waterfront restaurants are Geroge’s at the Cove, Duke’s La Jolla, The Marine Room, and Eddie V’s. The price ranges at these places are on the higher end because you’re not only paying for the delicious food, you’re also paying for the one-of-a-kind view.
Insider tip: See which places offer happy hour menus to find the best deal.
If you’re lucky enough to be considering calling this magical city your home and are looking to buy a house in La Jolla, contact Nick Rogers today.