a prosperous beach community running along 7 miles of the Southern California coastline, sits about 15 miles north of downtown San Diego. Rich beauty awaits in La Jolla, where rocky cliffs give way to the crashing waves of the Pacific. Residents delight in having instant access to some of the country’s most awe-inspiring natural beauty as well as high end shopping, fine dining, art, culture and upscale living.
Families, single professionals, and wealthy retirees make up a large portion of La Jolla’s residents. Its population is one of the most well-educated, politically active, and affluent in the country. Most are outdoor enthusiasts drawn to this recreational mecca for surfing, sailing, hang-gliding and snorkeling.
La Jolla makes a wonderful place to raise a family, with excellent public and private schooling options. Even with all of its glamour and beauty, La Jolla retains a close-knit beach town vibe.
Restaurants & Nightlife
You can't go anywhere in La Jolla without stumbling into an awesome restaurant that ranges from casual cafes, where flip flops are the customary attire, to top-rated fine dining establishments; this town has earned its reputation as a culinary hotspot.
Some of the best seafood restaurants on the California coast have set up shop in La Jolla, and The Marine Room ranks among them. The elegant ambiance greets you along with the ocean views that are beloved by regulars and newcomers alike. Make a reservation for high-tide brunch or dinner, and see the waves of the Pacific lapping at the windows beside you. The fillet Mignon at The Marine Room melts in your mouth, and the wine list will please even the most sophisticated palates.
If you're on the hunt for a more down-home taste in La Jolla, try The Promiscuous Fork for lunch. This hole in the wall whips up some pretty dazzling little dishes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. People come from miles around for the Lamb Lollipops, and the Surf & Turf Grilled Cheese Sandwich -- made with crab and aged white cheddar-- is incredible. These surfer dudes in the kitchen also grill up some of the best garlic burgers in the area. Seating fills up fast, so consider getting your goodies to go.
You can find plenty of posh drinking establishments in the area, but if you're seeking unvarnished local flavor head to London's West End. The cheapest drinks in La Jolla are poured at this self-proclaimed dive bar and beloved casual hangout.
History & Culture
Incorporated into San Diego in 1850, La Jolla became an artist colony during the late 1800s. The coastal community has since grown to become one of the most popular tourist destinations on the West Coast.
Much of La Jolla’s architecture is a testament to the elegant Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean styles introduced to the area at the beginning of the 20th century. These stand in delightful contrast with the simpler beach cottage style of the more distant past. Many modern structures are custom creations of highly skilled local architects.
La Jolla is home to numerous art galleries and museums celebrating the town’s artistic roots. University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the internationally respected Scripps Institute of Oceanography cultivate the intellectual component of local culture, and both draw visitors year round. The University’s La Jolla Playhouse, co-founded by Gregory Peck in 1947, consistently receives national acclaim for its productions.
You can get to La Jolla from San Diego in less than 20 minutes by car. Just head straight up I-5 from downtown. Traffic can get heavy during rush hour, so try to plan accordingly. La Jolla is relatively small, and roadway congestion can be a problem during peak times of the day (late morning through late afternoon). You may want to leave your car in one of the many secure parking structures and set out on foot or bicycle. La Jolla is very walkable and bike-friendly. Also pet-friendly,
it’s not uncommon to see people walking their dogs right into restaurants and shops.
You can get to La Jolla from downtown by bus; you’d have to transfer routes along the way so check the latest bus schedules before you go. There are taxis, but you have to call — don’t expect to hail a cab from the sidewalk. Several driving services operate around La Jolla, and you can be driven around in anything from a nondescript sedan to a stretched out Hummer. You can also download the Uber app for help finding a ride.
Living in La Jolla is not cheap, and the overall cost of living there obliterates national averages. A small one-bedroom
apartment starts at around $1,300 per month. A taxi from the airport usually costs around $40 plus tip, and a one-way bus fare on the Metro is about $2.50. If you’re taking the bus, it’s advisable to spring for a Day Pass, which runs about $5. Gas prices here rank among the highest in the nation. A pint of local craft beer will set you back about $6 or so, depending on where you go.
Imagine a laid-back beach town where you can shop like you’re in a big city. La Jolla is definitely known for its high-end retail stores, but there’s no shortage of charming local places to shop if that’s what you’re looking for. A stroll down Prospect Street gives you front-door access to rows of shops, boutiques and places to grab a sip or bite.
As you walk along, stop by the International Shops courtyard, and visit Jewels By The Sea for unique jewelry and accessories created by local artists. Expect to be greeted by a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, even if you’re just browsing. Be warned, though. It’s pretty hard to walk out of here without picking up at least one of their amazing and completely unique pieces — especially since the prices are very reasonable.
For the bookworms in your group, Warwick’s on Girard Avenue harkens back to a time when bookstores could be intimate places where employees were knowledgeable and passionate about the books they sold. Warwick’s has the charm often absent in the halls of today’s big-box bookstores and remains independent and locally owned.
There are plenty of places to play in La Jolla, where the weather remains warm and sunny throughout the year. Stop off at La Jolla Cove, and watch sea lions lazing on the rocks. The cove is one of the best places to snorkel along the entire California coastline with exotic sea life in abundance just feet from the shore. Overlooking the cove sits Ellen Scripps Park, with open green space perfect for a game of Frisbee. Catch the sunset here if you get the chance.
If you’re traveling with a golf-lover, rock their world by surprising them with a tee-time at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Make sure you call ahead to get on the always-long waiting list. Once the stomping grounds for a young Tiger Woods, this picturesque course rates among the world’s best.