33 Best Things to Do in La Jolla, San Diego, CA

La Jolla is a beautiful coastal neighborhood in San Diego, California. La Jolla offers something for everyone, known for its stunning beaches, marine life, and outdoor activities. Whether looking for a relaxing day by the ocean or an adventurous hike through nature, this charming seaside community has plenty of things to do. In this article, we’ll explore the top activities and things to do in La Jolla that you won’t want to miss.

La Jolla Shores Beach

One of the most popular beaches in San Diego, La Jolla Shores, is perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. With golden sand and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder why this beach is often referred to as “The Jewel of La Jolla.” The gentle waves make it a great spot for families with young children, and the beach also offers rentals for kayaks, paddleboards, and other water sports equipment.

La Jolla Underwater Park Activities

La Jolla Underwater Park is a must-visit destination for any ocean lover. This protected marine reserve is home to diverse sea life, making it perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also take a guided kayak tour through the park to get up close and personal with the local wildlife.

La Jolla Cove Beach and Sea Lions

La Jolla Cove Beach is another popular beach in the area, known for its picturesque coastline and crystal-clear waters. But what makes this beach truly unique is its resident sea lion colony. You can often spot these playful creatures lounging on the rocks or swimming in the cove’s calm waters.

La Jolla Tide Pools

Just north of La Jolla Cove Beach, you’ll find a series of tide pools perfect for exploring. During low tide, you can walk amongst the rocks and discover an array of marine life, including crabs, sea stars, and colorful fish. It’s an excellent activity for families or anyone interested in learning more about the local ecosystem.

Famous La Jolla Seals

Another popular attraction in La Jolla is its famous seal colony. Located at Children’s Pool Beach, you can watch these adorable creatures bask in the sun and play in the ocean. You can also take a guided tour to learn about the seals and their habitat.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

For nature lovers, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a must-visit destination. With over 2,000 acres of pristine coastal scenery, this reserve offers stunning hiking trails with breathtaking views of the ocean. Keep an eye out for the unique Torrey Pine trees that give this reserve its name.

Geisel Library

Book lovers will want to stop at Geisel Library, named after famous author Dr. Seuss (whose real name was Theodor Geisel). This stunning library is located on the UC San Diego campus and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding area. It’s a great spot to relax and enjoy a good book.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

For those interested in learning more about marine life, Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the perfect place to visit. This public aquarium showcases over 5,000 fish and other aquatic animals from around the world. You can also attend educational programs and feedings to learn about these fascinating creatures.

Downtown La Jolla

Downtown La Jolla offers a charming mix of boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious restaurants. Stroll through the streets and soak up the local culture and atmosphere. You can also find plenty of street performers and live music on weekends.

Sunny Jim Sea Cave

Located just a short walk from downtown La Jolla, Sunny Jim Sea Cave is the only sea cave in California that is accessible by land. You can take a guided tour down an underground tunnel to reach the entrance of this unique cave and explore its rocky interior.

Ellen Browning Scripps Park

For a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle, head over to Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This waterfront park offers stunning ocean views and is a popular spot for picnicking, playing sports, or simply enjoying a quiet moment by the sea.

The Famous Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography is another must-visit attraction in La Jolla. In addition to its impressive collection of marine life, the aquarium also offers educational exhibits and programs to learn more about ocean conservation and research.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Art enthusiasts won’t miss visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. This stunning modern art museum showcases local and international artists in various mediums. You can also attend lectures, tours, and other events hosted by the museum.

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

For a unique perspective of La Jolla and the surrounding area, visit Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. This scenic lookout offers panoramic views of the coast and is also home to a memorial honoring veteran from all military branches.

Scripps Pier

Scripps Pier is not only a popular spot for surfers and fishermen, but it also serves as an essential research site for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Stroll along the pier to enjoy stunning ocean views and glimpse some marine life.

La Jolla Recreation Center

If you want to stay active during your visit to La Jolla, head to the La Jolla Recreation Center. This community park offers various sports facilities, including basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and a swimming pool. It’s an excellent spot for families or anyone looking to exercise while enjoying the California sunshine.

The Stuart Collection

The Stuart Collection is an outdoor sculpture collection located on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus. This unique collection features 19 permanent and temporary sculptures by renowned artists such as Robert Irwin, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Richard Serra. These thought-provoking sculptures are integrated into the UCSD campus’s natural landscape, creating a unique art experience that combines nature and culture. Visitors can take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of each sculpture.

Torrey Pines Gliderport

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, visiting the Torrey Pines Gliderport is a must-do activity in La Jolla. This historic glider port, established in 1928, offers scenic tandem paragliding flights over the cliffs and ocean. Visitors can also watch skilled hang gliders and paragliders take off and land, creating a unique and thrilling experience.

La Jolla Playhouse

Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Mel Ferrer, and Dorothy McGuire, the La Jolla Playhouse is one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. This Tony Award-winning theater has produced over 90 world premieres, including hits such as “Jersey Boys” and “Come from Away.” With its stunning modern architecture and commitment to showcasing diverse and innovative works, visiting the La Jolla Playhouse is a must for any theater lover.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

Golf enthusiasts will be in paradise at the Torrey Pines Golf Course. This world-renowned course, located on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, has hosted major professional golf tournaments and is a favorite among amateurs and pros. With stunning ocean views and challenging holes, playing golf at Torrey Pines is an unforgettable experience.

Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial

Located at the top of Mount Soledad, the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial is a tribute to all who have served in the United States Armed Forces—the memorial features over 3,500 black granite plaques honoring veterans from all branches and eras of military service. Visitors can take in stunning views of La Jolla and pay their respects to the brave men and women who have served our country.

The Taco Stand

No trip to California is complete without indulging in some delicious tacos, and La Jolla’s Taco Stand is a must-visit for taco lovers. This popular taqueria serves authentic Mexican street-style tacos with fresh ingredients and homemade tortillas. From classic carne asada to unique options like portobello mushroom, there’s something for everyone at The Taco Stand.

WindanSea Beach

WindanSea Beach is a hidden gem among the many beaches of San Diego. This small and secluded beach is known for its iconic surf shack and peaceful atmosphere. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, sunbathing, and watching surfers catch some waves. With its stunning views and tranquil setting, WindanSea Beach is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of La Jolla.

Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

For a night of entertainment, head to the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art venue known for its world-class performances. This 49,000-square-foot facility is home to the La Jolla Music Society and hosts a variety of concerts, dance performances, and other cultural events throughout the year. With its modern design and top-notch acoustics, the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is a must-visit for anyone looking for a cultural experience in La Jolla.

La Jolla Murals

La Jolla is home to many stunning murals, each showcasing local artists’ talent and creativity. From colorful abstract designs to realistic depictions of ocean life, these murals can be found throughout the neighborhood, adding a vibrant touch to the streets. Take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour to discover these hidden works of art and learn more about the local art scene.

The Cat Lounge

For all cat lovers, visiting The Cat Lounge is a must when in La Jolla. This unique café allows visitors to cuddle and play with adoptable cats while enjoying coffee and baked goods. The Cat Lounge partners with local rescue organizations to provide a temporary home for cats in need, making it the perfect place to relax and make some furry friends.

Salk Institute Architecture

Designed by renowned architect Louis Kahn, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies is a center for groundbreaking scientific research and an architectural masterpiece. The symmetrical buildings and open spaces are prime examples of modern design, making the institute a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Public tours are available to learn more about the history and significance of this iconic landmark.

Bird Rock

Located at the southern end of La Jolla, Bird Rock is a charming seaside community known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla’s rugged coastline. Visitors can stroll along the oceanfront path, relax on the beach, or explore the neighborhood’s unique boutiques and restaurants. With its small-town charm and breathtaking scenery, Bird Rock is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the beauty of La Jolla.

La Jolla Open Aire Market

Head to the La Jolla Open Aire Market for a taste of the local culture and community. This weekly farmer market features over 120 vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal goods, and homemade food. Visitors can enjoy live music and street performers while browsing the market’s unique offerings. With its lively atmosphere and variety of locally-made products, the La Jolla Open Aire Market is a must-visit for any foodie or shopper.

La Jolla Historical Society

Get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of La Jolla at the La Jolla Historical Society. This non-profit organization preserves and shares the stories and artifacts that showcase the evolution of this coastal community. Visitors can explore the society’s exhibits and attend events to learn about La Jolla’s past and its impact on the present.

The Comedy Store

Head to The Comedy Store in La Jolla for a night of laughter. This legendary comedy club has operated since 1972 and has hosted some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy. With regular shows throughout the week, visitors can enjoy a night of hilarious entertainment and catch a future comedy star on stage.

Coast Walk Trail

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Coast Walk Trail offers a scenic hike along La Jolla’s picturesque coastline. The 2-mile trail starts at the Cave Store and winds through coastal cliffs, giving hikers stunning views of the ocean and the marine life below. Along the way, visitors can also explore the famous Sunny Jim Sea Cave and admire the natural beauty of La Jolla.

The LOT Movie Theater and Restaurant

Combining two favorite activities into one, The LOT in La Jolla is a movie theater and restaurant all in one. Guests can enjoy a full-service dining experience while watching the latest blockbusters in luxury recliner seats. With delicious food and a premium movie viewing experience, The LOT is the perfect spot for a date night or a fun outing with friends.

Pacific Beach

While not technically part of La Jolla, no list of things to do in the area would be complete without mentioning Pacific Beach. Known for its lively boardwalk and beach scene, Pacific Beach is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. Visitors can also explore Garnet Avenue’s trendy bars and restaurants or take in stunning views from the Crystal Pier.

Final Words

La Jolla has something for everyone, from its stunning beaches and coastal views to its unique marine life and cultural attractions. Whether looking for outdoor adventures, educational experiences, or a relaxing day by the sea, this beautiful coastal town has it all. So, if you find yourself in San Diego, add these top activities and destinations to your list of things to do in La Jolla.

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