Odds are that if you’re going to spend time in La Jolla, California, you’ll see or walk through Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
It’s adjacent to the famous La Jolla Cove, a lovely place for a picnic, and fun for kids or pets to run around. Some hotels and restaurants overlook this green space on the way out to the Pacific Ocean.
Like other La Jolla attractions, your visit becomes more meaningful the more you know about the park and its amenities.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park History
So who was Ellen Browning Scripps, and why is this park named after her?
A famed journalist and philanthropist, Ellen Browning Scripps made a fortune with a wise investment in her half-brother’s newspaper chain.
She was passionate about science and education, so she donated a huge portion of her wealth and time to a variety of iconic institutions, such as:
- Scripps Institution of Oceanography
- La Jolla Children’s School
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
- Scripps Research Institute (which began as Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Research Clinic)
- La Jolla Woman’s Club
- The Bishop’s School
In recognition of her astounding contributions to Southern California, Ellen Browning Scripps was honored by having one of La Jolla’s most beautiful parks named after her.
The 5.6-acre park was dedicated in 1927 — a few years before Ellen Browning Scripps died.
Before it was named after Ellen Browning Scripps, this destination was known as La Jolla Park. It was developed under the guidance of famed landscape architect Samuel Parsons, who is believed to have played a key role in promoting the cypress groves for which it’s known.
What to Do at Ellen Browning Scripps Park
It’s easy to make a day of exploring Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This leisurely destination invites relaxation with its lovely views and friendly atmosphere.
Need ideas for how to stay occupied? You can’t go wrong with the activities and events below.
Pack a Picnic
La Jolla is home to various excellent restaurants, but there’s something to be said for enjoying a simple picnic lunch.
Grab a basket, a blanket, and some tasty treats to enjoy while relaxing in the park’s grassy space. You can also eat at one of the picnic tables.
Admire the View from a Belvedere
La Jolla is known for its sheltered belvederes, which can be found along Coast Boulevard. Historians theorize that these structures came to La Jolla, in part, because they were common in Ellen Browning Scripps’ homeland of England.
Regardless of why they were built, the belvederes remain one of the most popular features at Scripps Park to this day. Three are located near the park’s edge, where they invite physical relaxation and personal reflection.
Listen to the Sea Lions Bark
Opportunities for viewing the La Jolla sea lions abound throughout the area, but they are especially prominent at Point La Jolla, just steps from Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
Visitors often gather at the wall overlooking Point La Jolla to view and listen to the sea lions. If this is your primary reason for visiting the park, be sure to keep a healthy distance between yourself (or your children) and the sea lions.
You can also spot sea lions near the sea caves. Our colony of harbor seals lives a short walk away at the Children’s Pool.
Look at the Dr. Seuss Trees
Ellen Browning Scripps was by no means the only inspirational person to call San Diego home. Dr. Seuss was another famed resident — and his original sources of inspiration can still be found throughout La Jolla.
Scripps Park provides the ultimate example with its eye-catching trees. You might recognize them from The Lorax, where the titular character did his best to rescue the vulnerable truffula trees.
Sadly, the tall Monterey Cypress regarded as the central inspiration for The Lorax fell in 2019. At the time, it was thought to be a century old.
The La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group has expressed interest in replacing it with another majestic cypress. While you won’t get to see a tall Lorax-style tree just yet, you’ll still love the gnarled and twisted trees found near several picnic tables.
Referred to by AAA Magazine as San Diego’s most photographed spot, this picturesque location is a popular hangout among local photographers.
From the aforementioned Dr. Seuss trees to the sea lions, and, of course, the Pacific Ocean coastline, inspiration abounds in every corner of the park.
Plan Your Dream Wedding
Ellen Browning Scripps Park is a popular wedding destination in San Diego County. One glance at the breathtaking scenery, and it’s easy to see why.
Permits are issued year-round by the City of San Diego; call the Permit Center for more information on fees and scheduling.
Remember that permits extend a mere four hours, including setup and teardown. If you desire a longer celebration, consider a small ceremony at Scripps Park followed by a reception at a nearby restaurant.
Attend Special Events
Ellen Browning Scripps Park hosts many fun events throughout the year. The Concours d’Elegance, for example, brings sophistication and excitement to Scripps Park. This classic car show highlights several of the world’s most distinctive vehicles, plus champagne and gourmet bites for VIP guests.
Scripps Park can also accommodate a variety of other occasions. For example, Concerts by the Sea are free afternoon concerts in the park during select summer dates.
Get Moving With Yoga and Casual Sports
What could be more peaceful than a sunset yoga session along the coast? Use the open grassy area to perform a few sun salutations on your own or with a friend. You may also see groups of people doing the same thing.
If your idea of active fun involves kicking a ball around or throwing a Frisbee, you’ll want to head for Scripps Park.
While the La Jolla area is home to larger and more comprehensive recreation facilities, the grassy space at Scripps Park is more than efficient for laid-back activities.
Walk Down to the Beach
If you’re looking to go swimming, La Jolla Cove is the place for this. A lifeguard station patrols this area year-round. Divers and snorkelers enter the La Jolla Ecological Reserve from here as well.
A boardwalk runs along the coastline here and a few access points lead to the sand.
Vendors pop up in the park throughout the year. This is controversial as city ordinances regulate this activity, but you may see some during a visit.
Important Things to Know About Ellen Browning Scripps Park
Now that you know how to spend a dream day at Ellen Browning Scripps Park, you’ll want to nail down details to make your visit as carefree as possible. Keep the following considerations in mind as you prepare.
The address for Ellen Browning Scripps Park is the same one you would use to visit La Jolla Cove.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park is accessible from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Finding a place to park can sometimes be a hassle, so plan to walk if your hotel is situated nearby. Otherwise, you might be able to score street parking along Coast Blvd.
A few paid parking garages are also located on Prospect Street within walking distance.
Well-behaved dogs on leashes may visit Scripps Park. Waste bags are provided (though bring your own just in case the dispensers are out), so be prepared to pick up after your canine companion.
Limited restroom facilities were, for a long time, a cause for concern near Scripps Park. This has finally been addressed with the opening of a pavilion that includes restroom facilities.
Some of the simplest locations in La Jolla are among the most appealing, so don’t hesitate to check out Scripps Park. You will adore this little oasis, so don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to return before you depart La Jolla.
Hotels and Attractions Near Ellen Browning Scripps Park
Ellen Browning Scripps Park is conveniently located near several of La Jolla’s most iconic hotels and attractions. This makes it easy to access by foot and also allows you to build a quick visit to the park into a jam-packed day.
If you want to stay in a hotel situated conveniently near this beloved park, make your reservations at one of the following:
- La Valencia Hotel
- Grande Colonial Hotel
- La Jolla Cove Hotel and Suites
- Pantai Inn
- Inn by the Sea La Jolla
- Empress Hotel La Jolla
- Little Hotel by the Sea
- Cormorant Boutique Hotel
Nothing caps off a perfect day at the park quite like a meal or a drink at the bar. Both can be enjoyed mere steps from the park, so take some time to check out these favorite dining establishments:
- The Cove House
- George’s at the Cove
- Duke’s La Jolla
- The Med
- Cody’s La Jolla
- Bobboi Gelato
If you prefer strolling along the coast, Scripps Park makes for a great stop during a longer expedition. Begin or end your trek with the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail, pausing to check out Sunny Jim Sea Cave and the famed La Jolla Cove. Continue southeast, and you’ll find the must-visit Children’s Pool Beach.