My own corner of San Diego is not only beautiful and luxurious but very family-friendly. In La Jolla, we enjoy a year-round average temperature is 70.5°F and there’s remarkably little rain, so it’s easy to get outdoors with little ones and never a bad time to hit the beach. The atmosphere here is down-to-earth — even the upscale restaurants tend to be kid-friendly.
Making La Jolla your home base when you visit San Diego means it’s relatively easy to get to the city’s most popular attractions, but there are plenty of reasonably-priced and free things to do in La Jolla, too. I put this page together to be a resource for parents who want to visit La Jolla with kids or stay in one of the family-friendly hotels in La Jolla, CA. Check out the links below for an insider’s look at what our seaside town has to offer families when it comes to things to do, the best family restaurants, playgrounds, beaches, and more.
Kid-Friendly La Jolla Hotels
There are wonderful hotels in La Jolla, CA, and they all welcome young guests. Some, however, do have more kid-friendly amenities than others. The kid-friendly hotels I recommend to friends and family go above and beyond when it comes to keeping kids entertained, well-fed, and happy, while also offering top-notch service for adult guests. Some of my favorite hotels in La Jolla, CA for family getaways are:
- La Valencia Hotel
- Grande Colonial Hotel
- La Jolla Shores Hotel
- La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
- Hotel La Jolla
- Estancia La Jolla (near UCSD)
La Jolla Beaches
La Jolla has some of the best beaches in all of San Diego. At La Jolla Shores the sand is soft, you can see the entire shoreline (which makes it great for fun in the sun with kids), and the surf is gentler than many spots in the region. Plus, there are lifeguards, bathrooms, and showers.
Many people consider La Jolla Cove one of the best places in the world for ocean swimming, and you’ll see bright orange Garibaldi (California’s state fish), guitarfish, kelp bass, sea stars, and anemones if you bring snorkeling gear.
Here are a few of my first picks for beach time but you can also read my more complete list of La Jolla beaches.
Outdoor Playgrounds and Parks
The hotels in La Jolla, CA are near some lovely little playgrounds and parks where kids can run around and play when you need some downtime. Why not bring a blanket and a picnic? Or get takeaway from one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy it outside while your little ones blow off some steam? The rec center has not one, but three playgrounds, plus gated sports fields, too. These three public spaces are my go-to spots:
Classes and Events
There are all kinds of fun and educational structured activities for children in La Jolla, from classes to storytime to seasonal craft workshops. The La Jolla Rec center hosts lots of events and classes throughout the year (check the calendar), and bigger kids can learn to catch waves in private and group surf lessons, take a kayaking class, or paint their own masterpieces. I’d recommend these activities as a starting point:
Casual, Kid-Friendly La Jolla Restaurants
The area is best known for its 7 miles of gorgeous coastline and wonderful shopping, but there are so many fantastic La Jolla, CA restaurants that it’s becoming a foodie destination as well. I understand that you’ll probably choose different restaurants when you’re visiting La Jolla with kids than you would if you were traveling without children. The good news is that the more casual and kid-friendly dining options in La Jolla are still absolutely delicious. Try any of these restaurants for a memorable meal and a waitstaff that will welcome your kids:
- Sammy’s La Jolla
- The Cottage
- Sushi Mori
- Rubio’s (on Fay, try the guacamole)
- The Taco Stand
- George’s Ocean Terrace
- Duke’s La Jolla
- Barbarella (especially when the Halloween and Christmas decor is up)
See also: Best Restaurants in La Jolla
Kid-Friendly La Jolla Happy Hours
Just because you’re visiting La Jolla with kids doesn’t mean you can’t have a great happy hour experience. These local favorites are on the upscale side, but like most restaurants and lounges in La Jolla, the vibe is still relaxed and welcoming. At these happy hours, kids can be kids, and their grownups can enjoy a cocktail or two.
See also: Where to Go for La Jolla Happy Hour
When you’re researching La Jolla, CA restaurants, don’t forget about dessert. Whether your kids are craving cake, frozen yogurt, ice cream, or cookies, you’ll find plenty of sweet treats in my home town. The desserts at the following shops might not be exactly healthy, but we tend to get our sweet treats from places that use organic or all-natural ingredients.
San Diego Attractions and Museums
No trip to La Jolla with kids is complete until you’ve visited at least a few of the most famous San Diego attractions. We have one of the best zoos in the world, and there are so many amazing children’s museums in San Diego — along with great museums for the entire family. If SeaWorld® San Diego and LEGOLAND® are on your itinerary, I can promise that your kids will have a blast.
- SeaWorld® San Diego
- San Diego Zoo
- Fleet Science Center
- The New Children’s Museum
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- LEGOLAND® California
- Balboa Park (home to the NAT and other great museums)
Nearby San Diego Indoor Play Gyms
Traveling with kids isn’t always easy! Sometimes you just need to find a contained indoor space where kids of all ages can run, bounce, or climb off some of that endless energy… and adults can take a breather. These indoor play gyms aren’t too far away from La Jolla and will keep kids busy for at least a couple of hours.
Mommy and Me Outings
You might need some less intense one-on-one time with your family when you’re visiting La Jolla with kids, and these quieter spots are the perfect destinations. The La Jolla Library hosts free youth events, and you can find out what will be happening during your visit on their online calendar.
See also: 45 Things to Do in San Diego with Kids