La Jolla Attractions
Tourists and residents love La Jolla because, for all its luxuries, it is one of the most laid-back and friendly San Diego neighborhoods.
We may have more than our fair share of multi-million-dollar homes and some of the city’s most beautiful beaches, but my community is also home to silly barking sea lions and the most popular La Jolla attractions are all-natural.
On this page, I’ve collected all my best La Jolla travel tips, guides to La Jolla attractions, and information about where to stay, what to do, and where to go in La Jolla, whether you’re traveling alone or with kids.
La Jolla Travel Tips
The most important La Jolla travel tip you should be aware of before your visit isn’t about where to stay in La Jolla (tip: try The Lodge at Torrey Pines or La Valencia Hotel) but rather how to say La Jolla.
Given that so many people have never heard of my neighborhood, it doesn’t come as a shock that they don’t know how to pronounce it. La Jolla is pronounced La-HOY-a.
La Jolla isn’t as busy or as crowded (parking in the Village during peak season though can be tough) as some other San Diego neighborhoods and the people are friendly. If you’re coming to California to relax and get away from it all, it’s a great home base.
After you visit busy Balboa Park or tour the Hotel del Coronado®, you can come back to La Jolla and unwind.
This neighborhood has something for everyone. La Jolla is home to Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and The Salk Institute. It’s also well-known as an art incubator and as a hub of luxury shopping.
If you’re visiting La Jolla with kids, they’re never going to get bored. Kids who prefer outdoor activities will enjoy kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, biking, or watching the seals and sea lions. And on rainy days, you can visit the Birch Aquarium or shop for new toys at Gepetto’s.
When you’re thinking about where to stay in La Jolla, keep in mind that this is a neighborhood made of neighborhoods. Most visitors stay in The Village near La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, or by Torrey Pines Golf Course.
When people talk about ‘the Village,’ they’re referring to central La Jolla. Some of the most beautiful architecture can be found in the Beach-Barber Tract (which was once called Neptunia).
Notable La Jolla Attractions
Nature is what brings a lot of tourists to La Jolla. In fact, the most notable La Jolla attractions were all designed by Mother Nature. La Jolla Cove is probably the most popular attraction here. It’s beautiful as seen from land, and you can snap some amazing photos of gulls in flight and sea lions frolicking. It’s especially stunning as seen from under the water, however.
La Jolla Cove is home to the La Jolla Underwater Park, where snorkelers, divers, and swimmers can observe orange Garibaldi (California’s state fish), sea stars, anemones, and other marine creatures in their natural habitats. There are even lifeguards.
Birch Aquarium showcases research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is fun for all ages. But one of our favorite La Jolla attractions is the famous La Jolla seals and sea lions, which you can see from the Children’s Pool, along Coast Boulevard, and all the way up to the Cave Store, which hosts the entrance to Sunny Jim sea cave.
No discussion of La Jolla attractions would be complete without a mention of the La Jolla beaches. La Jolla has seven miles of coastline, and there are sandy beaches up and down the coast.
Families tend to head to the Children’s Pool for the seals and the tide pools, though be aware that you can’t swim here. In fact, the beach is closed for part of the year so that the seals and their pups are protected.
La Jolla Shores Beach is the best swimming beach in La Jolla, and it has lifeguards, picnic tables, bathrooms, and showers. For tide pooling, you can’t beat Shell Beach, Dike Rock (near Scripps Pier), and Wipeout Beach, which have the most colorful and interesting aquatic life.