I’m always excited to share what I think are the best things to do in La Jolla, California. I’ve lived here for a long time. Our coastal paradise has beautiful beaches full of marine life, spectacular views, fun edutainment, museums, and plenty of outdoor excursions that allow you to enjoy our famous sunshine. 

You can come for a day trip or, better yet, stay in one of our hotels. These activities are all walkable or a short drive away from each other. This is the only list you need because these are places my friends, family, and clients we help plan San Diego trips for actually enjoy. (You can also refer to my full La Jolla guide for more info.)

1. La Jolla Shores Beach

My daughter tries to get my leashed dog to go in the ocean at La Jolla Shores Beach.
A sunny morning at La Jolla Shores Beach

I tell people who want to spend a fun day at the beach to La Jolla Shores Beach. It’s the biggest stretch of flat sand we have. There is plenty of space for everyone to spread out, even on crowded days.

The ocean here is typically excellent for swimming. Surfing is allowed on the north side and the waves usually break in a way that makes this beach an easy place for surf lessons in San Diego. Reputable, licensed companies like Surf Diva can teach you to hang ten here.

Next to the beach is a playground and a huge grassy area called Kellogg Park. Within walking distance, you’ll find several convenience stores and excellent restaurants in the La Jolla Shores business district.

The parking lot fills up quickly during peak days, so arrive early. You can also park on the residential streets. Depending on the season, dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and again after 5 or 6 p.m.

See also: Best San Diego Beaches From North to South

2. La Jolla Underwater Park Activities From Kayaking to Swimming with Leopard Sharks

Aerial view of leopard sharks swimming underwater, one of the most unique La Jolla San Diego attractions.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority via Birch Aquarium

La Jolla Shores Beach is also an entry point to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, a protected ocean area full of marine life, including magnificent kelp, orange garibaldi (California’s state fish), leopard sharks, rays, and more.

You can explore it by swimming out from the beach. The experience gets even better if you go snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayaking near our famous seven sea caves.

You can fish in some areas, but you’ll need a fishing license. Bring your underwater camera for some fantastic adventure photos. Kayak tours and snorkeling tours are popular outdoor activities in La Jolla and depart from La Jolla Shores.

And, if you come in the summer when leopard sharks incubate, you may witness the incredible spectacle above. Read more about how to see the La Jolla leopard sharks, one of California’s most unique naturally-occurring outdoor experiences. Yes, they’re harmless.

3. La Jolla Cove Beach and Sea Lions

View of La Jolla Cove beach and turquoise water on a sunny day, one of the best things to do in downtown La Jolla.
Yes, the waters are unusually clear for California here.

La Jolla Cove is small but packs a punch. There’s a little beach for sunbathing and swimming, surrounded on both sides by rocky points where sea lions and birds hang out.

The combination of wildlife, beach, and an easy entry into the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park makes this a must-visit on a trip to La Jolla, California. When tides are low, you can see some tide pools here, too.

However, you don’t have to be on the beach to appreciate La Jolla Cove. A sidewalk along the coast wraps around La Jolla Cove and goes all the way south to the Children’s Pool. So you can stroll and see plenty of ocean and some wildlife.

This pretty attraction, along with its nearby beaches, sea lions, and seals, is one of the things to do in downtown La Jolla that families and travelers from all over the world day trip to.

Please give our seals and sea lions space! I promise you can enjoy them from a distance!

4. Children’s Pool and the Famous La Jolla Seals

Children's Pool sea wall and seals on the beach at at golden hour, both major La Jolla attractions.
Golden hour view of the seals from the boardwalk.

The famous La Jolla seals live at the Children’s Pool. The sea wall was built in the 1930s by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps (you will see her name several times in this article) to create a safe place for children to swim. Over time, the area filled with sand, and the harbor seals moved in.

A rope barrier on the beach protects the seals from humans from December to May while their babies are born. Pupping season is one of my favorite times to visit, and it’s easy to take fantastic photos here from a respectful distance.

People love watching the seals sleep, chat, and hobble around on the sand. The scene is mesmerizing, and those seeking relaxation often sit here for hours. If the waves are calm, you can walk onto the sea wall (but it can be slippery, so I don’t recommend this for young children). Visiting Children’s Pool Beach is, by far, one of the most popular things to do in La Jolla and a personal favorite pastime of mine.

5. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Hikers walking toward the Pacific Ocean on an easy trail in Torrey Pines State Park.
A mild hiking trail toward the beach.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, home to the rare Torrey Pine tree (pictured above), lies on the border of La Jolla and Del Mar. It’s a great place for leisurely hiking with kids or without. The park is perched on bluffs above gorgeous beaches, which means you may see dolphins or even whales during their annual migrations. Even if you don’t see any animals, the view is amazing.

It is one of the few parks in our state system with reserve status, which means many rare plants and threatened animals live here.

You can only bring water, no food. Dogs are not allowed. Bring your camera. The park is open every day from 7:15 a.m. until sunset.

Kids can earn Junior Ranger badges during their visit, and guests can join free small-group guided walks on weekends and holidays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Fridays at 10 a.m. (summer only). Check the schedule before going, as the walks do not occur if the trails are closed.

Plus, you can enjoy Torrey Pines State Beach when you’ve exhausted the hiking trails on your list.

6. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

A free talk that kids love in front of the Giant Kelp Forest tank at Birch Aquarium, a popular La Jolla attractions for families.
This Giant Kelp Forest exhibit is enormous and a highlight.

If you want to know what to do in La Jolla with kids, add the public exploration center for the world-famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to your itinerary.

Many families take day trips to La Jolla just to visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps. It is fun to visit for a few hours and see the over 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico and beyond. And now they have the Little Blue Penguins, which are so adorable to watch!

The museum does a great job of showcasing the climate, earth, and ocean discoveries of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, including some fun hands-on exhibits that kids enjoy.

There is a cool tide pool display on the outdoor patio (in addition to a spectacular panoramic ocean view), where docents share tidbits about the creatures living in them, such as sea stars, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, and more. You can even touch some of them.

PRO TIP FOR TICKETS

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is part of the Go San Diego Pass, which is a sightseeing pass with discounts to major theme parks, tours, museums, and other fun activities. It is also a part of the San Diego CityPASS.

See also: Best Guide to Birch Aquarium at Scripps

7. Sunny Jim Sea Cave

View to the ocean from the platform inside Sunny Jim Sea Cave, a popular La Jolla San Diego area attraction.
I was there once while a snorkeler was adjusting his fins on the rocks (100% not recommended).

Sunny Jim Sea Cave is the only sea cave in California that you can go into from land. The old wooden staircase leading into the cave is inside the Cave Store on Coast Blvd. in the Village of La Jolla.

Sunny Jim was also named by Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, because the cave’s opening looked like a mascot for a British cereal, also called Sunny Jim. To give you a quick idea of how long people have been able to go inside, work on the tunnel to connect the sea cave to land began in 1902.

A platform inside the cave allows guests to enjoy the barking sea lions and rumble of the ocean. The view is quite pretty as well. You only need about 15–20 minutes or less to buy a ticket, walk down, see the sea cave, and walk back up. 

Be careful because the stairway is old and slippery. It isn’t great for unstable walkers, but it’s a quick side experience when visiting the nearby seals.

8. Ellen Browning Scripps Park

Girls stand on the grass looking at the wind-blown trees at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, California.
Sadly, the tall tree fell over and is no longer there.

This large grassy area has windblown trees said to have influenced the Truffula trees in The Lorax, written by La Jolla’s most famous resident, Dr. Seuss.

Never too crowded (unless there’s a major event happening), it’s a great place for kids to run freely, picnics, frisbee, dog walks, yoga, and more. The small green huts along the shoreline are called belvederes and are fun to hang out in.

This park is next to La Jolla Cove and small beaches nearby (Boomer Beach and Shell Beach). You can walk along the coast and go south to the Children’s Pool (below).

9. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is housed in a newly renovated building that was the former home of local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

The ocean views from here are spectacular, as is the contemporary art collection. Be sure to check the schedule in case a free public tour or other similar event is happening. Thanks to the Qualcomm Foundation, ages 25 and under get free admission! Don’t miss the gift shop and ocean view dining at The Kitchen.

10. Scripps Pier

My daughter and dog walk in between the Scripps Pier pylons at La Jolla Shores Beach.
My daughter and dog stand in the iconic Scripps Pier viewpoint.

Head to La Jolla Shores Beach and walk north on the sand to the Scripps Pier. It is one of the world’s largest working piers. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography use the pier to monitor changes in the Pacific Ocean and study marine life. The pier also pumps about 1.8 million gallons of seawater into the institution’s tanks.

This is one of the most popular places to take photos in La Jolla and the entire San Diego area. People take family portraits, Instagram photos, and more here. Snap a pic underneath the pylons or near the pier first thing in the morning or at sunset for a postcard-worthy shot.

Full Moon Pier Walks are occasionally available to the public through Birch Aquarium. Otherwise, you can’t walk on the pier.

11. La Jolla Recreation Center

I’m learning to appreciate the La Jolla Recreation Center more and more as the years go by. For us, it was a great place to run around after preschool. My daughter and her friends still love the play structures and bolting across the blacktop to play wallball and other fun activities.

The thing is, adults can and should enjoy it, too. Shoot hoops on the basketball courts or practice tennis solo on the backboards. With your driver’s license, you can check out balls and other sports equipment from the office.

Did you know they have pickleball and bocce ball on a first come, first served basis? Fun!

The picnic tables provide a place to rest or eat. Classes and other activities are also available. The Museum of Contemporary Art is right across the street.

This is not a must-visit place for a vacation. But it’s perfect if you’re staying at one of the La Jolla hotels in the Village area and the kids need to burn off steam. Locals should remember to check their calendar of events.

12. The Stuart Collection at UCSD

Fallen Star house on a building ledge at UCSD can be toured.
Fallen Star (2012) by Doh Ho Suh
Stuart Collection
UC San Diego
Photo: Philipp Scholz Rittermann

The Stuart Collection is an amazing series of public art on the campus of UC San Diego (my alma mater). After parking, you can explore the collection for free. Searching for the sculptures and are around the campus is like an outdoor scavenger hunt, perfect for you or your kids.

The sculptures are enormous. Some are integrated into buildings and existing landscaping. Download and print a map that will guide you around campus in more or less a circle to see the entire collection.

13. Torry Pines Gliderport

Gliders prepare to take off at Torrey Pines Gliderport on a sunny day in La Jolla.
Preparing for takeoff at Torrey Pines Gliderport.

A somewhat hidden gem, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is worth visiting even if you have no intention of paragliding or hang gliding off the cliffs. But, if you are keen for extra excitement, there are tandem rides for those who want to try it. Instructors also give lessons to those who want to learn to fly solo.

It’s one of the most historic aviation sites in the country, with over 100 years of flying history. Most people come to see the panoramic views made even more spectacular by colorful gliders in the sky. It’s quite zen up here—the kind of place you don’t want to be in a hurry to leave.

You can bring a picnic, but the Cliffhanger Cafe sandwiches here are a pretty good lunch option. It’s a super casual experience with usually plenty of parking in the dirt lot. It’s also a nice place to relax after hiking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve or visiting Birch Aquarium. These attractions are also up here near UC San Diego.

14. La Jolla Playhouse

The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse rests on the campus of UC San Diego. Some of its productions eventually make it big on Broadway (I saw Rent here decades ago and was a season ticket holder until parenthood got in the way).

When visiting La Jolla, be sure to check the calendar of events to see if there are performances that interest you.

15. Torrey Pines Golf Course

Golfers playing Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course in La Jolla, CA with the Pacific Ocean in the background.
The seaside golf course boasts magnificent views.

When your search for what to do in La Jolla revolves around golf, this is the most exclusive and popular place to snag a tee time. Visitors come to La Jolla to follow Tiger’s footsteps and play the famous Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. It’s home to San Diego’s prestigious annual PGA golf tournament, the Farmer’s Insurance Open.

The City of San Diego owns the courses, which border the ocean for spectacular views. You can call for reservations or use a new online booking portal. Check rates and full tee time details.

SECURE A TEE TIME AND OTHER PERKS

Golf Services at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, which I recommend as one of the best hotels in San Diego, helps overnight guests secure tee times. People stay at the hotel because they like being close to this championship golf course. And, I can add on benefits like complimentary breakfast for two and more.

16. Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial

An aerial view of the cross and plaques at Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial with La Jolla Shores beach and the ocean in the background.
Aerial view of Mount Soledad over La Jolla Shores

One of San Diego’s best views is from the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial. Perched on the top of Mount Soledad, it’s a seasonal stop for the Old Town Trolley, several bike tours, and many other visitors and residents. 

Unless there is heavy cloud cover, you can see past Mission Bay down to Mexico, east over the mountains, north to La Jolla Shores and Del Mar beaches, the pretty Mormon Temple, and beyond. A grassy area provides a small space for kids to play and for laid-back picnics.

However, it is a veteran’s memorial. Over 3300 black granite plaques honor living and deceased veterans from the Revolutionary War through current-day conflicts.

Honorees include President Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, General Patton, and many more. Docents are usually available to answer questions and show you where the more famous honorees are.

17. WindanSea Beach

Windansea shack and beach on a summer July day.
The waves at Windansea Beach are famous (be careful).

WindanSea Beach is more of a local spot, but it’s worth mentioning if you happen to be staying in this part of La Jolla or like to surf awesome waves. (I don’t recommend newbies or inexperienced swimmers to attempt surfing or swimming here due to the intense shorebreak.)

It’s quite scenic, and there’s a nice patch of sand for beachgoing (tides permitting). The iconic WindanSea shack has been there since 1946 (destroyed a few times in between) and is a historical landmark that generates a ton of nostalgia for people who grew up in La Jolla.

One of the fun things to do in La Jolla here is to take family, special occasion, and Instagram photos near the shack.

18. Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

The state-of-the-art Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center is the permanent home of the La Jolla Music Society.

The 500-seat performance hall’s incredible acoustics complement various music styles. Family concerts, free workshops, and open rehearsals in the summer are also on the schedule.

19. Tide Pooling (Winter and Early Spring)

A crane walks in shallow ocean water in a La Jolla tide pool.
Tide pools like this one appear in the winter.

During winter, when low tides occur during daylight hours, many residents and tourists flock to the best beaches for exporing La Jolla tide pools. You’ll see a variety of sea creatures, ranging from hermit crabs to octopuses.

A good rule of thumb is to check the local tide calendars online. If you see a minus tide, that’s your cue to head to the beach. Two great spots are behind the Children’s Pool or north of Scripps Pier at Dike Rock.

Even better, book a Birch Aquarium Tidepooling Adventure, which we have personally enjoyed. Their naturalists have a knack for spotting critters and explaining how they live.

20. La Jolla Murals

Keep an eye out for our La Jolla Murals. These are part of a privately funded community art program by the Athenaeum designed to add a new layer of vibrancy to our seaside community.

You’ll see the murals sprinkled around town on billboards and buildings. Each mural is on display for a maximum of two years. The Athenaeum hosts walking tours on the last Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. that last for about 90 minutes and cover roughly half of the fifteen murals.

Get reservation details and download a map if you’d to take a self-guided tour.

21. The Cat Lounge

The idea behind this nonprofit organization is simple. Every cat in The Cat Lounge is rescued from a local high-kill shelter and ready for adoption.

You can pay admission (tax-deductible) to read, relax, fuel your Instagram, and play with cats. Feel good that all revenue goes to rescuing and caring for cats.

If you want to adopt a cat, what a great way to meet your future family member.

22. Salk Institute Architecture Tour

Salk Institute La Jolla courtyard looking through the buildings to the ocean.
This is the famous Instagram shot

People who are interested in architecture should visit the Salk Institute. Jonas Salk partly designed the designated historic site to encourage creativity. After all, it’s a biomedical research facility.

The Salk Institute is known for its bold design, open labs, and great ocean views. You can tour it on your own or with a guide, but you need to make reservations either way.

23. Visit Bird Rock

The cozy Bird Rock neighborhood is just a few miles from the popular Village of La Jolla. It covers several small blocks on La Jolla Blvd, roughly between Camino de la Costa and Midway Street. I live just up the hill, so I spend a lot of time here. Here are some places you might want to check out:

  • Bird Rock Coffee: Locally famous place for your morning or afternoon cup.
  • Wayfarer Bread: Go early for a loaf or croissant (they sell out), but they do offer sandwiches and pizza later in the day.
  • Dodo Bird Donuts: Go for a fancy donut or gourmet breakfast sandwich.
  • Beaumont’s: Neighborhood eatery for lunch and dinner plus brunch on weekends.
  • Wheat and Water: Another neighborhood spot for good pizza and salads.
  • Surf Shops: Bird Rock Surf Shop has been around for ages (pick up beach essentials, wetsuit, board or smoothie) and there’s the new Hermosa Surf (sustainable handshaped boards, lifestyle and smoothie shop).

24. Go Shopping

Prospect Street, with its boutiques and art galleries, is considered the Rodeo Drive of the San Diego area.

Its intersecting streets, like Girard Avenue and Ivanhoe Avenue, also have some shopping gems worth checking out.

The list of best places to shop in La Jolla is long, but my favorite locally-owned store for gifts and books is Warwick’s. Lululemon, Aviator Nation, Vuori, and other casual shops dot the streets.

Best sure to stop in one of our outstanding restaurants between stores for a meal or coffee.

25. La Jolla Open Aire Market

Sunflowers and produce on display at La Jolla Open Aire Market
We buy flowers, produce, and to-go prepared food here.

Our Farmers Market is called the La Jolla Open Aire Market. It takes place on Sundays between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at La Jolla Elementary School on Girard Avenue and Genter Street.

You can go to the market to buy fresh produce, flowers, olive oils, spreads, baked goods, crafts, and seafood to cook at home. If you’re visiting La Jolla and looking for epicurean souvenirs, they’re here, too.

However, you can also buy prepared foods, ranging from avocado toast to excellent burritos, that you can eat at the market on picnic tables or on the lawn. We also often take these meals to go.

26. La Jolla Historical Society

Visit the La Jolla Historical Society’s exhibition galleries inside its Wisteria Cottage location on Prospect Street.

Exhibitions honor the people, events, and architecture that helped shape La Jolla into the vibrant community that it is today. The museum is typically open between noon and 4 p.m. from Wednesday – Sunday but check the calendar.

Look out for their two major annual events. The Secret Garden Home Tour (which I have volunteered at in the past) gives you a peek into spectacular historic and new La Jolla homes with outstanding garden design.

There’s also the La Jolla Concours d’Elégance car show at La Jolla Cove, which celebrates historic automobiles and draws visitors from all over Southern California and beyond.

You can also take advantage of their themed self-guided walks, which are great for residents and tourists (more on these below).

27. Coast Walk Trail

Wildflowers bloom near the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail on a sunny day.
Spectacular views on a sunny day.

If you want to walk to La Jolla Shores from the Village, take the Coast Walk Trail (also called the La Jolla Walking Trail) north, about a half-mile. The trail’s entrance is near The Cave Store on Coast Blvd.

The dirt path wraps along the coastline, offering gorgeous ocean and sea lion views. The trail is easy, and there are benches to sit on so that you can stop and enjoy the view.

28. The LOT Movie Theater and Restaurant

Of course, La Jolla has a luxury movie theater. Its plush seats recline, and you can order food and cocktails before and during the movie.

The LOT was designed as a lifestyle space. It also offers an expansive patio, where we have attended several events, and a restaurant and bar inside. It’s a good option when looking for what to do in La Jolla on a rare rainy day.

29. Dine Out at Our Fantastic Restaurants

A plate of tacos at Puesto, a popular La Jolla restaurant
Don’t forget the fried cheese in your taco (Photo courtesy of Puesto)

The list of La Jolla restaurants we love is long. Whether you’re coming for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert, we have you and every dietary restriction covered.

Many La Jolla residents take visitors to George’s Ocean Terrace for casual alfresco dining. The menu focuses on locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and the view overlooks La Jolla Cove. San Diego locals also come in on day trips to dine here.

Brockton Villa, overlooking the Cove, is a historic cottage turned restaurant famous for its Coast Toast (brioche French toast dipped in cream) and charming ambiance.

Visitors like Puesto for street tacos, and there are lines that form at the Taco Stand on Pearl Street for a reason. For date nights, we head to award-winning NINE-TEN for farm-to-table cuisine and good wines, but we also quite like martinis and oysters during happy hour with a view at Eddie V’s.

Craft beer is easy to find at most of our restaurants though La Jolla doesn’t have a specific brewer. Trilogy Sanctuary hosts outstanding yoga classes and is home to a vegan restaurant that even non-vegans adore.

For desserts, try the artisanal gelato at Bobboi Natural Gelato near the Cove and any cupcake, cookie, or baked goods at Sugar and Scribe.

30. La Jolla Tours

Stay tuned for an entire post about this, but lately, people have asked me for sightseeing tour suggestions. Our La Jolla museums are great resources for free walking tours.

In addition to the Athenaeum murals walking tour and a Salk Institute tour, both mentioned above, consider the following La Jolla tours.

I have affiliate relationships with some La Jolla tour companies, which means that I might be compensated if you book using my links.

  • Socal Riviera Electric Bike Tour: San Diego Flyrides will take you up hills for panoramic views and down the coastline for ocean views, La Jolla Cove, and seal viewing.
  • A guided La Jolla kayak tour of our sea caves: We have multiple companies that offer kayaking tour and snorkeling tour options, and they’re all great. You’ll get some exercise, see some fish and sea lions, and enjoy a great day out in Southern California’s sunshine. Some of these tours let you get out of the kayak and snorkel.
  • Segway tour: If you’ve never driven a Segway, here’s your chance. It’s actually quite fun and easy to do after a quick tutorial. These tours take place across two hours, rain or shine, and pass by beaches, our murals, the seals, boutiques, and more.
  • La Jolla Historical Society Self-Guided Walks: Tour at your own pace with various themed walking tours, including A Walking Tour of La Jolla Village, Historic Beach Cottages of La Jolla, and more.
  • So Diego Tours: They have a NEW food walking tour of La Jolla that you should try! Use promo code lajollamom for $5 off.

EXCLUSIVE EVERYDAY CALIFORNIA DISCOUNT

Use code LJMOM20 for a 20% discount on kayak and snorkeling tours, lessons, and rentals. Book now.


FAQs About Things to Do in La Jolla, San Diego

Get more information about La Jolla, CA, including why you should visit, places to see around town, the best beaches, and advice for your trip.

What can you do in La Jolla for a day?

The short answer is a lot, but what you choose depends on the type of adventure you seek. I have listed ways to structure a day in La Jolla, broken down into morning, afternoon, and evening, with suggestions for activities and restaurants in the neighborhoods you might find yourself in.

Refer to how to spend a day in La Jolla for more information.

Is La Jolla worth visiting?

As a resident, I would definitely say yes, you should experience La Jolla. Its name means “The Jewel” in Spanish, which fits a community surrounded by stunning coastline.

We have some of the best restaurants in all of San Diego, beautiful beaches, boutique shopping, art galleries, ocean views that even many locals day trip in for, and a fairly laid-back vibe for an upscale community.

Once you park in the Village of La Jolla, and admittedly this can be challenging in summer, you can easily walk to La Jolla Cove, restaurants, and shopping.

The same goes for La Jolla Shores, as you can park, go to the beach, and walk to lunch, happy hour, and more in the business district. We also offer many water sports opportunities for those searching for outdoor activities.

What is La Jolla famous for?

La Jolla is famous for:

Seals and sea lions.
Expensive homes.
UC San Diego.
Torrey Pines Golf Course (where the Farmer’s Open PGA tournament is held).
Ocean views.
Sparkling beaches and surfing.
Leopard sharks.
Residents such as Dr. Seuss and the myriad of entertainers and politicians who have homes here (Alicia Keys and more).
Ecological Reserve tours to see the sea caves and marine life by kayak, SUP, or snorkeling.

WHAT ARE THE TOP LA JOLLA ACTIVITIES?

The top La Jolla activities are:

La Jolla Cove (home to our sea lions).
Children’s Pool Beach (where the harbor seals hang out).
boutique shopping in the Village.
La Jolla Shores Beach.
Enjoying La Jolla Restaurants (some of the best in San Diego) whether you’d like seafood, Mexican food, fine dining, or a good cup of coffee.
visiting La Jolla tide pools in winter.

What are the best things to do in La Jolla with kids?

As a mom in La Jolla, I have written an exhaustive list of what to do in La Jolla with kids. The most popular activities for children include:

La Jolla seals and sea lions.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps.
La Jolla Shores Beach.
Parks and playgrounds like Kellog Park and La Jolla Recreation Center.
Family hikes at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Visiting the La Jolla tide pools during the winter.

What are the best free things to do in La Jolla?

I have written an extensive list that details what to do in La Jolla for free. Many people take day trips to La Jolla specifically to see our seals and sea lions in addition to our pretty beaches, which are completely free outdoor activities.

If free street parking isn’t available, you may have to pay a little cash for parking. Otherwise, it’s definitely possible to enjoy a visit on a budget.

Where Can I Walk Around in La Jolla?

You can walk around the Village of La Jolla, our downtown area. This is where the best shops and restaurants are. It’s one of my favorite fun things to do in La Jolla when I have free time.

It’s also nice to walk around the La Jolla Shores business district, though it is significantly smaller.

Is La Jolla Beach Swimmable?

Certain La Jolla beaches are swimmable, while others are not. The best swimming places are La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores beaches.

Truthfully, I don’t recommend swimming at the other beaches. They are either too rocky or the surf conditions make them unsafe for non-locals.

Is La Jolla Beach free?

Yes, it is free to spend a day at La Jolla beaches. Our fantastic weather makes the beaches usable year-round. Be mindful that free parking in peak months is limited, so you may need to find a paid parking lot.

What are the best things to do near La Jolla?

If you’re staying in a La Jolla hotel, its central San Diego area location provides easy access to sights in other parts of the county that people commonly visit, including:

Mission Bay.
Downtown San Diego (USS Midway Museum, Little Italy).
San Diego Zoo.
Balboa Park.
SeaWorld San Diego.
LEGOLAND California.

Those taking day trips to Orange County or Los Angeles can drive or take the train. We catch the train to Disneyland from the Old Town Transportation Center. The same Amtrak train will pass through downtown Los Angeles.

What are your favorite things to do in La Jolla, California?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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3 Comments

  1. This was the MOST helpful article of all I read while planning our trip (kids 9 and 6). Now to talk them out of Legoland!! Thank you thank you!

  2. Your website was extremely helpful for last minute vacation in La Jolla with kids, from finding the best place to stay to attractions and beach activities. Thank you so much!!!