20 Reasons La Jolla Shores Is One of San Diego’s Best Beaches

La Jolla Shores is my family’s favorite beach in San Diego. The mile-long crescent-shaped beach stretches about a mile from Black’s Beach to the north and Kellogg Park to the south. It’s on the southern end of the La Jolla underwater marine park which means that sea life and water sports are easily accessible. While there are many reasons to visit this lovely beach, here are twenty that I can think of off the top of my head.

1. Beautiful Sand

Let’s start with the basics. La Jolla Shoes Beach has an abundance lovely (mostly) clean and soft sand that you can (and probably will) comfortably park yourself in for a day. The entire beach is visible as the shoreline doesn’t make any twists or turns so there’s a lovely feeling of openness.

2. Dogs Love It

things to do with dogs la jolla

We walk our dog on La Jolla Shores beach year-round. Dogs are not allowed on the beach during the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. between November 1 – March 31 as well as 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. between April 1 – October 31.

We absolutely adore early morning walks on this dog friendly beach with our pooch. If you feel like socializing with other dogs and owners, that’s great. But if you want to walk virtually alone, there’s plenty of space for that.

Also, people around here tend to be quite courteous with their dogs so even though they’re permitted, it doesn’t impact reason number one above (nice, clean sand).

If you’re looking for dog friendly beaches near San Diego, this is a great one to check out.

3. An Ideal Spot for Surf Lessons

Because of the underwater park, waves here break rather gently making it an excellent spot for beginners. However, during winter when swells peak, expect to see a number of surfers of all levels catching waves. Not to mention, the ocean bottom here is sandy.

Surf Diva, also located in La Jolla Shores (and an advocate for the local community there), offers surfing lessons for men, women and children. No need to travel with your gear as they offer board and wetsuit rentals, too. This is a great place for surf lessons near San Diego.

4. Sandwiches at the Cheese Shop

Make a pitstop into this mom-and-pop deli for one of La Jolla’s best sandwiches. Take a Cheese Shop sandwich to-go to the beach or pop over when already there. I am partial to the turkey, jack cheese and avocado sandwich but their most noteworthy sandwich is the roasted pork loin. They also have an awesome selection of imported candy and really delicious homemade cookies.

5. Walkable to La Jolla Shores Shops for Incidentals

Forget your sunscreen? No problem. La Jolla Shores Beach is just a few blocks away from the shops and restaurants on Avenida de la Playa where almost anything you’d need for a beach day can be acquired there.

6. Kellogg Park Playground Nearby

Kellogg Park borders the beach and is a huge grassy area that is perfect for picnics, kite flying and games. There is also lovely playground geared toward younger kids with a jungle gym, swings and more fun. Many people come here to just hang out and skip beach-going activities, because it’s pretty much like being at the beach but without getting too sandy.

7. Free Parking

La Jolla Shores Beach has a fairly sizable parking lot that is free to use. Street parking is also free (though may be subject to hourly limits… pay attention). During peak times, this lot will fill up so it is advisable to get to the beach as early as you can rally.

8. Fire Pits

Public fire pits are available at La Jolla Shores beach.

A handful of fire pits are available at La Jolla Shores beach for all-day and evening use with the exception of between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Bring s’mores, hot dogs and wood to burn (just don’t stack it high… 12″ above the pit is the maximum allowed at this time). This is a very fun evening activity, though like parking you’d better stake a claim on your fire pit early. It is required that you extinguish the fire before leaving, too.

9. Lifeguards on Duty

Lifeguards are staffed here year-round between 9:00 a.m. and dusk. The easiest place for families to base themselves is more or less in front of their main tower anyway. Trucks drive up and down the beach while seasonal towers are staffed during the summer.

10. Bathrooms and Showers

Conveniently located near the parking lot and Kellogg park, bathrooms and showers have been recently refreshed. While they aren’t akin to a five-star hotel, they’re pretty nice for a public beach and your car will be grateful for less sand.

11. Jogging and Other Exercise

I absolutely love running on this beach. Near the water’s edge, the sand is compact and you can literally see for miles. The breeze usually isn’t too strong either. However, a number of boot camps meet at Kellogg Park should you want a full-body workout amid ocean breezes. In the early mornings, I’ve even seen people doing pull-ups on the jungle gym.

12. Kid-Friendly Boardwalk

The Micro Maxi lightweight travel scooter at the beach in La Jolla

It’s not that long but if you have kids that want to test out roller skates or scooters (at a moderate pace), go early in the morning before the crowds. Though we’ve done it in the afternoon with no problem.

13. Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks

Leopard shark sightings happen between late June and December with peak viewing in August and September. During this time female leopard sharks hang out in the warmer water closer to shore to incubate their babies, right before giving birth elsewhere. These sharks have smaller mouths and teeth as they feed on crustaceans and while, of course, they could bite, I haven’t heard of it happening to anyone. So, you can see them via kayak, snorkeling or by sometimes standing in the water near the Marine Room restaurant.

14. Exploring via Kayak

It’s easy to launch a kayak into the ocean from here. You can rent one and go it on your own or take a tour of our sea caves and underwater park with a company like La Jolla Kayak or Everyday California.

I am going kayaking with my new GoPro Hero 4 Session shortly so stay tuned to see what it’s like!

15. Stand Up Paddleboarding

Likewise, you will also see a number of people enjoying SUP here. Surf Diva offers lessons and gear rentals. If you are looking for some fun exercise outdoors, I would highly recommend SUP.

16. Scripps Pier

Popular with Instagrammers, a photo underneath the pier looking directly out to the ocean between the pylons is sure to gain multiple likes. If facing the ocean from the La Jolla Shores parking lot, head right on the beach and you’ll hit the pier within minutes.

The Ellen Browning Scripps Pier is one of the world’s largest research pier that is used for a variety of experiments and data collection noting changes in ocean and then some. You can check out awesome live footage from the Pier Cam and La Jolla Shores cam directly on the Scripps website.

17. Tide Pool Fun

Dike Rock just north of Scripps Pier is one of the best places around for tide pooling with sea anemones, sea urchins, hermit crabs and some species of fish on view. But, like anywhere else in San Diego, the season for it is usually late fall to early spring when low tides happen during daylight.

18. Hotels on the Beach

Those who would like to book a room on the beach have two options. The La Jolla Shores Hotel provides excellent value for a beachfront hotel in San Diego. We had a great time staying there. Alternatively, the La Jolla Beach and Tennis club is another option that is perfect for multigenerational travel and has a private beach (that you can drink booze on, if that matters to you).

19. Grunion Running

Spring through summer is grunion running season. Open season is when it’s O.K. to actually catch grunion (with a fishing license) and closed season is for observation only. Either way, beaches across San Diego will experience the little silver fish coming to shore during various dates. The Department of Fish and Game maintains a grunion run schedule and rules for observation and catch.

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps leads organized grunion runs on La Jolla Shores beach during the season (check back for future dates as none are listed at the moment).

20. Cloudy or Sunny… It Doesn’t Matter

There always something to do here regardless of whether the sun is shining. What else am I missing?
See why La Jolla Shores Beach is one of San Diego's best. You can kayak, surf, sunbathe, explore the underwater park, exercise and much more here!

Why do you love La Jolla Shores beach?

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7 Comments

  1. Craig Klampe
    March 1, 2016 at 3:37 pm — Reply

    If facing the ocean from the La Jolla Shores parking lot, head *right* [north] on the beach and you’ll hit the pier within minutes.

    • March 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm — Reply

      Ha! Yes you’re totally right. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. Rita
    July 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm — Reply

    Best place for children! I grew up on that beach and return every year! My children learned to surf there, as did I…cheese shop lamb sandwich…fab! Jeff’s burgers…Piatti, LJBTC…stellar!

    • July 12, 2015 at 9:53 am — Reply

      Totally agree. I haven’t had the lamb sandwich but will try it next time!

  3. July 8, 2015 at 9:22 am — Reply

    Love this! I got to spend a short weekend down in La Jolla Shores the other week and feel in love. It still feels like an old school laid back beach city, which is getting harder and harder to find. We stayed at La Jolla Riveria Inn which was perfect with a great rate for a two bedroom spot that slept the whole family. I will also second the Cheese Shop, absolutely loved it. Only downside to my trip was I didn’t stay long enough, looking to get back down there soon. Thanks for sharing.

    • July 12, 2015 at 9:54 am — Reply

      Well, you’ll just have to come back. Good to know you enjoyed the La Jolla Riviera Inn… great location to base yourself.

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