La Jolla is a beautiful coastal town in Southern California and a perfect weekend escape filled with romantic sunsets, surfing, shopping and restaurants. Take a guided kayaking tour through the La Jolla Underwater Park to observe marine animals, go snorkeling or scuba diving, and enjoy romantic sunset walks in Ellen Browning Scripps Park which features scenic walkways and spectacular beaches, including the famous La Jolla Cove. Here is the list of the best things to do in La Jolla, California. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.La Jolla Underwater Park
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The spectacular La Jolla Underwater Park promises a wonderful adventure and is one of the top La Jolla attractions. Home to a natural marine life preservation and aquatic recreation zone, it sprawls over 6,000 acres of shoreline and shallow tidelands between Ellen Browning Scripps Park and La Jolla Shores. This incredible ecological reserve hosts two artificial reefs, two underwater canyons, and a vast kelp forest, creating a pristine and protected marine habitat in which a variety of oceanic flora and fauna live. Two sunken artificial reefs attract marine life close to shore and make conditions perfect for swimming and snorkeling in the crisp waters, teeming with beautiful sea creatures. Visitors can take part in a wonderful scuba diving adventure beyond the reefs in the 600-foot deep La Jolla Canyon where migrating whales are often spotted. The La Jolla Underwater Park is a protected zone and fishing is prohibited. However, other water-based activities such as kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular pastimes in the reserve.
2.Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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Perched high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a public aquarium and exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego. Aiming to educate the public on the importance of ocean science and conservation, the Aquarium houses over 60 habitats of sea animals, fish, and invertebrates from across the globe.
Major exhibits at the aquarium include the ‘Hall of Fishes’, featuring a myriad of fish species; ‘ElasmoBeach’, a 13,000-gallon tank showcasing the home of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) and other marine life that live close to shore; and ‘Tidal-Pool Plaza’, boasting three living tide pools filled with marine life.
Birch Aquarium promotes education and conservation of the marine environment through an incredible array of creative exhibits, programs, and activities for all ages throughout the year. If you are looking for best things to do in La Jolla, this is a great place to visit.
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-534-3474
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3.The La Jolla Historical Society
© The La Jolla Historical Society
The La Jolla Historical Society is the premiere cultural and historical organization of the La Jolla region, operating as a nonprofit public benefit corporation striving to engage the San Diego region with its diverse history and cultural heritage. The society operates three historic buildings throughout the Scripps-Gill cultural zone, including the restored 1904 Wisteria Cottage, which showcases museum-style gallery space for changing cultural exhibitions throughout the year. Archival collections are housed at a renovated 1916 carriage house, while public research space is offered at a 1909 cottage. Guests can view exhibitions related to the region's natural, social, and cultural history, including displays of local artifacts, photography, and heritage documents. Public special events throughout the year include a Concours d'Elegance car show and a Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla home tour event.
7846 Eads Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858- 459-5335
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4.La Playa Gallery, La Jolla, California
© La Playa Gallery
La Playa Gallery is one of the La Jolla Shores' premiere art galleries, originally opened to the public in 2013. The delightful gallery focuses on the works of local and regional artists, striving to showcase works and artists that are not shown at other area galleries. An eclectic selection of media is showcased, including painting, sculpture, ceramic, jewelry, and mixed media works. A full slate of thematic exhibitions are showcased throughout the year, with many organized by guest curators and intended to highlight the works of multiple regional artists. An artist-in-residency program is also presented by the gallery, along with educational art courses and a layaway art purchase program.
2226 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-454-6903
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5.Harry's Coffee Shop, La Jolla, California
© Harry's Coffee Shop
A La Jolla icon since 1960, Harry's Coffee Shop is a family-owned restaurant now run by the second generation, and probably serving the second generation of faithful customers accustomed to having their morning cup of java in a comfortable, familiar environment of this classic American diner. This diner has it all: Shiny vinyl booths, long counters and walls covered with sports memorabilia and Norman Rockwell prints.
Their most famous dish is a buttermilk waffle stuffed with bacon, a thick slab of ham and a poached egg, slathered with their signature, homemade hollandaise sauce. This meal will easily keep you going way past lunch. Breakfast is served all day, with a coffee or fresh squeezed juice, or try a smoothie or an old-fashioned float to mix things up. The menu is enormous, you can spend hours drooling over it before deciding what to get, so just plan to come back.
7545 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-454-7381
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© Thumbprint Gallery
Thumbprint Gallery is a clever La Jolla art gallery that showcases the works of emerging and mid-career artists, with a unique focus on pop surrealism, urban art, and works related to pop culture and pop nostalgia. The gallery was founded in 2009 and presents monthly exhibitions throughout the year, highlighting pieces by regional and international artists. Past exhibitions have included works by Zard Apuya, Nonie Cruzado, Victorio Villa, and the Strange Dreams Surreal Art Collective. Pop-up exhibitions and art shows are also hosted by the gallery at sites throughout La Jolla during the year. The gallery is open to the public Fridays through Sundays during the afternoon hours.
920 Kline Street, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-354-6294
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7.The Promiscuous Fork
© The Promiscuous Fork
The Promiscuous Fork is a super cool, friendly, fun-filled foodie joint and to top it off, one of San Diego’s favorite hangouts. Following in the footsteps of their wildly popular catering business, The Promiscuous Fork is now plating their perfected-over-time dishes in quaint digs in La Jolla. Boasting a high-top community table and a partitioned inside/outside bar, the eatery has a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that attracts everyone from families to fashionistas. Their wonderfully simple menu promises original bites, ranging from Surf & Turf Grilled Cheese with homemade crab Louie to salmon tacos smothered in cheddar and bacon-wrapped BBQ shrimp with a side of Baconnaise. Wash it all down with a selection of craft beers from local award-winning breweries. If you are looking for fun date ideas in La Jolla, this is a great place to try.
6984 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-454-3663
8.Lajollacooks4u, La Jolla, California
Lajollacooks4u offers a variety of culinary experiences for every occasion, with packages ranging from farm-to-table and gourmet cooking classes to foodie tours and in-home cooking lessons. Founded in 2007 by certified foodie and culinary master chef Jodi Abel, gourmet classes are held in her home in La Jolla where she imparts her expert culinary knowledge with private groups in fun and delicious ways. Using only locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients, individuals and groups will not want to miss this unique culinary experience. Gourmet food, dining experiences and cooking demonstrations are available, as well as exciting foodie tours through San Diego and culinary weekends away with like-minded gourmands and foodie friends (lajollacooks4u.com).
More ideas: 25 Best Things to Do in San Diego.
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9.Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar
© Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar
Colorful, bright, and unpretentious, with magnificent large murals and outdoor seating, Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen and Bar draws local families as well as La Jolla hipsters, since the word is out that they serve the best Mexican street food outside of Jalisco. The service is fast but the quality and freshness is unlike anywhere else. The menu includes a variety of Guisados (grilled foods), including carne asada, fish, shrimp, chicken al pastor, and Mexican vegetarian dishes such as zucchini flower, soy chorizo potatoes, and corn truffle. Original Mexico City tacos are made with fresh handmade tortillas and served with excellent margaritas. Puesto’s other location in San Diego is at The Headquarters downtown.
1026 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-454-1260
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10.Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla, CA
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Ellen Browning Scripps Park is one of San Diego’s favorite attractions for getting out and about, with vast spaces for picnics and scenic walkways along the coast for strolling, jogging and enjoying the view. One of the most popular spots in San Diego, the park provides easy access to some of the city’s best beaches, including La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool. Undoubtedly one of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches, La Jolla Cove forms part of the La Jolla Underwater Park, whose white sandy shores and pristine, protected waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking. From star fish to sea lions, the ocean floor at La Jolla Cove abounds in many types of marine life. While on land, verdant grassy parks provide the perfect place for picnics and relaxing with family and friends.
11.La Jolla Kayak, La Jolla, California
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Based in La Jolla and operating since 1996, La Jolla Kayak provides guided tours in and around the spectacular coastline and shores of La Jolla, including the world-renowned marine reserve of La Jolla Underwater Park. La Jolla Kayak offers a range of tours. Snorkel in the clear waters of the La Jolla Underwater Park, explore the Seven Caves on a kayaking trip or soak up the stunning sea views as you bicycle along the along the historic San Diego coastline. Guided tours are led by certified and experienced instructors where guest safety is the top priority. If you prefer to explore on your own, paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear and boogie boards can be rented to enjoy in your own time.
12.La Jolla Water Sports Snorkeling Tour, La Jolla, CA
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Swim and snorkel with some of San Diego’s spectacular sea life, from sea lions and starfish to manta rays and moray eels on a snorkeling tour with a La Jolla Water Sports. One of San Diego’s premier watersports shops, they offer a range of water-based activities, with snorkeling tours led by certified instructors through some of the best spots on the coast. Snorkel in the pristine waters of the La Jolla Underwater Park surrounded by myriad of marine life in the protected waters, enjoy a sea scooter snorkel trip in the kelp forests, or head into deeper waters to snorkel with sharks. All equipment is provided for the snorkel tours, and tour groups are kept small for added safety. If you want to spend some time exploring on your own, La Jolla Water Sports has a full range of snorkel and diving equipment that can rented.
13.The Cottage, La Jolla, California
© The Cottage
Located on a sunny corner in downtown La Jolla, The Cottage La Jolla is a friendly, laid-back neighborhood eatery with a reputation for delicious food, excellent service, and a warm ambiance. The turn-of-the-century cottage boasts a lovely brick patio flooded with natural light where diners can indulge in a breakfast of farm-fresh eggs, oatmeal pancakes, healthy granola, yogurt, or syrupy Belgian waffles. Dinner is just as delightful, with a bistro-style menu featuring classic Southern California dishes with all-American flavors. Don’t go away without trying some of the mouthwatering pastries, desserts and bread freshly baked on site in the Cottage Bakery.
7702 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, California 92037, Phone: 858-454-8409
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14.The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
© The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library is one of the United States' final remaining membership libraries, originally opened in 1899 as the Library Association of La Jolla. The nonprofit membership library is one of the San Diego area's premiere cultural institutions, housed within three historic buildings in the city's La Jolla region. Visitors can explore the library for free Tuesdays through Saturdays during the morning and afternoon hours and access a wide collection of music and art, including one of Southern California's premiere collections of artists' books. A permanent collection of artwork showcases more than 200 paintings and sculptures, highlighting regional and national artists. More than 150 live performances and workshops are presented at the institution throughout the year, including jazz and classical concerts, public lectures, and studio art courses.
1008 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-454-5872
15 Best Things to Do in La Jolla, California
- La Jolla Underwater Park, Photo: Courtesy of kgrif - Fotolia.com
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Photo: Courtesy of whitelook - Fotolia.com
- The La Jolla Historical Society, Photo: The La Jolla Historical Society
- La Playa Gallery, La Jolla, California, Photo: La Playa Gallery
- Harry's Coffee Shop, La Jolla, California, Photo: Harry's Coffee Shop
- Thumbprint Gallery, Photo: Thumbprint Gallery
- The Promiscuous Fork, Photo: The Promiscuous Fork
- Lajollacooks4u, La Jolla, California, Photo: Lajollacooks4u
- Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar, Photo: Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar
- Ellen Browning Scripps Park, La Jolla, CA, Photo: Courtesy of samantoniophoto/Fotolia
- La Jolla Kayak, La Jolla, California, Photo: Courtesy of Dudarev Mikhail - Fotolia.com
- La Jolla Water Sports Snorkeling Tour, La Jolla, CA, Photo: Courtesy of ead72 - Fotolia.com
- The Cottage, La Jolla, California, Photo: The Cottage
- The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, Photo: The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of kanonsky - Fotolia.com
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