Outdoor Movies in San Diego & La Jolla: Your Summer Nights Just Got Way Better

What better way to enjoy a balmy summer evening in San Diego than with some popcorn, a blanket, your friends, and a movie under the stars?! We can’t think of one, to be honest. Some of our favorite venues throughout the city are showcasing some pretty excellent films this season, and the ‘theaters’ range from sandy beaches to cozy, lantern-lit patios.

We’ve done the hard work and put together a big list of the best spots to watch outdoor movies in San Diego and La Jolla this summer; so sit back, relax, and start planning your epic summer nights.

Flicks on the Bricks

Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (1008 Wall Street, La Jolla 92037).
When: 7:30pm, Thursdays in August

One of La Jolla’s most beloved traditions returns this August at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. Get ready to enjoy classic films, complimentary wine, and tasty bites on the outdoor patio! This year’s program is focusing on La Jollans of Noir: Vintage Crime Thrillers Starring Actors with a La Jolla connection. With so many great films noir to choose from, this series focuses on films with La Jolla stars!

August 15 | Underworld U.S.A. (1961)

August 22 | Mirage (1965)

August 29 | Sudden Fear (1952)

Movies on the Beach

Where: Hotel Del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado 92118
When: Saturdays at 8:00pm

Experience a movie under the stars at the Hotel Del Coronado! Guests can snuggle up on one of the comfy Del Beach sand chairs, or, for the ultimate VIP movie experience, get cozy around a private beach bonfire with s’mores and a daybed. General admission tickets start at $20. Doors open at 7:00pm and the movie starts promptly at 8:00pm. We do suggest reserving your tickets in advance to guarantee seating.

The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List!

June 28 | Hook (1985)

July 6 | Top Gun (1986)

July 13 Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

July 20 | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

July 27 The Goonies (1985)

August 3 The Incredibles 2 (2018)

August 10 Back to the Future (1985)

August 31 The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Screen on the Green

Where: Museum of Art (Botanical Lawn) at Balboa Park
When: 8pm, Thursdays in August

Take a trip into the art world as you sit under the stars on the Botanical Lawn (east of the Museum) in beautiful Balboa Park. Grab a picnic, a blanket, and a few friends and enjoy a selection of films whose themes take inspiration from the Museum’s summer collection. Admission to the film series is free.

Note: alcoholic beverages are allowed in Balboa Park until 8:00p.m. Pets are allowed on the lawn, so feel free to bring Fido!

2019 Schedule TBA.

Summer Movies in the Park

Where: Various venues throughout San Diego
When: Dusk (approximately 15 mins after sunset); May 25-October

Summer Movies in the Park is one of San Diego’s longest-running outdoor movie series. It began in 2007 as a ‘take back our parks’ initiative, giving local residents a reason to visit their local county and city parks for a free and fun evening event. This year, the venues are all across San Diego County – from here in La Jolla all the way to Oceanside.

Summer Moves in the Park: La Jolla Venues:

2019 Schedule TBA. Check back later for details! For a complete venue lineup and film schedule, visit the Movies in the Park website.

Liberty Station Outdoor Movies

Where: North Promenade Lawn; Liberty Station
When: 8pm; 2nd Saturday of each month, May-October

Arts District Liberty Station presents its free outdoor film series once again this summer! These six curated films reflect the diverse arts and culture offerings at the growing ARTS DISTRICT at Liberty Station and appeal to film lovers of all ages. Evenings feature surprise pop-up performances or activities along with curated shorts preceding the feature film. So, bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle down for a fabulous evening of great cinema! Space is limited, so plan to arrive early to set up your spot on the lawn.

2019 Schedule TBA.

Movie Nights at Stone Brewing Liberty Station

Where: Stone Brewing at Liberty Station (2816 Historic Decatur Road)
When: 7:30pm; Tuesdays from June-Aug

Craft beer lovers, this is the film series for you! Every Tuesday this summer (June through August), bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle down for a fabulous evening of great beer and even better cinema. Space is limited, so plan to arrive as early as 5pm to set up your spot on the lawn and have dinner in their garden before the show. For more information, see their website.

2019 Schedule TBA.  

 

Where to Have the Perfect Spa Day in La Jolla

Sometimes, we all just need a day off – to relax, recuperate, and escape the hassle and stress of everyday life. What better way to de-stress than with a massage, facial, or a manicure/pedicure? La Jolla offers plenty of ways to relax, from luxurious day spas to world-class hotel salons and spas. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots to have the perfect spa day in La Jolla, whether it’s with your girlfriends, Mom, a special someone, or a solo day out.

The Spa at Estancia La Jolla

The award–winning spa at Estancia La Jolla, which was recently enhanced, is meticulously decorated and designed for ultimate relaxation. The spa’s spacious lounge area has a luxurious, Moroccan décor with French doors that swing open to reveal a beautiful outdoor space, complete with a beautiful fireplace and a Zen garden for meditation. An added bonus: you won’t be smelling nail polish when you walk into the spa. The stand–alone canvassed “Nail Bungalow” funnels the noxious fumes away from visitors in an open–air environment, so you can fully sink into your experience.

The women’s side of the spa offers a salt-water whirlpool with an outside rain shower and an indoor Eucalyptus steam room. The menu of facials, massage therapies, and body treatments is extensive and offers a little something for everyone.

What to try: The Ginger Renewal body treatment is a blissful 80 minute-treatment; let ginger’s healing and warming properties invigorate and nourish in this pampering head-to-toe experience with a head, back, neck and shoulder massage.

The Spa at Torrey Pines

Taking advantage of its seaside location, almost all of the treatments at the Spa at Torrey Pines (located in the Lodge) utilize marine and botanical-based products; particularly sage. Sage is known for its purifying and detoxifying properties and is the main ingredient in The Spa’s signature Coastal Sage Scrub, performed in the Vichy shower. Torrey Pines State Reserve, located just a few minutes’ walk from the resort, is actually home to seventeen different types of sage! All spa treatments and rituals were designed to focus on wellness and are performed to meet the needs of each individual.

In addition to 14 separate treatment rooms, the Spa features a relaxation lounge with a fireplace, dry saunas, herbal infused steam rooms, and aromatherapy inhalation rooms. A cardio/strength room features state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary cycles, and weight-training equipment. Yoga classes and guided nature walks through the Reserve are also offered. An outdoor pool and whirlpool take advantage of the year round temperate weather and beautiful views.

What to try: The Coastal Sage Scrub is definitely at the top of the list — a three-step experience that begins with a natural loofah cleanse and finishes with a luxurious application of their Lemongrass and Sage Lotion.

Cove Wellness

If you’re looking for something more than a traditional day spa/salon, look no further! Cove Wellness offers various purifying therapies that focus on the entire body, a synergistic approach to wellness and healthy aging by supporting the body as it strives to maintain its natural alkalinity and ideal weight. The Spa provides a wide range of unique services, including oxygen facials, specialty therapeutic massages, cleanses and whole body detoxes, cellulite reduction, lymphatic therapy, Reflexology, Hydrotherapy, and much more.

What to try: The Lymphatic Oxygen Facial coupled with the 4-step Signature La Jolla Detox makes for an incredible afternoon of rejuvenation.

La Jolla Cove Salon & Spa

La Jolla Cove Salon and Spa is situated in the heart of beautiful La Jolla Cove overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The salon and spa energy and creativity is determined to ensure every client that walks out of the front door has had the ultimate La Jolla Cove experience! They offer a wide array of hair services in addition to manicures, pedicures and gel nail polishes as well as spa services that includes facial and body massages.

What to try: For the best of both worlds, try the Cove Ultimate Package. It includes a manicure, pedicure, Signature Facial, and a 15-minute hand and feet massage.

Turn your relaxing day into a staycation! Spend the night at one of the many luxurious hotels in La Jolla and escape the hustle and bustle of the ‘real world’ for a little while. Where are your favorite places to unwind?

How to Explore Scripps Pier by Moonlight This Summer

Imagine – walking above the Pacific Ocean on a warm summer night, using only the moon’s glow as your guide while you explore one of La Jolla’s most fascinating landmarks. You can do just that during one of the Birch Aquarium’s Full Moon Scripps Pier Walks, which are held all summer long!

A working research pier still used by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the beautiful Scripps Pier is usually closed to the public. Every summer, however, visitors are invited to explore all 1,090 feet of this La Jolla treasure by moonlight. Attendees have full access to the pier and the chance to ask guides (naturalists from the aquarium and staff members from the Institute) all about the pier and how it’s used. A warm night lit by a full moon is the perfect time to explore one of La Jolla’s most prominent landmarks!

scripps pier full moon walks

How it Works

Your Pier Walk evening kicks off with a video about the history of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As you head out on your walk from the Auditorium, you’ll learn about the 100-year history of data collection at Scripps. Once you arrive at the pier, you’re welcome to soak up the striking scenery by the moonlight, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, there are hands-on activity tables – where the staff may or may not ask if you’d like to dissect a squid or help dig through clumps of mussels.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List!

Otherwise, the Birch Aquarium naturalists will be around to give you the 411 on subjects like shark teeth, the latest in plankton studies, and for the serious nature lovers, the unique donut-shaped brain of a squid.

An added bonus, especially for those with a penchant for photography: the event is timed perfectly so that you walk out of the Sumner Auditorium, down the campus hill, and right into the sunset ducking down beyond the pier. This is a rare – not to mention gorgeous – photo opportunity in La Jolla, so come camera ready!

Pier Walks 101

The pier walks are held twice a month from June through October. Tickets are $35 for adults ($30 if you’re a Birch Aquarium member), and can be purchased ahead of time on the Birch Aquarium website. The walks are from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.

Children must be at least 9 years old to participate, and attendees under 13 must be accompanied by a paid adult.

This year’s Pier Walk schedule:

June

  • Sunday, June 16th

Dates TBA!

The original Scripps Pier was built in La Jolla between 1915 and 1916 as a 1,000 foot long facility for acquiring clean seawater for campus labs and Birch Aquarium. Ellen Browning Scripps provided all of the funds necessary for its construction. Extensive repairs were made to the pier in the 20s and 40s, though major concerns about its structural soundness led to the pier’s complete rebuilding later on.

The Bottom Line

Today, the pier is a remarkable and beautiful structure that is rarely available to be explored. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seen-it-all local, a Full Moon Pier Walk is the rare VIP event that’s both exclusive and completely unique; you’ll be hard-pressed to find another working research pier to explore under the moon’s glow!

For a similarly unique adventure, head down the 145 steps at The Cave Store to explore Sunny Jim Cave. For the slightly less adventurous, walk over to La Jolla Cove to watch the sunbathing seals, grab a bite to eat, and take in the stunning views.

For more information on the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla or other things to explore while you’re there, head to the aquarium’s website.

Exploring Balboa Park: Museums, Gardens, & Dining

Balboa Park

This historic San Diego park is a must see, no doubt about it. Built in 1986 and majorly re-vamped in 1915, Balboa Park holds over 100 years of Southern California life and culture. It’s home to seventeen award-winning museums, more than fifteen green promoting gardens, the famous San Diego Zoo and (if you can believe it) much more! Here’s the basic layout of what you’ll find, events to look out for and information to help you plan the ultimate trip.

Museums

Whether you’re a lover of science or art, trains or sports…there’s a museum for everyone, even the typical non-museum goers. Some of the most applauded favorites include:

San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Museum of Man
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Mingei International Museum
Museum of Photographic Arts
Timken Museum of Art
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego History Center

As for prices and packages, there are multiple options. If you’re a resident, did you know you can go for free? On each Tuesday of each month, Balboa Park hosts “Residents Free Days,” where different museums offer free admission to San Diego residents (you’ll need ID confirming your residency) each week.  Find out which museums are free on which Tuesdays here.

If you’re not a resident or you’re interested in going on a day other than a Tuesday, you can :

• Pay for admission at each museum individually (prices vary)

• Purchase a Go San Diego Card for discounted admission to more than 40 San Diego attractions – including Balboa Park!

• Purchase an Annual Balboa Park Explorer Pass: This pass gives you entry into all 17 museums for an entire year. And this isn’t Disneyland; there are no blackout days.

**It’s important to note that with any of these options, special exhibits aren’t included, such as the Natural History Museum’s King Tut or Museum of Man’s Torture Exhibit.**

Balboa Park Gardens

If you enjoy botany or simply looking at beautiful flowers, there’s plenty to see here. Walk through the Botanical Building to transport yourself across the world. Not only is the inside captivating, but the outer design is very striking and in many classic Balboa Park photographs.

Just outside its main doors are plants known for housing caterpillars. They blend in well, but look carefully amongst the green leaves and you’ll find them; you may be surprised at just how darling a yellow caterpillar can be! One of the best parts about this spot though? It’s free.

As far as larger gardens go, the other two main ones are the Rose Garden across the road from the Natural History Museum and the Japanese Friendship Garden. The Friendship Garden is lovely, especially the coy fish it features in its shaded pond. It’s good to note that it’s the only garden that charges a fee.

The other smaller gardens you’ll find sprinkled amongst the park; we recommend walking and exploring to let yourself surprisingly stumble upon them. Go far enough? You’ll find trails around the park’s edges, the most intricate and steep going along Florida Street to Morley Field.

All of the gardens at Balboa Park:

    • Old Cactus Garden
    • Alcazar Garden
    • Botanical Building & Lily Pond
    • Native Plant Garden
    • Casa del Rey Moro Garden
    • Desert Garden
    • Children’s Peace Garden
    • Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve
    • Memorial Rose Garden
    • Japanese Friendship Garden
    • Marston House Garden
  • Palm Canyon
  • Trees for Health Garden
  • Veterans Memorial Garden
  • Zoro Garden

San Diego Zoo

The world famous San Diego Zoo is famous for many reasons, some of the top being the pandas and Australian koalas, of course. There’s so many wonderful things here that we gave it its own page. Learn more about this zoo and what it has to offer at our San Diego Zoo page.

The Old Globe Theatre

You were transported to Asia in the Japanese Friendship Garden. You experienced Australia taking in the zoo’s koalas. Now, let’s take you over to Europe by putting you in the recreation of England’s Old Globe Theatre. We think Shakespeare would be proud the Old Globe created right here in San Diego, still performing his plays to this day.

You’ll find more than just Shakespeare, though. Famous Broadway and locally written plays are performed here, as well. Watching a play here is a brilliant way to experience theatre the way it was back in Shakespeare’s time, a great way to transcend time.

Events

There’s a constantly updated calendar for Balboa Park. Between all the museums, the theatre and zoo, there’s always something going on. We want to highlight two particular noteworthy events, one that’s weekly and one yearly.

International Cottages Sunday:

Every Sunday from noon to 4 pm, head to the international cottages located on the lovely stretch between the Organ Pavillion and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Each of the cottages represents a different country and is filled with cultural decor, educational information and folks (usually from and) very knowledgeable about the country.

On these Sunday afternoons, they have samples of treats from that nation. For example, head to House of England for tea and samples of tea cakes, House of Spain for Spanish cookies and House of Iran for a savory treat so magical….you just have to eat it to believe it.

There’s also a lawn program included. Every Sunday, one of the nations’ cottages puts on an afternoon of cultural performances and entertainment. It rotates throughout the year, so you’ll enjoy Filipino dancing one week and witness Ukrainian performances the next!

December Nights:

Each year at Christmas time, usually the first weekend of the month, Balboa Park features December Nights. To say this event wows is an understatement. Attendance is at over 350,000 folks a year, and that’s just across 2 days.

These high numbers are drawn by the museums offering free admissions (certain ones at certain times), endless food booths (not free), cultural cuisine hosted by the International Cottages (also not free), no-cost performances in the Organ Pavillion, stages hosting performances around the entire park and so much more.

We find that it’s good to go in with some knowledge, but, when it comes down to it…you’re going to discover things you had never heard about simply arriving in-person. Show up and let the event sweep you off your feet.

In Conclusion

Balboa Park truly does have something for everyone. As with anywhere, the earlier you come for parking the better and the weekdays are less busy than weekends. However, because it is such a vast space and there are so many lots as well as street parking along the sides, even if there’s some hunting, you’ll be able to find a spot! Learn more about San Diego and it’s nearby downtown at our Downtown San Diego & Gaslamp Page.

Where to Go Whale Watching in San Diego

Where to Go Whale Watching in San Diego

We are in the throes of the perfect time to go whale watching in San Diego! Every winter, more than 20,000 Pacific gray whales travel 10,000 miles round-trip (the longest migration of any mammal on earth) from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California. That makes San Diego, with its 78 miles of coastline directly in the migration path, the perfect place to watch.

The best time to watch for gray whales is from December through mid- to late April, depending on the year. To see a blue whale, wait until the spring and summer seasons. That’s when several hundred Blue whales migrate into southern California waters to feed on huge quantities of krill. Dolphins, Finback whales, Humpback whale, Minke whales, and other whales may also be viewed then.

There are plenty of boat tours that will take you out on the water for a close-up glimpse, but if you’re looking to stay dry and just take it easy, here are some great ways to go whale watching in San Diego and in and around La Jolla.

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Western Overlooks at Cabrillo National Monument

The gray whales have been known to pass right by the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument – the heights and incredible panoramas from the park’s Whale Overlook and Old Point Loma Lighthouse offer the best viewing of the San Diego coastline. Bring binoculars if you have them: they can make things much easier! If you don’t have any, a limited number of binoculars are available at the Visitor Center during whale season. Just ask for them at the information desk.

Luckily, it’s possible to see the whales anytime during daylight hours – they swim 24 hours a day.

Where to Look

Look west from the park overlooks, toward the ocean and San Diego Bay. The whales are migrating south towards mainland Mexico, so they will be moving from the north (right) to the south (left) as you look from the park. Expect them to be moving at a steady clip of about five miles per hour, and although some whales swim close to shore, most swim in an area that extends from the kelp beds (about three-quarters of a mile out) to the horizon.

Later in the spring, the gray whales will migrate north again, but they are generally too far out in the ocean to see from the park.

 

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, the State Reserve is comprised of 1,750 miles of hiking trails, Torrey Pine trees, and indigenous wildlife. Its beautiful coastal wilderness coupled with easy, family-friendly paths and hiking trails, makes for a perfect place to whale or dolphin watch in La Jolla.

The Beach Trail (3/4 of a mile) or the Razor Point Trail (1.4 miles) are probably your best bet for some action. Much of the Beach Trail, as the name implies, does indeed hug the beach. Razor Point is a longer loop and gives you more time on the trail, and never strays far from views of the water. Much of the path also overlooks the beautiful, jagged cliffs the area is known for.

Take a Kayak Tour

This is a popular one – many people have reported whale sightings during their La Jolla kayak tours. This is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the whales, and it’s safe to say there’s no better way to experience the migration.

There are several companies at La Jolla Shores that offer specific Whale Watching kayak tours on a daily basis (weather permitting). Depending on the tour, you may also get to explore the seven sea caves along the shoreline.

According to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three but more may be seen traveling together during peak migration season (Mid-January), so keep an eye out for large pods. Fun fact: adult gray whales can be up to 45 feet long and weigh up to 33 tons!

Book a Boat Excursion

If you want to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures, a whale watching San Diego tour around San Diego harbor is your best bet. Book a tour through any number of whale watching companies in the area; most are located near Point Loma or San Diego Bay.

Book a discounted tour with the Go San Diego Card here:

San Diego Whale Watch is one of the more popular ones, but any one of them will get you out on the water. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for dolphins (particularly the common dolphin, the most prevalent) – they have been seen during blue whale and gray whale season, as well as sea lions! Additionally, Hornblower Cruises offer San Diego Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours starting December 9.

The tours are 3.5 hours and each ride features informational narrative by an onboard naturalist about the marine life you’ll see. Each yacht has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, plus a snack bar featuring food and a full bar. Cruise-goers often spot whales, sea lions, dolphins and other types of marine life!

What to Look For…

The Birch Aquarium has some great guidelines for what to expect to see when you’re grey whale watching:

The Blow or Spout

When warm, moist air exhaled from the whales’ lungs meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates what we call a blow or spout. A gray whale’s blow can spray up to 15 feet high, and each blow is visible for about five seconds. Anticipate that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again.

The Flukes (Tail)

Before making a deep dive, a gray whale often displays its 12-foot wide fan-shaped flukes or tail. The weight of the tail above the whale’s body helps it to dive deep, so you’ll see it surface just before they go under. Fun fact: a whale’s fluke has no bones; it only connects to the body and tail muscles by banks of tendons.

Knuckled Back and Footprint

If the lighting is right, and if the whale is close enough, it’s possible to see the back of a gray whale during and after the blow. It’s generally shiny and black or gray, with a knuckled ridge along the spine. After the whale submerges you may note an elongated, smooth oval of calm water, known as a footprint, where the whale has been.

Breach and Splash

Gray whales occasionally hurl themselves out of the water and plunge back in with a tremendous splash. This is called breaching. Scientists don’t know exactly why they do this, but it’s incredible to watch. Sometimes other whales in the area will copy the behavior, so keep your eyes open!

If You Do Spot a Whale…

Remember that they are migrating south – so once you’ve spotted a whale, you can expect that it will surface again to the south. After watching an individual gray whale for a while, you will be able to anticipate its unique rhythm of breaths and dives and where it will surface next.

Snorkeling in La Jolla: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

There’s a reason (okay, maybe several) that the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park is one of the top ten places in the world for snorkeling. Together, the Park and Reserve span 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and tidelands, from Scripps Park across La Jolla Shores all the way to Torrey Pines. From the seven sea caves to the variety of brightly-colored sea creatures, the Underwater Park and nearby La Jolla Cove have become destinations for snorkelers and scuba divers from around the world. Here are just a few reasons why snorkeling La Jolla Cove and the Underwater Park/Ecological Reserve should beat the top of your bucket list!

1. You never know what you might see.

La Jolla is home to an incredible variety of sea creatures and provides a rare opportunity to see marine life up close and personal. The warmer-than-usual water and protected cove attracts fish and mammals from all along the coast; snorkelers and divers have reported seeing Garibaldi, octopus, urchins, dolphins, sea turtles, leopard sharks, sea stars, shovel nose guitar fish, schools of fish big and small; and of course, playful seals and sea lions.

2. You can snorkel through some pretty magical sea caves.

Where else in San Diego can you actually swim through an entire sea cave? La Jolla Cove is home to seven caves, the biggest of which is Clam Cave (just offshore from Goldfish Point Cafe); when the tide allows, visitors can delight in snorkeling or kayaking through it to the other side. The other six are viewable from the water, and there is usually a plethora of marine life clustered near the caves at any time; which makes for some great snorkeling!

3. Leopard sharks: thousands of them!

Between the months of June and December, snorkelers can experience swimming among the largest annual gathering of leopard sharks along the coast of California. Each year, thousands of pregnant female sharks migrate to the beaches near La Jolla Cove, where the warmer, calm water helps their young develop faster. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t find anywhere else in California – it’s an absolute must-do if you enjoy snorkeling!

4. You can explore one of the region’s only underwater canyons.

Within the Ecological Reserve, the bottom takes a sudden and drastic 500-foot- plunge into the La Jolla Underwater Canyon (which reaches depths of up to 600 feet!). It’s exactly these unique features that make snorkeling in La Jolla such an incredible experience! Fun fact: a giant concrete map of the underwater park was completed in 2008 at La Jolla Shores; you can find it near the boardwalk between the restrooms and the children’s play area at the south end of Kellogg Park.

About La Jolla Underwater Park: it was created by the City of San Diego in 1970, and both the Ecological Reserve and the Marine Life Refuge lie within it. The Reserve is federally protected, and fishing or collecting of any kind is outlawed; because of this, marine life has flourished over the years – which makes for some fantastic snorkeling!

5. And there’s a secret underwater graveyard!

Two underwater canyons, two artificial reefs, and a kelp forest all span 6,000 acres underwater, making the Park and Reserve visually beautiful and geographically fascinating. There is one feature of the underwater canyon, however, that is especially unique: a secret underwater graveyard! Just beyond the coastline, about 100 yards out from the La Jolla Cove Bridge Club and 35 feet underwater, lies an eerie underwater memorial is unofficially known as “Tombstones.”

There are no bodies as the name implies, only several markers that are dedicated to fallen spear fishermen and members of the “Bottom Scratchers,” the first documented diving and spearfishing club in North America. Over time, markers have been placed for other fallen free divers and locals. The tradition began all the way back in the 1940s and has continued up to present day.

Snorkeling La Jolla Tour Information

So the next time you’re in La Jolla, we definitely recommend snorkeling around La Jolla Cove and the La Jolla Underwater Park/Ecological Reserve! You can venture out on your own if you feel comfortable doing so (rentals are available from shops at La Jolla Shores), or you can take a guided tour with experienced professionals. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try a combination kayak/snorkeling tour – it’s the best of both worlds!

Interested in more water activities while you’re here? Scuba diving and kayaking are also great ways to explore the underwater world of La Jolla!

Itinerary for a Perfect Day at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla, California is famous for its mouthwatering brunches, gorgeous views, the Birch Aquarium, and, of course, its beautiful beaches. And one of the most recognizable is definitely La Jolla Cove! It’s beautiful, safe for children, great for snorkeling, and one of the few places you can truly see the local sea lions in action. Instead of coming for just an hour or two, why not make a day out of it? We’ve put together an itinerary for a fun, carefree way to do just that.

Enjoy a delicious breakfast – with a view.

To fuel up for an exciting day, we recommend grabbing a great meal and cup of coffee at Harry’s Coffee Shop. This is a beloved local gem that’s been a family-owned business for more than fifty years, since its founding in 1960. Soak in the friendly, local atmosphere as you tuck into waffles (our favorite), eggs, or fluffy French Toast. You can even grab a cheeseburger, if that’s what you crave at 7am; they’re served all day!

Head to La Jolla Cove to watch the sea lions.

From the sidewalk above the cliffs at La Jolla Cove, you have a great vantage point of the sunbathing seals and sea lions. If you want a bit more up-close-and-personal view, head down onto the sandy beach via the staircase to the left. Look for a series of small sea caves, which make for great photo ops!

Take in the view from Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Head up the steps and onto the green of one of La Jolla’s best parks, the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. It’s a lovely place to play frisbee, fly a kite, and shake the sand from your toes; or just to throw down a blanket and check out the gorgeous panoramas (including the seals and sea lions down below).

From here, it’s an easy stroll to your next destinations within the downtown Village!

Take a break for lunch.

Downtown La Jolla Village offers some great restaurant options. Take in your midday meal at a casual spot like the Coffee Cup or The Cottage (both beloved by locals for their fabulous brunch and lunch options), or head to an upscale venue with a patio for people-watching like NINE-TEN Restaurant inside the Grande Colonial Hotel.

Take a stroll along the Historic Coast Walk.

In our opinion, no visit to La Jolla is complete without a stroll along the beautiful Historic Coast Walk Trail! The trail begins at The Cave Store (where you can venture down to Sunny Jim Cave before you walk), and takes you along the bluffs over to La Jolla Shores.

While you’re at The Shores, you can rent equipment from a local spot and go kayaking, standup paddle boarding, or snorkeling.

Enjoy Happy Hour by the sea.

Coming back after your exhilarating stroll, a refreshing drink may sound like the very best thing! There are some amazing happy hours to choose from in La Jolla; whether you’re in the mood for drinks with a view (we love Catania) or you want something a little cozier and more quiet.

Locals’ tip: For something a bit more tucked-away, try the We Olive & Wine Bar! They have a terrific patio in back with an ocean view; it’s rarely crowded, and makes for a relaxing spot to enjoy a glass of wine while you watch the sun set.

Stroll the art galleries or tour the eclectic Murals of La Jolla.

After sipping a glass of wine or a martini, enjoy the downtown Village art scene as the sun goes down. La Jolla is an art lover’s paradise! Walk the numerous art galleries along Girard Avenue or Prospect Street, or take a walk and discover all the hidden murals throughout La Jolla. There are now about two dozen of them scattered throughout the Village; many of which are tucked away in small corners and on the sides of buildings. On certain days of the month, The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library offers free guided tours – be sure to check it out!

If you’re looking for more public outdoor art, check out The Stuart Collection at MCSASD La Jolla. Although the museum is temporarily closed for a new exhibit installation, the gardens are open and free to the public – and make for a great sunset-watching spot!

Grab some dinner.

The beauty of dining here is the variety! You can enjoy fine seafood spots like The Hake and Crabcatcher, or brewery-inspired restaurants like Karl Strauss and Public House La Jolla. To dine with a view, check out Duke’s La Jolla and George’s at the Cove. Both of them are waterfront and have gorgeous views of the coast! Spice things up with a yummy cocktail (the Hake just redid their cocktail menu) and catch some live music later at The Manhattan.

Check out our complete Restaurant Guide for more ideas!

End the day with some comedy.

The Comedy Store, which has been hosting well-known comedians since its opening in 1977, is a great place to sit, relax and let yourself be entertained after a long day. We recommend checking it out and booking tickets ahead of time. It’s a wonderful way to end a great day, and some pretty famous comedians have come through here over the years – including Jim Carey, Bill Hicks, Whitney Cummings, and countless others.

Spend the night in a luxurious hotel.

If you’re staying the night, try one of La Jolla’s five-star hotels (we love La Valencia and the Grande Colonial), or check out one of the cozier and more quaint B&B’s (The Bed & Breakfast Inn at La Jolla, Redwood Hollow Cottages, and Scripps Inn are our favorites).

legoland california

10 Reasons to Visit LEGOLAND California This Year

LEGOLAND California is one of San Diego’s most popular theme parks, and provides families the unique opportunity to experience all things LEGO – in one place! Located in Carlsbad, California the entire park is themed around the colorful LEGO bricks. Each section of the park (there are 9 different areas) comes with its own theme – from Ninjago World to MiniLand USA, which features LEGO-sized reproductions of certain areas of the US, in addition to a waterpark, aquarium, and its very own LEGOLAND Hotel. Here are ten reasons to visit LEGOLAND California this year!

1. It’s more than your typical amusement park.

LEGOLAND California has more to explore than its rides – including a Waterpark, the Sea Life Aquarium, and the official LEGOLAND Hotel.

The Waterpark: The LEGOLAND Waterpark is impressive, especially with the recent addition of the Chima section which includes more slides and the Lion Temple Wave Pool. Head to the park to experience Riptide Racers, the Wipeout Lagoon, Build-a-Raft River, Duplo Splash Safari, Joker Soaker, Pirate Reef, Orange Rush, Soak n Sail, and the Splash Zoo; each one offers a different set of rides, splash zones, and epic water adventures for you and the little ones!

You can upgrade your LEGOLAND ticket to include the Waterpark for $30.

Sea Life Aquarium: The aquarium at LEGOLAND is an interactive guide to the life of the sea, combining active hands-on learning with fascinating educational talks and up-close encounters with sea creatures, including sharks, octopi and rays. The newest exhibit, Sea at Night, allows you to stroll in a gentle surf under a starry sky – during the day! Walk, jump and splash in a simulated bioluminescent tide with the little ones. Any LEGOLAND ticket can be upgraded to include SEA LIFE Aquarium admission for $25.

2. You can get discounted tickets any time of year.

The Go San Diego Card, is a multi-attraction pass that gets you big discounts at the top attractions in San Diego. With the all-inclusive pass, you’ll have access to more than 40 spots in San Diego – and that includes LEGOLAND – at discounted prices! 1-Day admission tickets to LEGOLAND California start at $89.99.

3. The LEGOLAND Hotel (and Castle) is truly magical.

The LEGOLAND Hotel recently expanded to include a brand-new LEGOLAND Castle, which offers a totally different (and awesome) overnight experience. The original hotel boasts themed rooms, each one completely unique – choose from Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, LEGO Ninjago, or LEGO Friends. There is nightly children’s entertainment, and a free breakfast buffet every morning of your stay. The Hotel is located right at the entrance to LEGOLAND, so when you wake up the park is quite literally at your front door.

The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is a new castle-themed wonderland. The hotel features 250 LEGO Castle themed rooms with your choice of Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess, or Magic Wizard, plus a new themed restaurant called Dragon’s Den for all your dining needs. There is a special kid’s area that features LEGO building tables and scavenger hunts daily. There is also a pool area, entertainment courtyard, and playful surprises around every corner; every part of the hotel is interactive, and your little ones will get a kick out of exploring every nook and cranny!

4. Kids go for free all year long in 2019.

You heard that right! This year, LEGOLAND California turns 20 years old, and in honor of such an epic occasion, kids 12 and under can enter the park completely for free. If you have little ones, we can’t possibly think of a better reason to check the park out this year!

5. Kids can bring minifigures to trade at the park.

Have your kids bring their old LEGO minifigures to the park (including all the parts and accessories), and they can trade them for new ones right at the Park! Every LEGOLAND employee – they’re called Model Citizens – has a name badge with minifigures fixed onto it. If your little one wants one of the Model Citizen’s minifigures, he or she will gladly trade with them. You’ll also find trading posts throughout the park that offer tons of of mini-men to trade for, and if your child doesn’t have a minifigure for trading, there are plenty of shops throughout the Park where you can pick one up.

6. The park is fun for all ages – even younger kids.

Unlike many theme parks in California, there are a ton of rides and attractions with no height or age restrictions. Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise are great for babies to enjoy, and there are baby-friendly splash pad areas in Pirate Shores and Heartlake City. Toddlers will love the Coastersaurus, Duplo Play Town, and Mia’s Riding Camp, which is a cute carousel.

Preschoolers will get a kick out of the Royal Joust, which takes little ones on a LEGO horse ride through the “countryside.” Junior Driving School is a can’t-miss attraction for kids 3-5, too. Bonus: there are plenty of areas in line for your younger ones to stay entertained and play with LEGO blocks while you stand in line – just scoop up the kiddos before you get on the ride!

7. The whole family will love MiniLand USA.

You’ve likely seen photos of it online, but MiniLand USA is one of LEGOLAND’s most fun attractions. Built with a whopping 32,496,352 LEGO bricks, the area features real-life attractions and famous spots throughout the U.S. See the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the capital building in Washington D.C., Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Grand Central Station in New York, and the strip in Las Vegas all in one day!

8. LEGO fanatics will really get a kick out of the LEGO factory tour.

If you’ve ever wondered how a LEGO brick is made, this self-guided tour will show you from start to finish. The tour features different displays of machines that are used to make LEGO bricks, and you even have an option to get a special item engraved by someone at the end. This is a fun stop that offers a bit of a break in between the other rides and attractions.

9. The park makes it easy to skip long wait lines.

LEGOLAND offers a Reserve-n-Ride system, which allows you to hold a spot in line for their most popular rides without physically having to be in the actual line. To set up a Reserve-n-Ride, visit their website or head to the kiosk just inside the gates. When you purchase the pass, you’ll get to choose between reducing wait times by 25%, 50%, or 95% for $35, $55, and $100 per person, respectively. When you pick up your pass you’ll receive a device that allows you to make a reservation for one ride at a time, from anywhere in the park. When it’s your time ride the device beeps to let you know, and you’re on your way!

10. The LEGOLAND app is a great way to streamline your experience.

Download the LEGOLAND app before you arrive for access to an interactive map, up-to-date ride wait times, height restrictions for rides, directions, and even a car finder to help you keep track of where you’ve parked. It’s a great way to important information right at your fingertips, which can come in handy for a long day of exploring.

It’s Grunion Run Season! 5 Things to Know Before You Go

They flop around, surf the waves, and make sweet love under the moonlight: the season of the grunion run has begun! On beaches all throughout Southern California, you’ll get the chance to experience these strange little creatures up close; and La Jolla has some of the best seats in the house. Just grab your flashlights, a few beach chairs and, if you don’t mind staying up late, get ready to watch them run!

So, What Is a Grunion Run?

Each spring, from April to May or June, thousands of these little silvery fish wash ashore to partake in a strange mating ritual under the moonlight. While on the beach, female grunion bury themselves half-way in the sand to lay eggs, while males wrap themselves around the females to fertilize their eggs. The females will lay anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 eggs. Then, as the next round of waves wash in, the fish simply float back to sea. Some may call them the original bodysurfers!

1. Grunions runs are unique to Southern California.

That’s right – because grunions are only found off the coast of Southern California, from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, and in Northern Baja, Mexico (just north of Punta Abreojos), we Californians are the sole witnesses of this incredible event every year.

2. They usually ‘run’ on wide, sandy beaches.

Ergo, La Jolla is the perfect grunion run destination! La Jolla Shores, to be exact. If you’re a newbie and you want the full experience, we recommend going with the expert naturalists at the Birch Aquarium during, or just after, a full moon. They host guided visits of grunion spawning areas at La Jolla Shores throughout April-June, which includes a full rundown on these mysterious creatures as well as a demonstration of hatchlings emerging from their eggs in a vial of seawater.

Birch Aquarium Grunion Run 2018 schedule:

Wednesday, May 2: 11:00pm – 1:00 am
Thursday, May 31: 10:30pm – 12:30am
Friday, June 1: 11:00pm – 1:00am

3. You can even catch the grunions – but only during specific periods.

If you’re in the market for some fresh seafood, you may want to check out a grunion run this year! While April and May are off-limits to fishing or catching the fish while they’re onshore (this is their prime mating period and are therefore protected), you are allowed to do so in March and June – and only with your hands. No nets, buckets or other gear is allowed, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additionally, people over 16 need a fishing license to participate, and while there is no official bag limit, it is illegal to waste them. Digging holes in the sand as traps is also forbidden.

4. For the best runs, look for the fish after new or full moons.

These silvery little fish are most likely to surface after the highest tides during a full moon, and the largest numbers of grunions usually wash up about an hour after the ‘run’ begins. Try to avoid using flashlights, as the illumination can scare away the fish, and if you do, limit their use to times after the waves have receded. Do remember to tread carefully; you never know what you may be stepping on, and the vibrations of your feet will often scare the little guys away.

5. Though unlikely, be prepared for a no-show.

As with any creatures, there is an element of luck to our ability to witness them; and while grunion can hit the beach by the thousands, they can also decide not to show up at all. It’s disappointing, but not altogether unusual. And, at the very least, you’ll be enjoying a peaceful moonlit walk along the beach – what could possibly be more Southern Californian than that?

A few grunion run tips and things to remember:

  • Do not touch or or interfere with spawning during closed fishing season (April and May).
  • Walk quietly and don’t shine a flashlight directly on the water
  • Leave your furry friends at home
  • Wear waterproof shoes, or at least shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Same goes for clothing, as well.
  • What to bring: a flashlight, a beach chair, a bucket to put your grunion in, and a fishing license if you are planning to take them.

Above all, have fun – and happy grunion running!

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in La Jolla

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday to celebrate no matter where you are, but there are plenty of ways to make it special right here in La Jolla – and it even falls on a Saturday this year! Get in the green spirit by dining on some corned beef and cabbage, drinking green beer, or sham-rocking the night away this Saturday, March 17th at one of our favorite spots in La Jolla.

Hennessey’s Tavern

Hennessey’s Tavern in La Jolla will be offering food and drink specials all day on March 17, from 8am to close. Dine on Irish treats like Sheppard’s Pie and Irish Bread Pudding. Guinness, Coors, and Blue Moon will be available on tap, and shots of Irish whiskey including Jameson will be $5. 7811 Herschel Ave., La Jolla.

Cusp Dining & Drinks

Head to the 11th floor of Hotel La Jolla, where Cusp Dining will be offering Bubbly Around the Clock! Glasses of bubbly with a hint of Irish spirit will start at 4pm for just $4, and go up $1 every hour. 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla.

Nautilus Tavern

Enjoy a St. Patrick’s Day-themed menu that includes a grilled pastrami sandwich and corned beef with cabbage and potatoes, plus green beer and great specials on Jameson, Guinness, and other cocktails throughout the day. 6830 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla.

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes will get into the Emerald Isle spirit by serving up their festive Shamrock Cupcakes from March 4th – March 17th. The decadent Belgian dark chocolate cake is studded with mint dark chocolate M&Ms and a rich green mint frosting, and topped with a bright green shamrock. 8855 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla.

Pacifica Del Mar

Pacifica’s bustling Ocean Bar will be celebrating by pouring their specialty Pineapple-Chipotle Margarita and Green Flash Cocktail, both naturally green in hue and totally delicious! 1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar. 

St. Paddy’s Day Swim

What better way to celebrate St. Paddy’s than with an early morning swim? Each year, the La Jolla Cove Swim Club hosts its annual St. Paddy’s Day Swim beginning at La Jolla Cove. Head down there on March 17 from 9am – 11am for a fun free swim. The club will provide coffee and muffins for participants afterwards. 1100 Coast Blvd., La Jolla.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival

Experience the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade west of the Mississippi this year! Join the Irish Congress of Southern California for the 39th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival on Saturday March 16, 2019 starting at 10:30am at Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street. Join more than 30,000 attendees in the annual celebration and parade, followed by an Irish Festival in Balboa Park (Sixth and Maple). The festival will feature live entertainment on three stages, plus Irish Step Dancers and a full afternoon line-up with Irish Folk singers and bands. There will also be craft booths, a Celtic Food Village, other food booths, a Beer Garden, and a kids zone.