14 Ways to Experience Comic-Con International 2018 Without a Badge

One of San Diego’s biggest events of the year is almost upon us – San Diego Comic-Con International! Thousands of people flock to America’s Finest City every year to experience activities, exhibits, movies, and more; but unfortunately, not everyone was able to purchase a badge. The good news? You don’t need a San Diego Comic-Con badge to get your nerd on with the thousands of guests attending the annual convention this year!

During SDCC, the Gaslamp Quarter becomes a superhero’s playground filled with immersive experiences, events and photo-ops themed to match the convention — and many don’t require a badge. Here are 14 ways to experience the Comic-Con hype without a ticket.

Family Con

When: Wednesday Jul 18th, 4pm – 7 pm
Where: Liberty Station.
Small but mighty superheroes are being called to this party at Point Loma’s Liberty Station as the annual pop-culture convention gets underway. Youngsters are invited to dress up in their superhero best for Family Con, which features a costume parade, a petting zoo, a scavenger hunt and more. This free event starts at 4 p.m.

Esports Arena Drive

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 9am – 9pm
Where: Petco Park in the Park.
Test your gaming skills at this mobile gaming arena stopping by Petco Park’s community ballpark, Park in the Park, during SDCC. The arena is made of an 18-wheel semi-truck that will unfold to create a stage and VIP lounge perfect for gaming. Guests will be able to test an array of gaming products from HyperX and have the chance to win prizes.

Super Pup Yappy Hour

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 4pm-7pm
Where: Hotel Republic
Your pups want to get in on the Comic-Con action, too. Head to Hotel Republic’s Yappy Hour for a chance to find the perfect costume for your furry friend while sipping on Comic-Con themed cocktails and mingling with other pet owners. There will also be a pet costume contest and a chance to win prizes.

Her Universe Fashion Show

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 6 pm
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt
Enjoy a geeky fashion show featuring couture stylings from both professional and amateur designers. The show’s finalists, chosen from hundreds of submissions, showcase original sci-fi and pop-culture inspired designs for a chance to join Her Universe founder, Ashley Eckstein, in creating a new collection for Hot Topic. Fashion and pop-culture fans line up for hours for this free fashion show that may even include a celebrity sighting or two. Seating is first come, first served and the line opens at 1 p.m.

SEE ALSO: 10 Other Things to do in La Jolla This Summer

DC Universe Experience

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday 21st, 9:30am – 7pm (5 pm on Sunday)
Where: Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
In what will likely prove to be one of the more popular experiences outside San Diego Comic-Con, DC Universe is bringing dozens of interactives to their activation at the Hilton. For example, fans will get the chance to search for clues to find Dick Grayson, they’ll create mayhem with Harley Quinn in her chaos room, traverse the sewers with Batman and view rare DC memorabilia. Guests can register in advance but it will not guarantee admission or speed up the process. Get there early, because the lines for this one will be long.

Hop Con: The w00tstout Festival

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 7 pm – 11pm
Where: Stone World Bistro & Gardens (Liberty Station)
Pop-culture enthusiasts and beer aficionados alike will love this suds-tasting event presented by San Diego staple Stone Brewing. For the sixth year during Comic-Con, Stone founder Greg Kock, Fark.com creator Drew Curtis and actor Wil Wheaton will debut a special batch of brew — this year, it’s w00tstout 6.0. The brew is described as a complex-flavored imperial stout made in a pecan, rye and bourbon-soaked barrel. A $75 ticket to this year’s event gets attendees 15 three-ounce tastes of w00tstout 6.0 and other Stone creations, unlimited tastings of gourmet bites — like mac and cheese croquettes, lamb meatball melts and Vietnamese spring rolls — plus access to lawn games, music and “a few extra surprises.”

Comic-Con at the Library

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 21st, times vary
Where: San Diego Central Library
Even without a badge, you don’t have to miss out on SDCC panels this year. Comic-Con is teaming up with the San Diego Central Library at 11th Avenue and K Street for a series of educational panels. Some highlights include a creator panel called “When I See Myself in Comics,” a chance to meet the makers behind comic books and a panel on how to comics can make a social impact, just to name a few. To attend without a badge, register online in advance before July 17.

MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition

When: Friday Jul 20 – Sunday Jul 22nd, 10am – 6pm
Where: Fleet Science Center
Can you pull a tablecloth off a table without disturbing the dishes on top? Do you stay drier running or walking in the rain? Get the answer to some of your burning questions at the new exhibit based on the popular TV show, “Mythbusters.” Just like the show, this hands-on exhibit will allow guests to use the scientific method to test some commonly-held theories. Access to the exhibit at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, can be added to a general admission ticket for $5.

Dead Quarters

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 11am-6pm
Where: Outside Hilton Gaslamp
Outrun the undead at “The Walking Dead’s” off-site SDCC activation. Creators boast an immersive walk-through that will take visitors through the series’ settings, including a 22-foot Zombie slide like the one seen in “Fear the Walking Dead.”

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Gallery

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 11am – close
Where: Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery
The Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery (363 Fifth Avenue) in the Gaslamp will be transformed into an immersive Mirror Universe Experience during Comic-Con 2018. The exhibit will feature a photo opportunity with Emperor Georgiou’s throne and will showcase props and costumes from the series. There will also be “Star Trek” Comic-Con exclusives for sale.

FXHibition

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, times vary
Where: Outside San Diego Hilton Bayfront
On the lawn outside the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, FX will present several interactive exhibits featuring some of their most popular television shows, including “Legion,” “American Horror Story,” “Mayans M.C.” and “Archer.” Guests can register in advance at FXSDCC.com. The FXHibition is open to the public from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Adult Swim State Park

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 4pm-2am
Where: Behind the San Diego Convention Center
Archery, canoes and a mechanical bull hot dog — it must be Adult Swim. The tv network is bringing nature to the con with a variety of games (open until 8 p.m.), a merchandise store and more to guest 18 and up. Adult Swim State Park will be located at Convention Way and 5th Avenue Pier.

Oddities: Hidden Heroes of the Scripps Collections

When: Thursday Jul 19 – Sunday Jul 22, 9am – 5pm
Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps
A new comic book-inspired interactive exhibit has opened at the Birch Aquarium to highlight the “superpowers” of some of the ocean’s most awe-inspiring creatures. From supervision to an electricity zap — marine life make amazing adaptations to survive in their environment and the team of scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego want to share what they’ve learned with you. The exhibit, open just in time for Comic-Con, is available to guests who purchase a ticket to the museum ($18.50 for adults and $14 for children 3 to 17).

SyFy Fan Party

When: Friday Jul 20 and Saturday Jul 21, 9pm
Where: New Children’s Museum
The lines were around the block for SyFy’s fan parties at San Diego Comic-Con last year and they hope to make this year’s even bigger. With a DJ spinning until 1 a.m. and giveaways galore, this event is a great place to be after other offsite activations and the convention center floor closes. An RSVP is required. Keep an eye on @SyFy on Twitter for details.

Del Mar Opening Day & Summer Concert Series Lineup

It’s back! One of San Diego’s favorite summer activities kicks off next week, with Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack on July 18th, and the Del Mar Summer Concert series beginning on July 20th. We’ve got the rundown for you – from how to spend Opening Day to the full concert lineup.

San Diego horse racing takes place where the “turf meets the surf” at the Del Mar Racetrack. Fans flock to the track each summer to wager on their favorite horses during the annual Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racing season, which runs from mid July through early September. Del Mar’s horse racing tradition dates back all the way to 1937, when Bing Crosby greeted the track’s very first guests – and Seabiscuit won by a nose in the infamous race in 1938. The 2018 season features the nation’s top race horses, trainers and jockeys, and plenty of fun in the sun!

Opening Day

Opening Day at the Racetrack kicks off at 11:30am on Wednesday, July 18.

More than 40,000+ race fans are expected to attend what’s defined as one of the most fabulous, fashionable and fun festivities in the west – Opening Day at Del Mar. The day isn’t just about big bets and fast horses, it’s also about celebrating in style! Fashion-minded guests may participate in Del Mar’s annual tradition, the Opening Day Hats Contest; where entrants compete for cash prizes and judged on creativity and style.

Opening Day Hats Contest

Explore your sense of hat creativity and you could win a share of more than $5,000 in total prizes! Strut your stuff between 11:30 AM and 3:00 PM in Plaza de Mexico (located inside the Stretch Run admission gates).

Enter in one of the following five categories: Most Glamorous, Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Best Fascinator and Flowers/All Other. There is no fee to participate, and all entrants will receive two free admission passes to return to the races.

The first race of the day kicks off at 2:00pm, so be sure to stick around!

SEE ALSO: More Summer Activities in San Diego!

Del Mar Summer Concert Series Lineup

Summer concerts are free with racetrack admission (Stretch Run general admission is just $6), and the concerts usually begin shortly after the last race (a bit before dusk). Do note that if you arrive AFTER the last race, concert admission is $30. Here’s this year’s lineup!

July 20: Psychedelic Furs

July 21: Iration

July 27: Steel Pulse

July 28: Switchfoot

Aug. 3: Matisyahu

Aug. 10: Aloe Blacc

Aug. 11: Reggae Fest with Ziggy Marley

Aug. 17: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Aug. 24: Tribal Seeds

Aug. 25: Warren G & DJ Quik

Aug. 31: Cafe Tacvba

Sept. 1: Slightly Stoopid

Sept. 2: Ice Cube

Parking and Transportation

  • Concert Parking after the last race is $20
  • Racetrack parking is $10
  • No overnight parking is available
  • Shuttles to public transportation, taxis, and pickup zones are also available

For more information and this year’s complete racing schedule, visit the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s website.

Why You Should Swim With La Jolla Leopard Sharks This Summer

Yes it’s true, La Jolla is filled with leopard sharks. No, they are not dangerous – in fact, they are pretty friendly!

The first thing you probably imagine when you hear “shark” is vicious predator. But not all sharks are threatening to humans. In fact La Jolla’s leopard sharks are friendly and even fun to be around. La Jolla is a summer getaway for thousands of beautiful leopard sharks. They’re non-lethal to humans and a delight to the eye. They even fun to swim, kayak, or scuba dive next to.

What makes leopard sharks different?

Well for one – they’re one of La Jolla’s most prized attractions. They draw visitors from all over the world, especially during summer. Their beautiful appearance is fascinating to look at, and despite being carnivores, they never attack humans.

Biologists estimate that the sharks that come to La Jolla are 97% female. Scientists estimate that a majority of of them show up to find a mate. The ones that are pregnant claim La Jolla as home to raise their young.

The toasty San Diego climate is a great location for the developing embryos to grow up. The warm weather sets up the perfect environment for healthy development in maturing sharks. There is plenty of food and resources for them to grow and mature.

Fun facts about leopard sharks

Andrew Nosal, a researcher at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium says, “What the [females] are essentially doing is incubating… like [how] a mother bird sits on eggs to keep them warm.” Leopard shark mothers are pregnant for about 10 months to a year and give birth to about 15-20 babies. They take about 10 years to reach adulthood.

The sharks themselves are quite fascinating. Despite being fierce carnivores, they are known for their timid nature when interacting with humans. In fact, they are harmless to people. Most of the time when they encounter a human in the ocean, they swim away scared. In La Jolla, there has never been a recorded injury from a leopard shark.

Although they have the word “shark” in their name, the sharks don’t attack humans unless heavily provoked. Their small mouths have about 75 to 100 tiny teeth that may appear sharp and menacing, but they’re nonlethal to humans.

Nosal, who spent years researching the sharks, cautions the public, “It’s always important to remember that these are wild animals and should not be touched or harassed in any way.” Despite being a fish, leopard sharks have one thing in common with leopards (besides their skin of course). They are both predators who hunt down their prey.

Their diet consists primarily of shrimp, clams, crab, and fish. The food they consume is similar to what you can find at some of La Jolla’s most exclusive seafood restaurants. And despite a fierce carnivorous nature, it’s the beauty of leopard sharks that’s most fascinating. Their beautiful skin is a pleasure to the eye. Each leopard shark skin is unique to the fish with no two patterns being the same, just like human fingerprints.

Leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores are a beautiful tourist attraction you need to experience.La Jolla kayak shops offer tours to experience them up close. The tours take visitors to the leopard shark hot spots including feeding grounds and mating spots.

According to LaJollaKayak.com “[the sharks] can be seen just a few yards away from shore…” There’s just no excuse to not experience the sharks.

During the summertime from July to September, Birch Aquarium offers 2-hour leopard shark Snorkeling Adventures where they cover the abundant variety of animals that live in La Jolla’s waters. Participants must provide their own snorkeling gear.

If you don’t feel like renting, you can head straight into the water and experience them first hand. Although the fish are easily frightened and often swim away from people, they are quite fun to be around. Nosal suggests that, “The best thing to do is to stay motionless and allow the shark to come to you.” While most people don’t feel comfortable letting a shark come to them, it’s one of the coolest experiences you will ever have.

Come experience the sharks for yourself – there’s nothing quite like it!

The Birch Aquarium Has a New, Comic Book-Inspired Exhibit That Highlights Creatures’ “Superpowers”

There’s a brand new exhibit at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla, and we can’t wait to check it out! The comic book-inspired collection, titled Oddities: Hidden Heroes of the Scripps Collections, highlights the astonishing adaptations (AKA superpowers) of various ocean species and animals.

Marine Creatures – with Super Powers

Oddities was created with input from the team at the Scripps Oceanographic Collections, where millions of specimens allow scientists to understand some of the amazing adaptations marine creatures have developed to survive. From super-vision and invisibility to protective armor and the ability to create electricity to zap prey, real marine creatures do amazing things every day that stretch even the wildest imagination.

This awesome new exhibit is truly a unique collaboration between some of the best minds in the industry. It’s fully interactive, and will include examples of some of the most unique creatures from all depths of the ocean. Certain areas of the exhibit will highlight how these creatures have inspired everything from cinema and pop culture to medicine and engineering. Guests will also learn what it takes to collect scientific samples, and have the opportunity to test out some of these unique adaptations through creature cosplay!

SEE ALSO: Explore Scripps Pier by Moonlight This Summer

“We’re excited to showcase some of the wonderful specimens from the Collections and to tell their stories in this playful, engaging way. By coming face-to-face with unusual specimens, visitors will get to see how our Collections empower real discoveries in science and education every day,” said Charlotte Seid, manager of Scripps’ Benthic Invertebrate Collection.

Oddities opens Friday, June 29th and will be on display through 2019. The exhibit is included with regular aquarium admission.

Sunset & Superheroes

Celebrate the opening of Oddities with a special 21+ event on Friday, June 29th! Guests will get to enjoy live music, comic themed, activities and a gorgeous sunset from the outdoor patio.

Other activities:

  • Little Fish Comic Book Studio will be on hand to create improv comics with guests
  • Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and Digital Lizards of Doom will be hosting booths, along with other members of the local comic book community
  • Matt Dunford will be discussing his comic “Marineman,” which features a marine biologist turned superhero.
  • The first 500 guests will receive a free commemorative color-changing Oddities cup
  • Live music will accompany the sunset views on Tide Pool Plaza
  • All aquarium exhibits will be open to explore
  • Food, wine, and beer will be available for purchase from Splash Cafe by The French Gourmet

The event is from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. Tickets are $23 for members and $26 for the general public. For more information and to purchase tickets, head to the Aquarium’s website!

4th of July Fireworks & Celebrations in San Diego

4th of July in San Diego is just one big celebration! Fireworks displays, parades, street fairs, and festivals are all part of the fun on the big day. Sadly, there will be no 4th of July Fireworks at La Jolla Cove this year due to funding issues; but there are plenty of other places and ways to celebrate 4th of July in San Diego! Here’s the roundup, from San Diego Bay to Rancho Santa Fe.

Annual Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show

Where: Multiple Locations along San Diego Bay
When: 9:00pm
Take in the largest fireworks display in the county! With fireworks launched from four barges placed around North San Diego Bay, they can be seen from multiple locations along the San Diego coastline. The accompanying music will be broadcasted live on The Mighty 1090 AM and MAX FM 105.7. Just find a place along the bay, set up a blanket and some hot chocolate, and get ready for the display! We recommend arriving early to reserve a spot.

Where to watch:

  • Shelter Island
  • Harbor Island
  • North Embarcadero
  • Marina District
  • CoronadoFerry Landing
  • Boating/On The Water

SeaWorld San Diego 4th of July Fireworks & Celebration

Where: SeaWorld San Diego – 500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
When: 10:00am to 10:00pm
SeaWorld San Diego will celebrate Independence Day with a 15-minute display of fireworks set to a musical soundtrack, starting at 9:40pm on July 4th. Entrance is required, and there are plenty of spots throughout the park to watch the display. You can reserve seats ahead of time via seaworld.com.

Ocean Beach July 4th Celebration

Where: Ocean Beach Pier (end of Newport Avenue)
When: 9:00pm
Spend Independence day picnicking, swimming in the ocean, walking and playing in the sand, and shopping along Newport Ave. Then bundle up as the sun sets and pull up a blanket for a really spectacular fireworks show launched from Ocean Beach Pier! Free parking will be available at the Main Beach Parking Lot as well as at the Pier Parking Lot. We do recommend arriving early to reserve a spot – head to obsandiego.com for more information.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List!

Old Town San Diego 4th of July

Where: Old Town State Historic Park
When: 11:00am to 4:00pm
Although Old Town won’t be putting on a fireworks display, there will be a parade, crafts, and activities all throughout the day on July 4th. The activities will recreate an old-fashioned Independence Day just as it was celebrated on the frontier. You’ll also be able to compete in several contests, including cherry pit spitting or an egg toss, for handmade ribbons.

4th of July Celebration in Coronado

Where: Various Locations on Coronado
When: 7:00am to 9:00pm; Fireworks at 9pm
Celebrate the 4th of July in the Crown City! Independence Day activities will include a parade down Orange Avenue at 10:00am, a concert in Spreckels Park at 4:00pm, and fireworks over Glorietta Bay at 9:00pm. The fireworks display can be easily viewed from anywhere along the bay on Coronado Island.

Earlier that day, the Crown City Classic 4th of July Race will take place between 7am and 10am. This historic run through Coronado will feature a 12k and a 5k, and kicks off at Coronado Tidelands Park.

San Diego County Fair 4th of July Celebrations

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds (2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014)
When: Starts at 10:00am, Fireworks at 9:00pm
Independence Day is one of the best days to come to the San Diego County Fair, because they pull out all the stops with food, fireworks at 9:00 PM, entertainment, and more! Fireworks are launched from the west end of the racetrack and are choreographed to a soundtrack played through the Corona Grandstand Stage sound system. The fireworks are visible from many areas of the Fairgrounds, with favorite viewing areas including reserved Terrace seating and 2nd and 4th levels of the Grandstand, Family Funville, and the Fun Zone.

SEE ALSO: Explore La Jolla Cove This July 4th!

Red, White, and Boom!

Where: LEGOLAND California (One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008)
When: 1:00pm to 9:00pm, Fireworks at 8:30pm
Take the whole family and spend the day enjoying over 60 rides, shows, and attractions at LEGOLAND along with some all-American picnic games like burlap races and water-balloon tosses. Then cozy up with a blanket and a picnic that evening, and watch the awe-inspiring fireworks display set to patriotic music!

fireworks san diego la jolla

Rancho Santa Fe’s Annual 4th of July Parade & Picnic

Where: 16948 Avenida de Acacias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92091
When: 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Pack a few blankets and chairs for Rancho Santa Fe’s Annual 4th of July Parade & Picnic! The parade kicks off at 12:15pm, and will include floats, vintage cars, and equestrians. The picnic and concert will begin at 1:30pm, complete with a barbecue and live music by The Harmony Grove Band.

Oceanside Fireworks

Where: Oceanside Blvd & Rancho del Oro Road, Oceanside, CA
When: July 3, 2018
Time: 6:00 to 10:00pm, Fireworks at 9pm
You’re invited to the City of Oceanside annual Fireworks Show! Spectators are encouraged to arrive anytime after 6:00 pm, park in the business park nearby, bring a beach chair, and walk to the viewing area on Rancho Del Oro road. There will be live music as well as food trucks offering a wide variety of foods. The firework show will begin at 9pm.

Then, on Wednesday, July 4th at 10am, head to Oceanside Beach and Pier for more festivities! Main Street Oceanside will be hosting a variety of booths and activities in the plazas, parks, and parking lots from the Oceanside Pier to Tyson Street Park. The day will include kids’ crafts and activities in the Pier Amphitheater, with a wide range of food vendors. There will also be retail vendors of all kinds in both the Pier Plaza and in the parking lot south of the Pier Amphitheater.

Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in La Jolla

The La Jolla coastline is nothing short of wondrous. Its miles of sandy shores along the Pacific Ocean are divided up into several beaches, each with its own personality and benefits.

After countless hours of beach exploration and research, we’ve put together the ultimate list of “The Best of La Jolla Beaches.” No matter what activity you want to conduct on the San Diego shoreline, we want to make sure you get to the right spot.

Best for Surfing:

Windansea Beach & Black’s Beach

Celebrate the Southern Californian passion of surfing at this La Jolla beach!

Windansea Beach is local favorite and isn’t recommended for beginners, but it’s known as one of the best surf spots in San Diego. The secret is not just knowing where to go, but when! The variety of reef formations around the Windansea and Bird Rock areas, just south of downtown La Jolla, create conditions that are difficult to predict. The waves vary with the tides and best left to be surfed by advanced surfers who know them well. Look for the famed Windansea Surf Shackhere; it’s a local staple and gets rebuilt every summer with palm fronds from nearby trees.

Black’s Beach has been a prime surf spot since the ’60s, when it was discovered by four famous pro-surfers. The submarine canyon directly offshore funnels extra-powerful waves onto the beach, making this another spot for more experienced surfers.

beaches in la jolla

Best for Hiking:

Torrey Pines State Beach

In the northernmost part of La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Reserve sits tucked away behind Torrey Pines beach. It is a large reserve, filled with trails, beautiful Torrey Pine trees, plenty of wildlife, and an unparalleled ocean view. The staggering cliffs are home to six trails that vary in difficulty; do just one, or complete them all for a serious workout!

For those who want to truly feel the burn, hit the Guy Fleming Trail for its intense hill climb. If you’re looking for something a little less strenuous, try out the easier Razor Point Trail for a 1.3-mile adventure and the Beach Trail for a path that lands you directly on the sand (one of our favorites and definitely the most popular trail at Torrey Pines). Make a day of it and grab a picnic – check out our complete one-day itinerary for Torrey Pines here.

Directions to Torrey Pines Beach: Located just north of La Jolla along historic Highway 101. Since it’s owned by the state park system, there is a day use fee for using the parking lot. Fees are paid at the South Beach kiosk where there is a small parking lot as well as the parking lots at the top of the mesa in the park. You may also find free parking along Highway 101.

Black’s Beach

If you’re looking for a more difficult, strenuous hike, try Ho Chi Minh Trail down to Black’s Beach. It’s a well known “surfer’s trail,” and has guided San Diego swimmers and surfers alike down to its sandy beach for decades. This is a lovely trail that makes for some epic views of the shoreline on the way down – but it will definitely test your endurance! Always exercise caution here, especially after it rains; the mud and rocks can get quite slippery. This La Jolla Beach trail is recommended for more experienced hikers and isn’t ideal for younger children or those with disabilities.

Best for Families:

Children’s Pool

True to its name, Children’s Pool is a great place for children who are new to swimming. The seawall creates a calm grotto without waves or a big tide. You can even try scuba diving with older kids and teens. Those who prefer to stay dry can explore the ever-popular Sunny Jim Sea Cave. An added bonus is always the adorable seals and sea lions, but please respect their habitat and stay a safe distance away from the sea life. Here are some helpful tips when visiting the La Jolla Cove seals.

Directions to Children’s Pool: 850 Coast Blvd, at the end of Jenner Street. You’ll see a long seawall and steps down to the beach.

Parking at Children’s Pool: Street parking is your best bet; most are timed for two hours, but you might get lucky with an untimed spot in one of the adjacent neighborhoods.

La Jolla Shores

Families with young children want to make sure they’re going to one of the beaches in San Diego with calm surf, lifeguards, room to picnic and, of course, bathroom and shower amenities. These can all be found at La Jolla Shores! As an added bonus, there’s a big playground at the adjacent Kellogg Park, complete with a big grassy area and plenty of activities for the younger ones. Because this is such a wide, open beach, the waves never get very big which makes it an excellent choice for families.

It also makes it a fun spot to try surfing or stand-up paddle boarding–unlike more advanced areas like Windansea Beach, the surf is pretty predictable here. There is always a lifeguard on duty (from morning until sundown). If you’re in the mood for roasting some marshmallows, there are several fire pits here; plan a great day out with the family at a beach bonfire with our helpful guide. You can even stay on the shores–the La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club offer luxurious accommodations and dining with an incredible ocean view. Staying at the Beach and Tennis Club even guarantees access to a private stretch of beach.

Directions to La Jolla Shores: 8200 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla. The easiest way is from Torrey Pines Road and a right onto La Jolla Shores Drive. There is a small parking lot at La Jolla Shores park, but there is also some street parking in nearby neighborhoods.

Best for Tide Pools:

Shell Beach

Exploring the coastal tide pools is one of the most popular activities in La Jolla, for people of all ages. Although there are several spots in San Diego to go tide pooling, Shell Beach boasts a colorful array of sea anemones and sea stars all within an easy-to-access area. It provides the opportunity to experience the beauty of aquatic life, without having to dive underwater or pay an aquarium fee!

How to get to Shell Beach: This beach is located at the intersection of Coast Blvd. and Ocean Lane; at the south end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove. You’ll see a long set of stairs that takes you from the grass park down to the sand at Shell Beach.

Wipeout Beach

From here down to Hospital Point lie some of La Jolla’s best and most active tide pools. They are a bit more off the beaten path and tucked away, which means there are almost always fewer crowds – a bonus if you really want to experience some wildlife. Here, you’ll also spot those round, curved little pools that are so popular to photograph and put on Instagram! Go here for some tips on tide pooling and info about what you might see at this beautiful beach.

Always wear close-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting wet when adventuring to the tide pools. The surf is unpredictable, even at low tides.

How to get to Wipeout Beach: 745 Coast Blvd. It’s a sandy beach south of Children’s Pool, along Coast Boulevard.

Best When in the Mood for Something to Write Home About:

Black’s Beach

Feel like you’re in Europe without leaving the country by coming to Black’s, America’s first legal nude beach. Whether you bare it all or not, it’s a great place to watch some great surfing or just relax. It also has a super interesting history – impress your friends with your San Diego beach knowledge!

There are a few different ways to get to Black’s Beach. While some routes are easier than others, each does involve a steep climb and/or stairs. You can walk along the beach from La Jolla Shores, which is only an option during very low tide; you can hike down from the Torrey Pines Glider Port parking area; or you can walk down Salk Canyon Road, from La Jolla Farms (right across the street from University of California-San Diego). Decide which route is best for you before you go, and make sure you know how to get there.

Once you do make it down to the beach, you won’t be disappointed! A long stretch of sand plus gentle waves that are easy to swim in makes this a truly lovely area to spend the day.

Directions to Black’s Beach: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr. There are four different hikes down to the beach; for details go here.

 

 

How to Enjoy a Beach Bonfire in La Jolla

There’s nothing quite like a bonfire on the beach; especially a La Jolla bonfire! They are a great way to enjoy the beach any time of year. Unfortunately, they are not legal on all beaches in La Jolla, and the ones that do allow them still have some strict regulations. We’ve picked out which beaches in San Diego allow bonfires and broken down everything you need to know about enjoying a La Jolla bonfire!

Before You Go

Before you head to the beach, it’s a good idea to prepare!

  • Pick up some wood or charcoal to burn in the fire pit (burning anything else is prohibited)
  • Pre-bonfire picnics are popular, as well as (of course) s’mores!
  • Don’t forget gloves – they’ll come in handy when you’re handling wood or hot coals
  • Prepare to arrive very early to secure your fire pit
  • Read up on other safety guidelines outlined by the City of San Diego

Also, plan on how you’re going to dispose of the coals or burned material once you’re done. The remains of clean, untreated wood do not have to be removed from your fire pit, but coals in other containers should be deposited in receptacles specifically marked for hot coal disposal. Dumping coals in a regular trash can could result in a fire.

La Jolla Shores

There are 6 fire pits available at La Jolla Shores, and they are available on a first come, first served basis. They do fill up quickly, especially on holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day – some arrive as early as 6am to secure their spot! Weekdays are less crowded, but if you’re planning on a weekend bonfire, we do recommend getting there quite early to secure the pit. The ordinance for officially reserving a fire pit in San Diego requires that at least two adults are in the vicinity at all times, so keep this in mind as well.

Here are a few general guidelines courtesy of SanDiego.gov (these apply to all fire pits in San Diego):

  • Fires are not allowed between midnight and 5am
  • The burning of rubbish is prohibited.
  • Only wood, charcoal or paper products may be used as fuel
  • Fuel for the fire may not exceed a height of more than twelve inches above the upper edge of the fire pit
  • Open beach fires outside of the provided pits are prohibited at all times
  • All fires must be extinguished before leaving the beach. Coals must be removed or deposited in hot coal containers
  • Overnight camping is prohibited here

Once you’ve secured a pit, a great way to kill some time is to go swimming! La Jolla Shores is the perfect beach for swimming and surfing, and there are designated areas for both. The Shores is also a popular place for scuba diving and kayaking. There are always lifeguards present at the Shores between 9am and dusk. Don’t forget to call ahead to check surf conditions!

Tourmaline Beach

Officially known as Tourmaline Surfing Park, this spot is a longtime favorite of local surfers. Swimming is largely prohibited here, as it’s primarily for surfing; but it makes for some great sightseeing! Take a look at the park’s monument up close and you’ll see surfing legends called out by name, a testament to some of the greatest innovators in the sport of surfing.

A few things to know about this location:

  • Parking is free (there’s a big lot available)
  • During April through October, dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach before 9:00am and after 6:00pm.
  • Other amenities include: restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecues, and lifeguards for your safety and convenience needs.

As always, the fire pits are first-come, first-served, so arriving early is also advised.

Ocean Beach

This beach is perpetually crowded because of the popular Pier, but fortunately there are numerous fire pits here – your odds of getting one are pretty good provided you arrive early in the day.

  • Other amenities include volleyball courts, picnic tables, a lifeguard, showers and a fishing pier
  • Lifeguards are staffed year-round from 9am til dusk
  • Dogs are not allowed here, but they are allowed at the 24-hour Dog Beach just adjacent to this beach
  • Overnight camping is prohibited

Coronado Beach

If you’re looking for a more luxurious bonfire experience, this beach is for you! The fire pits at Coronado are spread out across the sand and easy to spot, which makes this an extremely popular location for families.

Coronado Beach starts at the Hotel Del Coronado and continues north. Access to the main Coronado Beach is from the area near the “Hotel Del” where there are free parking spaces all along Ocean Blvd. This wide family-friendly beach gets crowded, but it is wide enough that you can find a place to spread out comfortably. Keep an eye out for the elaborate sand castles for which this beach is known!

  • Get here early to park nearby and secure a good spot on the sand
  • Other amenities include picnic tables, BBQs, restrooms and the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado nearby
  • If you head south from the Del, you’ll find a beach below tall condo buildings called Coronado Shores Beach which has a free public parking lot.
  • Fun fact: The Hotel Del can one-up your bonfire experience! Make it gourmet by renting one of their fire pits and roasting s’mores on the beach or other yummy treats (hot dogs and a charcuterie board are on the menu).

Before You Leave

Fire hazards are a big risk in Southern California, especially during the summer months. The best way to reduce hazards from beach fires is proper disposal of the coals, and that begins with putting out the fire.

Begin the process 45 minutes to an hour before leaving to make sure you have plenty of time to put the fire out. Cover the fire with sand to douse the fire, then pour water over it to cool the coals. You can leave anything that isn’t burned inside the pit.

picnic in la jolla

4 Perfect Spots for a Picnic in La Jolla

As summer approaches and “June Gloom” finally dissipates, it’s definitely time to start getting outside and making the most of it! Besides beach bonfires, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and other outdoor activities, one of our favorite things to do outside in the summer is have a picnic in La Jolla. There are plenty of great spots to cozy up and watch the waves while you chow down on yummy snacks and sandwiches! Here’s our roundup of the best picnic spots right here in La Jolla.

Ellen Browning Scripps Park

With plenty of open space, green grass, benches, and covered belvederes, Ellen Browning Scripps right next to La Jolla Cove is a terrific option for your next picnic. It’s right by the coast, so your views will be incredible; it’s rarely crowded, even during the summer, as it’s large enough for people to spread out. Picnic tables, barbecues, and benches are throughout the park, and restrooms and showers are provided next to La Jolla Cove. There is street parking right next to the park and the Cove, though it does fill up very quickly; your best bet is to arrive early or park a bit farther away and walk. The park is located at 1100 Coast Blvd.

Tip: if one of those little green huts that line the sidewalk is available, these belvederes are excellent places for a picnic! They’re covered and have sitting benches inside, and boast unparalleled views of the water.

La Jolla Hermosa Park

This is one La Jolla’s best hidden gems. Tucked away on a quiet side street near Bird Rock (5780 Chelsea Ave), this little park has a few benches, picnic tables, and even a couple of grills that are great for whipping up some burgers or hot dogs. The park has terrific views of the open water, and although small, it’s cozy, romantic, and very rarely crowded.

There are no restrooms or showers here, but there are trash cans for when you’re finished and a short walkway down to the fence offers an even closer view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean!

Cuvier Park

When it’s not being used for a wedding (it’s an official La Jolla wedding venue), Cuvier Park is a gorgeous place to post up for an afternoon picnic. There are only a couple of picnic tables, but the view and privacy – it’s tucked down below road level – make up for it! Bring a blanket and spread out on the grass for an even more relaxing experience. Dogs are allowed on leash here, and though there are no restrooms, parking is usually quite abundant along Coast Blvd. right next to it.

The park is located at 590 Coast Blvd South in La Jolla.

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Kellogg Park

Kellogg Park is usually the most crowded on this list; located down at La Jolla Shores Beach, this expansive space has plenty of amenities: restrooms, showers, barbecues and grills, bonfire pits, picnic tables, and a playground for the little ones. Luckily, since the park is so large, you’re likely to find your own patch of grass. The park isn’t right on the water, but you’re only a short walk on the sand away! There is a free parking lot here, but it fills up very quickly especially on summer weekends. Look for street parking along the road instead.

La Jolla Shores beach is a popular launch area for kayakers, snorkelers, and scuba divers, so if you’re planning on doing any water sports later in the day this is the picnic spot for you! The park is located at 8277 Camino Del Oro in La Jolla.

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

  • Wednesday, June 27
  • Thursday, June 28

July

  • Friday, July 27
  • Saturday, July 28

August

  • Saturday, August 25
  • Sunday, August 26

September

  • Monday, September 24
  • Tuesday, September 25

October

  • Wednesday, October 24
  • Thursday, October 25

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.

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, every Thursday 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 Film Noir, one of the first-ever showcases of the genre in America’s Finest City. With so many great films noir to choose from, this series focuses on films with a San Diego connection.

August 2 | Double feature night! Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and The Clay Pigeon (1949)

August 9 | Tension (1949)

August 16 | The Brothers Rico (1957)

August 23 | The Grifters (1990)

Movies on the Beach

Where: Hotel Del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado 92118
When: Saturdays at 8:00pm; May 26-September 1

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!

May 26 Finding Nemo (2003)

June 16 The Lion King (1994)

July 7 The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

July 14 Coco (2017)

July 21 Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017)

August 4 Aladdin (1992)

August 11 Lilo & Stitch (2002)

August 25 Jumanji (1995)

September 1 The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Screen on the Green

Where: Museum of Art (Botanical Lawn) at Balboa Park
When: 8pm, every Thursday 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 (this year’s exhibition is “Epic Tales from Ancient India”). 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!

August 2 | The Lunchbox (2013)

August 9 | Original Copy (2015)

August 16 | The Music Room (1958)

August 23 | Nil Battey Sannata (2015)

August 30 | Paheli (2005)

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:

July 20 | Beauty and the Beast (2017).
Villa La Jolla Neighborhood Park; 8321 Via Mallorca, San Diego 92122.

August 18 | Coco (2017)
La Jolla Community Park; 615 Prospect St., La Jolla 92037.

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.

May 12 | Coco

June 9 | Jumanji

July 14 | Wonder Woman

August 11 | Loving Vincent

September 8 | A Wrinkle in Time

October 13 | Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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.

June 5 | The Big Lebowski

June 12 | The Naked Gun

June 19 | Zombieland

June 26 | The Three Amigos

July 3 | Super Troopers

July 10 | My Cousin Vinny

July 17 | Clerks

July 24 | The Bourne Identity

July 31 | Raiders of the Lost Ark

August 7 | Coming to America

August 14 | Jumanji

August 21 | The Dark Knight

August 28 | The Princess Bride