Why La Jolla Is (Definitely) a Better Weekend Getaway Than L.A.

la jolla weekend getaway

Angelenos often say, “There’s no city quite like Los Angeles,” which is true; it’s one of the most recognizable cities in the world, and is known for its upscale nightlife, celeb sightings, and its great food scene. However, if you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway, La Jolla should be at the top of your list!

Whether you’re a family of four or a couple looking to escape for a few days, there is no shortage of activities and things to do in La Jolla. From top rated restaurants to water activities and hiking trails with ocean views, there’s a little something for everyone. Here are six reasons La Jolla should be your next vacation destination!

There’s Traffic, Then There’s LA Traffic

L.A. traffic is horrible. I wish I could it put it differently, but I can’t. According to a Forbes article published in 2017, L.A. has the 10th worst traffic in the world and the worst in the United States. The San Diego region doesn’t have enough traffic to even make that list. Not only that, if you want to visit the city on a weekend, everything is jam packed. Restaurants, hotels, bars, and museums are overcrowded with people. There’s always somebody nearby pushing you or bumping into you.

La Jolla doesn’t have much traffic. Yes, there’s an occasional blocked road or minor accident. Yes, there’s two streets in La Jolla with traffic (La Jolla Village Drive & Torrey Pines Road). But besides that, you can get around with ease.

la jolla weekend getaway

Easy Breezy Weather

La Jolla weather is cooler than L.A. During the summer, L.A. is on average hotter than La Jolla by about 5 degrees. That may not seem like a lot, but imagine if every room you walked into was 5 degrees hotter than what you’re used to. You start to really feel it.

Because La Jolla is on average 5 degrees cooler, it means whether you want to relax on the beach, eat outdoors, or do outdoor activities, you don’t feel like you’re melting in the heat. Not to mention, Los Angeles is more humid too.

La Jolla is also conveniently located next to the ocean. So there’s a cool breeze that’s unmatched anywhere in the world. L.A. is windy at times, but there’s no refreshing breeze that calms you down year round.

Restaurants

It seems like a no-brainer that L.A. has more restaurants than La Jolla (and many good ones). There are, so many I couldn’t count them (trust me, I tried). But La Jolla is better because there are more high-quality restaurants per square mile.

La Jolla has 20 Zagat rated restaurants in its small borders including George’s At The Cove, The Marine Room, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, while L.A. has 19 Zagat restaurants total. Take into account the size of L.A. It’s over 500 square miles while La Jolla is just over seven. La Jolla restaurants are incredibly good and close to each other.

Let’s use Yelp to judge the food. La Jolla has about 25 highly rated restaurants (4.5 stars or higher) on the review app. L.A. has over 1000 restaurants with 4.5 or higher. People often say “more is better” but not when you’re looking for just two or three good places to eat. There are just too many choices when you go to L.A. – if you’re in town for just one weekend, finding a delicious restaurant shouldn’t mean scrolling through thousands of options. You should be able to find a place and enjoy a delicious meal without much hassle.

la jolla weekend getaway

Hiking

Hiking in La Jolla is easier to access. If you’re looking for a hike, everything is a 15-minute drive or closer. One of La Jolla’s most popular hikes, Torrey Pines, is a state natural reserve. It’s open 365 days a year, from 7:15 am to sunset. There is a small fee for parking in the South lot ($10-12 on Mon -Thurs & $12-20 on Fri-Sun) and even cheaper in the North lot. Best of all, there’s a breathtaking view of the ocean throughout the trail.

L.A.’s most famous hike is the Hollywood sign. While a fun hike, it’s complicated to even find the entrance (try it for yourself). There’s a high amount of traffic and it’s more crowded. Although there’s free parking, you’re not guaranteed a parking spot. Finally, despite beauty being subjective, I think an ocean view beats a cityscape any day. That’s just us though.

la jolla weekend getaway

Fun Beaches

It’s not fair to include beaches in this article, but we did because that is what makes La Jolla a better weekend getaway. The fact of the matter is La Jolla is a coastal city and Los Angeles isn’t. Regardless, we thought about looking at the nearest beaches would hammer the point home.

La Jolla Shores is one of the most sought after beaches in the world. It’s known for its breath-taking views, infamous leopard sharks, and mysterious sea caves. Plus there are all types of fun activities to do near the shores including kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba-diving. And of course, La Jolla Cove is well known pretty much around the world for its crystal-clear blue water, seals and sea lions, and beautiful views.

Santa Monica Beach is L.A.’s most popular and (unfortunately dirty) beach. It’s known for its chronic pollution. Plus, from the heart of L.A., it’s about 17 miles away, which is more than 30 minutes of traffic. And there’s always traffic.

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Location, Location, Location

La Jolla’s location is unbelievably convenient. Directions to La Jolla are fairly straightforward: it’s located 10 miles from downtown San Diego and major attractions like the Gaslamp District, Balboa Park, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Everything is close to L.A. too – it just might take you over an hour to get five miles across the city!

La Jolla is a better weekend getaway than L.A., not because there’s more to do in the small city, but because you don’t lose half the day battling traffic. Whether you want to get to the beach, restaurant, or hiking trail, it’s easier in La Jolla and La Jolla Cove. That means you get more time to explore. If you’re here for a weekend, enjoy the most possible time experiencing the city, not traveling from one part to another.

Have you visited both places? Leave us a comment below with your opinion of which city makes the best weekend getaway.

Everything You Need to Know About Snorkeling with La Jolla Leopard Sharks

Every year, thousands of leopard sharks head to the shores off the coast of La Jolla Shores to mate and then hatch their young. The warmer waters here provide an ideal temperature to incubate, and the sharks will typically stay for up to six months to complete the process.

The La Jolla leopard sharks are beautiful – and harmless – and snorkeling alongside them makes for an incredible afternoon out with the family. These little guys are hard to miss, and are distinctively marked with dark brown spots on a silvery, gray background that resemble a leopard print. Here’s the rundown on how to see the La Jolla leopard sharks; from where to go, when to go, and how to do it!

When can you see the La Jolla Leopard Sharks?

The leopard sharks are typically in their largest numbers from early June through the end of September or October, when thousands migrate to La Jolla Shores for their mating season. During the rest of the year about 100-200 local leopard sharks can still be seen, and some companies hold snorkeling tours through December or even year-round.

The leopard sharks congregate in the warmer shallow waters near La Jolla to look for food and find a mate; though they are a bit wary of humans, they typically keep to themselves and will gladly share the water with (respectful) swimmers and snorkelers.

When is the best time to go?

End of August and September are usually the best times to see La Jolla Leopard Sharks, as this is towards the end of the mating season and there are higher numbers of sharks. The ideal time to go is during the day, when there are calm waters and when it’s sunny (as they will be easier to spot).

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Where should I go?

The La Jolla leopard sharks congregate at La Jolla Shores,  where the water is warmer and shallower. It’s easier for them to search for food in the sand and kelp forests, which are protected by the La Jolla Underwater Park Preserve. Their diet consists mostly of smaller shellfish; including clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, and fish eggs.

During peak season, you can simply swim out into the water at La Jolla Shores and see the leopard sharks – they will often be that close to shore. Wade out up to your knees or hips, and you’ll see them swimming around your feet (which is quite an experience!). There’s no reason to be scared of these little guys, as they are completely harmless to humans and won’t bite or bother you.

How can I snorkel with the La Jolla Leopard Sharks?

There are a few different ways to really see the La Jolla Leopard Sharks. You can:

  • Swim out by yourself at La Jolla Shores and simply watch them through the water, which is usually pretty clear.
  • Snorkel out by yourself and get a better look at the sharks through a snorkel mask; either with your own gear or a snorkel rental. If you don’t have your own gear, many companies will rent you gear for the entire day at one price: Everyday California and La Jolla Kayak are just a couple.

Fun Facts About Leopard Sharks

  • Leopard sharks are only about four to five feet long
  • They’re found all over the coast of California, but they particularly like the warm water in La Jolla
  • During breeding season, females can produce anywhere from seven to 36 offspring, which measure 20 centimeters at birth
  • The maximum lifespan of this species is estimated at 30 years! They’ve lived up to 20 years in captivity, and are a popular attraction in many aquariums.
  • There is only one leopard shark attack ever recorded: in 1955, there was an unprovoked attack on a diver in Trinidad Bay, California. Fortunately, the diver was not injured and swam away unscathed.

Tips and Safety Guidelines

  1. Use common sense – keep an eye on the tide, watch out for rip currents, and always be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Always listen to the lifeguards.
  3. Treat the animals with respect; don’t try and touch them or interfere with they are doing
  4. Stay calm. Approaching the sharks quietly and calmly is your best bet to seeing them up close. If they perceive you as a predator, they may try and defend themselves.
  5. Wear appropriate gear; if you want to see them up close, have your fins and snorkeling gear ready.

Guide to the Museums in La Jolla

Despite its small size, La Jolla is a haven for local arts and culture; there are multiple museums, art galleries, and historic spots to see in the Village, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Map & Atlas Museum. If you’re looking to spend the afternoon brushing up on some culture, spend time in these locales absorbing new knowledge, renowned art, and local history.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has been bringing folks into its Prospect Street location since 1950. The museum is home to multiple constantly rotating exhibits to keep things fresh, and is currently undergoing extensive renovations to further enhance its art exhibitions.

After spending time walking the interior and taking in the galleries, make sure to take in the ocean view from the front of the museum, then head to the Edwards Sculpture Garden out back to wander the sculptures and have a picnic. If you’ve been inspired to do some art of your own, bring a sketchpad and let your artistic side take over!

Please note that the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla is currently closed until 2019. Head to the MCSASD downtown San Diego location until then, and stay tuned for updates!

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

This library is free to enter, though it’d be worth an admission price! The Spanish-Renaissance styled library was built in 1921, and the exterior is as beautiful today as it was then. Step inside and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time; the museum is filled with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other materials on a wide range of artistic and musical genres. You can simply take in the interior and explore the works, or become a member to take materials home and receive special offers.

Each month, the Athenaeum hosts Murals of La Jolla Walking Tours. These docent-led tours take visitors on an hour-long excursion throughout the Village to see each of the seventeen murals that grace various walls, alleyways, and nooks and crannies. Visit their website for the tour schedule.

The Athenaeum is open 10am-5:30pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 10am-8:30pm on Wednesday.

La Jolla Historical Society

The quaint museum run by the La Jolla Historical Society is the epitome of charming. Located at 7846 Eads Avenue, just off Prospect, this cottage gives you a historical feel and context for the very city you’re in (in fact, the cottage is one of the first buildings to be built in all of La Jolla, and was initially the home of Ellen Browning Scripps). Step inside the to see the carefully put-together exhibits of this historic Wisteria cottage, which has had many significances since it’s creation. Across more than 100 years, it’s served as a home, a school, a bookstore and, since 2005, a museum.

The Historical Society also hosts events. We particularly want to highlight their yearly spring event, the Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla. Buying a ticket lets you explore normally off-limits, private gardens in the community that are truly tremendous.

The Historical Society is open noon-4pm Wednesday through Saturday.

Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla

When you think of maps, you may think of the giant foldout ones you grab on trips to foreign cities or locals ones to have in your car in case the GPS fails. However, there is a lot of history, beauty, and culture surrounding maps and mapmaking (also known as cartography) that we don’t think about, specifically with antique maps and atlases. This is a great niche museum that offers rotating exhibits throughout the year, showcasing things like “A Selection of 19th Century Gold Rush Maps” and various other mapmaking trends.

This spot is a real treat, and there is nothing else like it in San Diego County. Come explore this small but impactful museum for yourself: it’s open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month from 11am to 4pm.

Near La Jolla: Balboa Park

We would be remiss to not mention Balboa Park in San Diego when talking about museums! Home to 17 world-class museums and galleries, Balboa Park is an incredible cultural center in the heart of San Diego.

With multiple gardens, restaurants, art galleries, and exhibits, this is definitely a must-visit during your time in the city. Keep an eye out for incredible Spanish architecture while you’re there: the park was built in the early 1900s for the Panama-California Exhibition, and one of its defining features even today is the California Tower; which you can now tour!

List of the museums within Balboa Park

  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Hall of Champions
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Learn more about the park and its museums at our Balboa Park Page.

San Diego Surf Film Festival Returns to La Jolla

san diego surf film festival

The San Diego Surf Film Festival returns to San Diego and downtown La Jolla for its seventh year this May 9th-12th! Films will be shown at a dozen locations all around San Diego, with its hub being one of the newest art galleries in La Jolla: Misfit Gallery on Pearl Street. This year, a roster of fifteen of the best international surf films are being presented over the four-day festival. From La Jolla Cove to north county, here are some of this year’s SDSFF highlights!

This Year’s Highlights

Opening Night

The festival kicks off at 6pm on Wednesday, May 9th at Wade Koniakowsky’s (this year’s featured artist) art gallery in the Cedros Design District area of Solana Beach. The Opening Night movie begins at 7pm, but arrive early to catch a gorgeous sunset, take in the live art, and enjoy some refreshments. This year’s Opening Night will also feature a special tribute to Bruce Brown, the legendary filmmaker behind one of the most important and well known surf cinema productions of all time: Endless Summer. 

In tribute, the festival will be presenting three films on different screens that evening: Endless Summer, On Any Sunday, and Discovering Mentawais.

San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot Ceremony

Thursday, May 10 is the highly-anticipated San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot Dinner Ceremony, introduced by Hank Warner at the La Jolla Community Center. More than a dozen local eateries have come together to create a special tasting menu to be paired with Ballast Point beer, ZioBaffa wine, and Babe Kombucha in what looks to be an incredibly memorable evening amongst the legends of San Diego surfing. The dinner and event is $75, or included for VIP Nautilus Pass holders.

Last year the SDSFF presented Skip Frye with their highest honor, the Spirit of the San Diego Surf Film Festival. For SDSFF 2018, they have invited over two dozen San Diego Surfing Legends to show up for the San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot. With the approval and guidance from these legends, they compiled a list of around 100 of the Most Influential San Diego Surfers; and during the ballot ceremony, you’ll be able to have your voice heard in the process! The Hall of Fame will inducts its first 25 Surfers in September, 2018.

3 Nights of Surf Films

All six nights of film viewings, as well as the closing Awards Ceremony, will be held at Misfit Gallery in La Jolla (565 Pearl St., #100). Friday and Saturday include the majority of the films, as well as special events running throughout the day and into the evening.

This year’s film highlights include:The Church of the Open Sky, Nathan Oldfield

  • Proximity, Taylor Steele
  • Biarritz Surf Gang, Nathan Curren & Pierre Denoyel
  • Big Wata, Gugi van der Velden

Special Events

The festival isn’t just about surf films! Other activities will be happening throughout the week, including morning surf and yoga sessions, special Filmmaker Workshops by Salty Surf Housings, and the 3rd Annual SDSFF Art & Surf Expression Session Invitational in Carlsbad on Saturday (artists will be riding the waves and creating works of art on the beach throughout the day). Afterwards, enjoy the Filmmaker & Artists Meet and Greet at El Pescador in La Jolla, followed by Happy Hour at the Misfit Gallery.

The San Diego Surf Film Festival boasts seven years of incredible films, hard work, and talent behind it. The fest was founded by Pierce Kavanagh  as a small film showcase in 2012; that first year, every film sold out and they had lines around the block. The City of San Diego presented them with a plaque, and seven years later, it has become one of the largest and most respected surf film festivals around the world. 2018 returns with another awesome lineup of the best surf films, filmmaker Q&As, special events, and more.

Visit the SDSFF website to purchase tickets or see the full film lineup.

things to do in la jolla

The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List

We won’t lie – summer in La Jolla is a beautiful thing! Endless hours of sunshine, warm weather, and seven miles of gorgeous, sandy beaches make our little village by the sea one of the best places to spend the summer in all of San Diego.

With so many things to do in La Jolla (not to mention the world-class dining options), you’ll definitely want to take advantage of absolutely everything while you’re here. So, we’ve put together the ultimate activities guide for things to do in La Jolla this summer; start ticking things off the list and get out there!

Take a kayak tour of the La Jolla caves

If nothing else, this is the one activity you absolutely cannot miss during a visit to La Jolla. The seven sea caves that line the shore are millions of years old and carved from sandstone; they’re beautiful to look at, and even better, incredible to kayak through.

Guided kayak tours (you can choose from several local tour companies down at La Jolla Shores, where the tours start) will allow you to experience the whole enchilada, from paddling out and braving the waves to exploring Clam Cave, the biggest and one of the easiest ones to kayak through. On lower tide days, you’ll also get the chance to kayak into one or two of the smaller caves, but that may be an activity reserved for the braver members of your group!

la jolla things to do

Snorkel around La Jolla Cove

There’s nothing quite like getting up-close-and-personal with the marine life at La Jolla Cove. During the summer months, leopard sharks number in the thousands when they come here to hatch their young. The sharks are harmless, and the Birch Aquarium even hosts guided snorkel tours that take groups out to the most populated spots.

Other creatures you may see while exploring include Garibaldi, shovelnose guitarfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, crabs, stingrays, and all types of other fish.

Have a beach bonfire at La Jolla Shores

Need we say more? Beach bonfires down at the Shores are pretty much the epitome of an awesome summer night in La Jolla. There are several bonfire pits located on the sand along the shores at this beach, but fair warning: they do fill up very early on weekends. To secure a pit, you’ll probably need to get down there and stake one out around 11am. But hey, it’s totally worth it once you’re staying warm next to a roaring fire right on the beach.

For more information on how to have a bonfire, head here.

things to do in la jolla

Learn how to scuba dive

Interested in going one step further than snorkeling in La Jolla? Try your hand at scuba diving! There are a couple of different companies (such as SD Expeditions) that offer scuba diving certification and classes throughout the year. From beginner open water certification to advanced rescue diver classes, you’ll be able to customize your own experience and really get a feel for how it all works. Plus, the amount of marine life you’ll be able to see is incredible!

Venture into Sunny Jim Cave

Sunny Jim Cave is the only sea cave accessible from land in California; which is a pretty cool thing in and of itself when it comes to things to do in La Jolla. Adventurers can access the cave via The Cave Store, which has been there since 1903, and pay the $5 to head down 145 stone steps to one of the most unique views that you’ll see in all of La Jolla. There are six other sea caves, but most of them are inaccessible except for by kayak during low tide and calm waters.

 

Learn More About the Seven Sea Caves Here!

 

There has been much speculation regarding the origin of the cave’s name; though the most common theory is that it was named by Frank L. Baum for a British cartoon character!

Take one of La Jolla’s coastal hikes

There’s nothing better on a clear, sunny day than going on a great hike! There are a ton of great hikes in San Diego alone, but there are a few hidden gems right here in La Jolla. The Coast Walk Trail, which begins at the Cave Store, travels along the bluffs for a super scenic, easy walk.

The Scripps Coastal Reserve is a bit more of a rugged hike, but offers terrific views of the Torrey Pines Gliderport and beyond. Finally, there’s the Coastal Meander Trail, which starts at La Jolla Shores Dr. and heads down to a bluff overlooking Scripps Pier for sweeping ocean views.

Whichever hike you choose, you’re definitely going to be greeted with scenic panoramas of the Pacific Ocean and all of San Diego.

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Walk the sea wall at Children’s Pool

Walking along the sea wall down at The Children’s Pool is one of our favorite pastimes. If you walk all the way to the end, you’ll get a great perspective of looking back at La Jolla from the water; which is hard to do unless you’re out in a boat or kayak. Fair warning here: you most likely will get wet by doing this! But that’s really all part of the fun, right?

Enjoy dinner with a view

La Jolla is home to a number of incredible fine dining restaurants along the coast, boasting great views. Prospect Street is your best bet for dining with an ocean view – George’s at the Cove, Eddie V’s, Crabcatcher, Duke’s La Jolla are all incredible fine dining restaurants and will make for an experience you won’t soon forget!

Paraglide at the Torrey Pines Gliderport

Adrenaline seekers, here’s an activity for you! Hang gliding or paragliding from the Torrey Pines Gliderport is an awesome experience that’s totally unique to La Jolla. You can take a tandem flight with an instructor (which is recommended for those who have never flown before) or learn how to fly one yourself. For the experienced flyers, there are even advanced clinics that take place every few weeks.

Bonus: Falconry classes are offered at the Gliderport during certain months of the year! This is seriously a must-do bucket list item if you happen to be in La Jolla when they’re happening. Check their page for the class schedule.

Experience a High Tide Dinner at The Marine Room

Each spring and summer, The Marine Room offers a series of High Tide Dinners, where guests can experience the magic of giant waves crashing up against the floor-to-mirror windows while they dine. This is truly one of the best restaurants in San Diego, and is definitely worth a visit if you’ve never been. Their website lists the exact time at which the highest tide will be, so you can plan your reservation accordingly. Do reserve in advance, as these fill up way ahead of time!

things to do in la jolla

Check out the views from Mt. Soledad

If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy view, Mount Soledad should definitely be on your list. The mountaintop offers 360-degree panoramas of La Jolla, downtown San Diego, and even Mexico (on super clear days), and it’s totally free to go and park. Pro-tip: go just before sunset for an even more gorgeous view!

If you’re in the mood for some walking, take the 5-minute drive over to La Jolla Heights Open Space Park. It’s a short walk that will give you even more great views, plus a cute little bench to sit down on and take in the scenery. It’s worth checking out!

things to do in la jolla

Watch the seals at La Jolla Cove

We would be remiss if our list didn’t include a visit to the seals at La Jolla Cove. Though a bit odiferous, it’s great to see these creatures up close. You can usually find them sunning on the rocks just offshore from the Cove, or on the sandy beach and rocks at the Children’s Pool nearby. You can easily walk from the Cove to the Children’s Pool; stop to have a picnic or a drink of water at Ellen Browning Scripps Park to break the walk up a bit. Read up on how best to see these animals without endangering their safety before you go.

Take in the art galleries and museums downtown

La Jolla is a great place to experience a little arts and culture. Museums in downtown La Jolla include the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (which is closed for renovations until 2019, but you can still check out the Edwards Sculpture Garden in the back), the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, and the La Jolla Historical Society.

There are also several incredible art galleries here, including Madison Gallery, Thumbprint Gallery, and the Legends Gallery which is home to a huge collection of Dr. Seuss’ art.

These spots are pretty gorgeous parts of San Diego, and as you can see from the list, there is definitely no shortage of awesome things to do in La Jolla!

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 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!

la jolla things to do

Why Snorkeling in La Jolla Should Be at the Top of Your Bucket List

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!

This Coastal Hike (With Epic Views) Is One of La Jolla’s Best-Kept Secrets

Though there are several La Jolla hikes that we love, one of the area’s best-kept secrets is tucked away down a small side street atop Mt. Soledad. Also referred to as La Jolla Natural Park, La Jolla Heights Open Space is a small 42-acre preserve that was set aside to preserve its sensitive biological resources and habitats. Within the preserve, you’ll find a hidden trail that hugs the coast and leads to sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown San Diego, and even Mexico on a clear day. It’s a short hike that makes for a fun and easy weekend outing; and at a little over a mile out and back, offers incredible rewards for little work!

Directions to the Trailhead

Heading south on Torrey Pines Road, towards The Village, turn left onto Exchange Place. You can park to the right on Virginia Way or Olivet Street. Now on foot, keep left onto Soledad Avenue when Exchange forks off. Go right from Soledad Ave onto Al Bahr Drive. Continue on Al Bahr under the bridge; the trail begins at the farthest end of the street loop, marked by a brown trailhead sign.

The Trail

The short trail winds its way through thick vegetation and a good deal of San Diego’s native chaparral. Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially if you’re hiking closer to sunset; people have spotted all kinds of creatures, including gray foxes, bobcats, brush rabbits, lizards, gopher snakes, and scrub jays.

After passing through some tall grass, the hike opens up to an expansive desert hillside covered in chaparral. There are several clearings up the hill that provide incredible photo opportunities; the views of La Jolla just get better with each step. There are a few forks in the path, but as long as you continue on an uphill branch, you’ll eventually reach the summit.

On super-clear days, you’ll even be treated to views of La Jolla Shores, Torrey Pines State Reserve, and Catalina Island! Once you’ve taken in the views, head back to Encelia Drive, past the car gate, and continue south to reach the intersection of Encelia and Brodiaea Way. Turn right onto Brodiaea and make your way down the hill; turn right again on Romero Drive, which will become Country Club Drive.

When you reach Exchange Place, you can continue down to Torrey Pines Road or turn right onto Soledad Avenue to make your way back to the trailhead at Al Bahr.

The roundtrip hike, up the hill and down the streets back to the trailhead, is approximately 1.3 miles and takes around 50 minutes if you stop for a few photos and sit on the bench at the top to admire the view. There are few trees to provide shade, so bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water on warmer days. Elevation gain is roughly 655 feet.

Why We Love It

It’s rustic. La Jolla Heights Open Space/Natural Park provides one of the only more rustic and naturally beautiful hikes in the area. Although it’s maintained by the City of San Diego, much of the flora and fauna grows wild, providing hikers with a rare glimpse into the rougher, unmanicured parts of La Jolla.

The views are one-of-a-kind.

No other hike in La Jolla provides 180-degree views like this; and the cute bench to take it all in from is just the cherry on top.

It’s short and sweet.

Clocking in at just over a mile, the hike is long enough to be a workout but short enough to not take you all day to complete. Less work and more rewards? We’ll take that combo any day!


[Yelp]

Before You Go

  • Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed.
  • The ascent is steep and most of the path is dirt, so wear your hiking boots or tennis shoes!
  • There are “No Trespassing” signs at the top of the hike; they refer to the reservoir and not to the hiking trail
  • Bring plenty of water; though it’s a short hike, there is little shade and can get hot during the summer

After your hike, you’ll find that you are close to many restaurants in the La Jolla Shores area. Head to Galaxy Taco or Shorehouse Kitchen for a more laid back lunch, or travel a bit further to Caroline’s Seaside Cafe, atop Torrey Pines, for more awesome views and an outdoor patio.

There are so many unique La Jolla hikes and trails! Which one is your favorite?

Falconry Classes at Torrey Pines Gliderport: One of La Jolla’s Best-Kept Secrets

One of La Jolla’s best-kept secrets is hiding in plain sight along the cliffs at the Torrey Pines Gliderport! Very few people are aware that Falconry Classes, including simulated hunting experiences and interactive flight exhibition, are available daily at the Torrey Pines Gliderport right here in La Jolla (where you can also hang glide and paraglide). Total Raptor eXperience has been training locals and visitors alike in the ancient art of falconry since 2014, and each class offers an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the “sport of kings;” right in your own backyard!

The Art of Falconry

Though definitely a lesser-known sport in today’s age, falconry has been around for centuries. By definition, falconry is the ancient art of killing wild game with a trained bird of prey. Originally, falconry was using a bird of prey as a tool for catching food for the table. The art is first thought to have originated in the far east, with the first record of it being as far back as 1700 BC. It’s widely thought that the sport was restricted to the upper classes, but their lives were recorded more than the lower classes. It seems falconry could be practiced anywhere as nearly all land was for common use.

It was an art that was taught to sons of gentry, along with archery and riding. The gentlemen would go out for a day’s hawking with their birds, but the day-to-day care and training of the birds was carried out by a residential falconer.

Eventually, falconry took a backseat with the invention of gunpowder; however, it was still practiced by nobility, and according to a published list in the 15th Century, a different species of raptor was assigned to different ranks in society. Today, falconry remains a somewhat rare activity, though there are classes and birds-of-prey encounters held throughout the U.S – and now, you can experience it for yourself in La Jolla!

The company offers three different classes at the Torrey Pines Gliderport throughout the year:

Falconry Classes

Falcon Flight Encounters

: This is a totally interactive bird of prey (also known as ‘raptors’) experience, where you’ll work closely with the falcons by calling them to and from hand-held perches as they fly over the La Jolla bluffs. You’ll get to watch them perform simulated hunting exercises while you discuss the flight styles, identification, and conservation of different species with the naturalist. Each class is 1 hour 30 minutes.

Introduction to Falconry

If you want to touch a real falcon, this is the class for you! Their instructors will guide you through the basic steps of raptor handling: holding, calling, and releasing a bird using a falconry glove. This is truly an awesome chance to connect with a bird of prey and learn about the history of falconry, raptor ecology, and raptor conservation. All ages are welcome! This is a one-hour class.

Owl Encounters

: If falcons aren’t for you, try an owl encounter! You’ll get to meet their owls and learn about their incredible hunting skills. Bonus: you’ll be able to hold at least one of the owls and have your picture taken (a great photo op if you ask us!).

This is one of the most unique things to do in La Jolla, and we are always looking for new and exciting activities! Whether you’re here visiting with family on vacation or you’re a regular visitor, experiencing falconry in La Jolla will definitely provide you with a crazy story to tell back home.

For more information on Total Raptor Experience or to book a class, visit their website.

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance: A World-Class Car Show at the Cove

Beauty, elegance, and vintage cars intersect for the annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, which happens each spring at La Jolla Cove. This spectacular show features one-of-a-kind automobile gems from all over the world, and every year avid car enthusiasts head to the coast for a display of classic, unique, and timeless automobiles – a showcase that’s been going strong for over a decade.

This year, three main events will be held April 6-8 at Ellen Browning Scripps Park and The LOT La Jolla: the Rolls-Royce “Dapper and Delight” Soiree on Friday; the VIP Evening Reception on Saturday; and the main car show from 9am-4pm on Sunday. From specialty craft cocktails (Hendricks, anyone?) to the more than 150 specialty restored automobiles, we can’t think of any reason not to attend this fantastic car show.

A little history of the event

With origins in the late 17th century, the early Concours was a leisurely social affair where lighthearted competitions were rewarded with rosettes, wine, and champagne. As coaches and carriages segued into automobiles in the late 19th century, the competitions became more defined. By the mid 1920s, no society season on the French Riviera was complete without a variety of organized Concours events.

After World War II, a trio of visionaries – Jules Huemann, Reverend Paul Woudenberg and Loren Tryon – created what was to become the grandfather of all post-war Concours — Pebble Beach. What was a European staple for centuries has now become a true international tradition that pays homage to its French roots, and is a world-class event that La Jolla is proud to host each year.

Bring the entire family

General tickets for Concours d’Elegance are normally $70, but children under 10 are free – which makes it a great opportunity to bring your children and create some great family memories. With more than 150 classic cars ranging from vintage Rolls Royces to modern sports cars, it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Kids will also get a kick out of this year’s vintage aviation show, happening for the first time ever this year. The spectacle will feature some of the finest restored aircrafts dating back to more than fifty years ago, making the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance the perfect combination of land, ocean, and air entertainment. The main car show event will take place from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, April 8th.

Enjoy craft cocktails & delicious hors d’oeuvres

This year’s Sunday car show will feature complimentary craft cocktails with champagne and Hendrick’s Gin for those 21+; complimentary  samplings of honey flights (what other event can honestly boast honey flights?!), and one-of-a-kind cheeses from Venissimo Cheese; and live 30s-era swing music from award-winning Dave Patrone.

For a VIP experience, you can spend a little extra and enjoy fabulous bites from 15 of San Diego’s finest restaurants, a complimentary glass of champagne and honey tastings, a hosted bar in the VIP Sponsor Lounge, and a signed poster from the renowned La Jolla Concours Artist, Scott Jacobs.

View vintage and classic automobiles

Have you ever seen a 1937 Puegot Cabriolet by Poutrout? It’s okay if you haven’t seen or heard of it, because most people haven’t — but this burgundy and silver car was the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance Best Show Winner in 2015. It’s a rare gem that has withstood the test of time, and remains a testimony to the caliber of cars that the Concours showcases.

The oldest car at the 2016 show was the 1934 Bugatti T-57 Four Door Pillarless which typically retails for about $130,000 and comes standard with an eight cylinder engine. Bugatti is known for creating some of the fastest cars in the world, and it’s no surprise that the 1934 model remains a classic gem. The cars for 2018 have not yet been announced, but they’re guaranteed to be more incredible classics!

Rolls Royce is hosting an epic cocktail party

If you really want to celebrate the weekend in style, this is the place to do it. On Friday, April 6th, enjoy vintage champagne displays and a live band with a canary singer at Covo Restaurant in La Jolla. There will be a hosted bar by William Grant Portfolio, including wines, champagne, and incredible small bites and appetizers from Covo Restaurant of La Jolla.

Tickets are $100 each and available online before the event.

All proceeds this year will benefit the La Jolla Historical Society, which has been a champion for the preservation of La Jolla’s heritage since 1964 through discovery and tireless documentation. More than 100 historical monuments, annual art exhibits, and community events and tours are just a few of the ways the Society continues to promote awareness of our seaside town’s incredibly rich background.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, visit their website.