Checking out the waves is one of many things to do in San Diego

Things to Do in San Diego for Adults

Every year San Diego is visited by millions of people worldwide, making it a hotspot for things to see and do. From the perfect weather all year long and expansive beaches to Legoland and SeaWorld amusement parks, the Del Mar Racetrack, restaurants in the Historic Gaslamp section of downtown San Diego, as well as the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, there are so many fun things to do in San Diego for adults and kids alike. 

And with proximity to Mexico to the south and Orange County to the north, with its attractions, theme parks, and beaches, San Diego is perfectly situated to be the destination for every vacation. 

Whether you’re on vacation visiting San Diego for the first time or a local looking for hidden gems and ideas for something to do, read on and see our selection of all the fun things to do in San Diego for adults and their families. 

The Best Daily San Diego Activities for Adults

From beaches, parks, museums, mountain biking and hiking trails, and top-rated restaurants… to some of the coolest dive bars in America, there are many things to do in San Diego. This list is designed as a resource for you to discover San Diego and have a great time along the way. 

We’ve separated our list into sections from boat cruises and tours, other attractions for adults, amusement parks for families, sightseeing tours, sporting events, outdoor activities, and the many casinos located around San Diego. 

Cruises & Boat Tours

Take a tour of the San Diego Bay with a cruise, boat tour, or rent a boat and take a spin around the bay. From Shelter Island to Coronado, the San Diego Bay allows you to see the incredible downtown skyline in a new way. Or leave the piloting to the professionals, hop on one of the Hornblower’s evening cruises to have dinner, drinks, and entertainment on the bay while you watch the sunset over Point Loma. 

San Diego Attractions for Adults

Home to the most craft breweries per capita globally, San Diego boasts award-winning breweries such as Ballast Point, Stone, Coronado Brewing Company, among others. Grab a rideshare, cab, or join a beer tour and check out some of San Diego’s many breweries. 

If beer is not your thing, San Diego is also home to small wineries in Fallbrook, Rancho Bernardo, Penasquitos, and Valley Center in North County and is a short drive to the incredible wineries in Temecula. 

If nightlife is what you’re after, San Diego has several hotspots to check out. 

Cruise out to any of the beach communities and sip on a cocktail next to the beach during sunset. 

The historic Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs and is one of the top destinations for things to do in San Diego for adults after dark. 

If catching some live entertainment is more your “jam,” check out Winston’s in OB, the Comedy Club in La Jolla, the Starlight Theater, and the Old Globe in Balboa Park for live plays. 

If you’re looking for suggestions on what to do in San Diego for seniors, Lamb’s Players Theater in Coronado offers intimate small traditional plays nightly.

Amusement Parks in San Diego

Not as famous as Orange County for its amusement parks, San Diego has a few local secret spots for you to enjoy. 

One of the two major amusement parks in San Diego is SeaWorld. As an oceanarium, you can watch and see aquatic animals in their natural element either within their exhibits or live-action shows. Grab a beer and snacks, walk around the interactive park, or head over to the roller coaster and other rides, including the Bayside Skyride. 

Legoland is for the kid in all of us. Check out the exhibits, each made from thousands upon thousands of legos. Or get in a line and jump on one of the many roller coasters and other rides. Don’t worry, the passages and carriages aren’t made from legos, just the exhibits. 

The San Diego County Fair (formerly Del Mar Fair) is held annually in late June with vendors, attractions, and rides. 

 Built-in 1910, the Balboa Park Carousel adjacent to the San Diego Zoo is one of the oldest standing amusement park rides around. 

Not to be outdone, Seaport Village has the oldest carousel in all of the area. Built over 125 years ago in 1895, take a nostalgic trip to a time long ago as you go faster and faster on the Fair Park Looff Carousel. 

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park opened for its maiden voyage in 1925. Known for long drops at speeds approximately 50 miles an hour, the Giant Dipper is the oldest remaining wooden roller coaster on the west coast. 

Sightseeing Tours

Old Town Trolley Tours the historic areas of San Diego, allowing riders to hop off, shop, dine, explore, and hop back onto the next trolley when ready to head back. 

San Diego SEAL Tours takes you from street to bay in their unsinkable Hydra-Terras. Take a guided tour of historic San Diego and a “bird-eye” view of the seals and sea lions while you float nearby.

San Diego Bay Cruises takes you from shelter island in comfort and style around the San Diego Bay and harbor. 

For the hop-head in you, one of the best San Diego activities for adults is to take one of the many brewery tours. With over 100 craft breweries to choose from, get unique insights, details, and most importantly, a designated driver while you sample a variety of San Diego’s famous breweries. 

Sport Events

There are several sporting events in San Diego throughout the year, so if you’re looking to catch a game or some of the world’s best golfers, we’ve got it on our list of the best things to do in San Diego for adults. 

  • The San Diego Padres: Play at Petco field, downtown San Diego in the East Village.
  • The San Diego Seals: Play professional lacrosse at the San Diego Sports Arena.
  • The Farmer’s Open at Torrey Pines: This seasonal event hosts some of PGA’s finest golfers.
  • The San Diego Gulls Hockey Team: Plays at the San Diego Sports Arena of the AHL.
  • San Diego State Aztecs, UCSD Tritons, and USD Toreros: Various college games hosted by local teams from the San Diego State Aztecs, the Tritons of UCSD, and Toreros of University of San Diego.
  • Del Mar Races: Held every summer beginning in mid-July, the Del Mar Race Track is renowned as a premier venue for horse racing
  • Red Bull Air Races: Held in the San Diego Bay, catch some of the most acrobatic single-engine planes worldwide

Outdoor Activities

San Diego is more than just beaches. In fact, within less than an hour’s drive, you can get to the desert, mountains, and valleys for hiking, camping, mountain biking, and even snowboarding during winter. 

San Diego Casinos

San Diego is home to numerous resort casinos, from Sycuan, Barona, Pechanga, and Viejas, among many others. To explore San Diego for adults, spend a day at one of the luxury resorts surrounding the casinos, lounge poolside, or jump into the action on many different popular casino table games and enjoy yourself. 

Things to Do in San Diego for Adults FAQs

From casino games, shopping, dining, amusement parks, and more, there are many things to do in San Diego. If you have questions about all the attractions and things to do in San Diego for adults, our frequently asked questions section below can guide you. 

Q: What Can Couples Do in San Diego?

If you and your loved one are looking for San Diego date ideas or need romantic things to do in San Diego, try a sunset boat cruise. Or perhaps romantic dinners overlooking the ocean in La Jolla is your thing. Maybe cocktails at the Hotel del Coronado or dinner overlooking the San Diego skyline at any of downtown’s rooftop bars and restaurants.

Q: What Is There to Do in San Diego at Night?

There’s never a dull moment in San Diego. For nightlife, check out the historic Gaslamp Quarter, a romantic dinner in downtown La Jolla, or drive up the coast to sleepy Solana Beach and catch a show and grab a beer at one of the many breweries and restaurants in the area. 

Q: How Can I Spend a Day in San Diego?

Outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, and mountain biking are common in San Diego and are among the best things to do in San Diego alone. 

Q: What Can You Do for Free in San Diego?

When making a San Diego itinerary for adults, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention freebies like the first Tuesday of every month the museums in Balboa Park offer free admission. With so many trails around the county and beaches galore, just basking in nature at Torrey Pines State Beach, watch the seals at La Jolla Cove’s kiddie pool, browse the Ocean Beach Farmers Market, or hike Mission Trails are excellent ways to spend your time.

Closing Thoughts

With so many things to do in San Diego for adults, you just can’t get it all accomplished in a day, much less than a week. Remember to pack your sunscreen, drink some water, and prepare to have the time of your life. 

About the author: David Throop is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, health, fitness, and wellness with an eye toward his clients achieving their outcome objectives. When he is not being bitten on the ankles by precocious puppies and children he likes to spend his time outdoors.

San Diego AirBNB Favorites Of The Rich And Famous

When it comes time to plan a vacation, especially one to Southern California or La Jolla, there’s always the preemptive San Diego Air BNB search, without a max budget set, looking for a sneak peek into the vacation options of the rich and famous – those traveling without a budget. If you spend any time exploring the greater region thinking, what Air BNB should I stay in San Diego, you’re sure to find some incredible homes by the beach in just a few clicks. 

We’ve rounded up some of the best luxury Air BNBs in all of San Diego, not just La Jolla. We only set one rule, nothing can cost less than $15,000 per week!

La Jolla Black Gold Resort

 

 

 

Sunset Pointe

    • Sunset Pointe in the Birdrock neighborhood is known best for its 100+ feet of private coastline with uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every room in the home. A one week stay at the Sunset Pointe San Diego Air BNB is about $15,000

 

 

 

Rancho Sante Fe Private Resort

    • If crowds near the beach aren’t your thing, head East to the famous Rancho Sante Fe and book this estate. Located around the corner from Bill Gates’ horse ranch … that he bought from Jenny Craig. To call names like that your neighbors, you’ll need to shell out around $25,000 for one week living the high life at this Rancho Sante Fe Air BNB.

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Estate in La Jolla

    • When the La Jolla rec center is busy with basketball instead of pickleball just skip down the coast to this mansion and get your own private rooftop court. This Air BNB estate in La Jolla has a rooftop count, an oceanfront view, and 8 bedrooms. To set up your own rooftop Wimbledon and have a room for each contestant you’ll be forking over $17,000 for a week on the cliffs. 

 

 

 

Oceanfront Luxury Estate in La Jolla

    • Being able to hit the surf moments after finishing your morning espresso has never been so easy at this Oceanfront Luxury Estate in La Jolla. Staying right on the surf in your San Diego Air BNB can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially with the $24,000 per week price tag at this place. 

 

 

 

Encinitas Retreat

    • Encinitas, in North County San Diego, hosts this incredible Encinitas Retreat with endless ocean views day and night. Come catch some rays, waves, and vibes of the relaxing north county for a cool $15,000 per week for this North Country Air BNB.

 

 

 

Rancho Sante Fe Private Family Resort

    • Relaxation, tranquility, and silence run rampant at this gorgeous Rancho Sante Fe Private Family Resort. Situated on a 2-acre property you can fill the seven bedrooms with friends and family to enjoy peace by the pool. The price for a week among the elites of Rancho Sante Fe at this home costs around $15,000. 

 

 

 

San Diego Dream Home

    • Located in Carmel Valley near the Golden Triangle, this mansion has nine bedrooms a massive kitchen and incredible sunset views across the valley towards the Pacific Ocean. Upon checkout, your bill for a week’s stay at this San Diego Air BNB is about $20,000. 

 

 

 

The Grand Del Mar

    • The Grand Del Mar, one of the finest hotels in the world, also has private standalone villas so you can stay on the grounds of the hotel but feel like you have your own house. If want to stay a short walk from where superstar athletes like Lebron James and San Diego native Reggie Bush got married make sure you can afford the $23,000 per week price tag. 

 

 

 

Five Acre Estate in Rancho Sante Fe

    • This Five Acre Private Estate in Rancho Sante Fe boasts your own private tennis court and pool with waterslide for about $25,000 per week. Stroll the grounds day and night for sunset views over the lush acreage in one of the most relaxing hidden estates in all of Southern California. 

 

 

 

Windsor Villa

    • Getting close to the action in Pacific Beach while living enjoying the high life won’t come cheap. Check out the Windsor Villa Pacific Beach Air BNB this summer for about $15,000 per week. This mansion offers multiple levels with expansive ocean views and a pool. 

 

 

 

Sea Glass in La Jolla

    • Sea Glass in La Jolla costs about $18,000 per week and includes your own fire-lit outdoor tv room and panoramic ocean views from your cliffside patio. La Jolla Air BNB’s this nice don’t come available often thanks to the views and access to downtown La Jolla in just a few minutes drive.  

 

The Best Concert Venues in San Diego

San Diego has had a great music scene for decades now; and in recent years, it’s only grown! New venues, including the Observatory North Park, have opened up all around the County, and the burgeoning “alt” scene has taken over.

From live jazz and alt-indie rock to hip-hop and funk, America’s Finest City is ripe with live music of all shapes and sizes! Here are the top concert venues in San Diego County spanning from downtown all the way to fun venues and things to do in North County.

Casbah San Diego

2501 Kettner Blvd., San Diego
The Casbah, arguably San Diego’s most authentic rock club, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. This is a great place to catch big names on their way up the totem pole – legends such as Nirvana, The Arcade Fire, and Rocket from the Crypt have all graced the Casbah stage before hitting it big. The intimate venue (200 person capacity) includes an enclosed smoking patio; a back room with pool tables, pinball and the classic video game Galaga; and a full bar.

The Observatory North Park

2891 University Ave., San Diego
The original home of the North Park Theatre, The Observatory North Park offers a cool, vintage vibe and top acts. Located just behind West Coast Tavern, concertgoers can first enjoy the gentrified North Park neighborhood before rocking to a show. The theatre was built in 1928 and has now been fully renovated to include a new tiered and open floor with room for 1,100 concertgoers.

Belly Up Tavern

143 S. Cedros, Solana Beach
The Belly Up Tavern is a dynamic all-genres club that’s been around for decades, and is a beloved local staple in Solana Beach: one night may be rocking in tribute to Johnny Cash while the next is mellowed out with the singer-songwriter sounds of Donavon Frankenreiter, and it’s definitely the best place to see non-mainstream music acts. Sight lines can be a bit difficult with the odd building layout, but the place definitely has the cool factor down. It also has the flexibility to be the setting for rocking out or providing a more intimate atmosphere depending on who’s performing. Seats aren’t guaranteed at this intimate North County venue, so arriving early is your best bet for a good standing view.

House of Blues

1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
A staple in the music scene in most major cities, the House of Blues San Diego is no different.  The House of Blues boasts one of the coolest stages in town, and a restaurant that actually has great food. While it has the reputation for booking some of the biggest acts to come through Southern California (and the best sound system), parking downtown can be a challenge; we recommend arriving with plenty of time to find a spot. There is paid parking available, if needed. The standing-room-only venue can get pretty packed, but you can usually skip the line to get in if you dine at the attached restaurant.

CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego
Located on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus, this 4,600-seat amphitheater offers great sight lines and good sound in an open-air outdoor space. It is steeply raked, so be careful walking the aisles. Emerging acts on summer tours are often booked here, and is known for hosting many up-and-coming bands that later turn pro. One thing to note: the cheap seats at the top are concrete and not exactly comfortable, so choose your seats wisely! If you hang outside early enough, you’ll be able to listen to the band do sound checks, which is always a fun bonus.

Humphreys by the Bay

2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island
With only 1,400 seats, Humphreys by the Bay hosts fun outdoor performances from May through October, when the weather is ideal for its bayfront location. A San Diego staple since 1982, Humphreys Concerts cover the entire spectrum, from rock and jazz to blues, folk, and even comedy. A few things to note before you go: aisles and seats are tightly packed, and there isn’t much room to move. Bar noise can also be aggravating. We recommend arriving early to secure your seat before the crowds get there. Pro-tip: If you have a boat, you can watch concerts for free from the marina!

Sleep Train Ampitheatre

2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista
This giant amphitheater, recently renamed (formerly Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre and Coors Amphitheatre before that) and located in Chula Vista, was a much-needed concert platform for San Diego, enabling a wide variety of mega acts to come to the cit instead of passing up San Diego for bigger concert arenas up north. This 19,492-seat outdoor venue offers ample lawn seating, and the parking lot is ripe for tailgating; the regular seats boast plenty of legroom, too. While traffic access isn’t the best (and the lot can quickly devolve into a total nightmare once the concert is over), it’s a great place to watch your favorite band on a big stage. Large video screens help your viewing if you happen to be sitting behind a tall person.

Copley Symphony Hall

750 B Street, San Diego
Originally opened in 1929 as the Fox Theatre, Copley Symphony Hall (inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center) was recently refurbished and is equipped with state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting technology as well as a full-sized Robert Morton pneumatic pipe organ, making it the perfect home for the San Diego Symphony. More than 39 front row seats are available, with another 2200 to accommodate classical audiences of all sizes. It’s definitely San Diego’s classiest music venue, though its downtown setting means that parking can be quite tricky; especially on the weekends. We recommend taking an Uber, or arriving early and splurging for a paid lot.

Viejas Arena

5500 Canyon Crest Dr., San Diego (SDSU)
Also located on the SDSU campus, the 12,000-seat Viejas Arena (formerly Cox Arena) is home to the SDSU Aztec Basketball team and also hosts some excellent events: recent musical acts of note include The Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. With the stage usually erected at the rear end of the arena, nearly every seat in the house has a prime view, and the steep seat angles offer good sight lines. Although the facility feels more utilitarian than luxurious (it is a stadium, after all), it’s still a fun place for a large group to check out a show on the weekends. Be careful parking anywhere besides the assigned lot – nearby neighborhoods are known for giving out plenty of tickets.

Pechanga Arena

3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego
After more than 8 years as Valley View Casino Center, the venue changed its name to Pechanga Arena in December of 2018 after a partnership deal with Pechanga Casino in Temecula. With several seating areas, including lower level seating, a Players Lounge, and new entrances, this is a massive arena that hosts big musical acts pretty regularly: Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift have both recently sold out shows.

Music Box

1337 India Street, San Diego
The building once occupied by Anthology has finally been revived into a three-level, state-of-the-art concert venue. The roomy general admission area holds around 800 (compared to the 300 people they could cram in there way back during the Anthology days), opera booths with bottle service, two outdoor patios, bars on two levels, and a private VIP room overlooking the stage. Rest assured, this is not your typical dark, dingy, sticky-floored music venue! From the second floor mural of iconic musicians’ mug shots by a local artist to the massive organ pipes hanging over the downstairs bar, this concert hall is designed to look as good as it sounds.

Top Encinitas Festivals to Check Out This Fall

Encinitas, California is our favorite coastal beach town in North County, San Diego; from historic downtown Encinitas and its walkable neighborhoods to its plethora of great restaurants, bars, shops, and boutiques, there’s no shortage of things to do or activities to try here. One of the things this area is most well known for, however, is its community feel: the town hosts several neighborhood- oriented events throughout the year, including several festivals and outdoor markets. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Encinitas festivals to check out this year!

Cardiff Greek Festival

When: September 8 & 9, 2018; 10am-9pm
Where: 3459 Manchester Ave., Encinitas

The Cardiff Greek Festival has been an Encinitas institution for more than 40 years, and every year locals and visitors alike get together to celebrate all things Greek! The event features Greek food from several local restaurants and eateries, award-winning Greek folk dance performances, cooking demonstrations, wine and beer presentations, a specialty Greek Wine Bar, children’s games and activities, a culinary specialty market, and more. Live music performances happen on four different stages throughout the day, and there are several raffles held on both days of the festival (including a popular car drawing). This is a free family-friendly event. Parking is usually available on the street.

Encinitas Oktoberfest

When: September 30, 2018; 10am-6pm
Where: Mountain Vista Dr. & El Camino Real

Now in its 23rd year, the annual Encinitas Oktoberfest is a popular local event. Authentic German music, the Gemütlichkeit Alpine Dancers, carnival rides, and a street craft faire featuring 200 vendors are all a part of the annual Encinitas Oktoberfest celebration! Every year, the event kicks off at 10am and includes a ceremonial parade at 12pm. This year, there is a “Keepin’ it Local” Craft Beer Garden, serving authentic German food and German beers – and, of course, several local San Diego craft breweries including Ballast Point Brewery, Burgeon Beer Co., The Lost Abbey, and Modern Times Beer.

This fall event is a local favorite, especially among families; although it’s technically an Oktoberfest, there are plenty of children’s activities, rides, and games to make it a family-friendly fall festival.

Moonlight Beach Bash

When: September 29, 2018; 2pm-5pm
Where: Moonlight Beach; 200 B Street, Encinitas

Art, music, dance, food, and fun come together at the yearly Moonlight Beach Bash! Every year, locals and visitors gather to celebrate with toes in the sand and plenty of activities and fun for all, including local food trucks, High Tide Society headlining the main stage, artist displays and hands-on arts projects, and more talent and arts. The Beach Bash brings together all things Encinitas: the visual and performing arts, beach culture, and a pop-up arts district.

Formally, the Beach Bash celebrates the founding of the city of Encinitas in October of 1986. From sand castle competitions and live art to sidewalk chalk demonstrations and local food truck cuisine, it really doesn’t get more ‘Encinitas’ than the Moonlight Beach Bash! For more information, visit www.encinitasca.gov.

Art Rhythm & Wine Festival

When: October 20 & 21, 2018; 11am-7pm
Where: The Forum Carlsbad; 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad

While it isn’t technically Encinitas, the Art Rhythm & Wine Festival in Carlsbad is a huge local event that brings people from all over North County each year. Every third weekend in October, the Forum Carlsbad hosts this two-day open air festival featuring fine art, music, and wine! Celebrating the dynamic art culture in Carlsbad, Encinitas, and surrounding North San Diego County communities such as Del Mar, the festival features hundreds of artists showing their work in mediums such as painting, classical and contemporary sculpture, glass, drawing, photography, metal, mixed media, digital art, printmaking, wood, and fiber. Browse the work of more than 50 artists while you enjoy live entertainment while strolling through The Forum!

Encinitas Dia de los Muertos

When: October 27, 2018; 12pm-4pm
Where: Encinitas Community Center; 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr., Encinitas

This annual celebration brings together local and regional talents to celebrate and appreciate an important cultural celebration in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos and offers free family-friendly fun to North County residents and unites people of all backgrounds. Visitors can experience a variety of art-making workshops, artist demonstrations, student exhibitions, and live Mariachi and other musical performances throughout the festival.

For more information, visit their website at https://encinitasarts.org/.

Encinitas Holiday Street Fair

When: November 18, 2018; 9am-4pm
Where: Along Highway 101 from D to J Streets (from the 7/11 to Hansen’s Surf Shop)
(760) 943-1950

The Holiday Street Fair is located down the center of six blocks of scenic South Coast Highway 101, two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Formerly known as “The Fall Festival,” the Holiday Street Fair has happened every year since 1989, and remains a family-favorite among locals to this day.

This one-day street fest features several children’s rides, two stages of live entertainment, and food and drink from several local restaurants and eateries. The emphasis is on art, handmade crafts, antiques, and ethnic imports, and all of the vendors are local.

Encinitas Holiday Parade

When: December 1, 2018; 5:30pm-7:30pm
Where: S. Coast Hwy 101

Now in its 61st year, Encinitas’ favorite holiday tradition returns each December with more than 100 floats and family fun for everyone. Thousands of people cruise on floats, on foot, in cars, and marching in bands while tens of thousands cheer them along the Parade route along Coast Highway 101. Spectators can claim a good spot to watch the parade as soon as Coast Highway closes at 4pm on the 1st. Followed by a countdown and ceremonial tree lighting, Santa himself will make a brief appearance to kick things off at 5pm at the Lumberyard shops courtyard.

The 2018 parade theme is “Botanical Oasis”. Encinitas has a deep history of flower growing, a terrific climate for growing a wide variety of beautiful and interesting plants, and is home to the world-famous San Diego Botanic Garden. In fact, this year’s Parade Grand Marshal is Julian Duval, who has been President and CEO of the SD Botanic Garden for nearly 30 years! Anyone can participate by registering a float in the parade, and several awards are handed out each year to participants.

Looking Back at La Jolla’s Early Movie Theaters

La Jolla has always had a passion for the movies. Throughout the course of its history, eight different theaters have existed in some form or another in the Village, the last being The Cove and now, The LOT (since 2015). The very first moving pictures shown were at the original La Jolla Cove Bath House in 1912, followed by an outdoor venue that same year.

Each of these La Jolla movie theaters had its own personality, and some are definitely more well known than others – especially among longtime locals! We looked into La Jolla’s rich cinematic history and got the story behind some of the oldest movie houses to be built here.

The first outdoor cinema in La Jolla. Silent films were turned manually by operator Willis Zader, pictured here. 

The first moving pictures shown in La Jolla in 1912 were in the auditorium of the bathhouse at La Jolla Cove by local entrepreneur (and apparent movie enthusiast) Willis Zader. In January of that year, a small group gathered, wide-eyed, to witness their very first motion picture lit up on screen; unfortunately, the Edison machine – which lacked a fire shutter – was quickly deemed a fire hazard. The operation was shut down after just two months.

Nevertheless, Zader persisted in his personal quest to bring motion pictures to the Village, and in the summer of that same year opened up his own outdoor arena of sorts at the corner of Drury Lane and Silverado Street (pictured above). Although that venue also proved short-lived, La Jolla’s long lasting love affair with movies had already begun.

The Orient (1913)

A year after Zader’s outdoor theater shuttered, The Orient opened as a silent film venue at the corner of Wall and Girard. Not much is known about this early theater, but it seated 500 (more than the population of La Jolla at the time) and was purchased by the Stutz Brothers in 1915. They changed its name to the Garden Theater, and it remained so until closing in 1924.

La Jolla Theater (1914)

In 1914, a rival La Jolla Theater opened across the street on Girard Avenue, attempting to catch the attention of the quickly growing movie audience. Sadly, it closed after just a short period of time; very little else is known about it.

1930 Granada Theater showing “Harry Langdon, Norma Shearer in The Divorcee”

The Granada Theater (1925)

By 1924, one of the previously mentioned Stutz brothers, Louis, decided that La Jolla would now be able to support a larger and more up-to-date theater. So, he abruptly tore down the Garden and announced plans for a brand new theater, to be named The Jewel (very apropos!).

By the time of its debut in March of 1925, The Jewel had been renamed (again) to The Granada. Designed by architect William H. Wheeler and built for around $170,000, it was ornamental and lavish in a Spanish-Moorish theme – complete with seats upholstered in the finest Spanish leather and an elaborate pipe organ. A glass crystal bead curtain opened when the movie started, and gold-framed antique mirrors lined the walls of the lobby. It was La Jolla’s finest and most decorative theater to date.

With a whopping capacity of 712, it was heralded in opening ceremonies as La Jolla’s “finest playhouse of any city of her size in the land.” (source). Opening night featured “The Boomerang,” a full 70-minute silent comedy/romance starring Anita Stewart and Bert Lytell, a speech by the San Diego mayor, and a totally packed house. In May of 1929, the Granada showcased its first “talkie,” Mary Pickford in “Coquette,” and continued to flourish with top-of-the-line movies straight form Hollywood until finally closing in 1952.

Cove Theater (1952)

By the time the Granada closed its doors in May 1952, the new Cove Theater had been built on Girard, featuring a more toned-down façade inspired by the colonial architecture of the East Coast, and seating around 650 patrons. Though initially financed by Major John H. Haring as a memorial to his parents (and originally named the Playhouse Theatre), it was purchased by the Granada’s owner, Spencer Wilson, and renamed The Cove after just a few months.

Wilson, much loved by locals, served as the manager/owner until it closed. The Cove was a local favorite, and arguably La Jolla’s most well known theater until it closed in 2003; the longest run of any La Jolla movie theater to date.

Unicorn Theatre (1964)

A unique art house and La Jolla’s first real “indie” movie theater opened in 1964 at the corner of Pearl Street and La Jolla Blvd., in the back of a small bookshop called Mithras Bookstore. Seating only about 200, the small space was dubbed the Unicorn Theatre and quickly became known for showing avant-garde and experimental films from all over the world, as well as selections from the silent era and vintage-era Hollywood. Although small and tucked into a somewhat out-of-the-way location (not to mention in the basement), The Unicorn developed a cult following early on, especially among younger residents.

The Unicorn opened with Adolfas Mekas’ “Hallelujah the Hills” and Francois Truffaut’s “Shoot the Piano Player.” It closed about 20 years later with the same lineup, much to the chagrin of many locals!

Today’s movie theaters consist of the ones we know and love: ArcLight La Jolla, AMC La Jolla 12, La Jolla Playhouse, and of course, The LOT La Jolla (further up is Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas San Diego). They are much larger and fill hundreds of more seats than the theaters back then; but it’s worth remembering these historic gems! For those looking for a bit of present-day nostalgia, the drive-ins are one of the holdouts when it comes to movies – both the Santee Drive-in and the South Bay Drive-in are popular today (though ticket prices are much higher now!).

[sources: sdcommunitynews.com, lajollalight.com] [photos: La Jolla Historical Society]

Farmer’s Insurance Open

Farmer’s Insurance Open

La Jolla is incredibly proud to host the Farmer’s Insurance Open, a tournament showcasing the best in golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course since the 1960s. This PGA tournament is famous for a reason, and we don’t want you to miss out on any part of it. Read on to discover how to experience the event and the beautiful city of La Jolla surrounding it to the fullest!

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The Tournament

This Southern California stop of the PGA “West Coast Swing” tour moved to Torrey Pines in 1968. It’s been a grand event ever since, featuring some of the biggest names in golf. Local San Diegan Phil Mickelson, who has won 3 times, is a big draw. He’s the local boy playing on his turf, so you’ll see a lot of fans and anticipation around him. Then, of course, there’s golf celebrity Tiger Woods. Having won 7 times between 1999 and 2013, he’s been named champion of this tournament more than any other player.

Tournament Activities & Vendors

Now, you may be here for the golf, but there’s so much more you’ll want to experience. Check out some of the top attractions the tournament sets up for attendees:

The SERVPRO Fan Village

This central point of the tournament is high energy and has an adrenaline-filled atmosphere. In it you’ll find:

The Fringe: A high-energy sports bar

Expo: Golf-lovers heaven where guests can try out latest, pro-level equipment

Birdies for Charity Zone: Learn about charities the tournament supports and how to get involved (This is a really big part of the tournament. Did you know? The tournament has , to date, given away totals of over $26 million dollars to charity!)

The Troutman Sanders Grove

A socializing spot that is home to the:

Grey Goose Lounge: For taking in the tournament with a good cocktail in hand

Beringer Wine Bar: For your antioxidant-filled wine needs

Michelob ULTRA Oasis: For sampling new and unique beers

Vantage Point

A spot in the South Course for getting a new angle on the game

Purchase Tickets

Booking tickets is typically easy and, depending on your allotted time and budget, you can book different numbers of days. Unfortunately, spectators will not be on-site for the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open. An official statement was released. The tournament will be televised on both CBS and the Golf Channel.

Parking

Parking is typically a major issue during the Farmers Insurance Open. Below is our usual advice; however, during the 2021 event, this should not be an issue.

How to choose a lot

There are 2 main lots in the city, as well as ones in neighboring cities that have shuttles to bus you over. These include:

Del Mar Race Track ($20) – Great option for North County residents

Sea World ($20) – Ideal for those in Central & South Bay/San Diego

Scripps Lot A ($30) & Scripps Lot B ($25) – It’s important to note that each of these are only available Saturday and Sunday, not Friday.

Lot A: 10820 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037

Lot B: 3506 Cray Court, La Jolla, 92121

Bicycle Lot (Free!): This is a great option. If you live close enough, cruise over by bike. If you don’t, look into driving somewhere within bicycle distance. Take your bike in the car and head over from there.

The address: 10950 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037

Surprises to Expect

The main surprise to people can be the parking. Now that’s behind us, let’s head onto what’s permitted and what isn’t. While fireworks, firearms and other weapons are expectedly banned, you may surprised at other things you cannot bring into the tournament. We want to make sure you don’t bring something that seems quite standard and find out it can’t come in. Make sure to leave the following behind:

Folding Chairs are okay but, the carrying bags they come in? Not allowed

Lawn or Oversized Chairs are not allowed

We know your pups would love to enjoy the green, but they’re not allowed, Only service animals can enter

No regular cameras are allowed starting the first day the tournament begins and no video cameras are allowed at any time, prior or post

Backpacks, purses, camera bags or other carrying bags larger than 6” x 6” x 6” are not allowed (Although you are permitted to bring in bags up to 12” by 12” if they are clear/see-through or diaper bags)

One-gallon clear sized bags are permitted

Phones and tablets may enter, but, understandably, must be on silent mode

Umbrellas may enter, but the sleeves they come in may not

Binoculars have the same policy: They may come in, but they’re case cannot

See the full list of permitted and prohibited items at this PGA tournament link.

After-Hours

Once the tournament has come to a halt for the evening, usually around 5 pm, you still have plenty of time in the evening to experience the beautiful La Jolla seaside. Take a stroll by the beach and take in dinner at one of it’s famous restaurants. Learn more about where you’d like to enjoy dinner at our Food Page.

Accommodations

Make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep to prepare for the next day; you want to be well rested for the tournament! La Jolla has many great hotels nearby offering accommodations that are decadent yet laid-back, just like the city’s characteristic atmosphere itself. Learn about our most highly recommended hotels at our blog: La Jolla’s Top 5 Hotels: Why to Book Now.

In Conclusion

This event brings people back year after year for a reason. Between the great tournament itself and the possibilities of the surrounding city combined, we know you’re going to have a great experience.