The Ultimate Guide to
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is loved by both locals and visitors from around the world. From its breathtaking sunsets and majestic sea lions to seaside restaurants and kids activities, this beautiful setting offers a slice of the elegant yet laid back La Jolla lifestyle for all to enjoy.
This is the ultimate guide to help you explore things to do at La Jolla Cove.
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Adventure & Ocean Activities at La Jolla Cove
The waters surrounding the Cove are part of the 6,000 acre La Jolla Underwater Park, which includes an Ecological Reserve. This means there is ample wildlife, such as seals, barracuda, opaleye, giant sea bass, baitfish and orange garibaldi.
Bring your own snorkeling gear and jump in – or take a tour with an experienced company like Bike & Kayak Tours La Jolla.
Wetsuit or no wetsuit? Depending on the time of year, some swimmers will be just fine without a wetsuit. When you do need one, especially in winter!, they can be rented at nearby shops for $10 – $20.
Where to snorkel in the Cove? There are three main areas for snorkeling. Once in the Cove area (north end of the park), you can see one of the areas to snorkel. Basically, there are 3 areas: in
• The immediate cove area
• South of the cove (near the kelp beds)
• Along the caves to the north.
Snorkel safety: If available, be sure to check with a lifeguard about the safety of the water. It’s good to ask about the currents and visibility in the water – as it is not always really great.
What are you sure to see? The bright orange Garibaldis and sea kelp.
Take ocean adventures to the next level with guided tours or private classes from experienced locals in activities like:
There are guided scuba diving tours, even night dives, with local professionals.
• Go kelp forest diving in the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve with Scuba San Diego.
• Visit their website to see an in-depth list of sea life you may see, such as green turtles, sevengill shark and dolphins, and the terrain you’ll be exploring. Terrain includes elements like sea kelp, sandy flats and canyon walls.
Open Water Swimming
Buoys are strategically placed to act as distance markers. This enables swimmers to know how far they are from the shore.
That being said, it is important to understand that this is the open ocean. For an abundance of tips and information, contact the local La Jolla Cove Swim Club.
Good news safety wise: Lifeguards are routinely stationed at the Cove. They are a great resource to ask questions about currents, temperature, marine life, terrain, ocean elements (such as rocks, kelp, sea grass) and any other questions regarding the ocean you might have.
Explore La Jolla Cove by kayak. Rent kayaks in La Jolla or enjoy a guided tour of the Seven Caves and the La Jolla Underwater Park with a tour company like:
These kayaking tours are a priceless way to understand the beauty of the La Jolla ecosystem. The guides add extra fun when they explain the types of treasures found in the caves or how to swim with leopard sharks.
Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP)
Enjoy the tranquility as you smoothly cruises along the top of the water – which is also a fantastic arm workout! There are spots around town to rent stand up paddleboards.
Important to Note: If you have never done stand up paddleboarding before, don’t worry – it’s a great water activity for beginners.
Bike tours are an amazing way to tour La Jolla. La Jolla Bike and Kayak offers a few options depending on your timing. They will guide you to the top of La Jolla to experience the world class view from Mt Soledad, tour you down into Pacific Beach and back through La Jolla to the Cove. Or, choose the shorter route.
Follow the bike paths that weave near La Jolla Cove solo.
Leave the directions to an experienced local; take a La Jolla Kayak guided bike tour.
Best La Jolla Cove Restaurants
In between your seaside adventures, enjoy high quality cuisine at the best of La Jolla Cove restaurants and cafes.
The Brockton Villa, originally one of La Jolla’s very first beach cottages, serves seasonal cuisine at breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the year. It offers a variety of options, including healthy choices and vegetarian options. The most famous offering is the Coast Toast, which is no normal French Toast; it is an award-winning souffle-like dish with a hint of orange that is incredibly decadent. Over 300,000 sold!
Crab. Lobster. Filet mignon. New York Steak. Savor such fantastic seafood and more with an ocean view at this highly acclaimed restaurant. And, of course, choose from a wide selection of wine and spirits to accompany your meal.
Want the same food, faster service? Get it express as a to go option
From this lively, family friendly restaurant – get views of La Jolla Cove while nestled up in downtown La Jolla Village.
Cody’s La Jolla
Cody’s La Jolla overlooks the beautiful Scripps Park and La Jolla Cove. Besides beautiful surroundings, expect aesthetically pleasing food. Even something as simple as the Veggie Hash or Chicken & Biscuit is presented in a beautifully hand-crafted fashion. After your meal, stroll to the beach! (Oh, and it is very dog friendly.)
Best Activities to do with Kids
La Jolla Cove is the perfect spot for family fun – entertaining both kids and adults alike.
Why Visit Children’s Pool:
This arena was created with children and their safety in mind. Ellen Browning Scripps donated funds to form the seawall that creates a open ocean pool with serene waters. Use this area to:
• Build sand castles
• Sun bathe
• And more!
Though initially intended for children, as locals well know, it has also become a favorite place for seals. At Children’s Pool, you’ll find helpful amenities like on site:
Looking for a photo opp? Walking out onto the seawall is a great way to get a La Jolla ocean view!
Best La Jolla Cove Hotels
Choose the hotel that will match your ideal experience. Family friendly. Romantic. Staycation.
La Jolla Cove Suites
These all-you-need suites are great for families and those seeking a place with more home-like amenities. You can fuel up for the day in their breakfast room or rooftop, but most suites also have a kitchen for prepping your own meals and snacks. It’s nestled near the downtown village, perfect for shopping and exploring, and just above La Jolla Cove – ideal for activities such as swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling in La Jolla.
La Valencia is a luxury resort in La Jolla, it hosts premier event space in San Diego. With both indoor and outdoor space available, have the dream oceanside wedding you’ll never forget. It’s also easy to have a great corporate retreat, business conference or corporate meeting. With fantastic views, great cuisine and oceanside atmosphere, you can expect a laid-back yet elegant experience.
Best Walks to Go On
The Coastal Walk
Start at La Jolla Cove. Then walk to the 7 Sea Caves Lookout for a great view. This walk takes you on a winding adventure Northeast – past wildlife that includes seals and sea lions. On the way, stop by the Cave Store. For a small fee, descend the steps of the man made tunnel for an fun, underground experience. We’ll allow you to discover, solo, what’s at the end!
Historical Society Walking Tour
See La Jolla Cove Landmarks such as the historic beach cottages, mid-century architecture, and more! Plan your self-guided tour today.
The Murals of La Jolla
Artists from across San Diego were commissioned to create breathtaking murals around the city – creating hidden gems that contribute beauty and energy to the neighborhood. We beckon art lovers to come and take a walk from painting to painting.
Parking at La Jolla Cove
Here are our tips on Cove Parking.
Find street parking. However, realize some spots are only available for 2 hours. Check all parking signs carefully to avoid a ticket.
Remember: It gets very busy on most weekends. So if you want to find street parking, the earlier you come – the better.
Park in one of the paid parking garages or lots. For example, there is a parking structure beneath the Crab Catcher restaurant.
Nearby Amenities & Shopping
Downtown La Jolla Village provides a wide variety of shops and cultural venues, like art galleries, museums. Get the full scoop on the downtown Village scene on our:
Monthly Events & Happenings
Craft at the Cove
Craft at the Cove with George’s Cove Craft Cocktails series (monthly at George’s)
Each month, George’s has a guest mixologist that gets creative with a featured spirit. Book reservations in their main dining room or on their Ocean Terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail at sunset.
La Jolla Open Aire Market
Every Sunday, get fresh produce, local cuisine, fresh flowers and more at the weekly farmer’s market in from 9 am to 2 pm.
Where: La Jolla Elementary (one of the best farmers markets and profit goes to the school).
Best Seasonal Events in La Jolla
There are many events in La Jolla throughout the year, so any season you visit – there’s something happening.
Things to Do in Summer
La Jolla Summer Concerts by the Sea
These free outdoor concerts happen each summer at Ellen Scripps Park, which is just above Children’s Pool. They are on Sunday afternoon throughout summer; expect to hear a wide variety of music genres!
4th of July Fireworks
Come to the Cove each July 4th to experience the beautiful Independence Day La Jolla fireworks.
Taste at the Cove
This 5 Star Event features food from the best of San Diego restaurants, plus two locals to commemorate – one professional athlete and one professional person in the medical field.
Shore Thing at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla
During summer, come to the museum every Thursday from 5 – 8 pm for free admission to the museum, light bites and a cash bar.
Things to Do in Fall
Pillage the Village
At Halloween time, local stores in the downtown La Jolla Village give out treats to kids in the annual event – Pillage the Village.
La Jolla Arts & Wine Festival
This annual festival features over 150 artists from Southern California, in addition to other activities fun for the whole family. Expect a silent auction, musical entertainment, a wine & beer garden and things to do for kids.
Things to Do in Winter
La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival
Celebrate the holiday season by coming out to the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival. It is typically held in early December each year.
Things to Do in Spring
Spring time hosts some of La Jolla’s most famous events; ones people travel from near and far to witness.
La Jolla Concours D’Elegance
This event is by car lovers, for car lovers. Sponsors from all around join forces with the La Jolla Historical Society to host this event that has origins tracing back to the 17th century. However, there is far more to do than simply look at cars at La Jolla’s Concours d’Elegance. From cocktail receptions to decadent lunches, there’s something different happening each day.
La Jolla Half Marathon
This breathtaking point-to-point race is considered one of the best in America. It starts up north at the picturesque Del Mar Fairgrounds and winds down – along the coast – through La Jolla. It ends at the beautiful La Jolla Cove.