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 should you snorkel in the Cove? Once you are in the Cove area (north end of the park), you’ll see that there are three main spots ideal for snorkeling:
• The immediate Cove area (the rocky section just to the left)
• 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 great – especially in this area. Find out more about what to know before you explore underwater at the cove.
You’ll most likely see plenty of plant and animal life in the water – look for bright orange Garibaldi, sea kelp, other types of fish, and even sea turtles. You can even swim with Leopard Sharks. Don’t worry, they’re as safe as they are fascinating.
Take ocean adventures to the next level with guided tours or private classes from experienced locals. Scuba Diving in Jolla Cove is a great opportunity for those of any experience level. There are several activities to choose from:
• 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, seven-gill shark and dolphins, and the terrain you’ll be exploring. Terrain includes elements like sea kelp, sandy flats and canyon walls. Full scuba gear rental is included in the price, so all you have to do is show up in your swimsuit (or wetsuit).
Open Water Swimming
Buoys are strategically placed to act as distance markers. This enables swimmers to know how far they are from the shore. There is a buoy at ¼ mile out and another one ½ mile out at the Cove, though most swimmers stay within a ½ mile of shore. Generally, the less experienced swimmer you are, the closer you should stay to shore.
It’s always important to remember that this is the open ocean. For more tips and information, contact the local La Jolla Cove Swim Club.
Additionally, lifeguards are routinely stationed at the Cove. They are a great resource for any questions you might have about currents, temperature, marine life, terrain, or ocean elements (such as rocks, kelp, or sea grass).
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 tour companies 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 – and conveniently, it is also a fantastic arm workout! There are a few different spots around town to rent stand-up paddle boards, like Bike & Kayak.
If you have never done stand up paddle boarding before, don’t worry – it’s a great water activity for beginners and easy to learn.
Bike tours are an amazing way to tour La Jolla. La Jolla Bike and Kayak offers a few different options, depending on how long you want to be on the bike. Their most popular tour will guide you to the top of La Jolla to experience the world class view from Mt Soledad, take you down into Pacific Beach, and back through La Jolla to the Cove.
Or, you can choose the shorter route, which cruises through the best of La Jolla (you’ll see all of downtown, the Children’s Pool, and the Cave Store).
A La Jolla Kayak guided bike tour is also an option; their tour starts atop Mt. Soledad and cruises through four different beaches before ending at the Cove.
If you’re a more experienced biker, head out solo. Follow the bike paths that weave in and around La Jolla Cove on your own; one of our favorites is the Fay Avenue Bike Path, which starts at Fay Ave. and Nautilus Streets and ends at La Jolla Hermosa Ave.
For those looking for more unique forms of transportation, Golf Carts and Segways are also great ways to get around.
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. They’ve sold over 300,000!
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 to-go from the express version of their main restaurant, Market Cafe! The menu includes sandwiches, burgers, and other easy options to grab on-the-go.
Get incredible views of La Jolla Cove while nestled up in downtown La Jolla Village from this lively, family friendly Mexican restaurant! Their menu offers all the classic favorites, including enchiladas, carne asada plates, and burritos, in a super-casual setting.
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. And feel free to bring your four-legged friend, as it is super dog-friendly! After your meal, take a quick stroll to the beach – it’s just a few minutes’ walk.
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. Local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps donated funds in 1931 to form the seawall you see today, which helps creates an open ocean pool with safe, 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. La Jolla Cove has become so famous for the seal population that it’s even gained media attention. Oftentimes the entire beach will be filled with them; especially during pupping season. Even if you don’t swim, the Children’s Pool offers other helpful amenities on-site:
Looking for a photo op? Walking out onto the seawall is a great way to get an up-close-and-personal La Jolla ocean view!
Explore The Tide Pools
While snorkeling and scuba diving are great ways to observe La Jolla’s aquatic biodiversity, it’s not usually a viable option with young children. But don’t worry, you don’t have to get wet to see all that the cove has to offer! With a bounty of tide pools, kids will have a blast scoping out the marine life. This is especially great during winter, when low tide makes the areas even more accessible. Just make sure to bring some slip-resistant shoes.
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 that also hosts premier events in San Diego. hosts premier event space in San Diego. With both indoor and outdoor space available, this is the perfect spot to have a dream oceanside wedding you’ll never forget. It’s also easy to have a great corporate retreat, business conference or corporate meeting here. With fantastic views, great cuisine and oceanside atmosphere, you can expect a laid-back yet truly elegant experience.
Best Walks to Go On
The Coastal Walk
Start at La Jolla Cove then walk to the Seven Sea Caves Lookout for a great view. This walk takes you on a winding adventure Northeast and past local wildlife, including seals and sea lions. On the way, stop by the Cave Store – for a small fee, descend the steps of the manmade tunnel for a fun adventure. What you’ll see at the bottom makes for a truly one-of-a-kind experience!
Historical Society Walking Tour
See all of the major La Jolla Cove landmarks – the historic beach cottages, mid-century architecture, and more! Plan your self-guided tour today.
Parking at La Jolla Cove
Here are our tips on Cove Parking.
The Cove can get pretty busy, especially during the summer. Here are our tips for parking at La Jolla Cove:
First, try to find street parking; but remember that certain spots are only available for 2 hours. Check all parking signs carefully to avoid a ticket.
Also remember that it gets very busy on most weekends! If you want to find street parking, try to arrive early on in the day to avoid the most crowds.
If you can’t find any street parking, try your luck in one of the paid parking garages or lots. There is a parking structure beneath the Crab Catcher restaurant and another one at the corner of Herschel and Prospect Street. There are also several restaurants and shops that offer free parking for patrons.
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 School, at the corner of Girard Avenue & Genter St. 100% of proceeds from the market benefit 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
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 that are commemorated each year – one professional athlete and one person from the medical field.
Things to Do in Fall
Pillage the Village
Every Halloween, local stores in downtown La Jolla Village give out treats to kids during the annual 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 -including a fun Family Art Center that usually features arts and crafts, science activities, and guest speakers (recent years featured children’s book authors and actors).
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 in La Jolla brings (even more) beautiful weather and plenty outdoor activities for visitors to choose from.
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 Torrey Pines Beach and eventually reaching La Jolla. The race finishes at beautiful La Jolla Cove.