The Ultimate Guide to
La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores, a northern La Jolla neighborhood, boasts a beautiful beach, a fantastic park for kids, ample ocean activities and great restaurants.

Due to its flourishing aquatic life and proximity to Scripps Institute of Oceanography, it is a very popular launch point for scuba divers, kayakers, stand up paddle boarders and snorkelers.

This ocean location also makes for sensational visits to the beach, seafood and ocean views.

To help you navigate the area, here’s an ultimate guide to La Jolla Shores.

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Best Activities to Do with Kids

Families come to La Jolla Shores for a variety of fun, kid-friendly activities.

Play ground at Kellogg Park at La Jolla Shores

Visit Kellogg Park

This beachside park is the large, grassy area with a fantastic playground and on-site bathrooms. It is near the beach, which also has a lifeguard station.

Parking: Find large parking lots right by the park. Most of La Jolla’s beaches do not have big parking lots, so this is a big perk!

Click here for more information about Kellogg Park

Two women posing in their kayaking gear
Stand up paddle borders in La Jolla Shores

Enjoy water sports and ocean activities at La Jolla Shores beach

Take ocean adventures to the next level with guided tours or private classes from experienced locals in activities like:

  • Kayaking

  • Surfing

Learn how to surf or enhance your surfing skills at Surf Diva or Menehune Surf.
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding

Take a tour or simply rent a stand up paddle board at spots like Surf Diva, Everyday California or Bike & Kayak.
  • Snorkeling

If you and/or the kids already know how to snorkel, rent equipment from nearby spots like Everyday California.

 

 

  • Scuba Diving

     

There are guided scuba diving tours, even night dives, with local professionals.
– Explore the canyon of La Jolla Shores with Scuba San Diego.

 

– Join SD Expeditions for a morning scuba dive tour at La Jolla Shores (that also takes you to the beautiful La Jolla Cove kelp forests.)

 

– Get hands-on ocean learning with a Bike & Kayak snorkeling tour.
Pirates of the Caribbean sand castle in La Jolla Shores
Friends playing beach volleyball in La Jolla Shores

Enjoy the Sand

  • Make a sand castle
  • Beach Sports
Play beach sports like soccer or volleyball.

 

  • Try one of the new trendy beach games, many of which are available at the local surf shops in downtown La Jolla Shores. Games such as:

 

– Smash Ball

 

– Corn Hole

 

– Spike Ball

 

– Kan Jam

 

– Ladder ball

 

Exterior of Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla Shores
Whale sculpture outside the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla Shores
Green Flash Concert Series in La Jolla Shores

Visit Birch Aquarium.

  • The Scripps Institute of Oceanography
The Scripps Institute of Oceanography, a world-famous research facility and graduate school facility for University of California San Diego (UCSD), is nestled at the north end of La Jolla Shores. Birch Aquarium is a fun, family-friendly venue for exploring the research and ocean discoveries of these scientists.

 

  • Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium offers:

 

– Great programs and exhibits for both kids and adults.

 

– Live feedings and shows to further aquatic learning and understanding.

 

– Fantastic views of the Pacific.

 

– Tours and behind the scene activities which can include everything from self-guided tours to petting live sea creatures, like juvenile sharks.

 

  • In summer, fall and spring:

 

– In summer, Birch Aquarium hosts its Green Flash Concert Series, which is hosted on the tide pool plaza on designated dates throughout the season. Tickets include a great evening of music, fantastic ocean views, delicious food and, of course, refreshing drinks.

 

– In both summer and fall, from June to October, take part in a full moon pier walk. The iconic Scripps Pier, a staple at La Jolla Shores beach, is typically off limits. However, if you sign up for a moonlit walk with the Birch Aquarium, you can stroll the famous structure.

 

– In spring, make sure to check out EGGstravaganza at Birch, which lets you learn about animal eggs in this season of new life.

 

Birch Aquarium hosts a variety of other activities and programs, such as:

 

– Kids’ camps

 

– School programs

 

– Outdoor adventures, such as snorkeling & tide pooling

 

La Jolla Shores Hotels & Accommodations

Find accommodations by the beach with the best beach amenities including ones great for families with kids.

Entrance to the Beach and Tennis Club in La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

At this family friendly hotel, enjoy a private beach, BBQ grills, fireplaces and, of course, direct beach access. La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club offers an outdoor pool, tennis courts and more, providing endless activities to relax or be as active as desired at this exclusive San Diego hotel. You will see many locals who are members or members guests. For members, the facility offers endless benefits for family, entertaining (i.e. dinner parties on the beach), holiday parties and so much more.

Entrance to La Jolla Shores Hotel in La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores Hotel

La Jolla Shores Hotel is great for a romantic getaway weekend or a family vacation in La Jolla. In addition to an outdoor pool, tennis courts and other sports amenities, many of the rooms have kitchenettes for whipping up meals and snacks – perfect for ensuring easy San Diego vacation activities! This hotel also hosts The Shores Restaurant - a high end dining experience with incredible cuisine, top notch drinks and an unbeatable ocean view. It’s at the first floor, level with the ocean, so you don’t even have to leave the beach atmosphere. Kids can be swimming or on the beach while parents are enjoying the view/food. This hotel has a great family friendly comfortable atmosphere.

Best La Jolla Shores Restaurants for Dinner (Both Fine Dining & Casual)

Enjoy high quality cuisine and beverages at these restaurants in La Jolla Shores.

Delicious tacos on white plate

The Shores Restaurant

You’ll find great bites, fantastic drinks and a wonderful, ocean view at The Shores Restaurant, which is directly on the sand.

We highly recommend you visit at happy hour. Sit at the bar, table or cozy booth while enjoying one of the Shores signature cocktails or enticing appetizers. Some of our top recommendations include the Ahi Poke or the Shores Nachos if you are really hungry. Plus, the atmosphere.

Exterior of Piatti Restaurant and Bar in La Jolla Shores

Piatti

Create the perfect course-by-course meal at this local favorite. Piatti’s has a delectable menu and a community atmosphere, which can be seen in the many patrons and staff that greet each other happily. This restaurant also offers a gluten free menu and an impressive wine list.

If you have a dog, there’s a reason Piatti made our list of Best Dog Friendly Restaurants in La Jolla.

Dining room at the Marine Room in La Jolla Shores

The Marine Room

Seafood lovers will want to visit The Marine Room, offering an elegant dining experience with a variety of local catches, lobster and variety of other seafood & non-seafood options. It’s nestled right on the surf - providing an unbeatable ocean view.

Reserve a table at high tide, when the waves crash dramatically against the windows, for a very special visit - such as an anniversary, birthday or graduation. It’s an experience that will have everyone in awe!

Dining area at Cusp Dining and Drinks Restaurant in La Jolla Shores

Cusp Dining & Drinks

This breathtaking restaurant offers deluxe meals that are ideal for a romantic evening or celebration. Chefs prepare seasonal dishes, offer wine pairings and serve decadent desserts.

Exterior of Shorehouse Kitchen in La Jolla Shores

Shorehouse Kitchen

Locals and visitors alike enjoy the high quality cuisine that’s served in a laid-back environment. (Perfect after a long day out in the sun and beach activities.). Veggie lovers? The chef makes some of the best salads in town.

Exterior of Osteria Romantica in La Jolla Shores

Osteria Romantica

Osteria is considered one of the best local authentic Italian restaurants. Many of the servers and staff are from Italy themselves. Be prepared to feel like you are on a European vacation.

If you’re planning a date night, this Italian restaurant is perfect for a romantic evening.

 

Exterior Outdoor Patio at Barbarella Restaurant in La Jolla Shores

Barbarella

Savor a variety of classic entrees such as fresh pizza, decadent pasta and prime steak. You’ll experience delicious food in a relaxed setting, ideal after an active beach day.

Halloween alert: If in town during Halloween, Barbarella transforms into a an unrecognizable Halloween wonderland! It’s an annual tradition for the restaurant and many families to come.

 

Best Dinner Restaurants for Kids in La Jolla shores

Get great food at a restaurant kids will love too. We recommend:

Interior of Galaxy Taco Bar in La Jolla

Galaxy Taco

This fun Mexican restaurant in La Jolla shores serves entrees that are bold and flavor-packed enough for adults, like the Grilled Octopus Tostada, and a great kids menu that makes it an ideal spot for the whole family. Your palette - and your kids - will be so satisfied with any choice.

Exterior of Sushi Mori in La Jolla

Sushi Mori

Adults get to explore a variety of sushi rolls, sashimi and more. There is an extensive menu of high quality cuisine, such as the popular Osaka roll. In the meantime, children can enjoy kids menu favorites like chicken teriyaki.

Arrive Early! Families tend to fill the restaurant at an early dinner hour.

Dessert Alert - Get the Mochi Ice Cream on a stick for the kids. It’s a fun treat that, let’s be honest, adults would enjoy too.

Font of Farmer & The Seahorse in La Jolla

Farmer & The Seahorse

A short drive up from the Shores, off of Torrey Pines Drive, Farmer and The Seahorse is a wonderful restaurant for both adults and kids. The food is fantastic, and there is a large, open, grassy area for kids to run around in. The restaurant provides big beach balls and games to keep the kids occupied while the adults relax and chat.

It’ the perfect location to celebrate any special day, especially Mother’s Day! It is very easy to stay for the entire morning. The food and cocktails are wonderful. The atmosphere has been fostered by the owners and staff to become very comfortable and inviting.

Like Bloody Marys? Order the one. Then, make sure to ask for refills.

For those that love capturing photography, the photo opps at this restaurant are endless. This is one more reason it is great for special occasions when the family is gathered!

Outdoor area at Cliffhanger Cafe at the Gliderport in La Jolla Shores

Cliffhanger Cafe at the Gliderport

If you are willing to drive a short ways, head over to the Gliderport up off of Torrey Pines, a world famous place for hang gliding and paragliding. Have fun watching the hang gliders run off the cliff and let the wind sweep them up into mid-air.

Cliffhanger Cafe is a little lunch spot to grab a sandwich, soup or drink. You can watch the action on the patio or take a blanket to sit and enjoy the view on the grass.

Ultimate Happy Hour in La Jolla Shores

Find great deals on light bites and sips at these La Jolla Shores happy hours:

Interior dining at The Shores Restaurant in La Jolla Shores

The Shores Restaurant

Check out a full review of a fantastic happy hour at The Shores Restaurant.

  • Top Traits & Perks:

 

- Fantastic, ocean level view

 

- Reasonable prices

 

- Laid back, casual attire (although dressier attire acceptable as well)

 

Wine selection at Osteria Romantica Restaurant in La Jolla

Osteria Romantica

Explore this fantastic Italian restaurant's happy hour menu from 3:30 - 6 pm.

  • Top Traits & Perks:
- Excellent wine list

 

- An authentic Italian experience

 

- Laid back, casual attire

 

- Outside dining option. Street parking

 

Red and white wine from the Marine Room in La Jolla Shores

The Marine Room

Experience a high end, luxury happy hour at this fine dining location from Sunday through Friday, from 4 - 6 pm.

  • Top Traits & Perks:

 

- A view of the water

 

- An elegant, fine dining experience

 

- Valet parking for the restaurant

 

Breakfast & Brunch at La Jolla Shores

Enjoy great La Jolla Shores breakfast & brunch at restaurants like:

Outdoor patio at Caroline's La Jolla in La Jolla Shores

Caroline's Seaside Cafe

Located by the pier & UCSD, this venue is best known for its patio and open, Pacific Ocean views. It’s fun to watch the surfers run by and, of course, extra beautiful at sunset.

Eggs and potato breakfast from Shorehouse Kitchen in La Jolla

Shorehouse Kitchen

This restaurant is nestled right near La Jolla Shores Beach, so it’s perfect for those headed to the beach after. With a cozy cottage atmosphere, it has the feeling of being at a friend’s house.

Check out their breakfast menu, served until 2:30 pm. It’s a menu that also includes many healthy options.

Outdoor patio at Barbarella Restaurant in La Jolla Shores

Barbarella

With an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, you can look forward to an organic meal with top notch ingredients at Barbarella. Explore their traditional style breakfast menu & lunch Barbarella menus here.

Breakfast from Cusp Dining and Drinks in La Jolla Shores

Cusp Dining & Drinks

Add a little glam to your morning with the decadent, high quality breakfast and brunch cuisine in Cusp’s elegant setting.

Fruit parfaits from the Marine Room in La Jolla Shores

High Tide Breakfast at The Marine Room

Have a truly exquisite breakfast experience at The Marine Room’s high tide breakfast. Hosted on specific dates each month, come to revel in luxurious cuisine and the ocean atmosphere; the waves crashing onto the windows fosters a surreal underwater experience for diners.

Ideal for special occasions, such as celebrations, having family in town or enjoying a last meal in town before flying or driving out.

 

 

Where to Find the Best Food for Picnics at La Jolla Shores

Grab a lunch that’ll be great for the beach:

Exterior of the Cheese Shop & Sandwhiches in La Jolla Shores

The Cheese Shop

This local landmark makes huge, delicious sandwiches that are considered some of the best sandwiches in town. They are perfect for taking to the beach with some fruit and their famous oatmeal cookies. The Cheese Shop also has a fun selection of hard to find and European candies.

(They have cheese from around the globe, cheese so good that it made our 5 Must Tries for Cheese Lovers in La Jolla.)

Exterior of Cooper's Market & Cafe in La Jolla Shores

Cooper's Market & Café

Newcomer to the La Jolla Shores scene, Cooper's Market & Cafe is a great little spot for picking up healthy grab-and-go items. They have a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, wraps, bowls, and more; they even have a Doggie Menu for your four-legged companion. The cafe proudly serves James Coffee Company roasts. This spot is both a market and a cafe, so you can sit and eat on the patio or take your food to-go. 

Exterior of Brick & Bell Cafe in La Jolla Shores

Brick & Bell

The Brick & Bell in La Jolla Shores offers pastries, salads and sandwiches that are easy to take to go for a good picnic. To get a good sized lunch for kids, you can request a half-sandwich order.

Baked good lovers, Brick & Bell is known for their cookies (especially the chocolate chip) and scones. They are so good that it really doesn’t matter what time of day you are visiting, you have to get at least one….or, let’s be real, maybe two.

This is the second location to the Brick & Bell in downtown La Jolla Village. Another great spot to hit up when in downtown La Jolla.

Exterior of Jeff's Burgers in La Jolla Shores

Jeff's Burgers

This burger and sandwich joint is perfect for a quick and easy meal that is also affordable. Jeff’s Burgers has a walk up and order counter, which offers great lunch staples like hamburgers and sandwiches. Simple order, grab and head to the beach or park.

Exterior of House of Pizza in La Jolla Shores

House of Pizza

For a quick take out option, they offer custom pizzas, specialty pizzas and calzones. Easy and makes everyone happy!

Exterior of Yogurt Your Way in La Jolla Shores

Yogurt Your Way

Self serve frozen yogurt...how great is that? The kids will love jumping into this yummy treat.

Front of Neighborsavor Food Market in La Jolla

Neighbor-Saver Food Market (Convenience)

For snack items, the Neighbor-Saver Food Markets offers drinks, snacks and some common household basics.

Best La Jolla Shores Walk

Scenic image of Torrey Pines beach

The Ultimate Beach Walk - To Torrey Pines and Back

Start at La Jolla Shores, adjacent to the playground and parking lot area. Then, on the sand, turn North (away from the downtown La Jolla Village and La Jolla Cove) and start working. You can walk up to 5 miles in La Jolla in that direction. For 3 miles of this, the cliffs of La Jolla will tune out the busy outside world and let you focus on the expansive ocean and sands. When you reach the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla, you’ll know by the crowds and the trails coming to and from the beach. (That is all a part of the Torrey Pines State Reserve.) You can take paths from the beach up to the cliffs at this reserve - a great way to get a hike in. (You will have to walk along Torrey Pines Road, but it’s for only about 2 blocks.)

Scenic view at La Jolla Shores

The Ultimate View Walk - To La Jolla Village and Back

Get fantastic views of La Jolla by taking the walk from La Jolla Shores, up and North, to the Village and back.

Parking at La Jolla Shores

Parking lot at La Jolla Shores

Here's where to park at La Jolla Shores:

There is a generous amount of space in the parking lots, which stretch out parallel to the beach and Kellogg Park.

There is also street parking on the road parallel to the lots and in the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The summer is busy so prepared accordingly!

Seasonal Events

Ice cream dessert from the Shores Restaurant in La Jolla Shores

In Spring

  • For Mother's Day

 

Look forward to specially prepared menus at La Jolla Shores restaurants like The Marine Room and The Shores Restaurant.
Leopard Shark in La Jolla

In Summer

  • For Father's Day
Get excited for the perfect meal for Dad at the unique menus The Marine Room and The Shores Restaurant craft each year.
  • Grunion Run

 

Come and catch the grunions, the small fish that come to shore and spawn during the full and new moon nights between June and October!

 

  • See Leopard Sharks

 

During the summer, when the water is warm, the leopard sharks gather at the beach area in front of the Marine Room where the waves are gentle. Take a kayak over to the area, then simply dip into the water to swim with them. (They don’t generally like noise, so snorkeling is the best way to view them.)

 

- You can visit any of the local shops to rent gear, such as at: LJ Kayak & Everyday California

 

Barbarella Restaurant decorated for Halloween

In Fall

 

This family friendly event, which features face painting, games, a raffle and more, is hosted by the La Jolla Shores Merchants Association.

 

  • The Shores Village

 

The Shores Village comes alive during the holidays. Barbarellas is a “can’t be missed” venue for Halloween decorations. Be sure to make reservations because it fills up through the month of October.

 

  • Grunion Run

 

Come and catch the grunions, the small fish that come to shore and spawn during the full and new moon nights between June and October!

 

- The Birch Aquarium hosts events for the Run. Be sure to check the schedule.

 

Excited swimmers during the Polar Bear Plunge in La Jolla Shores

In Winter

  • New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge

 

Each year, on New Year’s Day, the La Jolla Cove Swim Club does an icy plunge in the morning at La Jolla Shores. Stay up-to-date on this and other La Jolla Cove Swim Club events here

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