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.
(Short on time? We’ve got you covered with this one-day itinerary of the Shores.)
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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!
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:
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Enjoy the Sand
- Make a sand castle
- Beach Sports
- 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:
- Build a Bonfire and Grill some Grub
- Bring Your Dog
- Or, Get Ready to Relax
Visit Birch Aquarium.
- The Scripps Institute of Oceanography
- Birch Aquarium
- In summer, fall and spring:
- To help plan your trip, here’s a full Itinerary for a Day at Birch Aquarium.
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.
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.
Hotel La Jolla
Recently acquired by Hilton as part its Curio collection, Hotel La Jolla is different from anything else you'll experience in the area. With its chic design, it feels like a way station for high-powered executives, but the friendly, attentive staff will make your stay as personal as if you had just checked into a cozy boutique hotel. It's conveniently located and just blocks from the Shores. Their restaurant, Cusp, sits on the eleventh and has a view that can't be beat. Make sure not to miss their All-Night Monday Happy Hour--the Moscow Mule is a favorite.
Best La Jolla Shores Restaurants for Dinner (Both Fine Dining & Casual)
Enjoy high quality cuisine and beverages at these restaurants in La Jolla Shores.
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.
- Find a full review at The Shores Restaurant happy hour.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 (Got hit by the rush? That's okay! Here are 4 more sushi restaurants you can try out).
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.
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!
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:
Breakfast & Brunch at La Jolla Shores
Enjoy great La Jolla Shores breakfast & brunch at restaurants like:
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.
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.
Cusp Dining & Drinks
Add a little glam to your morning with the decadent, high quality breakfast and brunch cuisine in Cusp’s elegant setting.
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:
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.)
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.
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.
Need a caffeine hit, or just craving a cappuccino? This cafe is one of the top coffee shops in La Jolla, so make sure to grab a cup.
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.
House of Pizza
For a quick take out option, they offer custom pizzas, specialty pizzas and calzones. Easy and makes everyone happy!
Self serve frozen yogurt...how great is that? The kids will love jumping into this yummy treat.
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
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.)
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
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!
Some restaurants have openings or validate for customers.
- For Mother's Day
- For Father's Day
- Grunion Run
- See Leopard Sharks
- The Shores Village
- Grunion Run
- New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge
- Whale Watching