La Jolla is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world and for good reason. Whether you are staying for weeks, a short weekend, or even just a day, there are various fun and exciting La Jolla attractions you'll ever see.
Located within the city of San Diego, La Jolla is known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, art and museums, the library association, hang gliding, Mexican food, outdoor activities, sea life, and culture.
Thousands of tourists visit La Jolla every year to enjoy a variety of adventures in and around the California, San Diego area. If you are one of them, make sure to have a La Jolla itinerary prepared well.
It will help you appreciate and understand a variety of locations and attractions, including La Jolla shores and beaches.
The list of things to do in La Jolla CA is never-ending and you might as well never run out of things to do given that it has so many beaches, museums, parks, sea caves, and other cultural attractions to explore.
But if you are visiting La Jolla for a limited time and want to make the most out of it, here are a few things you should consider adding to the ‘La Jolla - things to do’ list.
La Jolla Beaches - Take a Stroll by the Ocean
La Jolla being a coastal town is home to many beautiful beaches. Be it just strolling by the shoreline, taking a romantic walk, or engaging in a wide variety of sports activities, the beaches in La Jolla are spectacular.
La Jolla offers so much to tourists in terms of beaches; you'll be able to find a sandy beach, as well as many others. Every La Jolla beach is generally clean; even a small beach gets plenty of attention in terms of keeping it clean.
La Jolla Cove Beach
La Jolla Cove Beach is one of the most popular beaches in La Jolla. This beach is ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming (including swimming with playful sea lions!).
Protected as part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve (under the jurisdiction of the San Diego Tourism Authority), this beach is home to a wide variety of marine animals and is also very common to see sea lions on this beach.
You are also pretty likely to spot a bright orange fish known as the Garibaldi fish, the state fish of California, on this beach.
All sea animals are strictly protected in the La Jolla Cove beach and some sports activities like kayaking are not allowed. La Jolla Cove provides its visitors with a wonderful experience with nature; you may also want to investigate the various La Jolla tours, as well as snorkeling tours.
La Jolla Shores Beach
Another incredibly popular beach in La Jolla is the La Jolla Shores Beach. Being one of the largest beaches in La Jolla, Shores Beach is known to be best for swimmers as well as beginner surfers due to having one of the best locations to learn how to surf.
This beach is ideal for everyone, especially for families with kids. Near to this beach is Kellog Park which is grassy; perfect to have a nice picnic with family and friends.
Children's Pool Beach
The Children’s Pool Beach is ideal if you have kids and are visiting La Jolla with your family. Within walking distance from La Jolla Cove, the Children’s Pool Beach is popular for seeing sea lions.
This beach is protected by a concrete breakwater seawall where you can go for a stroll and a swim, although it is highly discouraged in order to protect the seals and sea lions. You can witness the seals and sea lions throughout the year as they are constantly moving in the sea in the San Diego area.
The Windansea Beach is popular among surfers and is known for its rough waters. This beach is definitely for those who love to storm watch and surf. Windansea Beach is known for its beautiful scenery and rocky shores.
You should be an expert swimmer if you decide to dive into the beach’s rough waters. Additionally, further out to sea, you may encounter Leopard Sharks who are fairly friendly, although it is advised not to disturb them.
Art and Museums - Dive into La Jolla's Rich History
Other exciting and educational experiences to include in the ‘La Jolla - things to do’ list would be visiting the Art galleries and museums in La Jolla.
La Jolla has a fascinating history and culture. If you are visiting La Jolla, be sure to dive into the rich art, music, history, and culture of the beautiful coastal town.
Additionally, La Jolla, California, has a pretty strong scientific community, with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies being a popular choice to study at.
Maps and Atlas Museum of La Jolla
The Maps and Atlas Museum of La Jolla houses well over 200 maps from different periods throughout history. This small museum is free for a visit for all history lovers.
If you are not a history fan, the Maps and Atlas Museum showcases many rare and antique maps and atlas. The Museum with its niche, rare and antique collection is sure to leave you with feelings of respect and love for cartography and its history.
The permanent collection of maps is sometimes updated with new finds, although there's still plenty to see and experience within the museum.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-visit for all art lovers. This museum houses incredible works of art and photos by various artists from the Post War period. San Diego County has plenty of said artists so you'll be able to find all kinds of photos.
This museum also has a collection of phenomenal arts and works by artists from the American minimalist movement, as well as an outdoor Edwards sculpture garden and an Art Lab downstairs.
La Jolla Historical Society
The La Jolla Historical Society is another place to witness the art and culture of La Jolla. The museum showcases many exhibitions about La Jolla’s rich socio-cultural history that include local artifacts, photography, and much more.
Be sure to take a walk in downtown La Jolla where you'll find the Ellen Scripps pier and park, as well as many gorgeous hotels where you could book your stay.
Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library was built in 1921 in Spanish-renaissance style and remains one of the most beautiful museums in La Jolla.
For all music and art fans, this museum is a must and surely belongs in the list of ‘La Jolla activities’ as it houses many books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, and many other art and music memorabilia from various categories.
Additionally, the La Jolla Music Society is a great visit as well; a huge number of concerts and live plays. The prices are generally very affordable (between $20 and $100 or so) so it's definitely worth experiencing.
The Athenaeum also hosts Walking Tours of La Jolla Murals. La Jolla Murals is a privately-funded community art program by the Athenaeum. The La Jolla Murals are found in buildings, billboards, alleyways among other spaces.
The murals are on display for a maximum number of two years and get painted by some incredible artists. There are a good number of murals spread throughout the artsy town of La Jolla. Try to find and see them all!
As you can see, La Jolla is one of the most beautiful and endearing towns in Southern California. La Jolla, CA, is filled with plenty of exploring opportunities and interesting history.
In general, Southern California is very attractive for tourists due to warm temperatures (contrary to the Pacific Northwest) and wonderful beaches.
Sports - Engage in Exciting La Jolla Adventures
La Jolla is a great place for kayaking, swimming, surfing, paragliding, and various other adventure sports. Engaging in fun sports can be one of the best things to try out in La Jolla and it deserves to go on your ‘La Jolla activities’ list.
La Jolla Underwater Park
The La Jolla Underwater Park is for those who want to experience and witness the wide variety of marine life. You can enjoy the La Jolla Underwater Park (which doubles as a natural marine animal preservation and aquatic recreation zone) covering about 6,000 acres of ocean bottoms and tidelands.
The La Jolla Underwater Park has two artificial reefs, a huge kelp forest, and two underwater canyons. You can witness the rich marine life or take up any one of the various water sports like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, or just swimming.
You may also be lucky enough to witness or catch a glimpse of some of the rarer marine animals like leopard sharks, manta rays, migrating whales, orange Garibaldi fish, and more.
While visiting La Jolla, California, you could take a detour and visit the La Jolla Tide Pools which is just north of Scripps Pier. These tide pools should be visited when it's low tide but beware - crabs like to run amuck in and near the pools so keep your feet safe!
Torrey Pines Gliderport
The Torrey Pines Gliderport is an amazing spot for paragliding and is located north of La Jolla. Situated among high cliffs it offers a breathtaking view of the ocean. You can carry your kit if you are an expert at paragliding or opt for a tandem flight with a paragliding instructor.
The tandem flight is for everyone from ages of 8 to 80. If you are feeling too adventurous, you can also take up paragliding lessons from the instructors. Even if you do not feel like participating in the sport you can still enjoy the view and sit by a nice cafe with a warm cup of coffee.
La Jolla Kayak Tour
La Jolla is a great location for taking up kayak tours that take you to various tourist attractions and locations. The seaside community is very friendly and helpful as well.
Otherwise, you may want to get some snorkel gear with you and just dive right in from your kayak. Remember to listen to the professionals and abide by the rules.
Aquariums, Sea Caves, Parks - Learn, Explore and Relax in La Jolla
La Jolla is popular for not just its beaches but also its marine animal conservation efforts. Also, the coastal town is packed with equally beautiful and serene parks for you to enjoy with family and kids. Here are some of the places to visit and activities to do in La Jolla if you are with children.
La Jolla's Birch Aquarium is a must-visit and should be included in your ‘best things to do in La Jolla’ checklist. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a research center for marine animal conservation and is attached to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
You can visit this Aquarium to learn more about our oceans and marine life. However, this place is the best if you are traveling with your kids.
The aquarium houses a wide variety of marine animals, including over 5000 fish and other sea animals from more than 60 habitats. Children will definitely be enthralled by what can be seen in the aquarium so if you are with kids - the Birch Aquarium is the perfect place to visit.
Sunny Jim Sea Cave
La Jolla has several sea caves that you can visit through local kayak tours. However, the most popular sea cave in La Jolla is the Sunny Jim sea cave which is the only cave accessible by land in California.
You only need to climb down a few flights of wooden stairs. The view is spectacular and the cave’s interior is full of vibrant colors due to the minerals that make up the cave.
There are a total of seven caves in La Jolla, all of which have very interesting and unique names - White Lady, Shopping Cart, Little Sister, Sunny Jim's Cave, Clam's Cave, Sea Surprize, and the Arch Cave.
Additionally, you can also go scuba; there are plenty of scuba divers in La Jolla so there are plenty of opportunities to try that out as well.
Ellen Browning Scripps Park
The Ellen Browning Scripps Park is a beautiful park that provides an equally beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean as it is situated at the top of a stony bluff. It is named after the local journalist and philanthropist of the same name.
The park is ideal for jogging, strolling, yoga, exercise, picnic, or even just a casual day out with your kids. The park is serene and is one of the best places in La Jolla to spend time with your kids or just relax and take in the view.
Dining, Wine Tasting, and Shopping
La Jolla also houses many restaurants, cafes, and the like. You can have the best seafood or go wine tasting at a local bar.
Almost all La Jolla restaurants are popular with tourists; the choice depends on what you want to eat and what kind of experience you want to have.
You can also visit the La Jolla market; an open-air farmers market where the fruits and vegetables are all locally grown and are said to be exceptional. You can also buy souvenirs and shop for your family and friends.
There's a lot more to do in La Jolla but these are just a couple of popular options for you to enjoy.