From art galleries and trendy boutiques to world-class golf courses and stunning beaches, La Jolla's attractions please travelers from far and wide. Each district is uniquely different, yet all are similar with respect to one important facet: top-notch quality.
While La Jolla is most well known for its incredible shoreline, the city's upscale business district is hardly modest. Located on the eastern side of La Jolla, law firms, financial institutions and tech industry outposts dominate this district, along with modern shopping centers and a wealthy residential area. The world-famous
Perhaps the most notable establishment in this region of La Jolla is the
Another popular site in the vicinity is
La Jolla Village
Known to locals as "the Village," La Jolla's downtown area, though geographically tiny, is jam packed with enough shops, restaurants, hotels, salons and galleries to draw hordes of wealthy patrons from around the region and around the globe. Girard Avenue is widely acknowledged to be La Jolla's main drag (home to everything from surf shops like
If neither art nor shopping are your cups of tea, La Jolla Village also features the
After a day of patronizing the arts and spending some cash at upscale boutiques, travelers need not venture out of the Village for a delectable meal.
Perhaps the most memorable of La Jolla's districts is the Shoreline. La Jolla is home to one of the most spectacular waterfronts in Southern California, complete with remarkable caves, cliffs, beaches and sunsets. Children young and old gather in droves for unbelievable seal watching at
La Jolla's beaches are eminently welcoming to surfers, sunbathers, snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers, and all of these activities make for superb means by which to enjoy this geographically dramatic stretch of coast. Feel at home in the chop? Treat yourself to a surfing lesson courtesy of
Travel a short distance north from La Jolla Cove and see marine life up close at
Even though La Jolla's beaches and caves are heralded throughout Southern California, one of the coastline's most popular attractions has nothing to do with sand or surf.
After so much activity, complete the day by dining just above the waters of the Pacific.
Located just 15 minutes north from downtown San Diego, La Jolla's seven-mile stretch of coastal property is technically within the San Diego city limits. Yet La Jolla has undoubtedly earned a reputation as a city in its own right. Known as one of the most affluent communities in the United States, La Jolla boasts premium beaches, fine dining and distinguished art galleries. In addition, this seaside town hosts world-renowned research facilities, such as the Salk Institute. La Jolla's history is short, but engulfed in mystery, drama and humor.
Artifacts found in this geographic area indicate Native American settlements along the La Jolla shoreline over 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found stone utensils. However, the remains are small and scattered, leaving historians unclear about the fate of these earliest inhabitants.
The La Jolla lands became incorporated as part of San Diego in 1850. However, there were no permanent settlers in this section of town until 19 years later. Two brothers, Daniel and Samuel Sizer, each bought a plot of La Jolla land in 1869. The City of San Diego sold these 80-acre plots for the price of USD1.25 per acre. Little did the Sizer brothers know that their plots of land, located between present-day Fay Street and La Jolla Boulevard, would be worth $1.25 million per acre by the late Twentieth Century.
When Frank Terrill Botsford arrived via boat in San Diego in 1886, he scribed in his diary, "Magnificent day at La Jolla!" Like the Sizer brothers, Frank Botsford purchased a plot of land, but Mr. Botsford also went a step further. He was the first to develop La Jolla property, earning his title as "the father of La Jolla." With the help of George Heald, who purchased one-quarter interest of this property, Frank Botsford surveyed and subdivided the land. Although Botsford could not find drinkable water in the area, he still attempted to auction pieces of the land, with Bob Pennell serving as the auctioneer. The auction was successful and Pennell's persuasive techniques were so effective, he even convinced himself to purchase a plot of land.
La Jolla's name is a somewhat controversial subject among town historians. No one has an absolute account regarding the establishment of this name. What has been confirmed is the meaning of La Jolla, which stands for "the jewel" in Spanish. It is also confirmed that this name has appeared in all land grant and mission records since 1928. Yet, the name "La Jolla" also appears in scattered documents prior to this date, including one 1870 map designating plots of land in "La Joya."
While mystery surrounds the exact date, place and circumstances surrounding the origination of La Jolla's name, there is no doubt about the validity of the name. Between the sparkling Pacific waters, mysterious caves and glorious beaches, this stretch of land is clearly “the jewel” of Southern California.
In the 1890s, the railroad extended to La Jolla, enabling additional growth for this booming suburb. Around this time, real estate developers began to take an interest in the coastal property of La Jolla, constructing resorts to attract visitors from San Diego proper. La Jolla Park Hotel opened its doors in 1893, boasting three stories and 80 rooms. In addition, cottage-style homes were built along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue. The Union Congregational Church was established, as well as the La Jolla Woman's Club, which began as a women's reading circle.
During this time frame, La Jolla's devotion to the arts was born. One of La Jolla's citizens, Miss Anna Held, established her famous Green Dragon Colony in 1894, where she allowed artists and novelists to work without expense.
Newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps settled in La Jolla in 1896. Her countless gifts to the La Jolla community are clearly noted in the plethora of institutions bearing her name, such as Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.
However, growth was not entirely smooth sailing for the seaside town of La Jolla. The La Jolla Park Hotel had difficulty maintaining business and eventually burned to the ground in June 1896. Regardless, La Jolla continued to flourish into the Twentieth Century.
The Twentieth Century marks the establishment of countless institutions as the small town of La Jolla grew into a world-famous city. The first building of Scripps Institute of Oceanography was erected in 1909. This world-class research institute, which includes Birch Aquarium, has since become part of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), founded in the La Jolla community in 1959. In addition, La Jolla's first newspaper, known as The La Jolla Breakers, began in 1906.
In 1913, the The Grande Colonial Hotel opened for business with 28 apartments and 25 single rooms. Charging $1 per night, the hotel experienced such incredible success that a second building opened shortly after. The hotel has since been renovated many times and stands today, open for business, in the heart of La Jolla Village.
By the 1930s, La Jolla's luxurious resorts and incredible beach views attracted scores of Hollywood stars. Initially, celebrities simply came to La Jolla for relaxation and retreat. Yet, by the 1940s and 1950s, a few Hollywood stars began creating and producing plays at The Summer Playhouse, now known as The La Jolla Playhouse.
Remnants of the La Jolla's early settlers are still evident throughout the town, from the names of key institutions to the eclectic form of architecture, primarily Mediterranean-style, which has evolved over the decades. With a current population of 38,000 people, La Jolla manages to host world-renown research institutions, breathtaking beaches, distinguished art galleries and top-notch restaurants—all in a seven-mile stretch along the California shoreline. Thus, while the mystery of this town's name may never be solved, La Jolla's tourists and residents clearly see why it is called "the jewel."
Whether you are looking for a modern building and maximum services for a business stay or a romantic, seaside cottage, La Jolla's accommodations will not disappoint you. For the business traveler, many of La Jolla's hotels provide in-room Internet access, data ports, meeting rooms and a plethora of secretarial services. The leisure traveler is equally pleased, as La Jolla's hotels boast breathtaking views of the Pacific, complemented by luxury services, boutiques, and nearby fine dining and art galleries.
In the business district of La Jolla, a number of modern hotels primarily host business travelers. Hyatt Regency La Jolla, conveniently located off Interstate 5, is a sleek building, boasting contemporary architecture and incredible business conveniences. Just down the street, the Radisson Hotel La Jolla is an equally stunning modern facility, featuring five buildings which all surround a garden, a pool and a putting green.
East of Interstate 5, the Marriott La Jolla is located in a cluster of business establishments, including corporate buildings for world-renowned financial institutions. With extensive meeting room space and an executive floor, the Marriott is popular among business professionals. Slightly northward, Hilton La Jolla is one of the most popular hotels among business travelers. Located adjacent to the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course, this hotel advertises a long list of business services, including high-speed Internet access from your room and meeting space to accommodate up to 1,500 people.
For travelers seeking an extended stay, Marriott Residence Inn La Jolla is an ideal choice. With studios, one-bedroom apartments and penthouses, this establishment features many of the comforts of home within each room.
La Jolla Village
While the professional district of La Jolla naturally caters to the business traveler, the establishments located in La Jolla Village area offer luxury and romance for the leisure traveler. Best Western Inn By the Sea is located in the middle of the village district, with premium restaurants and shops just seconds away from the lobby. Every room has a private balcony. Meanwhile, the Empress Hotel boasts an equally prime location. This five-story hotel pampers guests with terry robes, saunas, sundecks and jacuzzis.
Perhaps the most famous hotel in this district is the aforementioned Grande Colonial, infamous for its $1 per day rate upon opening. The historic building has been renovated many times since then, but it still offers beach views and close proximity to the best dining rooms in La Jolla. In the spirit of true romance, La Jolla Village is home to unbeatable bed and breakfasts. The Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla, once home to John Philip Sousa, offers a historical setting complemented by early 20th Century furnishings.
One block away from the ocean, Hotel Parisi is arguably the most luxurious of all hotels in La Jolla. This Mediterranean-style hotel exudes elegance, from the flowing fountain on the outdoor patio to the VIP seating provided for hotel guests at nearby fine dining restaurants. Other hotels in La Jolla Cove are nearly as elaborate. Prospect Park Inn offers contemporary style and extended-stay rates, while La Jolla Cove Suites provides studio apartments as well as secretarial services for the business traveler who seeks seaside accommodations. Hotel La Jolla features garden and beach view rooms, as well as interior decorating by a top Beverly Hills designer. La Valencia Hotel, with its pink exterior and red-tile roof, hosts everything from business meetings to fashion shows, with yet another memorable view of the ocean.
For those who prefer a more secluded stay, try Scripp's Inn, located at the southern tip of La Jolla Cove. This hotel, which features an ocean view from every room, is located right on the beach, yet is tucked away from the busyness of La Jolla Cove's most popular restaurants and galleries.
With numerous establishments perched on cliff tops overlooking the famous La Jolla Cove, this city's restaurants are well known both for their unforgettable views and delicious cuisine. Many La Jolla restaurants have had great success combining spectacular ambiance with creative culinary innovations.
Several top-notch eateries shine in the business district of La Jolla. Donovan's Steak & Chop House pleases customers with an elegant dining room, vast wine list and premiere red-meat entrees. Bully's is another sure bet for great steaks, fine wines and a true taste of old La Jolla. For a dining experience both more modern and more laid back, hit Rock Bottom, a restaurant and brewery popular for its eclectic pub-grub menu, house-made beers and a lengthy Happy Hour.
To cash in on the epic ocean views throughout the city, hotels in La Jolla tend to house top-notch restaurants, bars and clubs on their upper floors. Humphrey's La Jolla Grill, located on top of the Radisson features dramatic panoramas, sumptuous cuisine and live entertainment. Clay's, perched on the 11th floor of Hotel La Jolla, has full-length windows overlooking the city and the Pacific, as well as upscale American entrees and live jazz.
La Jolla Village
Known to locals as "the village," La Jolla's downtown hosts some of the finest eateries in Southern California. This section of town is most trendy, ranging from quirky cafes to happening nightlife. Only in La Jolla would one find artwork for sale in a coffee shop. Harry's offers exactly that, welcoming the morning crowd with homemade breakfast specialties and innovative works of art. Mission Coffee Cup is another informal diner, also praised for its fresh-cooked American breakfasts. While the ambience is not particularly notable, it's always crowded with locals for one simple reason: the food is just plain delicious.
The following trio of café-style lunch spots is all about gourmet versatility. Whether you crave a hearty panini or a sweet little tart, they've all got you covered. Go to Girard Gourmet and grab a luscious salad, an inspired sandwich or a decadent dessert. Or go on in to Come On In, a delightful bakery styled to evoke the French countryside, which is popular among the daytime village crowd thanks to its coffeecakes, scones and muffins (and meal-sized lunch plates). The Living Room Coffeehouse serves a nice mix of pastries and lunch items as well, complete with a lively atmosphere of eclectic décor and jazz music.
In the evening hours, Roppongi sets the standard as one of La Jolla's most notable trend-setting storefronts, offering a cutting edge menu of Asian fusion meals. Other favorite Asian restaurants include Yen's Wok On Pearl and Royal Thai Cuisine. For something less exotic but perhaps more relaxed, stop at The Spot. Serving steak and ribs, this establishment draws a huge thirty-something crowd on weekends. If you like your meaty dinners preceded by a serving of chips and salsa, look no further than Su Casa, home to everyone's traditional south-of-the-border favorites.
Although La Jolla Village boasts the city's most trendy eateries, dining along La Jolla Cove is a memorable experience for travelers of every stripe. Several restaurants line the cove, each offering spectacular views of the Pacific. Trattoria Acqua offers gazebo dining, with modern pizza and pasta entrees. George's At The Cove and the Crab Catcher, both perched on the cliff above the water, feature splendid views from their respective terrace-dining facilities (as well as fresh seafood entrees).
When you tire of old seafood standbys, Azul La Jolla's brand of Mediterranean cuisine might fit the bill—and with yet another breath-taking view of the ocean. Perhaps the most sophisticated venue along the shoreline is Top of the Cove, where contemporary French cuisine, live piano music and elegant décor attract the most discriminating of La Jolla locals.
For something a tad cozier, grab a table by the fireplace or out on the front patio at Cody's, a neighborhood favorite whose simple charm does not detract from the elegance of its cuisine. Finally, if you've had a long and active day and crave nothing more than a big gut-busting burrito, pop into Alfonso's, a classic Mexican restaurant well-known for its icy-cold margaritas and grill-fresh carne asada.