The upscale coastal enclave just 20 minutes north of downtown has sweeping ocean views, upscale boutiques, fine dining, art galleries, and a pedestrian-friendly village vibe. La Jolla is home to some of San Diego’s best beaches and the popular hiking trails of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
After a splash in the surf at La Jolla Shores, a flat, family-friendly beach with ample parking, or a hike through the Torrey Pines State Reserve (miles of trails along the bluffs with sweeping views), fuel up at one of La Jolla’s many fine eateries. The team behind local favorites Prepkitchen and Whisknladle serve coastal Italian fare at Catania, a cozy third-floor spot with views out West. Down the street is George’s California Modern, one of region’s best restaurants, consistently validated by critics and people’s choice awards. Longtime chef Trey Foshee oversees three distinct zones: California Modern offers an upscale, full-service experience (go for the tasting menu if it’s available); Level Two upstairs has more of a bar-like setting with high-tops, craft cocktails and a small plates menu; And the rooftop is the locals’ scene, popular for lunch and at sunset, with a lighter, California-style menu and a full bar.
For something more casual, try Puesto for spicy tacos and guacamole, El Pescador Fish Market for fresh, local catches or head to Beaumont’s in Birdrock for burgers, beers and live music most nights. Also in the Birdrock area, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is an lively stop for a cuppa before a stroll to Calumet Park, a hidden green patch on the cliffs with benches and picnic tables.
For a taste of the local culture, don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art with rotating exhibits and a café, or opt for a self-guided walking tour through Murals of La Jolla, a collaboration between the Athenaeum and La Jolla Community Foundation, that encompasses 13 murals throughout the village. Any visit to the La Jolla wouldn’t be complete with a stop at Warwick’s, the oldest continuously family-owned bookstore in the country and a local staple for books and gifts, and intimate readings and events with the likes of David Sedaris.