La Jolla (pronounced "la hoya" for those who don't speak Spanish!) is located in Southern California, just 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego, with a population of around 40,000. It's name means "The Jewel", and it is a jewel of a city, much like the seaside village of Carmel to the north. It is a wealthy town, with a lot of expensive restaurants and boutiques, but it is also a great place to stroll, shop, and browse during a vacation to the San Diego area. Also, the Torrey Pines Golf Course and Lodge are just 5 miles north of La Jolla - a must visit if you are a golfer. If you are planning a vacation to San Diego or La Jolla, check out some of our tips below for hotels, dining, and enjoying the beaches and other sites around La Jolla.
Getting Around La Jolla - La Jolla Map
La Jolla is just north of Pacific Beach and Mission Bay, and south of La Jolla Shores and Torrey Pines, located right along the Pacific Ocean. Don't confuse La Jolla Shores with downtown La Jolla - two different places with very different characters. You want to go to downtown La Jolla. Prospect Street is the main drag that goes through the downtown village. You can view a large map of La Jolla here
, with all the major streets shown. At the top of the map you will see where Torrey Pines Road comes in to meet Prospect Ave. The main village area is centered along Prospect and the several blocks on either side of it. You'll find many of the best restaurants and hotels right along this street (see below). Parking in La Jolla is generally pretty easy. There are some paid parking lots, but there is ample free street parking, so drive up and down a few side streets until you find a place to park - no meters, no time limits - just park and go. Once you park , we recommend starting at the north end of Prospect and working your way down it. There are a number of restaurants that look right out onto the ocean along the right hand side of the street - stop in and take a look at a few, like The Crab Catcher, Top of the Cove, George's, and inside La Valencia Hotel.
You can also access the La Jolla beaches and coves from downtown. It's just one block over to the ocean and La Jolla Point when you are on Prospect Ave. A grassy public park stretches south here along the bluff. Make your way down to some of the more accessible tide pools and beach areas, where you can take off your shoes and get your feet wet while watching sea birds and snorkelers off the coast.
Staying in La Jolla - Best La Jolla Hotels and Lodging
Where should I stay in on my La Jolla vacation? Good question, with lots of good answers! If money is no object, head straight for La Valencia Hotel (LaValencia.com
), located right on Prospect Ave. with commanding views over the ocean. Rooms here are expensive (try a 1200 sf ocean villa!), ranging from $300 to over $1500. It's a first class resort property targeted to big spenders, but even if you are not staying there, walk in and check out the bar and sitting area straight towards the back, with a dining balcony and huge picture window that looks out over the sea. If you don't mind staying 5-7 minutes outside of La Jolla, consider staying out at Torrey Pines - either at the lodge or at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines (rooms run $170-$500). Both resorts give you easy access to the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course, but are set back some distance from the ocean (the golf course fronts the ocean cliffs, and there are unfortunately no good publicly accessible foot paths across the course to get to the ocean). The Grande Colonial is also on Prospect, with rooms from $180-$600 (TheGrandeColonial.com
- 888.530.5766). We also like their Nine-Ten restaurant at the Grande. For cheaper accomodation, consider the Empress Hotel of La Jolla, the La Jolla Beach Travelodge, or the Oakwood La Jolla.
Best La Jolla Restaurants
La Jolla offers plenty of fine dining - with great food, great atmosphere, and great views. George's (1250 Prospect St, GeorgesAtTheCove.com
) is very popular and offers a few different dining choices, from more casual dining to formal. Get balcony seating if you can and enjoy the ocean views. For something a little simpler, check out the Crab Catcher, just down the street. You have to go down 2 flights of stairs to get to the restaurant, but they have a lovely courtyard along with interior seating. If you get there at a good time for lunch, you can sit right along the window looking out on the ocean and rock formations. Good seafood menu with entrees starting around $12-$15. If you don't mind leaving the village, a good choice along Torrey Pines Road is A.R. Valentien (11480 N. Torrey Pines Road) - a little pricey, but with great food and service. As we mentioned before, the Nine-Ten (NineTenFood.com
) restaurant located in the Grande Colonial Hotel has been serving excellent food for a long time. You can sit at the sidewalk tables or on the Grande Terrace for ocean views as you savor a delicious meal. You can make reservations at their website. For Asian cuisine, you have a couple of good choices - we like Roppongi and Sushi on the Rock (7734 Prospect St). Also popular is Cafe Japengo (at the Aventine Center) with great Japanese food. Top of The Cove is another nice place with good ambience - you'll see the blue sign and huge tree out front as you walk past - can't miss it. Try the brunch up on the top level terrrace - amazing views, decent prices, and good food. Jack's is another good night spot, with several levels of entertainment options. Upstairs you can find mellow jazz music and a little quieter bar and seating area, while downstairs has a dramatic fireplace and a lot more noise.
La Jolla Real Estate
A number of neighborhoods make up the city of La Jolla, like La Jolla Heights, Bird Rock, Muirlands, Upper Hermosa, the Village, and Hidden Valley. Wherever you look, you will not find a lot of bargains here. You can see a map of La Jolla neighborhoods here
. La Jolla is an expensive place to live, and it all starts with high property prices. You can see MLS listings for La Jolla by going to LaJolla.BeautifulCaliforniaHomes.com
, and search by size, price, or location. When we checked, the cheapest homes started at $900K (for a 2100sf, 3BR, 2.5BA in Ventana) and went all the way up to $3M for a 3400sf 4BR 4BA home in Beach Barber Tract. On another site, we even found a few homes in the $15-$20 million dollar range! Another site with La Jolla MLS home listings is GellensHomePreviews.com
. If you are looking for a La Jolla Real Estate agent, you won't have problems finding one. If you stroll along Prospect Ave, you will find offices for Coldwell Banker, Willis Allen, and Prudential Realty. If you want information on the different neighborhoods, visit LiveInLaJolla.com
- they even offer aerial views of each section, along with recent home sales and pictures so you can get some idea of what kind of things are available, what is selling, and at what prices.