One Day in La Jolla Itinerary – Top Things to do in La Jolla, California

What does come to your mind first when you think of a vacation in California? Is it amazing beaches, wonderful food, luxurious hotels, and just generally a wonderful time? Well, then you’re thinking about La Jolla! Some call it a village, others just call it a neighborhood of San Jose, but no matter how you look at it, coming here is the right move to make. Even if you have just one day in La Jolla, you will be able to enjoy it immensely. As always, we are here to show you how – here’s the best itinerary for visiting this great place!

One day in La Jolla itinerary

What’s the best time to visit La Jolla, California?

The dry season in La Jolla starts in April and ends in October, so many would say this is the best time to visit. And although the temperatures remain quite reasonable during this period, they have been known to soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius), so you may want to keep that in mind. Winters are very mild here, which makes La Jolla an excellent choice if you want to spend this part of the year somewhere warm.

La Jolla
La Jolla, Author: Oleg., Source: Flickr

As for the events, golf is big in La Jolla, and the PGA Tour comes to town every January or February. La Jolla Art &Wine Festival in October and the Music Society SummerFest in August are also very much worth visiting, plus it goes without saying that every major holiday brings its own events around here.

A few facts about La Jolla

As mentioned, La Jolla is officially a part of the city of San Diego, and with a population of about 45,000 people, it’s not exactly a metropolis.

However, you will find that the average price for a home here is among the highest, if not the very highest in the whole of the United States.

Furthermore, Black’s Beach is the very first beach to be officially deemed a nude beach. On top of that, it is also the largest beach for nudists in the entire country, but surfers adore it too as it is one of the best surfing spots in California.

Black Beach, La Jolla
Black Beach, Author: Tristan Loper, Source: Flickr

The place was also recognized as a perfect getaway spot very early on because La Jolla was an art colony way back in 1894. You will find that this is not very surprising as soon as you come here. There’s just such a great vibe here!

Due to its fantastic beaches, luxurious shops and restaurants, and incredible mansions, La Jolla is sometimes also referred to as the Riviera of California. A very suitable nickname, that’s for sure.

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores, Author: Jonathan Cook-Fisher, Source: Flickr

One day in La Jolla Itinerary

One day in La Jolla is more than enough to become mesmerized by this place. However, because there is so much to see, do and enjoy, you may miss some of the main sights if you don’t have everything planned out. Luckily, we have a detailed itinerary all set up for you, so just follow these steps to enjoy La Jolla to the fullest during your visit. Here’s what you really need to check out!

Start with a nice La Jolla breakfast

Get an early start to your one day in La Jolla and treat yourself to a nice breakfast. Not only will this be a great start to your day, but it will also allow you to get a feel of this place and explore it a bit. Places like Richard Walker’s Pancake House, The Cottage, or Cody’s La Jolla come highly recommended and will help set the tone for the rest of your visit.

Cody’s La Jolla
Cody’s La Jolla

Hit one of the beaches

Beaches in La Jolla will probably be one of the main reasons why you’re visiting, and they’re pretty much all great places to enjoy the sun and the ocean. La Jolla Shores offers plenty of activities for everyone (from scuba-diving and paddle-boarding to snorkeling and even parties in the evening) and a separate part just for surfers, Black’s Beach is the most famous nudist beach around, La Jolla Cove is ideal for snorkeling, etc.

These are just some of the options you have, but you can always count on the beaches being very safe and clean. And if you wish, you will be able to find a place with much fewer people and just enjoy the nature.

Black Beach, La Jolla
Black Beach, Author: Dirk DBQ, Source: Flickr

See the sea lions

One La Jolla beach, however, stands out from the rest, and that’s Children’s Pool Beach. The reason why it’s so different is that many seals and sea lions come here to rest, which presents an incredible opportunity to observe these wonderful animals up close. You will also find plenty of restaurants nearby, so this could also be a great opportunity to stop for lunch after you meet the sea lions.

Children’s Pool Beach, La Jolla
Children’s Pool Beach, Author: TripBucket, Source: Flickr

A word of caution, though – these animals can sometimes smell quite bad!

Pick out a nice place for lunch

Need help choosing the place where you’ll sit down for lunch? Well, what kind of food would you like? Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Herringbone La Jolla are both fantastic places for seafood dishes, and Manhattan of La Jolla is an excellent choice for something Italian in a more elegant setting (even live jazz can be found here).

Herringbone La Jolla
Herringbone La Jolla

Duke’s La Jolla offers dishes inspired by the Hawaiian tradition, but there are also your regular bistros and taco places where you can come in for a quick bite. In short, no matter what you’re craving, you should be able to find a restaurant for that quite easily.

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is present at two locations in the city, and one of them is La Jolla. Given that this community has a long and rich artistic tradition (it was an art colony at the end of the 19th century), this wonderful institution fits perfectly into it.

Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla
Museum of Contemporary Art, Author: cultivar413, Source: Flickr

With almost 5000 pieces of contemporary art, the museum should really find itself on anybody’s itinerary, and among the most interesting collections is Pop Art from the 1960s and 1970s. However, you can also explore how conceptual art has changed over the decades, enjoy art from Latin America, and discover many fascinating and thought-provoking pieces. A must for art lovers!

Feel a real adrenaline rush

If you have the time and want to spice up your day in La Jolla, hop on over to Torrey Pines. It’s just north of La Jolla and provides visitors with plenty of activities they can enjoy. Plus, there’s a nice beach over there, too.

Torrey Pines Paragliding
Torrey Pines Paragliding, Author: Marcin Wichary, Source: Flickr

But the most important place there is the Torrey Pines Gliderport where you can try everything from para-gliders to glider planes. You can get lessons there on the spot if you’re not experienced at this sort of thing, or you can simply watch others fly. Oh, and water-powered jetpacks are also available if you want something that will keep you closer to the ground (i.e. surface of the water). All in all, loads of fun and excitement!

Torrey Pines Beach
Torrey Pines Beach, Author: tommy chheng, Source: Flickr

Go see a musical

Why not end your day in La Jolla with a musical? It’s certainly a great idea for a date night. And La Jolla Playhouse is the perfect venue! This world-renowned theater has made a name for itself by creating amazing musicals, and this was also recognized by numerous Tony awards they’ve won over the years.

La Jolla Playhouse
La Jolla Playhouse, Author: The Huntington, Source: Flickr

Plays are also excellent here, so do check out what’s on while you’re here, and you could be in for a wonderful evening. Trust us, it will be well worth it!

Where to stay in La Jolla?

Pantai Inn

Pantai Inn

1003 Coast Boulevard, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037

If you really want to live it up while visiting La Jolla, Pantai Inn is the best choice for a place to stay. Not only does it offer a great view of the Pacific since it’s literally next to the beach, but you can also enjoy a five-star interior, as well. Do fireplaces in your rooms sound good? And the Balinese theme of the interior really adds to the whole experience. In short, you will love every second you spend here – it’s amazing on so many levels.


Grande Colonial La Jolla

Grande Colonial La Jolla

910 Prospect Street , La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037

Grande Colonial La Jolla is worthy of your attention for several reasons. First, the building itself is quite beautiful, but that’s just the start. Amazing views of the ocean, excellent location (close to the beach and to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego), a huge outdoor pool, and a classy restaurant all work together to provide you with an amazing stay. It should also be mentioned that the hotel is eco-friendly, the cherry on what is already a beautiful cake.


Inn by the Sea, at La Jolla

Inn by the Sea at La Jolla

7830 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037

Inn by the Sea at La Jolla has plenty to offer at a fairly reasonable price. This accommodation is also quite close to the beach, and you can enjoy a very beautiful sunset here. Furthermore, it has a heated pool and a fitness center, plus there are many great restaurants, bars, shops, and other places that are worth seeing close to the inn. In short, a great choice if you want to be able to explore and stay close to your room.


The Shoal Hotel La Jolla Beach

The Shoal Hotel La Jolla Beach

6750 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037

To get real value for your money during your one day in La Jolla, say at The Shoal Hotel. Now, this place looks absolutely amazing, and if surfing is your thing, you absolutely MUST book a room here because the hotel is right next to Windansea Beach. Furthermore, there’s a pool for you to enjoy, and the rooms are very comfortable and exceptionally clean. Trust us, this hotel is a real hidden gem in La Jolla.


Day trips from La Jolla

One day in La Jolla is just what the doctor ordered for anyone who needs a time-out from everyday life, but if you can stay a bit more, why not organize a day trip or two? There are plenty of excellent options close by – after all, this is California. Here’s what we suggest!

San Diego

This is a no-brainer, really. Seeing how La Jolla is a part of San Diego, spending one day in San Diego exploring it can be extremely fun. There are loads of things to do and enjoy, plus the city really comes alive in the evening. All in all, this can be a great day out, and you never have to travel very far.

Whale watching

If you love animals, this is something that will leave you speechless. The ocean in front of San Diego is a part of the migration route of all kinds of whales, and you can get close to them and observe these majestic animals. So, book a trip and get ready for something very special.


Now, Julian is an exceptionally charming little town that was founded during the Gold Rush. Today, however, it is full of quaint shops and restaurants, wonderfully restored houses, and horse carriages showing tourists the most important places. Oh, and they make AMAZING apple pies here. This day trip from La Jolla is a trip back in time but in the best possible way.

Joshua Tree National Park

While this national park is about two and a half hours away, it is also an amazing day trip that will show you just how amazing nature can be. There will be plenty of opportunities for amazing photos, but you can also visit the interesting little town over there. An outdoorsy day trip that will provide everyone with plenty of interesting stuff to do.

Extra tips for visiting La Jolla

  • La Jolla is actually a very children-friendly place, so if you’re coming here with the whole family, you’ll love all the kid-friendly restaurants, playgrounds, etc. You can relax because your kids will be perfectly safe on the beaches, too.
  • finding a parking space could be a problem. It’s often better to just go for a walk than to spend precious time looking for a place where you can leave your car.
  • sunscreen can be very handy to have. This is the very south of California, after all. Take care of your skin!
  • you don’t have to worry about the dress code here. Most people are very relaxed, and you will see all sorts of combinations as you’re walking the streets.
Torrey Pines Sunset
Torrey Pines Sunset, Author: Sharon Tate Soberon, Source: Flickr

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

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