Experiencing Beautiful La Jolla, California

Well hello there, beautiful. Visiting La Jolla By the Sea

La Jolla, California is a gorgeous affluent seaside area of San Diego. Nestled just off the I-5 freeway and the La Jolla Parkway connector, you’ll find the Hotel La Jolla, which mixes coastal casual elegance with a mid-century modern vibe. We flew down to San Diego just after Christmas from the frozen icy wilds of Idaho to 75 degree temperatures and sunny skies.

Oh California, I’ve missed you.

When we visit San Diego, we usually stay in the Ocean Beach/Point Loma area, but this time I wanted to try somewhere new. We settled on Hotel La Jolla.

Hotel La Jolla, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel La Jolla

From the moment you pull in through the torch lighted driveway, we were greeted by the friendly valet who I immediately engaged in a wholehearted geek conversation about Star Wars when he noticed my husband’s Star Wars/Vincent Van Gogh mashup t-shirt to being welcomed by the front desk with a gift bag of complimentary bottled water for Hilton Honors members. (A note about parking. You’ll notice I said “valet”. Parking throughout all of La Jolla can be challenging and there is no self-parking at the hotel.)

Hotel La Jolla

The lobby and outdoor seating areas simply crushed the interior decorating game. Lush yet casual, chic and comfortable. The rooms were clean and crisp with a view of the ocean just a few blocks away.

You can get beach cruiser bikes from the lobby or make the short ten minute walk down to La Jolla Beach. Each morning I would grab a coffee and walk down to the beach with my camera in hand, soaking in the early morning surf culture.

While we had in room coffee available, La Jolla’s Starbucks is literally steps from the hotel so I grabbed a coconut milk latte to start my day. Surfers with 9-5 jobs arrive on the sand by 7 am or earlier, sometimes warming up by small beach fires to take the morning chill out of their bones. Neighborhood residents stand on the beach front walkway talking to each other with coffee cups in their hands and their dogs on leashes. This is my idea of a perfect morning.

Just down the street from La Jolla Hotel is UCSD, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Birch Aquarium, not to mention the wild seals living in La Jolla Cove; this is a town for those who love the ocean.

Scripps Pier

Yes, I was the nerdy girl with the camera and coffee. And by “girl”, I mean middle aged woman in a badass t-shirt. (You can grab one here at my friend Lisa’s shop.)

Nice view
Beach hair don’t care

We enjoyed breakfast at the Cusp Restaurant at the hotel, again overlooking La Jolla. A drive down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals overtaking the rocks and the infamous Children’s Beach (which was actually built by a local philanthropist for children to learn to swim in the ocean back in the 1930s but has been taken over by the seals since the 1990s, which are protected but a nuisance). Children’s beach is controversial for good reason; it seems to bring out the best and the worst in humans. Read about it here: Wikipedia Children’s Pool.

Children's Beach at La Jolla

Looking for actual beaches where you can lay out on the sand or surf? Check out La Jolla Mom’s guide to the best beaches in La Jolla.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, La Jolla was PACKED and busier than I’ve ever seen the town. We visit San Diego frequently, but not often on peak holiday weeks. Families, couples and tourists lined the paved path along the cliffs and find parking was a game for the patient.

the seals in La Jolla Cove

The beauty of La Jolla is both refined and wild. The cliffs are a natural wonder (and no wonder the seals don’t want to leave) and the shopping and real estate is high end. It’s a mix of wealth, culture and nature with its own relaxed California vibe.

California Coastal vibes

We had an 8 pm dinner for two on Friday night back at La Jolla Hotel’s Cusp Restaurant with impeccable service (our waiter looked like a model/surfer) who knew every detail of the menu and wanted our dining experience to be stellar.

Prettiest bar In San Diego

Executive chef Ingrid Funes created a delicious menu of California Coastal Cuisine.

Where to eat in La Jolla

At a table nearby, three generations of a family finished up their meal and asked to see the chef. They raved that they had been in La Jolla for 10 days and eaten everywhere including George’s, “and I mean everywhere, and this was absolutely the BEST.”

I ordered scallops with black coconut rice and Mr. Coffee ordered the New York steak. Wowza. Well done, chef. Well done. (Not the steak, the cooking, I mean…)

Cusp Restaurant in La Jolla, CA

Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it is definitely worth a night out at the Cusp Restaurant. Peruse their latest menu here.

Cusp Bar in La Jolla, CA

I love San Diego and if you’re looking for a fine dining experience, posh shopping at boutiques or perhaps a rugged sea kayak voyage into the caves or SCUBA in the cove, La Jolla is your town.

Check out these additional resources:

scuba in La Jolla

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