La Jolla, which is Spanish for the “The Jewel,” is beloved by both locals and international tourists alike and could very well be considered the crown jewel of the San Diego area. Just a ten minute drive from downtown San Diego, this gem of a city plays an important role as a residential, commercial, and cultural heart of San Diego.
La Jolla has something for everyone. World-class shopping, golfing, art galleries, and stunning luxury homes share this pristine sun-baked setting with seals, surfers, water-sports enthusiasts, and so much more. La Jolla’s unique shape as a small peninsula means that much of the town is surrounded by the ocean from multiple sides.
La Jolla is divided into several distinctive areas, each possessing its own particular character and charm. The south border with Pacific Beach from Tourmaline street onwards is called “Bird Rock,” which is a vibrant community named for a massive offshore pelican perch, where hundreds of birds come to hang out and watch nearby surfers. Bird Rock is a neighborhood of friendly residents and merchants and host to a charming array of shops and restaurants, and is both walking and bicycle-friendly. The shoreline along this neighborhood is a rocky stretch of beach lined with beautiful homes and small vista points.
Continuing northwards along the coast, upon reaching Nautilus St, one comes to the Windansea area, a famous Southern California surf spot which offers the most consistent waves on the entire coast. Because of its unique bathymetry, Windansea is perhaps the only good place for surfers to consistently find quality waves during the summer.
Windansea beach is easily recognizable by its iconic palm-covered “surf shack.” Originally constructed in 1946 by three surfers, “The Surf Shack at Windansea Beach” has been maintained by the Windansea Surf Club and was designated as an historical landmark by the San Diego Historical Resources Board on May 27, 1998.
Windansea is a popular location to host events and a popular spot for teenagers, sunbathers, and photographers taking family portraits during the hour before sunset. In fact, this beach is probably both the most photographed spot in San Diego and the sunsets – and full moonsets (before dawn) are spectacular.
This is also the location of La Jolla High School. This stretch along the shoreline is one of the most pleasant coastal strolls in San Diego as it works its way toward the La Jolla cove.
Perhaps the most interesting dynamic of the area around Windansea is the dynamic clashing of cultures. This is one of the only areas in the world where beach culture and high culture coalesce in unique harmony. You’re just as likely to see a musician with rastafarian dreads as you are to see a Rolls-Royce.
Past the Windansea neighborhood, one comes across the La Jolla village proper. Laid out between Girard and Prospect streets, this charming neighborhood provides much of the best shopping that San Diego has offer, including most of the high-end brands.
The La Jolla Cove is one of the most visited and probably most cherished features of the local shoreline. It’s a favorite hangout for seals, which are a big draw. A haven for a multitude of aquatic endeavors, it is the site of an annual long-distance “rough water swim”, and is part of an expanded Ecological Reserve. This is also site of the prestigious Prospect St., around which lie many upscale shops and fine restaurants.
Just beyond the cove lies the popular La Jolla Shores area. A large park here is the meeting place for all manner of gatherings and is thought of as the perfect family recreation area. Up top, Scripps Park provides a serene setting for picnickers, yoga enthusiasts, and anyone pausing for quiet reflection.
Above La Jolla lies Mt Soledad, a tall hill on the town’s eastern edge. Mt Soledad is one of the highest points in San Diego, and is home to La Jolla Country Club, and the the Mt Soledad cross. This neighborhood is characterized by many beautiful million-dollar homes and small vista points.