Just a dozen miles north of central San Diego on California’s sunny southern coast, the seaside community of La Jolla has a wealth of laidback beach vibes that make it an ideal snow-free getaway.
History and Culture
The Native American Kumeyaay peoples called the La Jolla coast Woholle, or the “land of holes,” and for good reason: An entire section of coast is riddled with fascinating sea caves, viewable from several locations. La Jolla is also home to a thriving arts scene whose roots are often credited to former resident and arts patron Anna Held, who formed the Green Dragon Colony in 1894 and provided cottages free of charge to artists and writers. Take in a performance by La Jolla Playhouse at venues including the Mandell Weiss Theatre, Mandell Weiss Forum, Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre and the Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre. In the downtown core, you can peruse multiple art galleries, or learn a little about the area’s seafaring past at the Nautical History Gallery & Museum and The Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla.
For casual dining and fresh catch, make like the locals and head to El Pescador Fish Market and choose your favorite fish or seafood as a sandwich, salad or plate. Need to satisfy a fish taco craving? Puesto is your address. Enjoy the brilliant murals by Chor Boogie, and watch the culinary team at work in the exhibition kitchen, where fresh tacos are spun out all day long. For fining dining, treat yourself to a meal at Cusp Dining & Drinks, where executive chef Ingrid Funes takes simple and fresh to a whole new level with dishes such as Pulpo a la Plancha and Lamb Shoulder Parpadelle Pasta. Don’t miss the clever sides that include cauliflower with lemon jam and roasted Brussels sprouts with a sunny-side egg. Bonus: glorious ocean views from the restaurant’s location on the 11th floor of the Hotel La Jolla to accompany your breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
Locals love to be outside — especially when it involves the water. Surfing and sea kayaking are particularly popular, and the team at Everyday California can share its knowledge of local waters on guided private or group sea kayaking excursions. Tours take you along the coast to see the Seven Sea Caves and Rose Canyon fault line, or below water on a combination kayak-snorkeling tour. Seasonal treats include migrating Gray Whales and the world’s largest Leopard Shark aggregation. If you want to keep your feet dry but still enjoy the ocean location, Torrey Pines Golf Course provides spectacular views of the Pacific from its coastal cliff location. What you’ll find: two championship 18-hole courses, one of the most extensive on-course golf shops in the country, professional instruction, an advanced golf school and regular tournaments that include the annual PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open.
Treat yourself to a lulling spa break at The Spa at Torrey Pines, where choices include the exclusive Oligomer Seawater Bath, Ancient Oceans Ritual and the Sea Leaf Wrap with organic marine algae and warm body milk. At Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, the 80-minute Sea Stone Massage by ESPA combines smooth volcanic rocks with warm aromatherapy oils to create a personalized journey straight to blissville. Add to your wellness experience with a yoga session at one of the many area studios, including Akasha Yoga, Buddhi Yoga, Eight Elements West or Prana Yoga Center.
Make the ocean-side Pantai Inn your base, and along with an exquisite setting fitted with authentic Balinese furnishings and art, you can enjoy a couple’s treatment in the privacy of your room or suite. Choices include Hot Stone massages and the Mat Massage, which blends the best of Thai and Shiatsu techniques. Steps from the inn’s front door, embark on a sunset walk leading to the caves along the coastal path, dotted with benches perfect for gazing out over the ocean. Or, head to Prospect Street downtown and enjoy a glass of wine from the balcony at We Olive and Wine Bar.
Two words: Sea lions! Once you’ve enjoyed your fill of chattering sea lions on the rocks along the beach, continue on to the Cave Store, where a stairway leads beneath the cliffs to Sunny Jim Cave. Just beyond La Jolla Cove, families can relax at the crescent moon-shaped Children’s Pool. Protected by a seawall, the shallow water is popular with seals and pups. Also worth an afternoon: Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Among the fascinating exhibits are the Hall of Fishes, Giant Kelp Forest, Infinity Cube and There’s Something About Seahorses, which includes fairytale-like Ruby Seadragons. Consult the website and time your visit to coincide with scheduled turtle and shark feedings, or shows that include the Kelp Forest Dive Show.
Family travels don’t necessarily need to be in theme parks or resorts with massive kids’ clubs. In fact, more upscale properties across the world cater to both adults and kids, and wellbeing brand Sensei joins the growing trend of family wellness travel. Sensei’s Wellness Science team, led by Dr. Vishal Patel, emphasizes the importance of family travels and exposing young travelers to wellness pursuits. Developing healthy habits at a young age can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s life, and bonding via family trips alleviates some of the main drivers of loneliness and isolation.
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