We can all agree that day trips are the best. They offer the excitement of a vacation without breaking the bank. For a day trip in California, visit La Jolla for pristine weather, extraordinary views, and unbelievable fun. Check out what to do in La Jolla when you only have one day to take it all in.
Getting to La Jolla
To make the most out of your La Jolla day trip, I recommend waking up and heading out the door early. Arriving in La Jolla early ensures that you can fit as much into your day as possible.
For those not staying in the area, La Jolla is a quick 15-mile (20-minute) drive north from downtown San Diego. Your best route is to take Interstate 5N. If you’re coming from Los Angeles, La Jolla is a 110-mile drive on Interstate 5S. Depending on traffic, this drive will take you anywhere from 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Start Your Day at the Beach
Since you’ve gotten up extra early, head to the beach first. You’ll experience beautiful waves, fewer crowds, and weather unlike any other.
La Jolla, San Diego is known for their pristine beaches filled with marine life and water activities. A popular choice among visitors is La Jolla Cove. At La Jolla Cove, the outdoor activities are endless. Tourists and locals alike head to this beach for:
- Scuba Diving
- Paddle Boarding
Plus, the beach is within walking distance from Children’s Pool, a sectioned off part of the ocean featuring calm, open water for a safe swim. While this area is intended for kids, the sea lions also like to swim and lounge here!
Other top La Jolla beaches include:
- La Jolla Shores
- Windansea Beach
- Torrey Pines City Beach
Grab a Bite at Cody’s La Jolla
After a morning at the beach, you’ll work up quite the appetite. Just a few blocks from La Jolla Cove, Cody’s La Jolla serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once you see the menu, you won’t be able to contain yourself. Between the fresh ingredients and the creative recipes, you’ll find yourself running to grab a table!
Visit Birch Aquarium
After fueling up at Cody’s La Jolla, a trip to Birch Aquarium should be next on your list of what to do in La Jolla. This interactive aquarium is part of the award-winning Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego.
Featuring more than 60 habitats and 5,000+ fish, Birch Aquarium is an underwater wonder. Visitors of all ages can participate in engaging exhibits and activities, learn about ocean environments, and discover more about marine life and conservation. Guests can also view a shark feeding and watch as team members dive into the tanks to take care of the animals.
Birch Aquarium is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Complimentary 3-hour parking is offered onsite.
Explore Torrey Pines State Park
Outdoorsy travelers determining what to do in La Jolla should head to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. With 2,000 natural acres of land, the wildlife reserve boasts a sprawling beachfront, a lagoon with migrating birds, hiking trails, picnic areas, and more.
While in the area, daredevils should head to Torrey Pines Gliderport for extreme thrills. Soar through the sky by paragliding or hang gliding! Of course, these flights are in tandem with a trained professional, but exhilarating nonetheless.
See the Views from Mount Soledad
A day trip to La Jolla isn’t complete until you’ve seen the views from atop Mount Soledad. You’ll want to conclude your day trip with this landmark, as watching a gorgeous San Diego sunset from on top of a mountain simply can’t be beat. You’ll also find the moving Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial at the peak!
End Your Day with Fine Dining
After a day at the beach, aquarium, and more, you’ll be famished. La Jolla is known for award-winning culinary establishments located all throughout the city. Make reservations at these top restaurants to conclude your La Jolla day trip:
Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar
This Zagat rated restaurant exudes class. Serving “Evolving California Cuisine,” the menu includes local ingredients harvested from area farms each day. Fresh seafood also arrives daily from Hawaii, the North Pacific, and Atlantic regions.
Duke’s La Jolla
If you’ve been to Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, you’ll recognize the name “Duke’s!” Offering a wide assortment of Hawaiian-inspired cuisine and beverages, Duke’s is the perfect combination of relaxation and fine dining.
George’s at the Cove
Featuring three levels of dining and cocktail bars to choose from, George’s at the Cove is a La Jolla treasure. From Californian cuisine to exquisite rooftop dining, guests are treated to only the best at this top restaurant.
Now You Know What to Do in La Jolla!
With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to experience all of La Jolla in a single day. Between the picture-perfect beaches and the mesmerizing museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy in La Jolla, San Diego—whether for a day or an entire vacation.