La Jolla has been called the Monte Carlo of Southern California. It teems with life and surprises from fine dining restaurants perched atop jagged cliffs to indulgent soft sand beaches, year-round vacation sunshine and watercolor sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. This article lists five things that you should not miss when visiting this gem in the crown of America’s Finest City.
Children’s Pool (850 Coast Boulevard) was originally designed as a safe place for children to wade into the ocean; it’s now home to dozens of wild Harbor Seals and their pups. Many consider the seals to be one of the most fun sights in La Jolla because the seals are so up-close and personal. A cement walkway allows visitors to walk out over the ocean while waves and surf crash around them. The walkway provides a wonderful vantage from which to enjoy the antics of the Harbor Seals basking and playing just a few feet away.
La Jolla Cove is situated along a bay sheltered from the ocean’s surge. Its soft sandy beach offers great sun bathing, swimming and surfing; the clear waters along the offshore reefs provide excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. In the summer and autumn months the surf is gentle, the water warms into the 70s, and the beaches are busy with swimmers, scuba divers and surfers making it a great place for participating or just people watching.
A visit to The Cave Store affords visitors the opportunity to descend a 100 year old stairway, into a manmade tunnel, down into the fascinating and mysterious Sunny Jim Cave – the largest of several ocean caves in La Jolla Cove. The cave’s first owner, Sunny Jim, hired two Chinese laborers in the early 1900’s to dig this underground tunnel down to the cave. Using only picks and shovels, they carried all the dirt out by hand. In the 1910’s, the only way the public could get to the cave was by lowering themselves down a rope. Today, you can take 145 stairs from The Cave Store. Sunny Jim Cave is the only sea cave in California that you can enter from a stairway.
Be sure to take a drive up Nautilus Street to the pinnacle of the city, the top of Mount Soledad. Dr. Seuss and his wife Audrey lived for years in the Seuss house on this mountain. From the park at the peak you can see San Clemente Island 65 miles west in the blue Pacific, North County beaches to the north and the San Diego downtown skyline and the Mexican border beyond to the south. The view is simply spectacular at night. The site is well known for the controversy generated by the Easter Cross war memorial that towers above the peak. There is no admission charge, the park is always open.
The Torrey Pines Gliderport is perched on 340-foot sandstone bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean just north of La Jolla. The prevailing westerly winds here meet the coastal cliffs to create ideal conditions for today’s gliders. The Gliderport towers above Torrey Pines City Beach, known locally as Black’s Beach, a well-known clothing-optional beach. The Gliderport was first established as a soaring site in 1928 and has had a role in defining the history of motor-less flight. Watching is free, the views are spectacular, the ocean magnificent; the Gliderport attracts enthusiastic participants and spectators year-round.