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Group vacations can be complicated – not everyone wants to lie on the beach or hit the links at the same time. That’s why choosing a beach town packed with possibilities is a great idea for friends or multi-generational groups traveling together.
As far as beach towns go, you can’t do much better than La Jolla, a chic seaside community perched on a picturesque bluff a few miles north of San Diego. You get that same bright Cali sunshine and the same laidback lifestyle but in a more bitesize package. The center of town is easily walkable which means you can stroll down to the beach (or even better, stay right on the beach) instead of loading up your car and sitting in traffic. There are restaurants a-plenty, wildlife for kids to spot and world-class golfing just a stone’s throw away. All, this and beautiful beaches with excellent surf make La Jolla the kind of vacation spot that you return to year after year.
With several excellent fine art galleries in town, a morning spent browsing for a unique painting to take home as a La Jolla souvenir is time well spent. Most of the galleries are centered along Prospect Street which also glimpses of blue ocean in between buildings. You’ll find photography at Aaron Goulding, contemporary art at the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, and wildlife paintings and photos at the National Geographic gallery. There’s also the bigger San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, found just along the seafront.
When you feel like a break from your cultural excursion, drop into one of the charming coffee shops for an iced coffee and a little something sweet. There’s great shopping to be found on Prospect and surrounding streets too, everything from Cartier jewelry to small fashion boutiques showcasing unusual clothing lines.
For lunch, George’s at the Cove is a California Modern bistro that’s a favorite with locals. The downstairs room with floor-to-ceiling windows is ideal for lunch, while sunset cocktails take place at Level 2 (one floor up), with an unbeatable sunset view.
If you like a round of golf while on vacation, you’ve come to the right place. Torrey Pines, one of the most well-loved public golf courses in the US, is just 6 miles outside of La Jolla. It has been a permanent spot on the PGA Tour since the 1960s and is famous for its spectacular cliffside views. It also plays host to the World Juniors competition. Boasting two 18-hole courses (known as the North and South courses), for many golfers, it’s a real bucket list spot. The club is public, owned by the city of San Diego, and to keep it that way they hand out tee times on a first-come, first served basis. Non-residents can apply online for tee times up to three days in advance. Your Luxury Retreats concierge can help with organizing tee times and equipment rental.
Look out of your window early any morning in La Jolla and you’re likely to be confronted with a view of wetsuited locals striding down to the water’s edge, surfboard in hand. For many SoCal residents, surfing is more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life. La Jolla Shores is a great beach for beginners looking for their first taste of the sport – the break here is a consistent and non-threatening, making it easy to get your sea legs. Luxury Retreats can organize experienced surf instructors to help you ride those first few waves.
If you’re a more experienced surfer, Black’s Beach is considered one of San Diego’s best breaks by those in the know. The beach is only accessible on foot so you’ll have to carry all your gear with you, but with the right conditions, the waves are totally worth it.
If you’re traveling with your children, there are plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities in town to keep kids entertained. Children of all ages will love seeing the seals that lounge on Children’s pool beach. Created in the 1930s to create a safe cove for kids to swim in, the beach has been somewhat taken over by seals, who come in large numbers daily to loll around on the sand in a way that many children find very amusing. If you visit, remember not to approach the seals directly – the animals are best enjoyed from a respectful distance.
If you have teenagers, take them to snorkel at the Underwater Park, just off La Jolla Shores beach. In summer the area is home to shoals of leopard sharks, and swimming alongside them is quite unforgettable.
Another great kids adventure is walking down the rickety wooden staircase inside a stone tunnel to the Sunny Jim Sea Cave, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. There’s a resident sea lion population nearby that you can watch from inside the cave. To find the staircase, head into The Cave souvenir store on Coast Boulevard.
Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot or a home right on the beachfront, we’ve got some great options in La Jolla.
For many, a trip to California is not complete without staying right on the beach. Choosing a La Jolla beachfront rental means waking up just steps away from the ocean – ideal for keen surfers or those traveling in groups who might have different activities on the agenda. Our beachfront homes sleep up to 20 people, and are spacious, stylish and come with all the modern amenities you expect to have at home. Good up some fresh fish tacos on the BBQ, then serve them outside as you watch the sunset over the water, or take your morning coffee for a stroll along the sand, then refresh yourself with a dip in your private pool before heading into town for some window shopping.
For a wedding destination that your entire extended family will enjoy, La Jolla is hard to beat. There are incredible venues for the actual ceremony and reception – such as the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art – and plenty of cozy spots for morning-after brunch. When your guests have left and it’s just the two of you, you’ll be very glad you chose a La Jolla honeymoon . Our chic two-bedroom villas have sea views, beach access, and plenty of privacy.