There are so many things to do in La Jolla, California! Here are the best suggestions for a day trip to this beautiful west coast gem.
Follow along to discover all of the fun things to do in La Jolla!
What is there to do in La Jolla? Plenty! If you only have one day to explore the neighborhood, after reading through this post, you’ll wish you could stay longer. The beaches in La Jolla are breathtaking, the sea caves are a must-visit for all explorers, and La Jolla’s secret spots are extraordinary to discover. Oh, and have we mentioned the food? La Jolla is a heaven on earth for foodies too!
Plan your La Jolla day trip with these top-notch La Jolla San Diego activities.
Getting to La Jolla
Getting around Southern California towns and neighborhoods has room for improvement. Fortunately, La Jolla is one of California's most popular beach destinations, so getting to the beautiful seaside area can still be a breeze!
La Jolla is still technically part of San Diego. Hop on the 30 bus at any bus stop in downtown San Diego, Old Town, or North County, and you’ll reach La Jolla in 30 minutes or less.
Driving to La Jolla is much easier. Whether you’re already in San Diego or a town farther away, taking either the I-5 South or I-5 North (depending on where you’re coming from) will eventually take you to La Jolla and La Jolla things to do nearby.
Experience a Beach Day in La Jolla
La Jolla is officially dubbed as San Diego’s Jewel by the Sea. So if you only have one day in La Jolla, why not visit the best attractions the neighborhood offers? Run to the beautiful beaches!
Aside from La Jolla Beach, California, which tends to get extra crowded during the weekend, there are many more beaches to enjoy crashing waves and fresh air from sunrise to sunset. Here are some of the best beaches in La Jolla. Lounge in one of them or beach hop–it’s your choice!
La Jolla Cove
If you’re wondering what to do in La Jolla, the most straightforward answer would be to take a trip to the Cove. There are many things to do in La Jolla Cove, from watching seals and sea lions lounge lazily on the rocks to admiring the cliffs surrounding the beloved beach.
In addition, this spot is the neighborhood’s most desirable local for swimming, diving, and snorkeling!
One of the best things to do in La Jolla is to take a day off to one of the neighborhood’s most beautiful beaches. And if your purpose is to wind down, there is no better destination than Windansea Beach.
The rocky shore of Windansea Beach boasts gorgeous scenery and fantastic surf breaks created by underwater reefs. Although swimming is allowed at the beach, visitors often come here for a laidback lounge by the sea or for great surf. So calling all water sports enthusiasts!
La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area, and naturally, it is on top of people’s things to do in La Jolla San Diego. The waves at Shores Beach make it an excellent spot for surfing. Bringing snorkel gear is also not a bad idea. In addition, there are grassy areas for picnics with friends and family.
However, since the beach quickly gets crowded all week, it can sometimes feel like a neighborhood park. This should not be a problem if you’re looking for lively energy and a fantastic place to hang with the kids!
It takes time and energy to trek down Black’s Beach. However, if you’re really outdoorsy and are eager to reach a beautiful beach with the least crowd, then spending a day at Black’s Beach is one of the fun things to do in La Jolla.
Black’s Beach is a long walk away from Shores Beach, but doable. Once there, you will be rewarded with views of dramatic cliffs and a quieter beach. Note that a portion of Black’s Beach is clothing-optional, although the beach is vast enough that visitors shouldn’t expect to encounter nudity.
Explore the La Jolla Sea Caves
Of all the La Jolla best things to do for adventure lovers, exploring the Sea Caves is arguably the most popular.
Seven caves make up the Sea Caves. Six of seven remarkable, brine-lashed caverns can only be accessed from the water. Namely, Clam Cave, Arches, Shopping Cart, White Lady, Little Sister, and Sea Surprize. A few La Jolla Sea Cave kayak tours take visitors to all seven caves, provided the weather, and the waters are calm.
Each of the caves is unique from the others. The impressive rock formations, colorful flowstone, and mesmerizing stalactites and stalagmites make the trip one of the best La Jolla activities. The kayak tour is also an opportunity to see seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, sea otters, fish, sea birds, leopard sharks, and more sea creatures.
There is, however, one Sea Cave that can be accessed both by land and water–Sunny Jim’s! It is arguably the most famous out of all seven caves and is the most photographed.
Visitors also enjoy learning more about the deep history of the caves while going down the manmade tunnel and narrow staircase which enslaved people used to enter the cave. But while learning is fun, the view at the end of the tunnel is, many will agree, the most rewarding part of the trip.
Unearth La Jolla’s Hidden Gems
Wondering what to do in La Jolla for a day? How about discovering some of La Jolla’s hidden attractions? Earn bragging rights for visiting as many of these secret spots as you can. Here are some of the best:
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Want to go hiking? It’s actually one of the top La Jolla things to do when you only have one day! The Ho Chi Minh Trail, however, is not your typical short trail. This hike is not for the faint of heart; anyone afraid of tight spaces will want to avoid it. But if you are up for the challenge, you will be rewarded with gorgeous views and Insta-worthy photo opportunities.
In addition, the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail will take you to Black’s Beach La Jolla. Stroll by the beach and enjoy a peaceful sunset while you’re at it.
Can't get enough of San Diego's beautiful outdoors? Check out our guide to the 13 Best Hikes in San Diego!
SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck
Most shipwrecks can only be seen deep underwater. But if you’re in the area, it’s possible to see one without scuba diving. The SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck isn’t always visible, but it is occasionally exposed during low tides, especially in winter.
So if you plan to head to Coronado Beach anyway, head straight to the SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck site, you’ll find it south of Hotel del Coronado.
Broken Hill Trail Loop
When in the area for a day, the Broken Hill Trail Loop should be on your Things to do La Jolla CA list. It’s one of those beautiful underutilized trails you don’t want to miss if you’re into hiking and breathtaking scenery.
Broken Hill Trail Loop is generally easy to navigate. However, please note that the trail has numerous stairs, so it can be challenging if you bring toddlers with strollers. Along the way, you will see gorgeous Torrey pine trees. They’re perfect backdrops for the ideal “one with nature” photo you’re aiming for, but the trees are much more appreciated as shade when the sun’s too bright.
No one knows when exactly the La Jolla swings were built nor who built them. But whatever purpose the secret creators of the La Jolla swings have, we sure are glad the swings are still around.
Experiencing La Jolla's secret swings is one of the most memorable things to do in La Jolla today. And if you’re visiting La on a whim, there is no need to reserve time at the swings. Some of the swings have the perfect ocean view. Imagine gently swinging with the perfect southern California view.
Satisfy the Foodie in You
If you’re always looking for the next best restaurant, we recommend trying out one or two of the fine dining experiences in La Jolla!
There are currently seven Michelin-approved restaurants in La Jolla. Marine Room is a romantic spot where you can celebrate a special date, but you don’t need an occasion to enjoy fresh seafood selections with a French and Asian twist.
Into Mexican food? Puesto is arguably the best Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. It boasts fresh, bright flavors in Mexico prepared just two blocks from the Cove. Taco Tuesdays in a renowned Mexican restaurant and a day at the beach? Sign us up!
Discover More Places to Explore
San Diego's hidden gem is brimming with exciting places to explore! Many activities will keep you busy all day, from beautiful beaches to must-try fine-dining restaurants.
Have You Been to Southern California?
What would you add to our list? Leave us a comment below!