Aerial view of La Jolla coastline, one of the best things to do in La Jolla

20 Best Things to Do in La Jolla (in 2023)

If you’re looking for fun things to do in La Jolla, you’ll find plenty of activities, sites & activities to fill your day.

Located in Southern California, the small seaside community of La Jolla offers some of San Diego’s best attractions, views, natural beauty, history, culture, and wildlife. The town, though small, has tons of destinations, activities, and sights to offer. 

I am a San Diego local who lives nearby, and in this post I’ll round up some of my favorite stuff to do in La Jolla.

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20 Best Things to Do in La Jolla

La Jolla Cove

Admire stunning wildlife that congregates around this tiny beach and protected cove

View of sea lions in La Jolla Cove

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

La Jolla Cove is a small semi-circle of the sandy beach by rocky cliffs that attracts sea lions, seals, shorebirds, a variety of fish, and lots of human admirers! It is one of the most iconic spots in La Jolla, widely appreciated for the diversity of wildlife and the unique scenery. It’s also the best spot to watch the playful sea lions frolick in the water and lounge on the rocks.

👉 Pro Tip: Read here for more of San Diego’s most iconic activities.

Explore the La Jolla Tide Pools

Search for miniature creatures hiding under rocks and among the algae of small pools

View from the La Jolla Tide Pools during sunset

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free 

One of my favorite childhood activities was poking around the miniature ecosystems that form in the small rock pools that form along La Jolla’s beaches when the tides are low! Sift the patches of algae and seagrass to discover otherworldly organisms like mollusks, anemones, urchins, sea slugs, and tiny fish.

👉 Pro Tip: Tidepooling is best in winter when low tides are extreme and expose more pools. Read here for more information on the best time to visit San Diego.

Stroll Through Downtown La Jolla

Wander the seaside community of La Jolla and its quaint streets full of shops and restaurants

Aerial view of the coast in Downtown La Jolla

📍 Google Maps 

The Village of La Jolla is a renowned shopping and dining area that offers upscale boutique shops and fine dining, interspersed with laidback joints, many of which offer ocean views. Check out my guide to the best restaurants in La Jolla.

The walkable streets, Coast Blvd and Prospect Street, are picturesque and boast historical, Spanish style architecture and the numerous art galleries showcase local artists and pieces that celebrate San Diego.

Visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Learn about amazing local marine life from the experts at Birch Aquarium

People observing marine life in Birch Aquarium

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 534-3474 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $24.95, adults, $19.95 under 17

Birch Aquarium is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The aquarium is world-renowned for its stunning displays and enclosures that inspire guests and connect them to the ocean. 

Birch visitors have the opportunity to see more than 60 pacific ocean habitats and many rare and exotic marine life, including penguins, octopuses, and sharks. 

Birch Aquarium is run by the renowned UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It is also a pioneer in conservation, research, and education, so your visit supports its many beneficial activities!

Picnic at Ellen Browning Scripps Park

Dine on the grass atop a bluff that looks out over the stunning ocean.

View of people in Ellen Browning Scripps Park
(photo: Sherry V. Smith / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (619) 235-1169 | Website | Hours: 4 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

The Ellen Browning Scripps park is a grassy recreation area that sits atop a seaside cliff in La Jolla. From the park you can see all the way to La Jolla Shores and the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, and offers some of the best seats in La Jolla to watch the sunset! Bring a blanket and some snacks to sit and watch the birds swooping around the cliffs. 

Kayak Tour of the La Jolla Sea Caves

Kayak in and around La jolla’s stunning sea cliffs

People kayaking in La Jolla Sea Caves

👉 Browse La Jolla Kayaking Tours on Viator

At the base of the tallest cliffs in La Jolla are a collection of hidden caves that are only visible and accessible via the water. The crashing against the cliffs have created beautiful pockets and caves that look like they were sculpted by an artistic architect. Kayak tours, one of the best La Jolla tours on offer, are an awesome way to see the caves up close and to even go inside one of the biggest of them. 

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Lookup some great hotels near La Jolla Shores on Booking. See my guide to staying in La Jolla for tips on the best places and areas.

Snorkel the La Jolla Underwater Park

Witness marine life such as fish, turtles, sharks, and stingrays in their natural habitat

View of a diver and the La Jolla Cove in the background from the water

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator

The La Jolla Underwater Park is a protected marine area that lies off the coast of the town that contains a beautiful ecosystem home to a variety of marine creatures. The sea grass, rocky reefs, and kelp forests draw a huge diversity of fish, sometimes sharks, and even green sea turtles. The area is a favorite among spear-fishers, snorkelers, and scuba divers.

Snorkel gear can be rented from one of the various recreation shops near La Jolla Shores, and you can also book snorkeling tours from many of these places – check out some options here. 

The warmer water during summer draws hundreds of harmless leopard sharks to nearshore waters, which is an incredible snorkeling sight.

Visit the Cave Store

Take a historical tunnel to the interior of a bootlegger’s sea cave

View from the inside of a sea cave in La Jolla

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 459-0746 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $10 adults, $6 under 18

The Cave Store was once the house of a German artist who, in 1902, commissioned a tunnel to be dug from the inside of his home to the nearby Sunny Jim’s Cave. According to legend, the cave was used by bootleggers smuggling alcohol during prohibition. Now, visitors can retrace the historical staircase tunnel to see the interior of the only sea cave accessible via tunnel! 

Windansea Beach

Check out a stunning beach and see a historical beach hut

A palm leaf hut under the clear blue sky in Windansea Beach

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free 

Windansea Beach is the northernmost, and one of the most beautiful beaches in La Jolla, and is uniquely beautiful for its rock formations that create platforms that jut out into the waves. Atop one of these rocks sits the historical and iconic thatched beach hut, one of the most recognizable beach monuments in San Diego.

Romantic Dinner at The Marine Room

A fine dining experience on the beach next to the waves

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 459-7222 | Website | Hours: 5 pm – 9 pm daily, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays 

If you want to enjoy views of the ocean while dining, then The Marine Room is an unparalleled choice! The food and flavors are sourced from fresh, local ingredients.

The restaurant is located at the southern end of La Jolla Shores, quite literally on the beach. At low tide, you will be feet from the tide, but the spectacular show happens at high tides when the waves crash against the restaurant walls!

Sunset at Torrey Pines Gliderport

Watch the sunset atop a cliff while watching paragliders soaring above the bluffs

A man paragliding in Torrey Pines Gliderport at sunset

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 452-9858 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: Free 

The gliderport sits atop a cliff that towers above the beach below and offers a launching point for hang gliders and paragliders that soar high above the coast. It’s a truly unique spectacle to see the fliers hurl themselves off the cliff and then serenely float hundreds of feet in the air. It’s also a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset!

👉 Pro Tip: Interested in gliding? Check out the classes and tandem flights that the gliderport offers here. 

Take a Surf Lesson at La Jolla Shores

Learn to surf on one of La Jolla’s most popular beaches

A man teaching a surf lesson to a woman in La Jolla Shores

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free | 👉 Surf Tour on Viator

The long stretch of beach that makes up La Jolla Shores, the most popular La Jolla beach, offers some great waves for surfing! The spot caters to both advanced surfers and to those just dipping their toes in the water for the first time. The smaller, nearshore waves offer long, easy rides for beginners, which makes it one of the most popular spots for surf lessons in San Diego!

📚 Related Reading: Check out other awesome beaches in La Jolla and San Diego’s best beaches.  

Visit the La Jolla Historical Society

Learn about La Jolla’s unique history and culture

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 459-5335 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 4 pm Wednesday-Sunday | Entrance: Free

The La Jolla Historical Society is made up of a collection of preserved historical buildings that are now used to collect and share La Jolla’s unique history. Visitors to the Historical Society will have the chance to immerse themselves in exhibitions of culture, art, and history that make La Jolla what it is today! The society also offers periodic symposia, tours, and discussions.

Relax at The Spa at Torrey Pines

Embrace relaxation and rejuvenation at one of La Jolla’s most beautiful spas

A couple receiving a head massage in La Jolla Spa

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 777-6690 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 7 pm daily

If you’re in the mood for some quality relaxation and rejuvenation, then you won’t be disappointed by a visit to The Spa at Torrey Pines! The La Jolla spas looks out over the beautiful pacific ocean and sits right next to the rugged cliffs of Torrey Pines State Nature Preserve. The spa integrates elements of San Diego’s natural plants and beauty, making it a great way to connect with the local environment.

Get your laugh at The Comedy Store

See famous and up-and-coming stand-up comedians at this world-renowned venue

A male comedian performing at The Comedy Store

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 454-9176 | Website | Entrance: Depends on n show, 21 and older

The original Comedy Store was founded in Los Angeles in 1972 by Sammy Shore, the opening act for Elvis Pressley, and became the first stand-up comedy nightclub in the world. The comedy club catapulted the stand-up scene on the west coast and in 1976 the club opened a location in San Diego. 

Today The Comedy Store welcomes some of the most famous jokers to the stage on weekends and local comedians during the week.

Browse the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market

Pick up some locally-sources products, produce, and food

A woman picking fruits and vegetables in La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 454-1699 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 1 Sundays | Entrance: Free 

On Sundays, the local elementary school courtyard transforms into a bustling, charming farmers market where vendors sell artisanal clothes and jewelry, art, produce, and delicious food. 

The La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market is a great place to go and pick up your locally grown vegetables for the week and chances are you’ll be able to check off more to-do items while you’re there! And be sure to grab a bite of breakfast or lunch from one of the awesome food vendors!

👉 Read Next: Best Areas to Stay in San Diego County

Visit the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art

Explore the world and culture through the eyes of art

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 454-3541 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Thursday-Sunday | Entrance: $25, adults, Free under 25 

Founded in 1941, the renowned San Diego Museum of Contemporary art allows visitors to explore the world and both global and regional culture through the lens of contemporary art. The museum is housed in a historic building overlooking the ocean in the heart of La Jolla and offers permanent collections as well as rotating exhibitions of 20th century art and innovations.

If you enjoy museums, be sure to bookmark my guide to the top museums in San Diego County.

Stroll the Coast Walk Trail

Take in views of some of the most famous La Jolla attractions from the clifftops

A couple enjoying the view from Goldfish Point

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free 

The Coast Walk is an easy dirt trail that meanders atop the La Jolla cliffs, offering unbeatable views of La Jolla Shores, the Scripps Pier, La Jolla Cove, and all of the tiny beaches and wildlife in between! The trail leads from Coast Walk rd. to the picturesque Goldfish Point, located near the Village of La Jolla and La Jolla Cove. 

Grab a Bite at The Taco Stand

Sample some of La Jolla’s best tacos

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 551-6666 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 10 pm Friday & Saturday, 9 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday 

San Diego is known for its incredible Mexican food, thanks to its close proximity to the border, and The Taco Stand showcases the cuisine in a spectacular way. The tacos are some of the best in La Jolla, not to mention their delicious cilantro salsa, which draw long lines at lunch and dinner time – but the wait is well worth it!

Visit the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Pay tribute to all veterans, from the Revolutionary War up to today

Military veteran plaques at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial
(photo: Lowe Llaguno / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (858) 459-2314 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

The Veterans Memorial at Mt. Soledad, sits isolated atop a hill and is unique in that it honors all veterans, both living and deceased, starting from the Revolutionary War up until the present. It’s an emotionally moving scene to see all of the names and portraits carved into a wall, and set against panoramic views of all of La Jolla.


I hope I helped you decide what to do in La Jolla. For more San Diego inspiration, check out my guide to the top things to do in San Diego.

Visiting La Jolla is an awesome way to see some of San Diego’s rich history and culture, as well as its beautiful coastal beauty! Between its beaches, the wildlife, the numerous restaurants, and the shops, La Jolla is a great place to visit for a day or weekend. 

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