Lovely La Jolla

One of my most recent trips was to the lovely La Jolla- “The Jewel City” of San Diego, which consists of 7 curving, seaside, hilly miles of the Pacific. This affluent beach town is home to some of the highest home prices in the US, but which maintains a local, small town feel and which values beach and nature preservation, along with architectural preservation. Every time I visit La Jolla, I find myself singing Beach Boys songs to myself and yearning to jump on a surf board again for the first time in 30 years.

The citizenry of La Jolla appear to be on a stage set for a beach blanket movie produced in the 1950’s. Especially in the neighborhood of La Jolla shores, home to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography / UC San Diego:https://scripps.ucsd.edu/‎ , Scripps beach- equipped with fire pits in the sand, a huge playground and grassy lawn- perfect for picnicking and outdoor play- one sees EVERYONE carrying surfboards, sometimes while skateboarding to the beach. There are always throngs of people kayaking, diving, enjoying beach bootcamps, taking yoga classes on the sand and of course surfing. I’ve seen every type of surf group and tournaments on this beach: church groups, women’s clubs, kids’ camps, professional tournaments, professional men before/after work, housewives….all surfing! Fantastic.

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Within the Scripps Institution of Oceanography / UC San Diego campus is one of my favorite restaurants in La Jolla, Caroline’s Seaside Cafe: carolinesseasidecafe.com My husband and I always drop in following our morning run on the beach for a freshly squeezed orange juice or a lemonade and a decadent mocha coffee- complete with whipped cream. The restaurant offers complete breakfast and lunch options and serves beer and wine, as well. The view from the restaurant is second to none and the service is friendly, mostly consisting of students from the UC San Diego. I’ve enjoyed great veggie options and have loved their home-made granola, fruit and yogurt.

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La Jolla shores is also home to the tony La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club: www.ljbtc.com

This private club and hotel has been in operation for 75 years, and maintains the charm of a bygone era and beach elegance, while offering all of the modern convenience of our current times. The club offers one of California’s rare private beaches, 14 championship tennis courts, par-3 golf, massage services, beach activities, full-service catering, unique meeting spaces, Tennis Shop and award-winning cuisine at The Marine Room – all just a few sandy steps away. One can stay in the hotel anytime, but should one choose to join this private club, the procedure involves an application, three member sponsorship letters and a three year wait list…I’d say that it’s worth the wait.

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I find La Jolla Shores to be inherently cozy. My favorite street of mom and pop shops is Avenida de la Playa, which leads to the beach and sides the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. I’ve made it a personal tradition to stop in Squires Cafe and Deli: http://www.yelp.com/biz/squires-cafe-and-deli-la-jolla for a cup of vanilla nut coffee and a daily homemade hot apple dumpling before our run on the beach. Also on Avenida de la Playa are fantastic neighborhood restaurants, such as Osteria Romantica: http://www.osteriaromantica.com/ ,where the pappardelle is superb and where everyone knows everyone. There are kayak rentals, dive shops, bicycle rentals, ice cream shops, a burger joint, two other Italian restaurants and sushi place. I particularly love Surf Diva: http://www.surfdiva.com/ which offers all types of surf clinics, camps and rentals.

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The village of La Jolla is just a short drive away and offers world class shopping, as well as every type of personal training studios (pilates, barre, spinning, yoga, etc…), many churches, restaurants, banks- as well as a Ferrari  and Maserati dealership. The Hotel Valencia is the crown jewel of hotels in the village of La Jolla:http://www.lavalencia.com/

locally known as “The Pink Lady.”The La Valencia Oceanfront Hotel is an icon, which has hosted celebrities, celebrations, reunions and romantic getaways since 1926. I recommend going to the bar for a sundown drink and soaking in the beauty of the room, as well as the sundown into the Pacific.

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Mary Star of the Sea Church

It’s not unusual to find weddings in the park just west of the Hotel Valencia, near the cove- especially just before sunset.

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I would be remiss should I not mention my favorite coffee house in La Jolla- another local icon, Pannikin:http://pannikincoffeeandtea.com/ My twin sister attended University of San Diego and discovered this treasure well before Starbucks introduced the coffee house to the masses. My twin was so inspired by Pannikin, that she and her first husband opened a similar shop in South Beach. Pannikin was founded in 1968 and hasn’t changed a lick, happily. Go for the white chocolate mocha or the Mexican chocolate mocha and a homemade scone/muffin/cookie…you won’t be disappointed! Next door to Pannikin is a great second hand bookstore, D.G. Wills Books:http://www.dgwillsbooks.com/ which I always peruse after my caffeine and sugar fix. There are books for $1 outside, and stacks and stacks of every genre of book inside- all for around $5-10. I love independent bookstores and D.G. Wills never fails to satisfy.

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Another favorite of mine in the village is The Cottage: http://cottagelajolla.com/ . This place is fabulous! There is always a line to get in and it’s always worth the wait. The pancakes are out of this world, as is everything on the menu. There is a breakfast and lunch menu and just recently they opened for dinner. Go and enjoy the place. You’ll arrive hungry and leave NOT hungry.

By this point, you understand how much I enjoy food. If you like fresh seafood, check out El Pescador on Pearl Street: www.elpescadorfishmarket.com/‎ . Again, there’s always a line out the door to this seafood market/restaurant- but the food is outstanding! This is a local gem. Try the cioppino and the fish tacos with avocados…the best I’ve had, period. You might wish to phone in your order, if you’re in a hurry. We’ve found the best plan of attack is to have my husband get in line to order, while I hover around the jam packed tables until someone leaves- then I take possession and guard the seats with my life, as others are just as seriously looking for a seat or two. El Pescador is in the process of moving across the street to a larger venue…but hasn’t moved yet.

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Another must visit is Girard Gourmet: http://www.girardgourmet.com/ , owned by Diana and her husband for more than 25 years. She and her husband grow their own organic produce in their home garden and oversee everything in their restaurant/catering establishment every day. We had the pleasure of meeting Diana and discussing her dog and our’s while her husband decorated cakes for one of their customer’s (Ginny) 100 birthday. You find a portrait of Diana, her husband and their Corgi dog Ellie behind the counter. I highly recommend the Princess Cake and the mac and cheese.

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There’s so much to explore and enjoy in La Jolla, that I could go on and on. More to come following my next trip to that wonderful seaside town, full of wholesome fun and luxury.

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