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19 Fun & Best Things to Do in La Jolla, California

19 Fun & Best Things to Do in La Jolla, California

Located on the rugged coastline in San Diego county, La Jolla, California is a seaside community famous for its beach destinations, outdoor recreational activities, access to marine and wildlife, and friendly locals.

Known as “The Jewel,” La Jolla draws visitors from all over the globe to experience its beautiful coastline, luxurious hotels, high-end shopping, museums, and art galleries. Like many San Diego area destinations, La Jolla is an enjoyable place to visit any time of year.

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a partner, or with the whole family, there’s something for everyone in sunny La Jolla. Endless sights, activities and adventures await every visitor.

Here are the top fun and best things to do in La Jolla, California.

Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
1. Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Top Recommendation

Looking for a first-class golfing experience? Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines is your perfect destination. This hotel offers 36 holes of golf, a poolside bar, and a free grocery shopping service. restaurant with golf course views. Treat yourself to a massage or other spa services. The onsite restaurant, Torreyana Grille, features ocean views. Enjoy the gym, as well as activities like basketball. In addition to a terrace and shopping on site, guests can connect to free WiFi in public areas.

Holiday Inn Express and Suites La Jolla
2. Holiday Inn Express & Suites

Looking for a place to stay near Coast Boulevard Park Beach and downtown San Diego? Holiday Inn Express and Suites La Jolla is your perfect choice! With its convenient location, 20 minutes' walk to Coast Boulevard Park Beach and 16 km from downtown San Diego, this hotel offers easy access to all the best that the city has to offer. Guests can relax by the outdoor pool or hot tub, or enjoy the beach-themed guest rooms, each equipped with free WiFi, a refrigerator, a microwave and a coffee machine. Cable TV is also available for your enjoyment.

Inn by the Sea La Jolla
3. Inn by the Sea, La Jolla

The beautiful boutique hotel is located just two blocks from the stunning Pacific Ocean and pristine beaches of La Jolla. It offers a heated outdoor pool, guest rooms with free WiFi, and a 24-hour multilingual reception staff to provide you with the best possible experience during your stay. The east spacious air-conditioned room features a TV with pay-per-view channels, a seating area and ironing facilities. All rooms feature a balcony or patio, many offering breathtaking views.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – La Jolla Cove
  • Best park – Ellen Browning Scripps Park
  • Best free activity – La Jolla Shores Beach
  • Best activity for kids – Birch Aquarium
  • Best activity for adults – Torrey Pines Gliderport
  • Best food – Duke’s La Jolla
  • Best nightlife – Hennessey’s Tavern
  • Best all-around accommodation – Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

Best & Fun Things to Do in La Jolla, California

1. Seven Sea Caves of La Jolla

View of Sea Cave of La Jolla

Address: 2164 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037

Nestled between La Jolla Cove and Shores lies the Seven Sea Caves. Six of the caves are accessible only by kayak tours or swimming, and one is accessible by land.

Set within a 75 million-year-old sea cliff, the La Jolla caves are named White Lady, Little Sister, Shopping Cart, Sea Surprize, Arch Cave, Sunny Jim’s Cave, and Clam’s Cave. Sunny Jim’s Cave is the only sea cave accessible by land.

For safety purposes, you will enter the caves with a guide. As you paddle through calm waters on your kayak tour, keep your eyes peeled for bright orange fish beneath your kayak.

If you’re lucky, your guide will point out birds, dolphins, sea lions, and even an orca in the right season. Most kayak tours are about two hours long and they explore the caves, the coastal ecological reserve, and its impressive kelp beds.

Whether you’re an expert kayaker or a beginner, seeing the La Jolla caves is a must on any San Diego vacation. No matter what time of year, with an expert guide, you’ll witness some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife the beach city offers.

2. Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium Entrance
Richard Frazier / Shutterstock.com

Address: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

The Birch Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in southern California, bringing in more than 400,000 visitors each year. Located on the campus of UC San Diego, Birch Aquarium is also home to the research facility, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

With over 3,000 animals representing 380 species, Birch Aquarium at Scripps offers guests a fascinating look at the incredible underwater life of its many sea creatures, fish, and invertebrates in more than 60 habitats. From little blue penguins, schools of fish, seahorses, sea dragons, a giant kelp forest, and the Hall of Fishes, this local aquarium is a fantastic place to spend the day with kids.

You’ll walk through the outdoor Shark Shores, home to La Jolla’s famous leopard sharks and stingrays. Stop at the Tidepool Plaza and say hello to the sea stars, anemones, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and more. 

The aquarium hosts many seasonal events and offers private tours and behind-the-scenes experiences where guests can get up close and personal with the little blue penguins and seahorses. While you’re there, enjoy some of the most stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the coastline, and its surrounding beauty.

Birch Aquarium is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and 9 am to 7 pm in July and August. Adult tickets are $24.95, and children under 2 get in free. The aquarium at Scripps is one of the best things to do with kids in La Jolla, California.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California

3. La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove Aerial View

Address: 1100 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

La Jolla Cove is a popular beach surrounded by beautiful rocky cliffs, with Point La Jolla forming at the southern end of the cove. It’s one of the most visited beaches in San Diego, known for its turquoise waters and incredible marine life. The cove is home to the La Jolla tide pools, one of San Diego’s most popular attractions.

La Jolla Cove is a protected marine life preserve, drawing in crowds of visitors and locals for snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving. You’ll probably see the playful sea lions of La Jolla, as the cove is one of their favorite beaches.

Particularly in the winter months during low tide, visitors will see the tide pools and small marine life on this quaint beach. Children will love seeing fish, crabs, and other creatures up close.

For great snorkeling, try the rocky section of the cove, the southern end of the cove near the kelp beds, and along the sea caves just north of the beach. For thrilling snorkeling tours of the caves and the cove, check out this snorkel tour.

If you want to visit the cove, plan to walk a few blocks from the convenient public parking garage. It’s down a steep grade from Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, so plan accordingly. Located steps from La Jolla Cove is the Inn by the Sea La Jolla, a welcoming and cozy hotel that provides stunning views of La Jolla and a convenient location for all the beach activities.

4. Ellen Browning Scripps Park

Ellen Browning Scripps Park Scenery

Address: 1100 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

One of the biggest perks of a trip to San Diego is the perfect weather nearly all-year round and the variety of outdoor activities to enjoy in the sunshine. Look no further than Ellen Browning Scripps Park for a relaxing day at the park.

Located in the village of La Jolla, this public park draws visitors and locals to its open green space for its scenic park, access to three beaches, and an ideal lookout for whale watching. La Jolla Cove is the beach to the north of Ellen Browning Scripps Park, while Boomer Beach and Shell Beach are to the west.

Ellen Browning Scripps Park is one of the most photographed spots in San Diego, and we understand why! It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, so be sure to bring your camera.

Visitors are welcome to come to the park and spend the day; barbecues, picnic tables, and restrooms are available. Pack a lunch, grab a kite or frisbee for some outdoor fun, and enjoy a perfect day in the sunshine in La Jolla.

If you’re in the mood for a stroll, a sidewalk path in the park heads south past the Children’s Pool beach and several other less-popular beaches. You can also take the Coast Walk Trail north from the park and explore the entire shoreline of the village on a sandy walk. Don’t forget the sunscreen! 

See Related: Best Day Trips from San Francisco, California

5. San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park

La Jolla Underwater Park Sign
Rosamar / Shutterstock.com

Address: 8302 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037

The San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park spans nearly 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and the Pacific Ocean’s tideland. The park consists of four habitats that draw snorkelers and scuba divers to explore the fascinating underwater world.

The park’s four habitats include a rocky reef, kelp bed, sand flats, and a submarine canyon. Within the park are two man-made coral reefs that are designed to attract new life to the habitat. Many enter the La Jolla Underwater Park from La Jolla Shores, where the waves are minimal, thanks to the artificial reef.

Adventurous divers can explore a 500-foot underwater canyon, kelp forests, and schools of Garibaldi fish. You may encounter dolphins, sharks, kelp forests, and hundreds of fish. If you’re swimming in the winter, make sure to grab a wetsuit before you go in. The water will be chilly!

From the shore, you’ll likely see seals and sea lions and their babies from La Jolla Cove. Thanks to the 500-foot drop in the La Jolla Underwater Park, whale sightings are common in the winter months. As gray and humpback whales migrate from the Arctic toward Mexico, you may be lucky enough to see some as they pass on the coast.

The Marine Life Refuge covers the rest of La Jolla Underwater Park. It extends further west into the ocean and north to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the Scripps Pier, and surrounding areas. 

Hungry after your underwater adventure? Grab a meal at La Jolla’s popular fine-dining restaurant, the Marine Room.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Merced, California

6. Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach Scenery

Address: 6600 Neptune Pl, La Jolla, CA 92037

Visit one of La Jolla’s popular surfing spots at Windansea Beach. Located right in downtown La Jolla, Windansea Beach is a laid-back area with bluffs, rocks, a sandy beach, great waves for surfing, and amazing sunset or sunrise views.

For a less touristy beach in the San Diego area, Windansea Beach is a great place to pack a lunch and spend a few hours or watch the surfers. The water is typically rougher here, so it’s not ideal for swimming unless you are a strong, confident swimmer. Due to the underwater reefs, the surf breaks are rougher than on other beaches in the area.

There’s a local landmark at Windansea Beach called the Windansea Shack, a tiki-style hut that serves as shade for local lifeguards in the summertime on the small beach.

Keep your eyes peeled for seals that may swim over from other beaches to say hello. You’ll find street parking and easy beach access at Windansea. If you get hungry after your visit, grab a burger at The Shack or sandwiches and wings at Nautilus Tavern.

A great hotel near Windansea Beach is Holiday Inn Express & Suites in La Jolla. Complete with an incredible outdoor pool and just steps from the beach, you won’t have to choose between a pool day or a beach day — you can have both.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Healdsburg, California

7. Hike Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines State Reserve Scenery

Address: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037

Torrey Pines State Reserve is a coastal state park on 1,750 acres of land above miles of pristine beaches, chaparral, Torrey Pine trees, and a lagoon. From the park’s south end, you’ll catch a glimpse of the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, complete with gorgeous ocean views and two 18-hole golf courses.

This protected area of La Jolla is home to 3,000 of the rarest pine trees in the United States — the Pinus torreyana, which only grows in La Jolla and Santa Rosa Island. The park protects one of the last great salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in California along with pine tree preservation.

Torrey Pines State Reserve offers many hiking trails and paths for any skill level. Families with young children can be seen wandering around the well-kept trails and admiring the beautiful scenery, while more advanced hikers can find trails that are challenging and enjoyable.

Popular trails include the Guy Fleming Trail, an easy 0.7-mile loop that is great for families or casual walkers. There’s Razor Point Trail, 1.4 miles of badlands with a breathtaking ocean lookout.

Take the Beach Trail down to Torrey Pines State Beach for a more challenging workout. Make sure to bring water and snacks if you plan to hike or spend time in the park. There aren’t any places to purchase sustenance on-site.

For a gorgeous stay near Torrey Pines, check out the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines for amazing ocean views and a luxurious hotel experience.

8. Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

Address: 700 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037

Need a break from the beach and all the sunshine? Tap into your artistic side with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla. This San Diego museum is home to one of the most popular art galleries in the area, with sites in both La Jolla and downtown San Diego.

The art museum is focused on the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of works of art from 1950 to the present. MCASD encourages all visitors to reflect on their communities and the world around them through the powerful lens of contemporary art.

While at the museum, you’ll enjoy fabulous ocean views as you browse the thought-provoking displays and exhibits. After your visit, stop at The Shop, where you can purchase souvenirs, contemporary art books, and design objects to commemorate your visit.

The museum offers a Free Third Thursday, where guests get in free, and the hours are extended to 8 pm. The museum also offers free guided tours from 6 pm til close. General admission is $25, and children under 17 get in for free.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California

9. Salk Institute

Salk Institute Scenery

Address: 10010 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037

The Salk Institute is a scientific research center for Biological Studies in La Jolla. It is a non-profit center founded by Jonas Salk, the polio vaccine inventor, in 1960.

The institute has received many accolades; in 2009, it was ranked the number one institute by ScienceWatch in the neuroscience and behavior areas.

The institute specializes in the research of three areas of science: molecular biology and genetics, neurosciences, and plant biology. From cancer and diabetes to aging and Parkinson’s disease, the institute employs over 850 scientists in 60 research groups that make groundbreaking discoveries and contributions to cancer and many other conditions.

You’ll be amazed at the incredible architecture and design of the Salk Institute. The campus consists of two symmetric “winged” buildings that face each other with a water stream flowing toward the ocean. Semi-dwarf Valencia orange trees outline the outdoor area.

The building was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Twenty-five Year Award, which is given to only one building per year. It continues to receive recognition as one of the world’s boldest structures.

The Salk Institute is home to many science events, including conferences, seminars, and lectures that draw in scientists, researchers, and other professionals from around the world. Whether you explore the campus and see its fantastic architecture or sit in on a science lecture, you’ll be amazed by the Salk Institute and its contributions to architecture and science. 

10. Torrey Pines Gliderport

Torrey Pines Gliderport Scenery

Address: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037

Torrey Pines Gliderport is North America’s most historic aviation site, with nearly 100 years of flying history in La Jolla.

The Gliderport is home to the best paragliding, hang gliding, remote control models, and sailplanes in southern California. The Gliderport provides a world-class flying site, flight lessons, certifications, and tandem flights for locals and those visiting La Jolla, California.

If you’re a beginner, taking a tandem flight with one of Gliderport’s professionals is highly recommended. You’ll soar over the coastline, taking in the stunning views of the Pacific coast while getting a birds-eye view of many other San Diego beaches.

If you’re interested in learning to fly, Torrey Pines Gliderport offers paraglider flying lessons to build your confidence and make you a safe and competent pilot. They offer flight school classes and certifications through thorough flight training and continuing education programs.

If you’d rather just watch the paragliders take off, the Cliffhanger Café is located on the sea cliffs of La Jolla and has a great lunch menu. The Cliffhanger Café features live music and local bands on Saturday and Sunday throughout the spring and summer months.

Torrey Pines Gliderport is open seven days a week, and no flight reservations are required. 

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California: SoCal & NorCal Spots

11. La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shoreline

Address: 8324 La Vereda, La Jolla, CA 92037

La Jolla Shores is a 1-mile-long sandy beach that draws in families, groups, solo travelers, and everyone in between. It is considered the best San Diego beach for gentle waves and is ideal for young children. Lifeguards are stationed year-round at this beach because of its popularity.

If you want to spend all day at the beach, picnic tables and a grassy area near Kellogg Park are perfect for lunch with a view. There’s a playground for kids, volleyball courts, public restrooms, and fire pits. While at the beach, keep your eyes peeled for leopard sharks, sting rays, and other underwater creatures.

La Jolla Shores is known for novice scuba diving training, thanks to its calm waters. It is located next to the La Jolla Underwater Park; fishing is not permitted at La Jolla Shores.

If you’re visiting La Jolla in the summer, we recommend getting to the beach early. It fills up quickly with large families and groups. It is a great beach to relax all day, sunbathe, play in the sand, and enjoy all the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

If you’re feeling adventurous, book a surf lesson at La Jolla Shores.

12. La Jolla Historical Society

La Jolla Historical Society Building
image by cultivar413 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 780 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037

Located in the Wisteria Cottage near the beach, La Jolla Historical Society strives to inspire and empower the community to make La Jolla’s diverse past a relevant part of contemporary life.

For history buffs, the La Jolla Historical Society provides a thorough walk through history from La Jolla’s humble beginnings in 1850 up to the present day. You’ll learn about the opening of La Jolla’s oldest buildings, including Wisteria Cottage (built in 1904) and La Jolla Park Hotel (opened in 1893), among many others in San Diego county.

Visitors can learn about the historical landmarks and structures in La Jolla, including the post office, Torrey Pines Lodge, and the La Jolla Woman’s Club. Discover the historical significance of these locations and their impact on the small seaside community.

You can take many free self-guided walking tours, including a walking tour of La Jolla Village, exploring the many historic beach cottages of La Jolla, and learning about the architecture of the 1920s in La Jolla and the mid-century modern architecture around town.

The La Jolla Historical Society hosts many free events and seminars for the public, including private walking tours of La Jolla, visual presentations, lectures, and much more. Wisteria Cottage is open from 12 pm to 4 pm on Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

13. Go on a Shopping Spree

La Jolla Aerial View

Location: Downtown La Jolla

San Diego is home to iconic beaches, stunning views, and delicious restaurants, but you can’t beat the shopping! For anchor shops and great dining, you can’t miss The Shops at La Jolla Village during your stay in La Jolla. It’s right off the 5 freeway and Nobel Drive and has popular establishments, including Nordstrom Rack, Whole Foods, Sephora, and more.

Spend the day in downtown La Jolla and shop til you drop. Girard Avenue and Prospect Street offer many specialty shops where you can find unique items to commemorate your visit.

Browse high-end shops like Cartier and popular stores like Lululemon and Talbots. There are several tasty dining options downtown where you can grab a bite between shopping.

For a trendy outdoor mall experience, Westfield UTC checks every box. Featuring shops like Nordstrom, Apple, Zara, and Pottery Barn, you can spend the entire day at Westfield UTC. In addition to shopping, there’s a movie theater, restaurants, play spaces for kids, an ice rink, a dog park, EV charging, and much more.

Once you’re done shopping in the Village, head a few blocks down to enjoy a performance hosted by the La Jolla Music Society at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.

14. Explore UC San Diego

US San Diego Building
Kapi Ng / Shutterstock.com

Address: 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093

La Jolla is home to one of the most beautiful universities in southern California, the University of California San Diego. The 1,200-acre campus is a quick drive from the ocean, and you don’t have to be a student to explore the unique architecture of this modern university.

UCSD is home to the Stuart Collection, a public art collection that has been on campus for over 40 years. The collection is designed to enrich UCSD’s cultural, intellectual, and scholarly life and its surrounding community.

As you wander the campus, look for the works of art, including Fallen Star, the large bear sculpture outside the engineering building, and even whispering eucalyptus trees near the Geisel Library. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is also part of UCSD and is located below the main campus on 170 acres of preserved land near the ocean.

Pack a lunch and explore the beautiful college campus, filled with impressive architecture, art collections, and students from all walks of life. There are plenty of grassy, open spaces and places to sit and relax.

If you’re in the mood for a musical performance, see what the La Jolla Playhouse is showing on campus. You can take bus tours to get a deeper understanding of UCSD’s campus, culture, history, and architecture. It’s a great place to take lunch or grab food from one of the on-campus restaurants.

See Related: Best Museums in San Diego, California

15. SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld in San Diego

Address: 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA 92109

Get the kids up close and personal with dolphins, sea lions, penguins, and more at SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld is located about 15 minutes south of La Jolla in San Diego, inside Mission Bay Park.

SeaWorld is both an aquarium and a theme park — from rides and rollercoasters to shows and encounters with beluga whales, walruses, sharks, sea turtles, otters, sloths, and more. You won’t run out of things to see and do at SeaWorld and can easily spend a few days exploring the park.

When you enter the park, Explorer’s Reef welcomes you to its touch pools, where you can interact with reef sharks in their natural habitat. View schools of fish at the park’s aquariums, touch bat rays and interact with pilot whales.

Head to Sesame Street’s Bay of Play for family-friendly rides with Elmo and other beloved characters. Bay of Play features a three-story net climbing attraction, a splash pad, a huge bounce house, and a giant toddler mat for the little ones.

SeaWorld’s theme park has a few thrill-seeking rides and attractions for older kids and adults. Roller coasters, shipwreck rapids, and dive coasters await the bravest people in your group.

The park has excellent dining options for various tastebuds and picky eaters. You’ll find snack shacks, pizza, craft beer, a smokehouse, and many other restaurants to grab a bite to eat.

SeaWorld has special events for Halloween, Christmas, and other annual celebrations. Plan your San Diego visit accordingly if you want to add SeaWorld to your itinerary.

16. Duke’s La Jolla

Duke's La Jolla Entrance
image by DarylJ552/TripAdvisor

Address: 1216 Prospect Street La Jolla, CA 92037

Overlooking the La Jolla Cove on Prospect Street, Duke’s offers a relaxed, beachy atmosphere with delicious menu items and fantastic service. From weekend brunch to Happy Hour, Taco Tuesday, and Aloha Friday, Duke’s has a creative menu and craft cocktails that will satisfy every craving in your group.

Aloha Fridays offer guests Hawaiian-style live music and $10 Mai Tai’s from 3 pm to 6 pm. Taco Tuesday starts at 3 pm till close and offers $8 margaritas, $5 Pacificos, and tacos for $14.

If you’re in the area after 2 pm, stop at Duke’s for a drink in their Barefoot Bar, with cocktails including Duke’s Mai Tai, Lavender Colada, and a Mango Old Fashioned. They have an impressive wine and beer list, with local craft beer on tap and a wide selection of reds and whites.

After your meal, make sure to save room for Duke’s iconic Hula Pie, a dessert made of macadamia nut ice cream stacked high on a chocolate cookie crust. Complete with whipped cream and hot fudge, Hula Pie is a classic Hawaiian dessert that guests can share at Duke’s.

Duke’s is open for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 9 pm during the week and for brunch, lunch, and dinner on the weekends from 10 am to 9 pm. Stop in for a drink after a beach trip or plan a nice group dinner at Duke’s. 

See Related: Best Family Road Trips in the US

17. Hennessey’s Tavern

Hennessey's Tavern
image by diverdownfbh/TripAdvisor

Address: 7811 Herschel Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037

Hennessey’s Tavern is a great option for a night out on the town for craft cocktails and live music. It’s an Irish pub that welcomes locals and visitors for a delicious meal, great drinks, and a relaxing nighttime atmosphere.

If you’re looking for food, Hennessey’s has bar food options that will satisfy every craving. Traditional Irish breakfast items include corned beef hash and eggs, Irish oatmeal, and the giant breakfast burrito. Try the Dublin burger, steak & shrimp, Red-Headed Reuben, or the delightful Shepherd’s Pie for lunch or dinner.

Come thirsty! Hennessey’s serves delicious, unique cocktails, including a Paloma, Irish Coffee, a Bellini, or a Blackberry Margarita. Ask about their daily drink specials, like the all-day $6 Bloody Mary on the weekends.

The Irish pub also offers various events throughout the year, like a “halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” celebration in September, Oktoberfest, and many more.

Hennesey’s Tavern is open Monday through Sunday, from 8 am to 2 am on weekends and 10 am to 2 am on weekdays. It’s one of the best spots in La Jolla to spend the evening and for a relaxed, late-night hang-out spot. 

18. The Map & Atlas Museum

Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla Exhibit
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 7825 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037

For history lovers, passionate artists, and travelers, the Map & Atlas Museum has over 200 maps from 500 years of cartography on display. The museum strives to cultivate an appreciation for the geography, history, politics, and artistic beauty of antique collectible maps and atlases.

In the museum’s permanent collection, you’ll find fascinating copies of the 1472 “T-O” Map by Isadore of Seville, which is generally considered to be the first printed map. The museum is divided into sections organized by Exploration, Colonization, and Sea Charts. You’ll see map galleries of Europe, Celestial, Holy Land, Africa, and Asia.

The Map & Atlas Museum has a few very unique historical items on display, including a 1493 Basel edition of the “Columbus Letter.” This 2nd edition letter is the only one that contains a map and is one of four known around the world.

The exhibits focus on worldly and local cartography and its development over time. This free museum is a great place to explore for an hour or two. The museum is open from September through June by appointment. The museum can be explored in a few hours and is a hidden gem in the city of La Jolla. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California

19. Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Building
Alan Islas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1008 Wall Street La Jolla, CA 92037

For art lovers, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library is one of 17 nonprofit membership libraries in the United States and is located right in the heart of La Jolla.

The Athenaeum provides over 200 programs annually at its two locations in La Jolla and San Diego. Within its collection, the Athenaeum has a wide array of music and art resources for visitors to access free of charge. The library contains books on art techniques, world art, artists’ biographies, and historical surveys.

In its music collection, the Athenaeum houses performer biographies of famous composers and performers, histories of the different eras of Western classical music, texts on theory, and various musical instruments.

In addition to books on music, the museum has a collection of classical and jazz music in LP format, popular sheet music from the 19th century, DVDs, videos, and much more.

The Athenaeum is responsible for the Murals of La Jolla, a local art movement that began in 2010. Since then, 37 large-scale art murals have appeared in the village of La Jolla; some are prominently displayed, while others require a bit of effort to locate and enjoy.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. 

FAQ

What is the best thing to do with kids in La Jolla, California?

Explore the La Jolla tide pools and all the fascinating marine life at La Jolla Cove. Spend the day at Birch Aquarium at Scripps to learn about the ocean’s many creatures and their impact on the planet. Spend the day at SeaWorld. Explore the Children’s Pool and wave hello to the harbor seals and sea lions.

What are some fun things to do in La Jolla, California?

Hit the beach! Try Windansea for a less crowded option or La Jolla Shores for a family-friendly day in the sun. Hike the cliffs at Torrey Pines and enjoy the incredible views of the Pacific coast. Explore the UCSD campus. Rent kayaks and explore the La Jolla caves. Grab your snorkel gear and visit the Underwater Park.

What are some things to do in La Jolla, California, when it’s raining?

Visit the La Jolla Historical Society for a history lesson about San Diego’s famous beach city. Grab a drink at Duke’s during Happy Hour. Explore historical maps at the Atlas Museum, enjoy a musical performance at La Jolla Playhouse, or discover the famous art and music collections at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

What are the best tourist attractions in La Jolla, California?

The best La Jolla attractions include La Jolla Shores beach and La Jolla Cove. Enjoy the calm waters at the Children’s Pool, protected by the seawall. Take a paragliding ride at Torrey Pines Gliderport for a bit of adventure. Go on a sea cave adventure with a tour guide.

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