If you plan to be in San Diego for a few days, you should rent a car and take the 30-minute trip up to La Jolla. The 7-mile, hilly seaside community offers much more than just the University of California, San Diego.
This scenic town is the perfect place to experience nature in the most unconventional ways. And its natural beauty, yet quirky vegetation, can be credited as the inspiration for many of the settings Dr. Seuss used in his children’s books.
If all great days begin with breakfast, then all great days in La Jolla begin with breakfast at Cody’s.
Located beneath an operating vacation rental, in what used to be someone’s home 20 years ago, is one of the best places to dine in the entire town.
The relaxed, unpretentious service is what you’d expect from most restaurants on a beach, and it’s also the reason the restaurant feels welcoming and cozy. The best seat in the house is out on the patio at the table in the corner where Coast Boulevard meets Girard Avenue. There you’ll get the best view Cody’s can offer—skyscraper tall palm trees beside West Coast cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.
They are “world famous” (if you ask them) for their French toast, but the chicken and biscuits, as well as the blueberry pancakes, are notable mentions. They also have other classic breakfast dishes, such as omelets, benedicts and yogurt.
Although they do offer lunch and dinner options, their breakfast menu is served all day, encouraging you not to set an alarm while on vacation.
Open daily 8 a.m.to 3 p.m., www.codyslj.com.
If you were sitting on any beach in La Jolla, it would be nearly impossible to miss the paragliders and hang gliders soaring off in the distance. That’s because Torrey Pines Gliderport, one of the country’s oldest and most experienced launch sites, is sending students, pilots and tandem riders into the air almost 365 days a year (weather permitting).
The site itself is located on a cliff, hundreds of feet above one of the largest nude beaches in the U.S.—Black’s Beach. On the two-acre property sits a quaint store/registration space that’s attached to a little café, which offers soups, sandwiches, salads and snacks from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with outdoor seating. The rest of the space is dedicated to takeoffs and landings.
If you’re like most travelers, you’ll just want to take a tandem flight, which means a USHPA-certified instructor will be piloting the glider made for two. At your arrival you’ll be asked to sign a legal wavier and record a video wavier, basically stating that you are aware of the risks. Then you’ll be asked to complete a very short temporary membership application with the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. After that the fun begins! You’ll meet your pilot, put on your gear, and then once the conditions are right, you’re off!
In the air you’ll get breathtaking views of the coastal cliffs and the horizon, and a bird’s eye view of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, as well as neighborhoods filled with mega-mansions. Average flights last approximately 20 minutes, but it depends on the wind. If winds are sustainable, you’ll land right where you took off. If they weaken, you may land on Black’s Beach and have to take the 15-minute hike back up to the cliff.
Tandem flights are offered seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or later if wind conditions allow. Each flight is conducted on a first come, first serve basis. Reservations are not taken because of the uncertainty of the weather. Call them at 858-452-9858 or check the weather on their website to determine they are flying tandems.
Paragliding flights are $165 and $175 cash, https://www.flytorrey.com.
A super casual, yet popular spot to grab lunch in La Jolla is at Bahia Don Bravo. Sure, it may have the feeling of a taco stand that’s been dropped inside of a restaurant because you’re asked to stand in line to order, but their fish tacos are seriously the best fish tacos in town (maybe even in all of Southern California)! What makes them even better is their price: $.99 for a mini and $1.99 for a regular.
If fish tacos aren’t your thing, the extensive menu is filled with tons of other authentic Mexican favorites such as quesadillas and burritos.
They can get quite busy during lunchtime, so be strategic about your visit. Send one person in to order while the other person tries to grab seats at the bar on the back patio (for a view of the ocean), and if you’re hungry it may be in your best interest to order some chips and salsa or guac for the wait.
Located at 5504 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, open 10 a.m.to 9 p.m.
One of the most unique experiences you can have in La Jolla is kayaking through a wondrous sea cave.
La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks offers a one and a half-hour guided tour that is perfect for everyone, including those who want adventure with little effort. During your excursion, your guide will give you tons of fun facts about some of the thousands of organisms located below your kayak in the marine ecological reserve. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll come across lots of what they’ll discuss. Something you’re certain to encounter are the sea lions and their putrid smell. And if weather conditions allow, you’ll be given the opportunity to paddle right into one of the ancient sea caves the ocean has carved into the cliffs.
Participants are asked to meet at La Jolla Shores shop to sign waivers and retrieve safety gear and paddles. Because you should expect to get wet, a swimsuit or wetsuit is recommended (wetsuits can be rented for $10). There are secured lockers available at the shop if you need to store personal items during the tour.
Once your group is ready to begin, you’ll follow your guides three blocks to the beach, where you’ll grab kayaks and be given a quick paddle instruction and safety talk. Then you’ll paddle 1 to 2 miles out from shore, which may sound tough, but really you’re putting forth the same amount of effort if you had walked the same distance.
Minimum age requirement is 6 years. Children 12 and younger will be required to ride in a two-person kayak with a parent or guardian. La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks uses sit-on-top kayaks that are very easy to use and require no previous experience.
Reservations and sunscreen are highly recommended.
Peak Pricing: single $70/double $110 (nonpeak discounts range from 10 percent to 40 percent off), http://www.lajollaseacavekayaks.com.
On the way back to San Diego you can reward yourself for being so adventurous by stopping into The Baked Bear, an ice cream shop that encourages you to build your own ice cream sandwich with a variety of cookies and ice cream flavors.
Located at 4516 Mission Blvd., Suite C, San Diego, http://thebakedbear.com/menu.