By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com San Diego Bloggger
Going North from San Diego, La Jolla is the first jewel on the route. Locals say La Jolla actually means “the jewel,” tho historians believe it traces to the original native indians who named it for its many sea caves and one local tour guide swears it means “city of no parking” for it’s always hard-to-find spots around the Cove.
It is a finely polished jewel, at that, with the sand of neighboring Pacific Beach giving way to mild but dramatic cliffs. Waves crash hard into the land, exciting area surfers who flock to the break at its southern shores. Just to the North, landlovers love the large, palm tree-framed park and beachside benches for reading, watching or snuggling. Some climb down to the rocks for sunning and relaxing.
Free street parking is available, though as menionted at the top of this post, spaces can seem really sparse in the summer. And watch out for the signs; it’s two hours in the Village and sometimes three.
The highlight for those who like to get wet is beautiful La Jolla Cove. It’s a small swimming hole, and snorkeling through the thick kelp bed is a truly relaxing experience. Occasionally, big swells make snorkeling difficult, but swimming is always possible. Dry off on the small beach, which attracts people throughout the morning and afternoon.
This is where sea lions hang out when they are not out fishing for dinner and dodging Great White sharks. They play in the water, often coming right up to snorklers, and lay on the rocks. As well as each other. There are close to a hundred of them and tourists pack the walkway to watch them grunt and get in the occasional brief encounter with another sea lion. Or tourist, who stupidly gets to close in order to post a social media video; this is where a lady was chased in a video that went viral.
Just arond the corner to the south is Children’s Pool, a small swimming area protected by a curved wall. In the winter, the tiny beach is filled of seals. Unlike the sea lions, they just pretty much lay there. A mile or so to the south is Windandsea Beach, known for its tidepools and a little hut put there decades ago by a couple of surfers, marking it as gathering place for people in the neighborhood. There is a mural of it in the San Diego airport. Pro’s Tip: You can climb on the huge rocks but avoid going in the water here because it nearly always has a nasty rip tide.
La Jolla also has a small beach across the water from the Cove called La Jolla Shores and a nude sunbathing section called Black’s Beach.
Head up to Prospect Street for shopping, lunch or dinner in what is called La Jolla Village, the Beverly Hills of San Diego. It’s here that La Jolla’s upscale culture really reveals itself. That is, if the zillion-dollar homes along the ocean weren’t already a tip off to it. Galleries, boutique hotels and elegant restaurants line the perfectly-manicured streets.
Notable restaurants are George’s At the Cove (pricey), Eddie V’s for steaks La Dolce Vita just across Prospect Street for simple yet excellent Italian food (I especially like the fact they do very generous wine pours) and the botique Beeside Balcony, which has a live music and a speakeasy in the back.
Even in these surroundings there are a few cozy places to stop in for a few drinks. Regulars will give newcomers a curious look because the places are strong local hangouts. Jose’s is a cantina that’s been there forever and Duke’s at the top of the Cove are good spots.
For bars and nightlife, The Spot just down from Jose’s is a happening sports-and-more bar and a couple blocks up Herschel Ave., Hennessey’s is a way-cool spot with several rooms, live music, two bars and a Happy Hour until 7 where you can get a beer and a tequila shot for 10 bucks (I know this from personal experience, by the way). Still, this part of town pretty much rolls up the sidewalks after dark.
About a mile to the south is a cool thatched bar, The Shack, which gets locals and surfers after a session at Windandsea Beach.