You may have a busy lifestyle and feel as if your weekend is full of errands, walking the dog, and meal prepping for the rest of the week. But every once in a while, bring out your weekend warrior and take a day trip that is cheap, easy, and sure to fill your adventurous soul to get prepared for the upcoming work week. La Jolla is perfect if you are craving different scenic vibes along the shore.
Take a mini road trip
Driving down the 5 may seem far but getting to La Jolla and back is totally doable in one day before the sun goes down. Try to avoid heading down on days like the Kaboo festival (a blast, but not for traffic) or the San Diego marathon. La Jolla is full of inexpensive day adventures and less than a couple hours from Orange County, perfect for a short adventure
Ride the Train
The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is a great alternative for those that want to relax and enjoy coastline views and avoid Southern California traffic. Plus, you don’t have to be in the driver’s seat. The Surfliner picks up at multiple locations in Orange County and drops you off in the heart of Old Town San Diego. La Jolla’s pristine waters and wildlife adventures are only a short Uber ride away.
La Jolla Coves
Surrounded by the cliffs of La Jolla, the cove is a small protected area of the marine reserve. Free public parking is available along the street but can be limited. Be on the lookout for sunbathing sea lions and search the tide pools for crabs and other small creatures.
Whether you choose to watch them from the shore, sea kayak through them, or descend down the slippery steps to explore, the La Jolla sea caves are nature’s magnificent hideaways.
Everyday California offers guided sea kayaking tours throughout the summer. Guides typically take small groups to the caves and bring you inside to explore if tide levels are low to moderate. Kayaking is fun and easy but prepared to get wet! Tours are open to ages 6 and above and usually last an hour and a half. Make sure anything you bring or wear can get wet!
If you opt to kayak on your own, just launch it at the foot of Avenida de la Playa. Just make sure to have life jackets in the kayak as that is a rule that is enforced in the water.
If you opt not to get wet at the ocean’s entrance, there is a walkway to the caves through The Cave Store for just a $5 fee. From the street, The Cave Store appears to be a cute beach shop and you would never know there was an entrance to the caves inside. Be careful as it gets dark along the way and the steps get wet and slippery with the foot traffic. The view from the ground floor is worth it and you can even watch the kayakers paddle through.
If you’ve always wanted to check these off your bucket list, it may not be cheap but La Jolla is the place to do it. Get the ultimate ocean view while tandem paragliding at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Spend the day ‘flying’ then enjoy a meal at the Cliffhanger Café. Classes are offered for those who want to get their paragliding licenses. If you know you in advance that you want to hang glide, make sure you call in advance because wind conditions have to be perfect to fly.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
This unique hike includes a short but steep 0.6-mile path directly to Black’s Beach. There’s no better destination than that! The rock formations leading up to the beach are so unique, it’s definitely worth the day trip to La Jolla just to hike this trail. Wear shoes with a good grip as the naturally paved sand along the trail can get slippery, especially with the inclines.
One of the more popular hiking destinations in San Diego is Torrey Pines. Mainly because it stretches across 2,000 acres by the coast. To get to the trailhead, input this address into your maps: 12600 N. Torrey Pines Rd. There is a fee for parking on Fridays, weekends, and holidays (all day pass is $15). You can choose to meander down to the ocean or climb up the trail. Regardless of the path you choose, the ocean views are breathtaking.
Coast Walk Trail
If you want to take a more leisurely stroll, this is the trail for you. Take a walk along Coast Boulevard in La Jolla and enjoy the views and great weather. My favorite time to go is early in the morning before it gets too sunny and it is much less crowded. Begin the trail at Seal Rock or ‘Children’s Pool’ and eventually the sidewalk ends just past Ellen Scripps Park.
The beaches of La Jolla are beautiful and there are tons of things to do but the best feeling is soaking in some sun on the sand. From Black’s Beach, you can watch the hang gliders fly overhead and surfers take on the waves. You can also head to Scripps Beach which is adjacent to the gorgeous UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Hang out below the Scripps Pier, architecturally basic yet beautiful. La Jolla Shores Beach is the perfect place to get a tan. Take note from the lazy sea lions and be a beach bum. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation for a day.
- If you want to explore the caves or walk through the tide pools, you could be challenged by high tide levels. Surfline.com provides accurate Southern California tide reports along with HD camera views if you want to research before you go.
- Avoid driving back to Orange County on Sunday from 3-7pm. Traffic can be bumper to bumper, so plan to have dinner or leave earlier to avoid the rush.
- Pack your backpack or car with a change of clothes if you plan on doing multiple activities in one day. Swimsuits are a must! And of course sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, hiking shoes, socks, extra socks, change of clothes, and always bring a jacket as it can get chilly by the water!
While a trip to Tahiti for a weekend is out of the question, the adventure does not have to be. Take a day trip from Los Angeles to La Jolla and you’ll come back more relaxed, more tan, and more fulfilled.