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About La Jolla
With mild temperatures and stunning stretches of coastline, La Jolla, CA likely gets its name from the Spanish "la joya" or "the jewel." This beautiful city is home to several educational institutions as well as real estate, finance and scientific research companies. Tourism is a big draw and the city boasts the well-known Torrey Pines Golf Course, as well as shopping, dining and art galleries.
The Community of La Jolla
Technically, La Jolla is part of the greater San Diego area. Because of its desirable climate and location right on the ocean, home prices are some of the highest in the U.S. The downtown district is known as the Village, while La Jolla Shores is home to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus and Bird Rock to the south has some of the area's best surfing. Most of the other neighborhoods in La Jolla are primarily residential.
What to Do in La Jolla
Mount Soledad, at 822 feet, is one of the highest points in San Diego. Visit the Mount Soledad Veterans War Memorial that honors veterans with a unique series of 11 walls beneath a 27-foot cross. While the land was under government control, the presence of the cross was contentious, but since 2015 a private group has had ownership and continues to display the cross as a memorial and local landmark. From the top of Mount Soledad, you have fantastic 360-degree views of the entire area -- it's the ideal place for a picnic lunch. The memorial is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with free admission.
During low tide, you can explore the famous La Jolla Caves. You can hike or kayak into the caves, or stop at The Cave Store, a gift store that offers souvenirs and ice cream as well as a 145-step tunnel that you can take (for $5 per person) to visit one of the larger caves. Keep an eye out for the seals and sea lions that make the surrounding coast home.
The Salk Institute is a private, non-profit research facility named after Dr. Jonas Salk, who helped to implement the modern polio vaccine. Its architecture draws visitors from around the world, and you can schedule a time for a self-guided tour of the buildings and laboratories. You must make online reservations and pay a $7.50 conservation fee.
One Place You Shouldn't Miss in La Jolla
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla includes a public aquarium, known as the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. With more than 60 different habitats for marine life and a location high above the Pacific Ocean, this aquarium has something for just about everyone, including interactive exhibits that highlight research done by Scripps scientists. Tickets are $19.50 for adults.
Dining in La Jolla
The Cottage La Jolla is an unpretentious brunch and dinner spot with good views and delicious omelets. The Cottage has been drawing crowds since 1992, so you'll likely have to wait a bit for your table, but grab a fresh, free cup of coffee and stroll the neighborhood while you wait.
For a higher-end meal, give Catania a try. Advertising their cuisine as "coastal Italian," you'll be able to partake in a variety of handmade pasta dishes or wood-fired pizzas. The appetizers here are especially good -- sample crispy octopus or braised lamb meatballs that are simply scrumptious.