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(2015 - Fall/Winter Issue)


La Jolla, California, offers a grown-up beach vacation bursting with artistic and historic character.

Known as the “jewel of San Diego,” La Jolla is literally a sparkling gem on the Pacific coast. The weekend getaway of choice for many holidaymakers hailing from California and Arizona, La Jolla’s soft lines and pastel colours offer a sharp contrast to neighbouring San Diego’s market squares and brick Victorian architecture in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Resting atop towering cliffs, the village boasts stunning views over the Pacific and abundant seal, sea lion and pelican wildlife. Its relaxed atmosphere is perfect for those who want a beach vacation with a side of class. La Jolla offers a permeating sense of wellness and its serenity seems to wrap around you, leaving visitors feeling relaxed and welcome.

With its sandy beaches, temperate climate and rich cultural scene, it’s no wonder La Jolla is the getaway of choice for many Canadians, too. Wander through charming boutiques, browse inspiring galleries and tour historic buildings. It’s the perfect destination for a long-weekend getaway. Explore the best of the city in just 72 hours and leave feeling inspired—and probably craving a return trip.

Arts and Culture Nexus

Staples such as the San Diego Zoo and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps have long attracted visitors, but La Jolla’s cultural offerings are finally getting their fair share of attention. What really sets the village apart is its artistic backbone. Galleries, theatres and concert venues are abundant and brimming with local talent. And the focus on maintaining the village’s historic heritage and authentic charm is evident in the stone fences, arts-and-crafts-style cottages and historic properties, lovingly restored to their full glory.

This is a place that recognizes the value in keeping its beachside heritage and works hard to maintain it. Sky-high condos were told they weren’t welcome here after a development boom, risking business for beauty. And it’s paid off. Gorgeous views of the coast can be appreciated even from the main street, as you duck in and out of independent boutiques and galleries.

La Jolla flexes serious artistic muscle with its pristine galleries in the Design and Art District along Girard Avenue, which includes the Monarch | Arredon Contemporary, Joseph Bellows Gallery and Quint Gallery. The Tony award-winning La Jolla Playhouse has produced many shows that have gone on to Broadway, including Jersey Boys. And the village was a main source of inspiration for long-time resident Dr. Seuss. Admire his eccentric artwork at Legends Gallery, including some risqué adult pieces he didn’t want showcased until after his death. It’s not hard to see why he was so inspired by La Jolla’s arts community where even the sidewalks and buildings are infused with art, most recently with a large-scale outdoor mural project featuring local and international talent.

The architecture itself is worth exploring on its own. The La Jolla Athenaeum Music and Arts Library offers art exhibitions, classical and jazz concerts, lectures and studio arts classes, all within a striking façade. And with its beautiful oceanfront location, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego features both views and masterpieces to be admired.

Luxurious Lodgings

La Valencia hotel is a perfect example of original La Jolla charm. The “pink lady” has kept watch over the ocean cliffs since 1926, hosting scores of Hollywood stars over the years. With its Mediterranean-influenced architecture, hand-painted murals, manicured terraces and Spanish mosaics, the hotel’s personality blends old-world charm and sophistication with a welcoming, unpretentious style of service.

It’s this feeling that perfectly captures the essence of La Jolla. Although it’s clear there is a great deal of wealth in the village, it’s very welcoming. Elegant, not stuffy. Sophisticated, but not pretentious. Think board shorts paired with a beautiful, full-bodied red. Visiting La Jolla finally provides context to the phrase “casual elegance.”

This atmosphere also carries over at the luxurious Estancia La Jolla Hotel, where a spa boasts an outdoor fireplace, saltwater whirlpool and eucalyptus steam room—perfect after playing 18 holes (or, perhaps, instead of).

Indeed, golfers are in their element at the famed Torrey Pines course, tucked next to the 809-hectare Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Even novice hikers can explore nearly 13 kilometres of trails with spectacular views of the ocean. The AAA Five-Diamond Lodge at Torrey Pines, designed in true southern California craftsman style, is a destination unto itself. Its restaurant, A.R. Valentien, is a must-do, with farm-to-table dining experiences highlighting local growers and ranchers.

Gourmet Dining

However, dining in the Marine Room in the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is worth a trip to La Jolla on its own. It features an unbelievable on-the-sand location from which to watch the tide come in as waves crash against the windows. It’s no surprise the restaurant plays host to many marriage proposals as the stunning location simply cannot be beat and the dinner is to die for. Tender lobster tail, veal tenderloin and osso buco complement crab cakes and wild prawns on the robust, inspired menu.

For a more low-key meal with a view, head to George’s at the Cove for a panoramic vista on an open-air patio and a menu listing fresh, local ingredients and innovative cocktails.

Even casual breakfast options turn it up a notch with local favourites such as Brockton Villa and its famous “coast toast” French toast with an orange twist. Overlooking La Jolla Cove and housed in one of the area’s first beach cottages built in 1894 (complete with an original abalone shell fireplace), visitors get a sense of why the La Jolla Historical Society works so hard to preserve these architectural treasures and ensure La Jolla remains the jewel that it is today.

Travel Planner

Air Canada (aircanada.com) offers direct flights between Toronto and San Diego

and Treasure Limo (treasurelimo.com) provides transportation between

the airport and La Jolla. For more information, visit:

San Diego Tourism Authority: sandiego.org/LaJolla

Birch Aquarium at Scripps: aquarium.ucsd.edu

Brockton Villa: brocktonvilla.com

Estancia La Jolla Hotel: estancialajolla.com

George’s at the Cove: georgesatthecove.com

Joseph Bellows Gallery: josephbellows.com 

La Jolla Athenaeum Music and Arts Library: ljathenaeum.org

La Jolla Historical Society: lajollahistory.org

La Jolla Playhouse: lajollaplayhouse.com

La Valencia Hotel: lavalencia.com

Legends Gallery: legendsgallerylajolla.com   

Marine Room: marineroom.com

Monarch | Arredon Contemporary: monarchfineart.com 

Murals of La Jolla: muralsoflajolla.com

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: mcasd.org

Quint Gallery: quintgallery.com

The Lodge at Torrey Pines: lodgetorreypines.com

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