“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss
It’s taken me quite a while, but I think I have truly discovered La Jolla. When I moved to California in 1987, I lived in Orange County for the first two years. San Diego was part of my sales territory, and back then it was pretty much a military town with a thriving aerospace/defense industry. Those were my customers. But San Diego was also well known for it’s beautiful beaches and this mythical place called La Jolla.
To be honest, it took me over a decade of living in California and visiting San Diego to find La Jolla on any kind of consistent basis. It wasn’t until 2003, when I started looking for a home in San Diego, that I started to really understand more about La Jolla. And now, after a decade of living in San Diego, I’ve spent considerable time in that neighborhood, including living there for a year. I finally have a pretty good handle on the gorgeous and fun peninsula in San Diego known as La Jolla.
Since my fiancée, Amanda, and I have been talking about La Jolla quite a bit lately, we decided to write a series of articles this week to give our readers a better understanding of the depth and richness of this very special San Diego neighborhood. Even with that, we don’t proclaim to be experts, so we’ll try to give some guidance and point you in the direction of some of the real experts on La Jolla.
We have written a few articles already for The San Diego Lifestyle about La Jolla, including our experience kayaking in La Jolla Shores, seeing the Sea Lions in La Jolla Cove, visiting Windansea Beach, seeing the Cross on Mount Soledad, hiking Torrey Pines Reserve, and playing on the beach in La Jolla Cove. We will continue to write the topical pieces, but we hope this “La Jolla Series” at least gives you a reasonable roadmap to enjoy all that La Jolla has to offer.
What is La Jolla?
La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) is a peninsula about 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego. It is home to about 43,000 residents and is composed of 16 distinct neighborhoods. There are a number of different interpretations about what is included in La Jolla, but it is most commonly considered the 92037 zip code, plus the University of California, San Diego. Some La Jolla residents dispute this, and say the part of 92037 that is east of the 5 Freeway is not really La Jolla. This includes the Aventine and a number of condos and apartment complexes. It is adjacent to University Towne Center (UTC) Mall and University City. That part of “La Jolla” is also home to a prestigious private school, La Jolla Country Day.
Another confusing aspect of La Jolla is the distinction between “La Jolla Village” and the “Village of La Jolla”. La Jolla Village is a neighborhood and shopping area west of the 5 freeway, but just adjacent to the Freeway, and includes the La Jolla Village Square shopping area. The “real” Village is actually in the heart of La Jolla on the water and really the formal downtown area of La Jolla, and it’s most prominent street is Prospect Street.
La Jolla is best known for it’s expensive real estate, its beaches, cute shops, excellent restaurants, and world-renowned higher education and research facilities.
La Jolla is part of the San Diego Unified School District. However, it is also home to a number of private schools including the Bishop’s School and La Jolla Country Day. It is also home to a number of churches and wonderful points of interest.
How do I get to La Jolla?
Before I moved to San Diego, I would always get confused about how to get to La Jolla. It can be a little tricky, and residents like it that way. From the South along the coast, the best way to enter La Jolla is from Pacific Beach. Theodore Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss), of many famous past and present La Jolla residents, got his inspiration for Horton Hears a Who! from Pacific Beach (AKA Whoville). If you have ever been to Pacific Beach, especially on a weekend night, you will understand Dr. Seuss’s perspective.
From the South on the 5 Freeway, it is best to take the La Jolla Parkway exit, which turns into Torrey Pines Drive.
From the North, you exit the 5 Freeway at either the Genesee or the La Jolla Village Drive exit. In either case, you turn right and find Torrey Pines Drive. You take Torrey Pines Drive south, all the way into La Jolla. In both cases you’d be driving past UCSD, just on different sides of the university.
As you start heading down the hill into La Jolla, you’ll pass the uber exclusive and uber expensive neighborhood of La Jolla Farms. At the bottom of the hill, you can find La Jolla Shores to your right. If you stay on Torrey Pines Drive until you hit Prospect, you can turn right to get into the Village of La Jolla (not La Jolla Village). I know, it’s confusing.
From the East, you take the 52 Freeway, and it turns into La Jolla Parkway, then into Torrey Pines Drive.
There is a big hill on the La Jolla peninsula, and it is called Mount Soledad. The hill is home to seven of the 16 La Jolla neighborhoods. Once you get past the Village, there are a number of cute neighborhoods in La Jolla. From north to south, you have Barber Tract (AKA Windansea Beach), Upper and Lower Hermosa, and finally Bird Rock. South of Bird Rock is Pacific Beach (AKA Whoville).
By the way, there is a “secret” other way to get into La Jolla by taking La Jolla Shores Drive near UCSD instead of taking Torrey Pines Drive.
All this is much simpler to find La Jolla now with the advent of GPS, but I still think it is important to know your way around. To get to La Jolla Shores, enter the address the La Jolla Shores Hotel. To get to the Village, enter the address for George’s at the Cove.
Deep Dive into La Jolla
We are excited about our series this week where we are taking a closer look at La Jolla. It is a fascinating place and multifaceted and super fun. What is your experience with La Jolla? Did you find it the first time around? What are your favorite parts of this wonderful peninsula?