Best Things to Do at La Jolla Cove Beach, San Diego: Activities, Parking and Tips

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Imagine a pristine getaway where the sun kisses the Pacific, and adventure awaits at every corner. Welcome to La Jolla Cove Beach in San Diego, a jewel nestled on the California coast that promises more than just sand and waves.

Best Things to Do at La Jolla Cove Beach
Best Things to Do at La Jolla Cove Beach

This guide delves into the best activities to enjoy at La Jolla Cove, from serene snorkeling amidst vibrant marine life to picturesque coastal walks.

We’ll also provide essential tips on parking options and other practical advice to make your visit as smooth as possible. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a sun worshipper, La Jolla Cove offers something special for everyone. Get ready to explore the allure of one of San Diego’s most beloved spots!

See also: Best Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California

Top Activities at La Jolla Cove Beach

Snorkeling and Diving

La Jolla Cove’s underwater world is nothing short of magical. Snorkeling and diving here let you get up close with vibrant marine life like the bright orange Garibaldi fish and playful sea lions. The water is usually crystal clear, making it easy to see the colorful fish darting around the kelp forests and the majestic sea lions lounging on the rocks.

La Jolla Cove Beach Snorkeling and Diving
La Jolla Cove Beach Snorkeling and Diving

Tips for Snorkeling and Diving:

  • Best Times: Early morning is ideal as the water is calmer and visibility is better.
  • Equipment Rentals: Head to local shops like La Jolla Dive or OEX Dive & Kayak for rentals and gear.
  • Safety Precautions: Always snorkel with a buddy, watch out for currents, and be mindful of marine life.

Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove offers a unique opportunity to see vibrant marine life up close, with crystal-clear waters ideal for both beginners and experienced divers.


Kayaking at La Jolla Cove is a fantastic way to explore the beautiful coastline and its hidden gems. Guided tours take you through the enchanting sea caves and give you a chance to see dolphins, sea lions, and even the occasional leopard shark.

La Jolla Cove Beach Kayaking
La Jolla Cove Beach Kayaking

Tips for Kayaking:

  • Recommended Tour Operators: Check out La Jolla Kayak and Everyday California for top-notch guided tours.
  • Best Times to Go: Mornings are best to avoid crowds and enjoy calmer waters.
  • What to Bring: Sunscreen, a hat, water shoes, and a waterproof camera to capture the stunning views.

Kayaking at La Jolla Cove allows you to explore stunning sea caves and witness breathtaking coastal views.

Swimming and Sunbathing

La Jolla Cove is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The cove’s calm, protected waters are ideal for a relaxing swim, while the sandy shores offer a great spot to lay out your towel and soak up the sun.

La Jolla Cove Beach Swimming and Sunbathing
La Jolla Cove Beach Swimming and Sunbathing

Tips for Swimming and Sunbathing:

  • Best Spots: The area near the lifeguard tower is great for swimming. For sunbathing, the sandy patches near the cliffs provide some shelter from the wind.
  • Amenities Available: Public restrooms, showers, and picnic areas are available nearby.
  • Safety Tips: Always swim within the designated areas and pay attention to lifeguard warnings.

La Jolla Cove’s calm, protected waters make it an excellent spot for swimming and relaxing on the sandy shores.

Hiking and Coastal Walks

For those who love to stay active, hiking and coastal walks around La Jolla Cove offer stunning views and a chance to connect with nature. Trails like the Coast Walk Trail provide panoramic ocean views and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

La Jolla Cove Beach Hiking Trails
La Jolla Cove Beach Hiking Trails

Tips for Hiking and Coastal Walks:

  • Trail Difficulty Levels: The Coast Walk Trail is an easy hike suitable for all ages. For a more challenging trek, try the Torrey Pines State Reserve trails.
  • What to Pack: Bring water, sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes.
  • Points of Interest: Don’t miss the Children’s Pool, where you can often see seals, and the scenic overlooks along the way.

Hiking along La Jolla Cove’s trails offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

Wildlife Watching

La Jolla Cove is a haven for wildlife watching enthusiasts. Sea lions and seals are often seen lounging on the rocks, while various bird species soar above. During certain times of the year, you might even catch a glimpse of migrating whales.

La Jolla Cove Beach Flowers.
La Jolla Cove Beach Flowers.

Tips for Wildlife Watching:

  • Best Times and Spots: Early mornings and late afternoons are prime times for spotting sea lions and seals. The rocky outcrops near the cove are their favorite hangouts.
  • Ethical Viewing Practices: Keep a respectful distance from the animals, avoid feeding them, and use binoculars for a closer look.

La Jolla Cove is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with frequent sightings of sea lions, seals, and diverse bird species.

La Jolla Cove Beach is a paradise for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Whether you’re diving beneath the waves, paddling through sea caves, or simply soaking up the sun, this coastal gem offers unforgettable experiences. So pack your gear, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to explore all the amazing activities La Jolla Cove has to offer!

See also: Best Things to Do in Carmel Beach California

Dining and Refreshments Near La Jolla Cove

Top Restaurants

La Jolla Cove is not only a haven for beach lovers but also a culinary hotspot. Here are some top dining options you don’t want to miss:

  • George’s at the Cove: With three distinct dining experiences, George’s at the Cove is a must-visit. Enjoy coastal cuisine at California Modern, upscale bites at the Level2 bar, or panoramic ocean views from the Ocean Terrace. Popular dishes include the herb-crusted local yellowtail and lobster ravioli​.
  • Eddie V’s Prime Seafood: Known for its top-notch seafood and steak, Eddie V’s offers dishes like oysters on the half shell and a signature 36-ounce bone-in ribeye. The ocean view enhances the upscale dining experience​.
  • Brockton Villa Restaurant: Located in a historic beach cottage, Brockton Villa is famous for its breakfast and brunch, especially the “Coast Toast.” With its charming atmosphere and stunning ocean views, it’s a favorite among locals​.

Local Favorites

For a more casual dining experience, check out these beloved local spots:

  • Duke’s La Jolla: This Hawaiian-themed restaurant offers a laid-back vibe with delicious options like crispy coconut shrimp and mai tai cocktails. It’s perfect for a relaxed meal with a view of the cove.
  • Puesto: If you’re craving Mexican food, Puesto serves up hand-pressed blue corn tortillas filled with flavorful meats and veggies. The vibrant setting and colorful murals make it a fun spot for a casual meal​.
  • The Marine Room: For a dramatic dining experience, this restaurant is built over the sea, providing stunning views of waves crashing against the windows. Enjoy innovative dishes like saffron seared scallops and creative cocktails​.


  • For Seafood Lovers: Head to The Marine Room or Eddie V’s for the freshest seafood in town.
  • Best Sunset Dining: George’s at the Cove and Brockton Villa offer breathtaking sunset views, perfect for a romantic evening.
  • Quick Bites: If you need a quick and delicious meal, Puesto’s tacos or Duke’s La Jolla are excellent choices.

Plan Your Trip

  • Opening Hours: Most restaurants in La Jolla Cove open around 11 AM and close by 10 PM, but it’s best to check individual websites for specific times.
  • Reservations: Highly recommended, especially for places like George’s at the Cove and The Marine Room, to ensure you get the best seats.
  • Transportation: Parking can be tricky near La Jolla Cove. Opt for public parking lots or use services like Uber for convenience.

Dining at La Jolla Cove is more than just a meal—it’s an experience. Whether you’re enjoying a gourmet dinner with ocean views or grabbing a quick taco, the culinary offerings here will make your visit memorable.

See also: Best Things to Do in Hermosa Beach California

Useful Tips for Visiting La Jolla Cove

Parking and Transportation

Parking at La Jolla Cove can be a bit of a challenge, especially during peak times. Here’s what you need to know:

Parking Options:

  • Street Parking: The most convenient option is free street parking along Coast Boulevard and nearby side streets. However, these spots have time limits (usually 2-3 hours) and fill up quickly, especially on weekends and during summer. Aim to arrive before 8 AM to secure a spot​.
  • Paid Parking Lots: If you can’t find street parking, several paid lots are available. For instance, the La Jolla Financial Building offers parking at $15 for 8 hours. Another option is the LAZ La Jolla valet in front of George’s at the Cove, which is convenient but varies in price​.
  • Discounted Parking: Some locations, like the Ace Parking lot at 875 Prospect Street, offer discounted rates. It’s $5 for all-day parking if you book online or via their app​.

Public Transportation:

  • Bus Routes: MTS Bus 30 is a popular route that runs from Downtown San Diego through Old Town and Pacific Beach to La Jolla. The fare is $2.50 one way, or $6 for an all-day pass​.
  • Trolley and Train: The UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley can get you near La Jolla, with a short bus ride or rideshare to follow. If traveling from further afield, the Coaster train from North County San Diego stops at the Sorrento Valley station, from which you can take a bus to La Jolla​.

Best Times to Visit: To avoid the crowds, plan your visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Weekdays are generally less busy than weekends. For the best parking and a peaceful visit, arrive before 9:30 AM on weekdays​.

Featured Snippet: “Parking at La Jolla Cove can be challenging during peak times; consider arriving early or using public transportation.”


La Jolla Cove is committed to making its beautiful beach accessible to everyone:

Accessible Facilities:

  • Paths and Ramps: There are paved paths leading to the beach, making it easier for visitors with mobility challenges to navigate.
  • Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available near the beach and are well-maintained to cater to all visitors​.
  • Parking: Designated accessible parking spots are available in the nearby lots and on the streets. It’s advisable to arrive early to secure these spots as they can fill up quickly during busy times.

La Jolla Cove offers accessible paths and facilities to ensure all visitors can enjoy the beach.

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Seasonal Highlights and Events at La Jolla Cove

Annual Events

La Jolla Concours d’Elegance One of the most anticipated events at La Jolla Cove is the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, a world-class car show featuring over 150 unique and classic cars from around the globe.

Held each spring, this event attracts car enthusiasts and collectors, offering an exclusive viewing experience against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The event typically includes a VIP party, live music, gourmet food from top local restaurants, and a lively auction.

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival In October, the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival brings together over 150 artists, a wine and beer garden, live music, and local food vendors. This two-day event is free to enter and raises funds for local school programs, making it a great way to enjoy art and support the community​.

La Jolla Rough Water Swim Since 1916, the La Jolla Rough Water Swim has been a significant event for swimmers. This historic race attracts over 2,000 participants each year, showcasing the competitive spirit of the community​.

Seasonal Activities

Winter: Whale Watching Winter is prime time for whale watching in La Jolla. From December to April, you can see gray whales migrating along the coast. Various tours depart from nearby locations, providing a chance to witness these majestic creatures up close.

Spring: Grunion Run Spring and summer nights bring the unique Grunion Run, where thousands of silvery fish come ashore to spawn. This late-night spectacle is both fascinating and entertaining, with people flocking to the beach to witness and sometimes catch these fish​.

Summer: Concerts by the Sea Summer Sundays are perfect for the Concerts by the Sea series. Held at Ellen Browning Scripps Park, these family-friendly concerts offer live music and a relaxed atmosphere, making them a great way to end the weekend​.

Fall: La Jolla Open Aire Market Every Sunday year-round, but particularly charming in the fall, the La Jolla Open Aire Market offers local produce, crafts, and live music. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning, enjoying fresh food and supporting local vendors​.

Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do at La Jolla Cove Beach

As we wrap up our exploration of La Jolla Cove Beach, it’s clear why this stunning location remains a favorite among locals and visitors alike. From the exhilarating snorkeling expeditions to leisurely strolls along the scenic coastline, La Jolla Cove offers a diverse array of activities to suit any taste.

Remember to plan your parking strategy to avoid any hassles and maximize your beach time. Whether you’re here to connect with nature, seek adventure, or simply unwind by the waves, La Jolla Cove Beach in San Diego provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable experiences.

See also: Best Things to Do at Huntington Beach, CA

FAQS on La Jolla Cove Beach

How much does it cost to go to La Jolla Cove Beach?

Visiting La Jolla Cove Beach is free of charge. The cove is open 24 hours a day, although it’s recommended to swim only when a lifeguard is present. There are showers and bathrooms on-site, and parking lots are conveniently located nearby.

Is La Jolla Cove worth visiting?

Yes, La Jolla Cove is definitely worth visiting. While you may only need 30-60 minutes to explore the cove itself, the area attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors daily due to its natural beauty and the activities available in and around the cove.

What is so special about La Jolla?

La Jolla is renowned as one of the top beach destinations globally. Its stunning natural beauty, diverse activities, and upscale village lifestyle earn it the nickname “the jewel” of San Diego.

How do I get into La Jolla Cove?

From the North, take I-5 south and exit at La Jolla Village Drive. Head west on La Jolla Village and turn left onto Torrey Pines Road, which leads to La Jolla Shores Drive and Prospect Street. From the South and East, take I-5 north to La Jolla Parkway. Continue into La Jolla and turn right onto Prospect Street.

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