La Jolla (la hoy-ya) is indeed as they say the jewel of San Diego, nothing but wonderful things experienced here! Our first look into the neighborhood was through a free little park named Mt. Soledad [6905 La Jolla Scenic Dr S La Jolla], a national veterans memorial. There is a parking lot and a short walk up a hill to a huge cross, a wall lined with faces of veterans (on the other side than that of the picture), and a sensational view of La Jolla and the surrounding area. It doesn’t take long to walk around the small confines of the park, but you could sit on a bench and never get tired of the vista.
Next stop was to Windansea Beach [6800 Neptune Place, La Jolla], a seriously alluring little beach. Parking was easily found early in the morning and there is an elevated sidewalk, lined with the areas ever popular ice plants, so you can see the beach down below. In the more populated area of the beach there were many artists painting the scene and people lounging. We walked from one end to the other scouting out the scene of quieter corners before deciding on the perfect place to claim. This beach isn’t your average flat stretch of sand. There are plenty of cliffs and funky rock formations, some which look deceivingly like sea lions. No sea lions at this particular beach (at least while we were there), however we did see hummingbirds, pelicans, cormorants, and a pensive seagull. We were also treated to a small pod of dolphins who seemed to be surfing close to shore! What a relaxing place to stretch out and soak up the sun surrounded by nature.
A week ahead of our trip I made reservations to have lunch at George’s on the Cove [1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla], and even with this advance very few time slots were available. I was lucky to snag an early lunch, 11:15, and we were so not disappointed. Prospect Street can be a bit difficult to find parking on, make sure to be aware of parking signage, and you may need to walk a short distance. George’s Ocean Terrace is on the third floor of the restaurant, it is open air containing a seriously jaw-dropping view of the Pacific. The restaurant opens at 11 and when we arrived at 11:15 it was packed, even with a seriously high pace area you can’t help but feel peaceful looking into the turquoise sea.
We needed to eat in a timely fashion to make our kayaking appointment soon after, so we told our waitress and food was brought very promptly. We started with George’s famous soup, and they most certainly have a right to call it so. It was creamy and mildly spicy packed with soft chunks of chicken, veggies, and beans…so satisfying. The main course was a blackened fish-wich, and the fish of the day was seared tuna. The tuna was fresh and cooked perfectly, the tomato and onion were crunchy and delightful, the greens and guac were fresh, but let me tell you about that homemade focaccia. Wheeew, that knocks it right out of the ball park, some real killer bread. The sandwich portion is really large, and there is a healthy serving of greens on the side. We got in, fed, and out in an extremely timely manner thanks to an competent wait staff. The view was unparalleled, food phenomenal, and price was not so high considering. Make a reservation way in advance if you will be visiting, the Ocean Terrace of George’s on the Cove is not to be missed.
We made it to our Kayaking appointment on time with La Jolla Bike & Kayak Tours [2158 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla]; I had purchased a great groupon deal for a tour of the caves the week before. We had a small group with two guides who gave us some interesting tidbits as we paddled towards the caves. I spotted a sea lion (my first of what would be many) swimming in the distance. The guides said they ate sea kelp so I joined them and had a piece as well. It wasn’t bad, a little briny and gelatinous. Unfortunately the weather conditions were too choppy to paddle into the caves, but we got vouchers to visit Sunny Jim’s cave store – more on that later. We slowly paddled back looking for sea lions, whales, but ended up spotting dolphins. We paddled towards where they were and stopped to watch. I got unbelievably lucky and one came right past my kayak, I could have easily reached out to pet it. The guide said that was the closest he’d ever seen one come! Magical moment. We followed them around for a bit and always knew where they were because the pelicans followed them too. They must have been chasing a school of fish. It was a great way to view the caves (even from the outside), experience nature, and get some great exercise – so happy to have kayaked on the cove!
After we got back to shore and dried up we headed back to the town to check out Sunny Jims – but more on that later. We finally found and had to walk a bit to get there, and our route took us past Scripps Park on Coast Blvd. We smelt them before we saw them, sea lions, so many of them! Off of Coast Blvd I saw people opening a gate I would have never noticed, it camouflaged with the rest of the fence. Entering here allows you ridiculously close proximity to the sea lions, who don’t seem to mind human presence at all. Once you get over the smell you can start observing all the different sea lions, their sizes, colors, and personalities. I wouldn’t suggest going too close to them, and definitely never touch them, they are wild animals and you never know what they will do. Except for this one really cute baby, it took all of my will power not to eat him (or her) right up! Look at that smile, so precious. Along with the sea lions were cormorants and pelicans, such beautiful birds.
We finally got to Sunny Jim’s Cave Store and redeemed our free vouchers (kayaking tour comes with cave entrance whether you get there on a kayak or via the store). This is the only one of the caves accessible by land, so we walked down just over 100 soggy steps and peered out onto the water where we just were paddling. This particular cave resembles an old cereal box character, Sunny Jim. We spent maybe a minute looking around, briefly looked in the store, and then we were on our way. It was neat because it was free, but I would consider it a tourist trap if I had to pay the $5 admission fee for it.
La Jolla is full of wonder and fun to be had, our day was so extensive we didn’t have time to hike at Torrey Pines as I had wished, but we caught a beautiful sunset there amongst the pines. What a perfect day.