Life in La Jolla is like a vacation postcard come to life, complete with palm trees, ocean waves, and seagulls gliding overhead. The visually-appealing landscape is the backdrop for a thriving community of young professionals, growing families, and native retirees.
La Jolla is an idyllic, seaside community in San Diego County, home to approximately 34,000 people. It embraces the finer things in life, such as art, theater, experiential dining, and luxury shops. Living in La Jolla also means enjoying a plethora of outdoor activities and exploration. From the walkable comforts of the Bird Rock neighborhood to the casual wanderings of La Jolla Cove, it’s a lovely place to live.
Ranked by Niche as one of the Top 10 Best Neighborhoods to Live in San Diego County, it’s no wonder that people search to find a La Jolla realtor to help them call this place home. Its coastal, winding roads are dotted with stunning, cliffside landscapes that line the shore. When venturing into the heart of its village, you feel the sense of a close-knit neighborhood with the polish of a major metropolitan destination. Wondering what the true La Jolla lifestyle entails? We’ve compiled all the facets of this town into this complete guide.
Living in La Jolla, San Diego involves sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, world-class art galleries, unique restaurants, award-winning spas, and local boutiques. The weather has a consistent 72-and-sunny appeal for most of the year, which means people love to spend time outdoors.
There’s no doubt it’s the ocean views that draw the most attention. Each day can be comprised of something new different depending on your mood: a picnic in the park, kayaking in the ocean, or watching the sunset from the cliffs.
When it comes to the cost of living in La Jolla, CA, the median home value is $1.48M and the average rent is $2,409. The large majority of residents own their homes with styles ranging from beachside bungalows to luxury estates and everything in between.
La Jolla has some of the best schools in the state. For families looking to see if this community has a strong education system, there are the following schools, all of which receive a 10/10 ranking from GreatSchools.org:
The schools below have also earned high rankings with an A or A+ rating from Niche:
La Jolla is made up of three main sub-communities: La Jolla Village, Bird Rock, and University Town Center (UTC). Each of these thriving neighborhoods has its own unique offerings, atmosphere, and charm. Whether you want to enjoy time at the beach or spend the day shopping, everything you need is readily available within this coveted zip code.
Market chains are limited in this area where the focus on local businesses is important. Although access to major department stores and businesses are but a short drive away, there’s still a standard that’s upheld to maintain the classy appeal of this part of the San Diego region.
The Village is the heart of La Jolla and is within close proximity to the cove nearby. Family-owned Warwick’s bookstore, the award-winning, Mediterannean-inspired La Valencia Hotel, and numerous elegant restaurants and shops make up the main crossroads of Girard Avenue and Prospect Street.
Tucked away on the side streets, you’ll find The LOT, a movie-going experience with a full menu and bar. The Cottage is also close by. This neighborhood staple is the go-to spot for brunch. There’s normally a wait, but often free coffee and fresh pastries to sample in the meantime.
A short walk down to the water offers a day of picnicking, kayaking, or snorkeling. At one end is the La Jolla Caves. Sign up for a guided kayak tour, head down the stairs that lead to the cave itself, or continue your walk along the trail. The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail winds around and ends up at the Children’s Pool where the seals reside.
A 10-minute drive up the coast from the Village to Torrey Pines is a picturesque spot for hiking, surfing, and golfing. The Torrey Pines Golf Course hosts the annual PGA golf tournament, the Farmers Insurance Open. Additionally, the nearby cliffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve have a well-visited hiking trail for families and outdoor enthusiasts to follow all the way down to the beach.
Nearby at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, you can watch paragliders or take on the adventure for yourself. As you head back to La Jolla Village, make a stop at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It’s a family-friendly education resource to learn about marine life in Southern California. The aquarium hosts several events throughout the year which include whale watching, grunion runs, and outdoor concerts. Activities abound no matter the direction you’re headed when you’re in La Jolla Village.
This close-knit, walkable community is located just on the fringe of the main streets of La Jolla. It’s within minutes of the beach, coffee shops, and casual dining. The neighborhood offers a quieter appeal than its neighbor located to the South, Pacific Beach, but maintains the laid-back nature it has to offer.
Biking and surfing are the two big outdoor activities here. Windansea Beach is the ideal location for advanced surfers. And, it’s a picture-perfect spot for photographers. The local bike path makes it easy to get around on a pair of wheels or if you want to take a morning jog. It starts at Colima Street between La Jolla Hermosa Avenue and La Jolla Boulevard for 3.2 miles round trip.
Afterward, a stop at the highly-acclaimed Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is a must, if you can manage to snag a seat at this local favorite. Or, you can take your coffee to go and stroll the sidewalks. Bird rock is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and specialty stores with favorites including Mimi & Red, Bird Rock Surf Shop, and Gelson’s Market. Everything you need for the week can be found within blocks of each other, making it convenient for residents to shop locally in a sustainable way. The pace of this section of La Jolla Boulevard is prime for people to take time and enjoy the surroundings.
UTC is close to the 805, 15, and 52 highways for an easy commute to nearby neighborhoods. It’s the home of the upscale Westfield UTC mall and a future central hub for the city’s trolley system. As the mecca for urban activity, it continues to expand in both commercial and residential real estate.
The Westfield UTC mall houses regular mainstays like Nordstrom and Macy’s among its list of shops. However, rather than being solely a place for retail therapy, the mall has been renovated into an experience where people can shop, dine, exercise, and find entertainment. It’s an all-in-one gathering space where it’s not uncommon to spend a good part of the day.
It houses fitness options like SoulCycle, 24 Hour Fitness, and a Peloton showroom. Top-ranked restaurants, such as Orange County favorite Javier’s, have taken up residence as well. To round out the offerings, ArcLight Cinemas and UTC Ice are also found here. It’s not your average, run-of-the-mill mall and the plan is to continue with its expansion.
Away from the urban scenery of UTC is an escape from nature mid-city. There are two main parks with easy-level walking trails. The first is Marian Beach Memorial Park, which is part of the San Clemente Canyon, and stretches from the 5 to the 805. It’s 467 acres of natural parkland with over three miles of trails. Biking is allowed, but on the canyon’s maintenance roads only.
The other main park is the Rose Canyon Open Space Park. It was originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians with a rich history spanning back to the mid-1700s. It is an 8.8-mile loop that’s recommended for all skill levels and welcomes cyclists and leashed dogs. Whether your day calls for shopping, meeting friends for cocktails, or securing quiet time outdoors, UTC has it all.
During the summer months and into early fall, snorkeling with (harmless) leopard sharks is a popular activity. Thousands migrate to La Jolla Shores every year during mating season and they can be found in its shallow waters. Choose a guided tour or rent snorkeling gear and take a peek on your own.
Starting in January, La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library hosts a free Murals of La Jolla walking tour. It takes place on the last Wednesday of every month with the exception of November and December. It’s a chance to learn about the rotating artists and artwork that line the streets of the Village.
Among its many regular activities and events, La Jolla also hosts the Concours d’Elegance every year. It’s a remarkable spring showcase of elite automobiles, complete with first-class culinary experiences and entertainment. It’s been named one of the most anticipated Concours in the world.
The La Jolla Art and Wine Festival is another local favorite taking place every fall. White tents line Girard Avenue for this free, family-friendly event. With over 150 exhibitors and approximately 5,000 people in attendance every year, it’s a weekend full of fine art, international wine, craft beer, and other activities.
The appreciation for unique experiences and first-class amenities is the peak of life in La Jolla. While the general feeling is low-key and casual, there is specific attention paid to preserving the quality and grandeur of this pristine neighborhood.
La Jolla’s main dining scene embraces the best of California’s modern cuisine. Each sub-community of La Jolla boasts a number of popular eateries for a weeknight dinner or night out on the weekend. From fine dining to casual restaurants, we’ve listed out the favorites in each La Jolla sub-community.
Whisknladle and George’s on the Cove. Both have seasonally-driven menus including a list of specialty craft cocktails, beers, and wine. The terrace level at George’s offers a casual lunchtime setting with unbeatable views of the ocean. Other delicious spots include Duke’s La Jolla, which has Hawaiian-inspired fare with seaside seating and Catania, which offers a coastal Italian menu filled with homemade pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh seafood.
Favorites in the Bird Rock neighborhood include Wheat and Water, Beaumont’s, and Don Bravo, all situated along La Jolla Boulevard.
Finally, if you’re in UTC, a stop at Din Tai Fung is a must followed by drinks at Raised by Wolves. Din Tai Fung has grown into an international franchise known for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings). Since its La Jolla opening in 2018, there’s always a line of people waiting to experience the dim sum-style dishes and meticulous service.
Raised by Wolves is part of the Consortium Holdings portfolio, a trendy hospitality group that’s responsible for Ironside Fish & Oyster and Born & Raised in Little Italy, among others. Like its other projects, this speakeasy is focused on the aesthetic of the mood and atmosphere it creates. This is achieved through the decor, experience, and quality of the cocktails being served.
Overall, La Jolla is the type of neighborhood that makes you appreciate where you call home. It has a healthy mix of slow-paced living and the hustle and bustle of a modern city. With the numerous outdoor activities available year-round, top-rated annual events, and some of the best dining options in all of Southern California, this location has it all.
Interested in living in La Jolla? Find an agent to view available homes for sale today