I’m in La Jolla this week. What perfect timing considering we were hit with freezing temperatures and snow just before I left. I do, however, have to say that my garden did look spectacular after that first snowfall!
La Jolla, California
We have been coming to La Jolla since 1977. I don’t remember why we decided to come here for a holiday because it wasn’t a popular vacation destination at the time. It was “love at first sight”. We were staying at a hotel in La Jolla Village. The weather was amazing (for me), between 19-24 degrees C. We spent quite a bit of time in the car driving around getting our bearings. One day we were watching the seals at the cove. We could see this beautiful beach (La Jolla Shores Beach) just beyond us. We quickly found our way down there. The beach was only about a mile long to the Scripps Pier. At one end was the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, next door the Sea Lodge Hotel, followed by a long boardwalk with a great park for kids (The Kellogg Park) and then a row of spectacular homes overlooking the ocean. Right there and then I started to fantasize about which beach house would be mine (still a fantasy)! To this day I can close my eyes and see us as a young couple walking down that beach and remember how excited and happy we were. We knew immediately that we would bring our kids for their summer vacation. On the last day of that trip I went off on my own to do some shopping (of course!) and happened on a small Saks department store and an I. Magnin, (neither of which are here now). What could be more perfect??? Since then we have been here more times than I can count and it has always been special.
The La Jolla Shores Hotel 8110 Camino del Oro
The name has changed from Sea Lodge but it is that same hotel we first saw 40 years ago. The decor of the rooms is very average but comfortable especially if travelling with a young family. What’s so special is the promise of blue skies, soft breezes and hours of relaxation…me usually with a book in hand. If possible, we stay in Room 319. From the balcony, we have the view (photo above) overlooking the pool. It’s especially convenient if we are travelling with the whole family. I can keep track of the grandchildren in the pool and their parents supervising water activities. The smell of the salty, sea air, sun and sand, and the sound of the rolling waves from the ocean mellows even the toughest insomniac into a blissful night of sleep. Everyone should awake looking like Sleeping Beauty!
The Lounge at La Jolla Shores Hotel…a room with the view!
Almost every night we go down to the lounge to watch the sunset. That never gets old! The long bar faces the ocean providing the best view to watch pelicans dive-bombing for fish, seals casually drifting by, or dolphins playing. On an exceptional day, we may be treated to a whale breaching on its migration either north or south depending on the season. The pesky seagulls are ever ready to steal treats from the beach bags of unsuspecting tourists angling for the perfect shot of the sun dropping off the horizon. This really is the good life!
Warwicks, 7812 Gerard Avenue
My first stop on a trip to La Jolla is always Warwicks. This is my favourite bookstore…period! I never go in looking for anything in particular because I know I will always find the perfect pile of reading material to satisfy my hunger for a new adventure. Their selection is perfectly curated with all the topics that interest me most. The latest fiction, fashion, decorating or travel books are there… waiting for me. I always choose to support independent business and Warwicks has been a great success despite mega-bookstores, Kindle or amazon.com. Warwicks is the oldest family-run bookstore in the US. William T. Warwick started his first bookstore in Minnesota in 1896 eventually moving to and purchasing an existing book business in La Jolla in 1939. It has remained in the family to this day passed down from generation to generation. This is where I get my thrills!
Piatti’s, 2182 Avenida de la Playa
Having just celebrated 25 years of business last year, Piatti’s is the happening place at the Shores. It’s always packed with lineups out the door, mostly locals, lots of hustle and bustle, great food (same chef for 25 years) and entertaining servers. The interior is elegant for a beach restaurant with white starched tablecloths, soft lighting, and comfy chairs. The best tables are on the patio surrounding the most majestic ficus tree. Large round, white patio string lights hanging from the tree along with candlelight illuminate the patio. Before you even place your order the most delicious dipping oil (olive oil, fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes and parsley) and bread are served. This combo is to die for (or at least go off your low carb diet for)! Beyond that, the menu is great with even tastier desserts. This is a must stop for every trip to La Jolla.
Although I am a big city girl, La Jolla holds some of my most precious memories. As I write this I can almost see my own kids as young children racing in the pool. My son, more competitive, thrashing about and my daughter just gliding along with her long beautiful strokes through the water. I see my grandsons huddled up in the hot tub after hours of fun in the pool and I hear the laughter of the family over dinner followed by dice or card games. I hope you all have found your own bit of paradise and that you, too, can visit often.