La Jolla Shores: The perfect vacation destination is in our backyard
by Dave Schwab
Jul 19, 2013 | 25700 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Don Balch
Photo by Don Balch
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The Shores is a self-contained vacation destination. Whatever you're in the mood for — water sports, sidewalk dining, shopping — the community has it. DON BALCH
The Shores is a self-contained vacation destination. Whatever you're in the mood for — water sports, sidewalk dining, shopping — the community has it. DON BALCH
slideshow
Every sport you can do on the water is on offer at the Shores. DON BALCH
Every sport you can do on the water is on offer at the Shores. DON BALCH
slideshow
Photo by Don Balch
Photo by Don Balch
slideshow
Most everyone knows about the Village of La Jolla or UCSD campus, but fewer may be familiar with the community nestled between them. Somewhat tucked away, La Jolla Shores is perhaps sometimes overlooked as a vacation or staycation destination. The community is thriving, however, and offers one of San Diego’s premiere locations.

With its compact commercial district along Avenida de la Playa and mile-long beach stretching from the sea cliffs just north of La Jolla Cove to Black’s Beach south of Torrey Pines State Park, the Shores is the “pearl” within “the Jewel.”

While there’s plenty going on the Shores year round, summer is the peak time, and the mostly small businesses there want people to know about it.

There are more Shores businesses serving locals and out-of-towners than might be immediately obvious — 143 to be exact, according to Isabelle “Izzy” Tihanyi, co-owner of Surf Diva at 2160 Avenida de la Playa, and a member of the community’s micro-business improvement district.

“We have retail businesses, professionals, including attorneys and architects,” Tihanyi said. “You can come here and spend the day on the beach going snorkeling, kayaking and surfing, then come and have lunch, then get your hair and nails done at the salon (Bella at 2182 Avenida de la Playa). You could live here and never leave.”

Tihanyi said the beachfront economy continues to rebound, noting this year is a good indication.

“After the Fourth of July, which turned out to be a four-day weekend, which was really good for us, things got crazy,” she said. “Friday the fifth was our busiest day of the year and it’s stayed awesome ever since.”

The Shores boasts a dozen or more restaurants, offering everything from burgers and pizza to international and haute cuisine.

One of the Shores’ cornerstone eateries is Piatti Italian Ristorante & Bar at 2182 Avenida de la Playa.

“Piatti Restaurant & Bar is nestled in the unique La Jolla Shores neighborhood, just a quick stroll up from the sand and the surf,” said restaurant spokeswoman Jennifer Tomaro Evans. “Our light and airy interior features an exhibition kitchen and full-service bar. Outside, we offer two tree-covered patios — perfect for a private event or al fresco dining — while enjoying an Italian-inspired meal accompanied by a craft beer, wine from our barrel-to-table program or a hand-crafted cocktail.”

Other restaurants include French cuisine-inspired Voulez Vous Bistro & Boulangerie, Barbarella, El Charro Mexican Food, Jeff’s Burgers, House of Pizza, Yogurt Escape, Cheese Shop Deli, Sushi Mori, Subway Sandwiches, Osteria Romantica, Squires Café & Deli and Cusp Restaurant in Hotel La Jolla.

The Shores is unique and has much to offer besides its obvious oceanside amenities, said Terry Kraszewski, owner of Ocean Girl boutique at 2162 Avenida de la Playa.

Part of the Shores’ charm, she said, is its serenity.

“What I like about this area so much is that people and their kids are safe, everybody’s riding their bikes, walking their dogs,” she said. “It’s a really nice, family neighborhood. Everybody feels really good about being here.”

The Shores is internationally renowned as a haven for surfers, scuba divers and kayakers. The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, with its 6,000 acres of ocean bottom and tidelands, has become a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers exploring the “buried treasure” of the unique ocean environment, which includes a 600-foot-deep offshore canyon.

“That’s another thing really unique about La Jolla Shores, its being an area of special biological significance,” said Tihanyi. “There are only 19 of them along the West Coast and we have two of them, the Cove and Scripps.”

If you’re looking to recreate in the ocean, the Shores is the place to come. Two local businesses, La Jolla Kayak, at 2199 Avenida de la Playa, and Everyday California (formerly OEX La Jolla), at 2243 Avenida de la Playa, are beach outfitters serving the masses.

“We have been in business more than 19 years and offer kayak, snorkel and bike tours in La Jolla, La Jolla Cove and San Diego areas,” said co-owner Sharon Luscomb of La Jolla Kayak. “In addition to our tours we offer kayak, SUP, snorkel and other ocean recreational rental items. We have a highly trained, friendly and knowledgeable staff, excellent changing facilities for clients and a free shuttle service available upon request.” Visit www.lajollakayak.com.

Christopher Lynch, managing partner of Everyday California, said the business’ goal is to help visitors “live the California Dream.”

“Passionate watermen are the core of our company, providing safe and incredibly fun La Jolla kayak tours and snorkeling adventures,” Lynch said. “Everyday California truly reflects the athletic, health-conscious and eco-friendly lifestyle of California.” Visit www.everydaycalifornia.com.

Other Shores establishments offering beach rentals and tours include Bike and Kayak Tours, Inc.; La Jolla Surf Systems; Hike, Bike, Kayak; Surf Diva, Surf School; Rusty’s Surfboards; San Diego Bike & Kayak Tours; and La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks.

The shopping, however, is far from limited to surfboards and bathing suits. The Shores offers world-class shopping, with stores like The Shoppe at 2210 (2210 Avenida de la Playa) offering one-of-a-kind items. The La Jolla Art Association, meanwhile, regularly presents exhibits featuring local artists and art for sale (8100 Paseo del Ocaso, Suite B, www.lajollaart.org).

Though the Shores is ideal for locals looking for a day of fun, it also offers plenty of both short and long term hotels.

Hotel La Jolla, at 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, offers high-rise overnight stays in a posh setting. Re-launched last August following a $4 million transformation, Hotel La Jolla is walking distance to La Jolla Shores Beach and features 110 deluxe rooms. A Kimpton Hotel, the property incorporates wellness into its many guest offerings, from local partnerships for surfing, kayaking and yoga, in-room yoga mats and a variety of healthy menu options. Visit www.hotellajolla.com.

There’s also La Jolla Shores Hotel, adjacent to the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. A local mainstay since 1970, the hotel is perched right on the beach and next to Kellogg Park. Visit www.ljshoreshotel.com.

The Shores also has a world-class museum, Birch Aquarium at Scripps at 2300 Expedition Way across from UCSD, showcasing local marine life and other underwater marvels.

“You can even see a green flash from the aquarium,” said Mary Coakley Munk, who spearheads nonprofit Friends of La Jolla Shores, which funds Kellogg Park improvements.

At the Shores, recreation isn’t limited to the water. Visitors can soar above those plumbing the underwater depths of the ocean with a trip to Torrey Pines Gliderport at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. A top-ranked paragliding school in North America since 2000, the city-owned, private-use glider port is home to hang gliders, paragliders, radio-controlled model sailplanes and full-scale, man-carrying sailplanes. The gliderport, listed on both the California and National Register of Historic Places, is considered by some glider enthusiasts “the Kitty Hawk of the West.”

Whether you’re spending a day, a week or a month in La Jolla Shores, the community has everything you need for a quintessential California vacation.
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