La Jolla

World Facts Index > United States > La Jolla

Attracting tourists from around the globe, La Jolla's upscale community is one that combines trend-setting innovations with traditional class. Located just 12 miles northbound from downtown San Diego, this highly prosperous community encompasses seven miles of coastline lands at an elevation of 110 feet. These La Jolla lands are so coveted among Southern California residents that its impossible to find property sold at anything less than $1.25 million per acre.

The lucky 38,000 people who hold residence in this heavenly seaside town live among Mediterranean-style architecture with a contemporary flair. Their cosmopolitan lifestyle is clearly evident in the ultra-upscale village boutiques and perfectly manicured greens of Torrey Pines Golf Course. From the crashing waves along the shore to the high-rise buildings in the business district, everything about La Jolla is first-rate quality.

Business District

While La Jolla is most well-known for its incredible shoreline, the citys upscale business district is hardly modest. Located on the eastern side of La Jolla, professional centers, including financial buildings, law firms and technological industries, dominate this district, along with modern shopping centers and a wealthy residential area. The world-famous Scripps Memorial Hospital & Medical Research Center resides here, as well as the San Diego Mormon Temple, a remarkable 59,000 square foot building, resembling an ice sculpture.

Perhaps the most notable establishment in this region of La Jolla is the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), which hosts a world-renowned medical school among other rigorous academic programs. The university is home to one of the citys most popular entertainment attractions, the La Jolla Playhouse, once founded by Hollywood stars and now famous for showcasing new, cutting edge plays.

Another popular site in this district is Mount Soledad, which provides a breath-taking panoramic view of San Diego County, from the northernmost beaches to the United States/Mexico border.

The Village

Downtown La Jolla, known by locals as 'The Village,' boasts shops, boutiques, hotels, restaurants, coffeehouses, salons and art galleries. Although this area encompasses only a tiny geographic space, the district is jammed with trendy establishments, drawing wealthy patrons from around the globe. Girard Avenue is the traditional main street of La Jolla, although Prospect Street has been dubbed the 'Rodeo Drive of San Diego.' The Museum of Contemporary Art is located along Prospect Street, along with the Images of Nature Gallery, Aja Arts & Antiques and the Cosmopolitan Fine Art Gallery. Prospect Street also hosts the La Jolla Recreation Center and La Jolla Womans Club, both buildings designed by architect Irving Gill. In addition, the reputable La Jolla Walking Tours begin along Prospect Street.

After a day of viewing art and visiting upscale boutiques, visitors to La Jolla may dine at trend-setting restaurants located in The Village. The Spot and Roppongi Restaurant, Bar and Cafe are popular establishments, as well as Star Of India. Nightlife also flourishes in La Jolla Village, as top comedians perform at The Comedy Store.


While the business district and La Jolla Village are impressive communities, perhaps the most memorable region of La Jolla is that along the Pacific coastline. La Jolla boasts one of the most spectacular shorelines in Southern California, complete with remarkable caves, cliffs, beaches and sunsets. The best view of this area is seen from the air. Daring tourists may venture into the La Jolla skies via paragliding or hangliding, both thrilling adventures offered through Torrey Pines Gliderport. For a more tame view of the La Jolla coastline, take the scenic drive along North Torrey Pines Road.

Tempted to do more than just view the Pacific waters from the shoreline? Try kayaking, with equipment and lessons available through Aqua Adventures Kayak School. In addition, La Jollas beaches welcome surfers, sunbathers, snorkelers, scuba divers and swimmers. For more adventures, most tourists can't resist traveling into the deep caverns at La Jolla Caves.

Along the Pacific shoreline, La Jolla Cove features a first-rate shopping district. Visit jewelry stores, art galleries, souvenir shops and fashionable boutiques. Then, complete the day by dining above the Pacific waters. Georges At The Cove and Crab Catcher are both perched on the cliffs of La Jolla Cove, boasting breath-taking views of the ocean.

Travel just a short distance north from La Jolla Cove and see marine life up close at Birch Aquarium. This world-famous oceanographic museum, operated by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, showcases marine life from the Pacific Northwest to the Mexican waters.

Even though La Jollas beaches and caves are heralded throughout Southern California, one of the coastlines most popular attractions is unrelated to the Pacific waters. Torrey Pines Golf Course, the only public course on the PGA circuit, offers two challenging 18-hole courses.

From art galleries and trendy boutiques to world-class golf courses, La Jollas attractions please tourists from around the globe. Each district is uniquely different, yet all are similar in one important facet: first-class quality. You won't find anything less than the best in 'the jewel' of Southern California.

History of La Jolla

Located just 15 minutes north from downtown San Diego, La Jollas seven-mile stretch of coastline property is technically within the San Diego city limits. Yet, La Jolla has undoubtedly earned a reputation as a city in its own right. Known as one of the most affluent communities in the United States, La Jolla boasts premium beaches, fine dining and distinguished art galleries. In addition, this seaside town hosts world-renown research institutions, such as Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Salk Institute. La Jollas history is short, yet still engulfed in mystery, drama and humor.

First Inhabitants

Artifacts found in this geographic area indicate Native American settlements along the La Jolla shoreline over 3,000 years ago. Archaeologists have found stone utensils and Indian metates. However, the remains are small and scattered, leaving historians unclear about the fate of these earliest inhabitants.

Modern Settlers

The La Jolla lands became incorporated as part of San Diego in 1850. However, there were no permanent settlers in this section of town until 19 years later. Two brothers, Daniel and Samuel Sizer, each bought a plot of La Jolla land in 1869. The City of San Diego sold these 80-acre plots for the price of $1.25 per acre. Little did the Sizer brothers know that their plots of land, located between present-day Fay Street and La Jolla Boulevard, would be worth $1.25 million per acre by the late Twentieth Century.

When Frank Terrill Botsford arrived via boat in San Diego in 1886, he scribed in his diary, 'Magnificent day at La Jolla!' Like the Sizer brothers, Frank Botsford purchased a plot of land, but Mr. Botsford also went a step further. He was the first to develop La Jolla property, earning his title as 'the father of La Jolla.' With the help of George Heald, who purchased one-quarter interest of this property, Frank Botsford surveyed and subdivided the land. Although Botsford could not find drinkable water in the area, he still attempted to auction pieces of the land, with Bob Pennell serving as the auctioneer. The auction was successful and Pennells persuasive techniques were so effective, he even convinced himself to purchase a plot of land.

Whats in a Name?

La Jollas name is a somewhat controversial subject among town historians. No one has an absolute account regarding the establishment of this name. What has been confirmed is the meaning of La Jolla, which stands for 'the jewel' in Spanish. It is also confirmed that this name has appeared in all land grant and mission records since 1928. Yet, the name, 'La Jolla,' also appears in scattered documents prior to this date, including one 1870 map designating plots of land in 'La Joya.'

While mystery surrounds the exact date, place and circumstances surrounding the origination of La Jollas name, there is no doubt about the validity of the name. Between the sparkling Pacific waters, mysterious caves and glorious beaches, this stretch of land is clearly 'the jewel' of Southern California.

The Town Grows

In the 1890s, the railroad extended to La Jolla, enabling additional growth for this booming suburb. Around this time, real estate developers began to take an interest in the coastal property of La Jolla, constructing resorts to attract visitors from San Diego proper. La Jolla Park Hotel opened its doors in 1893, boasting three stories and 80 rooms. In addition, cottage-style homes were built along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue. The Union Congregational Church was established, as well as the La Jolla Womans Club, which began as a womens reading circle.

During this time frame, La Jollas devotion to the arts was born. One of La Jollas citizens, Miss Anna Held, established her famous 'Green Dragon Colony' in 1894, where she allowed artists and novelists to work without expense.

Newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps settled in La Jolla in 1896. Her countless gifts to the La Jolla community are clearly noted in the plethora of institutions bearing her name, such as Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

However, growth was not entirely smooth sailing for the seaside town of La Jolla. The La Jolla Park Hotel had difficulty maintaining business and eventually burned to the ground in June 1896. Regardless, La Jolla continued to flourish into the Twentieth Century.

Twentieth Century Development

The Twentieth Century marks the establishment of countless institutions as the small town of La Jolla grew into a world-famous city. The first building of Scripps Institute of Oceanography was erected in 1909. This world-class research institute, which includes Birch Aquarium, has since become part of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), founded in the La Jolla community in 1959. In addition, La Jollas first newspaper, known as The La Jolla Breakers, began in 1906, while the volunteer fire department originated in 1907.

In 1913, the The Grande Colonial Hotel opened for business with 28 apartments and 25 single rooms. Charging $1 per night, the hotel experienced such incredible success that a second building opened shortly after. The hotel has since been renovated many times and stands today, open for business, in the heart of La Jolla Village.

By the 1930s, La Jollas luxurious resorts and incredible beach views attracted scores of Hollywood stars. Initially, celebrities simply came to La Jolla for relaxation and retreat. Yet, by the 1940s and 1950s, a few Hollywood stars began creating and producing plays at The Summer Playhouse, now known as The La Jolla Playhouse.

The Present Day

Remnants of the La Jollas early settlers are still evident throughout the town, from the names of key institutions to the eclectic form of architecture, primarily Mediterranean-style, which has evolved over the decades. With a current population of 38,000 people, La Jolla manages to host world-renown research institutions, breathtaking beaches, distinguished art galleries and top-notch restaurants, all in a seven-mile stretch along the California shoreline. Thus, while the mystery of this towns name may never be solved, La Jollas tourists and residents clearly see why its called 'the jewel.'

The Weather

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Avg. Low 48 50 52 55 58 61 65 67 65 60 54 48
Mean 57 58 60 62 64 67 71 74 71 68 62 57
Avg. Precip. 1.8 in 1.5 in 1.8 in 0.8 in 0.2 in 0.1 in 0.0 in 0.1 in 0.2 in 0.4 in 1.5 in 1.6 in


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