by Michael Blanding
The biggest appeal to La Jolla Shores is right there in the name — its prime location right on the shoreline. A few miles north of San Diego, La Jolla is known for its natural beauty, with dramatic cliffs plunging down to the sea, and this hotel takes prime advantage of the scenery, nestled into a cove beneath the headlines, with miles of sandy beach stretching up the coast. The gentle beach is particularly well-suited for families with small children, with an attentive staff providing beach chairs, umbrellas, and food and drinks on demand. After a few days spent lounging among the sun and palm trees, you may find it difficult to leave.
The resort is part of a complex that includes the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, which dates back to 1935. The hotel itself was built in 1970 in a Spanish hacienda style, with red terra cotta roofs and arcades situated around a central sandstone patio with pretty gardens of palms and Bird of Paradise. The exterior is showing its age in places, with some crumbling walls, and a surprising amount of dirt and sea debris. Some of the rooms are also a bit threadbare in spots, but ongoing renovations, including new flat-screen TVs and luxurious bedding, add to their comfort.
The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, both experienced with children and genuinely seeming to enjoy interacting with them. All of that combines to make La Jolla Shores a very pleasant place to stay if you can look past its age and make the most of its location. Sure, downtown San Diego has a lot to offer with Sea World, Scripps Aquarium, and Balboa Park, but for families looking primarily to spend a laid-back California vacation on the beach, this spot is hard to beat.
Our Editor Loves
- Premier beachfront location
- Family-friendly atmosphere
- Dining at the spectacular Marine Room
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
La Jolla Shores includes 128 guestrooms, with 30 rooms looking right out onto the beach, 41 rooms with a view of the coastline, and another 57 rooms looking out onto the central courtyard and gardens. Of these rooms, 18 include kitchenettes; one beachfront suite includes a full kitchen. Many of the garden patio and coastal view rooms have doors to connecting rooms for families with children.
The regular rooms are 400 square feet, decorated in an understated white-and-sand color scheme. Rooms include two queen beds or one king bed, all of which are plush and comfortable, and a patio or balcony overlooking the courtyard or the ocean. Bathrooms include both a small tub and shower, with marble vanity and chrome fixtures. Each room has a coffeemaker and mini-fridge; additional amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, iPod docks, flat-screen TVs with HBO and "on demand" movies, and DVD players (with a complimentary DVD library at reception). Complimentary cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request.
Standard Room With Kitchenette
A number of the standard rooms also feature a kitchenette, with a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, range top and oven, and small countertop area with bar stools for dining.
Available in each category (Beachfront, Garden View, and Ocean View), Deluxe Rooms are slightly larger than standard rooms, measuring 575 square feet. In addition to the standard amenities, they include a separate sitting area with a writing desk and pullout sleeper couch.
Deluxe Room With Kitchenette
Several of the Deluxe Rooms also include a kitchenette, with a refrigerator, microwave, range/oven, and bar seating area.
La Jolla Suite
At 780 square feet, the resort's only suite features a spacious living area and premium view of the ocean. It includes a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, as well as a sitting area with a pullout sleeper sofa. The suite also includes a large bathroom and full kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, range top and oven, and a kitchen table and chairs.
It is hard to find an ocean front hotel in SoCA that is really ocean front - not across a street or up a crazy flight of stairs.
This place gives off a more adult vibe which I appreciated. Room was clean and very comfortable with easy access from parking garage. Garage is pricey - but that is anywhere these days.
The shuttle service is great - because parking anywhere in the La Jolla area is just nuts.
This place is the perfect get-a-way to just be able to walk the beach in peace.
Beautiful setting for a romantic meal, coffee or dessert, the restaurant looks out on the Pacific bring a breathtaking view to the meal. Fairly priced, plenty of nearby parking and a friendly staff.
The only restaurant immediately next to the La Jolla Shores Park and Parking lit. You do not need to be a guest at the hotel.
The sheltered cove of La Jolla ensures that the water along the beach is calm, with gentle surf perfect for young kids. The resort provides complimentary amenities for the afternoon, including towels, umbrellas, beach chairs, tables, and windbreaks, all of which staff is happy to help set up. The environment is rich in wildlife, with tidepooling down the end of the beach near the Marine Room, and dolphins and seals sometimes seen frolicking in the distant surg. Nearby shop Surf Diva rents stand-up paddleboards and kayaks that launch right in front of the hotel, and leads scuba trips to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park just offshore.
Located in the sheltered courtyard in the middle of the resort, La Jolla Shore's L-shaped main pool measures about 40 feet by 28 feet, with a depth ranging from 3.5 feet to 8.5 feet. A separate circular kiddie pool features 12 feet in diameter and is shallow enough for babies and toddlers. Both pools are heated to 80 degrees. Within the L of the main pool is a large Jacuzzi measuring 9 feet by 4 feet, with a maximum capacity of 5 people.
The resort offers limited kids' activities during July and August, including paint-your-own pottery, nature excursions, and movie nights two or three times a week.
Like everything else at La Jolla Shores, its onsite restaurant takes prime advantage of its beachfront location. Floor-to-ceiling windows cover the ocean-side wall of the restaurant, offering beautiful views of the Pacific at all hours of the day. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., with a short break between lunch and dinner from 2:30 to 5 pm. (On Fridays and Saturdays, happy hour starts at 4).
The restaurant prides itself on being family friendly, with high-chairs and crayons and a kids menu that includes 10 different choices for lunch or dinner (including chicken fingers, hot dogs, mac n' cheese, quesadillas, and fish n' chips). The menu is also a cut above your average casual eatery, with breakfast favorites like a risotto with poached egg and pancetta, and sophisticated entrees for lunch and dinner with Asian and South American accents such as steamed mussels in miso broth and five-spice sea bass.
Throughout the day, sandwiches and entrees from The Shores are available at the beach; guests raise a red flag to place an order with runners from the kitchen, who can also provide a table for dining. Even better are the popular beach BBQ cookouts arranged by the resort, which provides table, chairs, and linens, along with a Weber grill on the sand. Guests can order beforehand from a menu of raw meat and fish and sauces, and then grill it themselves -- or order their food fully cooked in advance. Dessert is also available -- either brownies and cookies or make-your-own S'mores kits for the grill. No matter who cooks it, staff comes later to clean up the mess.
Consider a visit to the famous Marine Room, located next door.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is free at the resort.
Complimentary turndown service is provided; upon request, it can include cookies and milk for the kids.
The front desk is able to make referrals for babysitting at a rate of $15 per hour.
The Art of Smart Timing
San Diego's weather is famously perfect throughout the year, with omnipresent sunshine and daily highs averaging between 65 in January and 75 in August. Popular times include school vacation weeks and late fall and winter, when the Santa Ana winds blow warm and dry off the hills, bringing with them unbroken strings of clear blue days.
San Diego International Airport is a major travel hub, served by all of the major airlines, including American, Delta, and United. The airport is located 12 miles from La Jolla, which is an easy jaunt up I-5 from the city center. Taxi fares to the resort run around $40. Parking at the hotel for guests is available in an underground garage for $18 per night; street parking near the hotel is also fairly easy to come by and has the added benefit of being free.
The hotel is located near a small strip of low-key restaurants and surf shops within easy walking distance. It also provides complimentary on-demand shuttle service to several area locations, including downtown La Jolla, the Westfield UTC shopping mall, the nearby campus of the University of California-San Diego, and Torrey Pines golf course. Guests looking to travel regularly to downtown San Diego are best off renting a car.
For Mom and Dad
The resort provides in-room massage services from several on-call massage therapists. Book your tee times well ahead of time for the renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, which sits high atop the La Jolla cliffs with breathtaking views of the Pacific. The course is public, and non-residents may book for a fee up to 90 days in advance.