Vacation In Your Own Backyard
Ranch & Cove Magazine
By Ann Hattes
We all know La Jolla means “the
jewel” in Spanish. What we tend to forget — or at the very least take for
granted — are the myriad factors that made this name, more than any other,
fit the locale. If you find yourself en-route to Wall Street’s post
office, the boutiques of Girard and Prospect a mere blur in peripheral
vision, or subconsciously bothered rather than beguiled by the relentless
sounds of surf meeting turf along endless stretches of La Jolla coast,
then now is definitely the time to take a break from the grind and
vacation in your own backyard.
The elegance of La Jolla has
been compared to the Italian Riviera, and Prospect Street to Rodeo Drive.
But just as greater San Diego is renowned for a laidback lifestyle with
something for everyone, the city’s most famous exclusive enclave, a quaint
village with wonderful beaches, boutiques and art galleries, cultural
activities and distinctive restaurants, also boasts a universal. Most
San Diego philanthropists attend at least one benefit for La Jolla’s
renowned institutions such as the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the
Stephen Birch Aquarium and Museum, the Salk Institute and the Museum of
Contemporary Art during any given fundraising season. But when was the
last time you actually paid a visit for pure enjoyment?
The Salk Institute, one of the
world’s largest independent organizations devoted exclusively to
biological research for the improvement of human health and welfare, is
open to the public for guided architectural tours between 11am and 12pm,
Monday through Sunday. Founder Dr. Jonas Salk instructed architect Louis
I. Kahn to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.” Kahn
responded by creating an imaginative use of space, a welcoming and
inspiring environment for scientific research with his two mirror-image
buildings flanking a grand courtyard. The laboratories originally staffed
with six senior scientists and their research teams, now number over 1,000
in staff, including a faculty of 57 and three Nobel Laureates.
The Birch Aquarium is the place
to go to learn about the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Exotic Pacific
marine life shown in 30 saltwater tanks, a tide pool and special exhibits
are attention grabbing for kids and adults alike. Secrets of the Seahorse
reveals the world of a fish with a head shaped like a horse, a tail like a
monkey, a pouch like a kangaroo and a chameleon’s ability to change color.
To this amazing mix of features, add the fact that the seahorse male gives
birth. Throughout the summer, the aquarium offers programs that feature
hands-on activities, animal encounters and creative arts and crafts in
classes and camps, for kids in preschool through grade 9.
An area known for art since the
days of the Green Dragon artist colony, San Diego’s Museum of Contemporary
Art overlooks the ocean in the former La Jolla home of newspaper heiress
Ellen Browning Scripps. Enjoy lectures, films and guided gallery tours of
both permanent and special collection exhibits. The museum contains works
of art created after 1950 in all media and genres, with strengths in
minimalism, pop art of the 196os and 1970s, Latin American art, and art
from California and the San Diego/Tijuana region.
Though it is tempting to remain
cloistered at the Beach and Tennis Club from summer’s beginning to end,
there’s a lot to miss along the remaining sandy beaches of the shores and
tide pools of the Cove. Watch sea lions and pelicans from the cliffs above
the ocean, or swim, surf and sunbathe on La Jolla’s white sandy beaches.
Descend 144 steps from the cliffs along Coast Boulevard to the historic
Cave Store and Sunny Jim Cave. Stroll the Ocean Walk. See the seals at the
Children’s Pool. Dive and snorkel at the Cove — located within the San
Underwater Park Ecological
Preserve, a protected marine environment these coastal waters are an
ideal spot for underwater discovery.
To unwind after a day of
backyard tourism, visit the Spa at Torrey Pines, offering a full menu of
therapeutic treatments enhanced by local marine and botanical-based
products. Sage found in abundance in the nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve
— is known for its purifying and detoxifying properties and used in the
Spa’s signature treatment, a Coastal Sage Scrub performed in a Vichy
shower. The spa menu does not reflect trendy gimmicks, but focuses instead
on experiences that have real physiological, psychological or beauty
benefits, according to spa director Darcie DeBartelo.
At the end of a long day, seek
sustenance in one of La Jolla’s many fine restaurants. Try someplace new
or visit an old favorite from a fresh perspective. Elario’s Bistro & Sky
Lounge, now in the penthouse of Hotel La Jolla, features an innovative
menu mixing contemporary California cuisine with Latin, Caribbean and
classic flavors. For 25 years Elario’s was a landmark restaurant and jazz
lounge in San Diego, and in the ‘7os and ‘8os it was the location for the
PBS Club Date jazz series broadcasting live acts across the country.
Though Elario’s closed its doors in the city, it has reopened them here
overlooking the beach.
La Jolla, with its winding
hillside streets along the ocean, hosts many surprises even for locals so
venture out and rediscover this neighbor.