Seal of Approval: Where to Play, Eat and Explore in La Jolla

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If you think combining seals, secret caves and candy shops are things that only exist in your kiddo’s imagination, think again! You can find all three of these (and lots more) when your family spends the day in the gem of La Jolla. Walk downtown and explore the shores of this charming beach town where your little sea-pups will be amused by seals and sea lions. Or find caves to explore and playgrounds to swing on.


Photo credit: Monique Walsh

Smiles, Seals and Sea Lions
Wind your way into La Jolla by journeying down Prospect Street with a quick right on Jenner to Children’s Beach. Park and grab your little explorers to check out the sea and some seals up close (but just out of reach for safety). Do a little zig and zag up the shore to picnic-perfect Scripps Park where the munchkins run wild and free, and blow off some steam on the grassy green.

Once you’ve played and marveled at the seals, head over to the Cave Store and visit the hidden Sunny Jim Cave, the only cave in La Jolla that is reachable by land. For a fee, you can enter the man-made tunnel and descend down 145 steps to a cool, scenic view at the bottom. All kids get a cute plastic sea creature too.

Insider’s Tip: Parking can be tough in this area. If you can’t find street parking, consider using the cash-only parking garage.


Photo credit: Monique Walsh

Feed the Food Monsters
Grab some stroller-friendly breakfast at Aroma Bakery and Cafe where you’ll find lots of kids sitting around. They also have great coffee, cookies and pizza for later in the day. Another great breakfast spot is Cody’s by the Cove. It’s small but worthwhile with stroller-parking and $7 for delicious buttermilk pancakes or french toast.

If you’re looking for a picnic, pick up some deli sandwiches and sweets at Girard Gourmet Deli, located on Prospect Street. End the day with an ice cream treat from the milkshake sensation, Shakeaway. They have a huge menu with all kinds of yummy candy additions so you can customize your treat experience. You can even get a shake mixed with Laffy Taffy cherry or 3 Musketeers.


Photo credit: Leah Singer

Head for the Shores
A five-minute drive right out of downtown, La Jolla Shores is one of the kid-friendliest playgrounds in San Diego. Kiddos can burn-energy playing on the grass, or running around the Kellogg Park playground. There are even restrooms close by and if you can’t find parking in the adjacent lot, try the neighborhood street parking. Be sure to save time to check out House of Pizza for great take-out and Jeff’s Burgers. For a special treat, stop by the Cheese Shop, which is less famous for its cheese and more famous for its selection of vintage candy.

Insider’s Tip: Walk the neighborhoods a bit to find the hidden Little Free Library. Grab a book to take home, and bring one to give back too.


Photo Credit: Murals of La Jolla

Get Some Arts and Culture
Hidden away in the streets of La Jolla Village are the Murals of La Jolla, a colorful 14-stop installation that’s a perfect way for a family to spend an afternoon. Themes such as the past vs. present, the universe at large and imagination are explored and brought to life in fun ways that will make the kids “ooh and ahh” over bright colors and impactful visuals. Be sure to visit Roy McMakin’s “Favorite Color” with its cheery grid of colorful boxes and grab a photo too.

Have you been to La Jolla recently? What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood?

— Monique Walsh

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