You might want to bring your binoculars if you stay at the charming Scripps Inn. Set on La Jolla’s Whale Watch Point, the 14-room boutique hotel makes an ideal perch for spotting gray whales migrate past the window, along with dolphins, seals, and sea lions. Spacious guestrooms are beautifully decorated, with sophisticated coastal-chic style, private balconies or lanais, and panoramic ocean views. From the hotel, it’s a 5-minute walk to La Jolla’s Children’s Pool Beach -- ironically home to a growing colony of harbor seals -- and a short walk to La Jolla’s boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
YOU SHOULD KNOW One pet is allowed but it must be under 30 pounds. Parking is $18 per day.
If you’ve ever wistfully leafed through a copy of Coastal Living, you’ll love Scripps Inn. Rooms feature a pretty palette of blues and beiges that nod to the dramatic coastline not far from the hotel. Standard king rooms include partial ocean views, elegant beachy furniture, and decorative accents of seagrass and mother of pearl. The suites take it up a notch or two with features like bay windows, balconies or lanais, fireplaces, and kitchens -- the hotel’s website features floor plans.
Bathrooms vary by room type and include a shower-bathtub combo.
The tiny boutique property has a check-in desk.
The hotel serves a complimentary continental breakfast.
From the hotel, it’s a 5-minute drive to Interstate 5, the main north-south freeway in San Diego. Traffic usually moves along at a good clip but can get really backed up during rush hour. Southbound I-5 goes to the Downtown core while northbound follows the coast. Other highways and roads connect east and west. If you get on Torrey Pines Road, it continues on to UCSD toward the Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve and Del Mar. The road becomes Camino del Mar and after Del Mar turns into Pacific Coast Highway 101.
For a delicious breakfast, the Cottage La Jolla (8-minute walk) is a charmer of a spot that’s a favorite of locals -- always a good sign. The cozy eatery, which features an intimate dining room and a spacious patio with tables and umbrellas, serves dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes, wild mushroom omelets, and salmon hash bowls. Expect to wait in line on weekends. The Cottage also serves lunch and dinner. At El Pescador Fish Market (10-minute walk), the booths and family-style seating fill up fast. The casual and hugely popular seafood eatery, opened by a 19-year-old surfer in 1974, serves clam chowder, cioppino, seafood sandwiches, and char-grilled and sauteed seafood dishes. For a more sophisticated take on seafood, Herringbone La Jolla (10-minute walk) serves inventive dishes in a converted 1930s warehouse with sexy, bohemian decor, including an indoor dining garden with a half-dozen hundred-year-old olive trees.
La Jolla doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene, but there are a few worthy options. Locals and tourists alike hang out at The Spot (10-minute walk), a casual tavern with a fireplace that serves pub grub and drinks. It opened in 1915, making it the longest continuously running restaurant in La Jolla. It’s a solid option for a happy hour drink or a late-night bite. George’s at the Cove has good (though overpriced) food, but really, it’s all about the epic ocean views, especially from the terrace. Level2 (10-minute walk), the restaurant’s cocktail bar, has a stylish California modern design and excellent craft cocktails -- the bar even published a concept cocktail menu and book. Hit it up during happy hour for your best shot for nabbing ocean-view seats -- happy hour runs weekdays from 3:30 to 6:30 pm and Friday and Saturday nights from 9 pm to midnight.