La Jolla is a gorgeous and affluent seaside community that stretches 7 miles along the San Diego coastline. Filled with amazing views, great shopping, food, and fun, it is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods that San Diego has to offer. La Jolla rarely disappoints. This community is home to Scripps Aquarium and is also renowned for water-related sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, and surfing. When you live in La Jolla, every day feels like a vacation.
La Jolla is closely associated with the affluent and prosperous in San Diego. Highly regarded schools, gorgeous homes, coastal views, and great nightlife are just some of the compelling reasons to live in La Jolla. Despite being a popular tourist destination, La Jolla still manages to maintain a small coastal residential feel that just happens to offer some of the amenities of a larger city. Many homes sit along cliffs that boast panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. There is a nice selection of luxury condos close to the city center so the beach or a gourmet dinner is never far away. You will never be out of things to do when you live in La Jolla.
According to the La Jolla Historical Society, the history of La Jolla dates all the way back to native settlers 10,000 years ago that settled along the coast. However modern settlement of La Jolla began in 1850 when La Jolla became part of San Diego. “La Jolla” means “the Jewel” and its amazing views and breathtaking beauty definitely fit that description. Two brothers, Daniel and Samuel Sizer, each bought a plot in La Jolla and began developing the land.
In the 1890s, the railroad was extended into La Jolla which promoted more building and housing growth. It was during this time that La Jolla first became an artist colony. It was also when newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps settled here. You can find her name all over San Diego, as she was very generous with her wealth and gave to a lot of great causes around the city. From the 1900s onward, settlements in La Jolla grew at an incredible rate as people fell in love with the beautiful scenery. Today La Jolla boasts over 40,000 residents.
Like many communities in San Diego, the military played a role in shaping the area. From 1917 through 1964 the U.S. Marine Corps maintained a military base in La Jolla named Camp Matthews. The base was used for marksmanship training and was known as Camp Calvin B. Matthews. During and after World War II the population of La Jolla grew, causing residential development to draw close to the base. Eventually, it became less and less suitable as a firing range because of the risk to the nearby residents.
However, the site was proposed as a new campus of the University of California. In 1962 Camp Matthews was declared surplus by the Marine Corps. The base formally closed in 1964, and that same year the first class of undergraduates enrolled in the University of California, San Diego. UCSD is a great university with a picturesque campus. I might be a little biased here since it’s also where I went to school. Whether you’re brought here via the military, school or for other reasons, it’s very hard to leave San Diego (and particularly, La Jolla). Source: Wikipedia
The architectural history of La Jolla began with the construction of beach cottages in the 1890s and early 1900s. These included the Green Dragon Colony (1890), Red Roost and Red Rest (1894-95), Windermere Cottage (1894-95), and Wisteria Cottage (1904, remodeled 1908-09). Starting in 1910, A well-known architect by the name of Irving Gill started building post modernism homes. This was new and controversial for that era. Gill built Elizabeth Scripps a beautiful South Moulton Villa home (1916). This home would become the first building of what would become Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
In the 1920’s, architecture came under the influence of Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean styles. Examples include William Templeton Johnson’s Library (1921), now The Anthenaeum, Mann & Shepard’s La Valencia Hotel (1928), and the Wall Street Post Office (1935). The 1950s and 1960s saw the proliferation of Mid-Century Modernism in architecture with examples of residential, academic, and commercial buildings that now dominate the city center of La Jolla. With such a diversity of architecture, you can find any style of home you are looking for. Source: La Jolla Historical Society
La Jolla is full of beautiful landscapes that dot the area. If you walk around La Jolla Village you will find many different types of picturesque flower arrangements that are put in by the community. This is a neighborhood that takes pride in its appearance. With La Jolla’s history stemming from an art colony, landscaping is done very artistically and tastefully. Flower arrangements and landscaping compliment the housing and buildings. There are some beautiful gardens surrounding the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier which enhance the already stunning Pacific Ocean view.
La Jolla is located North of downtown and off the I-5 freeway. You take La Jolla Village drive over the 5 and climb a brief uphill stretch. As you get on the other side of the hill you are met with a gorgeous ocean view. While La Jolla is only about 15 minutes from downtown, you feel as though you have been transported to a tropical island vacation spot. La Jolla is very conveniently located centrally which makes it easy for those who work either downtown or in North County.
It takes about 10 minutes to reach Del Mar and an additional 15 to get to the Carlsbad area. If you are wanting to get to East County, you are very close to the 52 and not too far from the 8, (you can get there in less than 20 minutes). South County would be a bit longer but is not terribly inconvenient. To get to Chula Vista would take about 20 minutes.
The border is about 30+ minutes south of La Jolla. Because you are on the Coast, it is easy to hop from beach to beach, and back roads can take you to Bird Rock and Pacific Beach in a matter of minutes, as well as going north towards Torrey Pines. Many locals use the back roads to avoid traffic that tends to increase during the summer months. Getting to and from the village in the summer can be a challenge due to traffic congestion.
La Jolla is home to a great mix of home styles. A lot of traditionally Spanish-styled homes are located in La Jolla along with some great beach cottage-style houses. As you move further from the water you encounter more modern-style homes, many of which are quite dramatic. There are a lot of renovations that have occurred after the recession in 2008. Many foreclosures were quickly snatched up and some were artfully flipped. This has given some of the older sections of La Jolla a bit of a facelift. However, the majority of homes here tend to be very well maintained.
Breathtaking views are seen from many areas of La Jolla. Homes on the cliffs are greeted by outstanding views of the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Other homes are perched with views of La Jolla shores (the main beach area of La Jolla) which wraps around the cliffs brilliantly. Condos around the city center have views not only of La Jolla Cove but also Children’s Pool which is home to local wildlife including playful seals. For one of the best views in La Jolla you can visit the Birch Aquarium and make your way to the patio where the ocean view is beyond beautiful. The ocean views in La Jolla are legendary and for good reason.
La Jolla is one of the most sought-after areas of San Diego. A very affluent neighborhood surrounded by natural beauty and great nightlife has led to some very valuable real estate.
Below, you’ll find a graph showing the average sales prices of homes (detached homes as well as condos and townhomes) in the 92037 zip code. The data reflects the last five years and it is automatically updated to be current.
When doing a comparative market analysis to determine the estimated value of a home in today’s market, the price per square foot is often a key component of this analysis. An agent or appraiser will typically take the price per square foot range, (arrived at by selecting recently sold properties that are comparable to the subject property), and then multiply that price per square foot by the number of square feet in your home. Price per square foot can vary dramatically for certain homes, but the figures are still an excellent way to gauge the value of a property. Below, you’ll find the average price per square foot (detached homes as well as condos and townhomes), again taken over the last five years and graphed with San Diego county.
Single Family Detached Homes
The median sales price of a detached home is definitely a multi-million dollar figure in La Jolla. While homes can sometimes be found for under two million dollars in La Jolla, they are often in outlying residential areas closer to the freeway. Most homes start at over two million and then rapidly climb in price from there. The closer you are to the beach, or your view of the ocean will drive the home price up considerably. Some luxury homes, typically beachfront, command pricing in the tens of millions. Due to geographic constrictions, there are not a lot of opportunities to expand and new home construction is largely single custom homes rather than larger home tracts you might still see in areas like Carmel Valley. For these reasons, La Jolla is considered by many a great location to invest in.
There are quite a few condo developments in La Jolla and the price of them very much depends on location. Beachside condos can start at over $1 million depending on size and amenities. Condos further back from the ocean and without a Pacific Ocean view can be found in at “more affordable” pricing than ocean front. Condos and townhomes can sometimes be hard to find in the La Jolla market because they are more affordable in a very desirable location.
Walkability in La Jolla depends very much on where you live. If you live near the village center then walkability is extremely high. There are many shops and restaurants that line Prospect Street (Prospect is considered the main “downtown” area of the village of La Jolla). La Jolla cove is also in this immediate area. The farther you get from the village, the more difficult it would be to get to the social activities that La Jolla has to offer.
The Bird Rock neighborhood of La Jolla is also highly walkable. If you live closer to the I-5 there are smaller neighborhoods with parks and activities, but not at the scale and variety the village can offer. Ultimately, if you are looking for easy walkability, you likely want to live near the Village.
Traffic / Commuting
Traffic in La Jolla depends on the season and time of day. Due to the amazing natural beauty that La Jolla has to offer, it is a popular area for tourists to visit. In the summer you can expect more cars will be on the road. Often, A LOT more cars. Traffic also tends to occur during normal rush hour times in the morning and evening. There are a few ways out of La Jolla. You can go east to the I-5, north to Torrey Pines, or south towards Pacific Beach. Without traffic, it would take only about 5-7 minutes to reach the I-5 from the village of La Jolla. Many people take the back roads to avoid traffic on the freeway. Allow yourself some extra time getting in and out of the village during peak periods.
Daily commuting from La Jolla isn’t necessarily as painful as some other commutes. Going to Torrey Pines from the Village is roughly a 10-minute commute. If you head south you can arrive in Pacific Beach in about 10 minutes as well. The view going up or down the coast is phenomenal, so if you’re commuting short distances along the coast it may feel more like sightseeing than commuting. A commute downtown would be between 15-30 minutes. La Jolla is still centrally located which makes it convenient for those who work close to the city and enjoy the many activities San Diego has to offer. Naturally, commute times can vary depending on where you live in La Jolla, and the traffic conditions related to time of day.
There are four public schools served by the San Diego Unified School District. La Jolla is well known for having some of the best schools in the county.
- La Jolla Elementary(K-5)
- Torrey Pines Elementary(K-5)
- Bird Rock Elementary(K-5)
- La Jolla High School(9-12)
The La Jolla Schools Map shows the locations of each of the public schools listed above as well as a couple charter and private school options:
La Jolla also offers public charter option of Preuss School-UCSD (6-12)
La Jolla Village
There are a myriad of luxury shopping and delicious restaurants to savor in the village. It is a fun family activity to walk through La Jolla village with it’s interesting architecture and refined but still relaxed coastal vibe. La Jolla has some great shopping with many individual designer stores such as Lululemon, Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade that are hard to find in San Diego. There is something for everyone in the village.
This Oceanside park is one of the biggest in La Jolla. Right near the village, it offers a long, meandering coastal walkway, grassy areas, picnic benches & is a popular location for summer concerts and activities. From here you can see the seals, pelicans and seagulls that often hang out near the cove. You will also see kayak tours that frequently paddle along the coast. A great place for a stroll and mesmerizing scenic views.
Mount Soledad Cross
Mount Soledad is a very large hill on the eastern edge of La Jolla, one of the highest points in San Diego. On top of the hill, a large cross was placed that has been in controversy ever since. It has been replaced twice, most recently in 1954 with a 29-foot-tall (8.8 m) cross (43 feet tall, including the base). Originally known as the “Mount Soledad Easter Cross”, its presence on publicly owned land was challenged in the 1980s as a violation of the separation of church and state. Since then the cross has had a war memorial built around it and was renamed “Mount Soledad Veterans War Memorial.” The issue has been in almost continual litigation ever since. Controversy aside, it is an great place to take in panoramic views of the area. Source: Wikipedia
Birch Aquarium at Scripps allows the public to learn and share in the great research that Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has to offer. Perched on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, the aquarium houses some incredible marine life. Birch Aquarium is home to more than 60 habitats of fishes and invertebrates including local and also non-native species. Most days there is also a petting ‘zoo’ that allows kids and adults to feel some of the marine life such as sea coral, starfish, and more. The aquarium serves as both entertainment and a great learning experience for the whole family.
La Jolla Cove
This beautiful protected cove is world renowned for its abundance of marine life and is a popular location to snorkel and dive. While it is a very popular family destination, you need to be careful of the unexpected swells that can roll in quickly to the cove. Although there is a lifeguard station in the vicinity, it is important to be skilled in the water since you are so close to rocks, currents, etc. It is not uncommon to also see seals hanging out on the rocks surrounding the cove.
Children’s pool is an area of shallow water on the coast in La Jolla, slightly south of the cove. Local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the sea wall project in order to create a Children’s Pool, a place where children could play and swim that would be protected from the large waves that often hit the cliffs of La Jolla. The area has become very controversial as the seals slowly took back over the area. There is a divide between those who would like to restore Children’s Pool to its original intended function and environmentalists who are fighting for the rights of the seals. Things have gotten intense at times and have even resulted in the arrests of a few activists. Aside from the controversy, it is a beautiful location to watch seals in their own environment and watch the waves roll in. Source: Wikipedia
A beautiful section of beach south of Torrey Pines and located in the northern part of La Jolla, this beach is known as a de facto nude beach. Popular with nudists and naturalists, this beach is one of the last nude beaches in the state. Do not venture to the south side of the beach unless you are prepared to see more than just marine life in its natural state. It is also known as one of the best surf spots in San Diego thanks to great swells. Despite the bare-all reputation, most of the surfers still wear a wetsuit or swimwear!
Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve
A popular hiking spot, this state reserve has cliffs that overlook some of the most impressive views in San Diego. Trails twist and turn along the cliffs. After an invigorating workout you can take the beach trail down to the sand below and take a dip in the refreshing Pacific Ocean. A popular location for swimmers, surfers, and kayakers, this beach is unbelievably beautiful. Be prepared to pay for parking, as it is a state park. You also can park in the Torrey Pines neighborhoods or just north of the park along the highway, but it is quite a hike over to the beach.
Torrey Pines Golf Course
One of the most notable golf courses in the world, the Torrey Pines Golf Course is part of the famous PGA Tour and home to the Farmers Insurance Open. Torrey Pines also hosted the notorious US Open in 2008. You can enjoy a whopping 36 holes (two 18 hole courses) along with unbeatable scenery. In order to allow continued public access to the course, the lines are first come, first served. Some committed golfers arrive the day before to secure their place. If you are an avid golfer, you need to experience Torrey Pines for yourself. Visit the City of San Diego’s website for more details on Torrey Pines Golf Course Tee Times and Fees.
La Jolla Playhouse
The La Jolla Playhouse is a beautiful non-profit theater and host to performances and educational opportunities for children and teens interested in the theatrical arts. It often runs programs that aid in helping the community by contributing arts education to minors in La Jolla. Stop by for one of their famous shows and support the community in the process.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
La Jolla was originally founded as an art colony, and the Museum of Contemporary Art has devoted itself to the preservation and exhibition of art in congruence with La Jolla’s history. Founded in 1941 as The Art Center in La Jolla, it was eventually turned into a museum. The museum itself was originally the 1915 residence of Ellen Browning Scripps, designed by the famous architect Irving Gill. This museum is full of La Jolla history and spirit and is one of the most visited attractions in the area. Source: MSCASD website
The Jewel & The Concours
This event was named after La Jolla (being the jewel) and concours being french for a place or location of luxury. La Jolla has become the embodiment of luxury, class and style in San Diego and as such, the residents like to own some really fantastic cars. The chic allure of La Jolla’s avenues has drawn the finest automobiles to this coastal town for over a decade at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance and The La Jolla Motor Car Classic at the Concours. The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance features various types of fine automobile classics. Past years have showcased horseless carriages, Italian marques, British marques, Woodies, 50’s classics, American sports cars, and the automobiles of the infamous Carroll Shelby. Spectators from all over the nation come to the breathtaking shores of La Jolla to view their favorite classics and enjoy a day of family fun. More information can be found on their website.
La Jolla Half Marathon
The La Jolla Half Marathon is one of America’s most picturesque and beautiful point-to-point races. Starting at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the course follows a scenic coastal route before reaching the challenging climb to the summit of Torrey Pines State Park. After leaving the park, the course rolls atop Torrey Pines Mesa, continues down through the residential district of La Jolla Shores, and finishes in Ellen Browning Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove. For more information, visit the La Jolla Half Marathon website.
Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla
The La Jolla Secret Garden Tour is a great way to see many of the beautiful flowers and gardens located in the La Jolla community. There are six spectacular gardens throughout La Jolla bursting with a flowering array of color and delightful surprises on this tour. The Tour is celebrating their seventeenth year of sharing the unique beauty of La Jolla and its gardens as they support the La Jolla Historical Society’s mission of research, preservation, and programs. More details at the La Jolla History website.
La Jolla Art & Wine Festival
Featuring the works of over 150 established artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond, the LJAWF features something for everyone including a silent auction, roving entertainment, a gourmet marketplace, the family art center and a wine and beer garden which includes premier wineries in addition to San Diego’s top breweries. The festival was originally created by Friends of La Jolla Elementary, founders of the La Jolla Open Aire Market, and has most recently garnered the support and established a partnership with the La Jolla Village Merchants Association. All profits raised benefit underfunded programs such as art, music, science, physical education, technology, and on-site medical care at local public elementary and middle schools. A fun event, and all for a great cause. For more information check out the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival website.
Restaurants, Food and Drinks
– Inventive & artisanal nibbles & cocktails in a cozy lounge or covered, outdoor bistro setting. Same owner as PrepKitchen in Little Italy.
– Select seafood & French fare in a chic setting with waves crashing against the windows at high tide.
– New American restaurant offering several seafood options, plus a full bar with a daily happy hour.
– Californian daytime cuisine served on a patio with a white picket fence or inside a vintage home. A great spot for brunch.
– Home of the original Grass Fed Burger, this is my favorite spot to grab a burger in La Jolla. Limited seating, but a great casual atmosphere in the heart of the Village.
– Seafood market since 1974 offers just-caught cuts to-go or prepared on a sandwich, taco or salad.
– Lively surf ‘n’ turf chain link lures locals with a chic yet casual ambiance & ocean view tables.
– Chef Brian Malarkey’s inventive California cuisine in a dramatic, renovated 1930s-era warehouse.
– Popular spot for unique artisanal takes on tacos, bowls & salads in a bright & breezy brick space.
– Housemade Italian fare in a cozy dining room or on the patio among opulent decor.
– Extensive menu of rolls, entrees & sake in a modern space or on a patio with fire pits & ocean view.
– Locals & visitors come for pints of housemade beer, plus burgers, pizza & more in a simple setting. One of the originals in San Diego’s bustling craft beer phenomenon.
– Classic pub grub & drinks served late in a casual tavern atmosphere with a fireplace. Tasty burgers!
– Buzzy brunch & lunch spot with clever comfort food, ocean views & a patio known for people-watching.
– Hopping eatery for ribs, burgers, sandwiches & American barbecue fare as well as beer & wine.
La Jolla Farms
Located in North La Jolla, this neighborhood is filled with some of the area’s largest, most luxurious and stunning homes. Bluffside homes directly overlook Blacks Beach. “The Cliffs”, located just inside La Jolla Farms are a popular walking destination where you can take in gorgeous ocean views and also a few sneak peeks at the area’s stunning properties.
La Jolla Shores
This is a quiet residential area that includes the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus, La Jolla Shores Beach, and a bit east up the hillside. This is a popular area for the beach and can get VERY busy during the summer months. Homes here range from small condos and beach bungalows to beachfront multi-million dollar estates. There is a small business district of shops, restaurants, kayak rentals, and scuba tours that runs along Avenida de la Playa. This area is also home to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club
La Jolla Heights
This neighborhood is located on the hills overlooking La Jolla Shores. This is a purely residential area, unlike La Jolla Shores. If you are looking for an area that would be free of tourists in the summer, this is the place. This neighborhood is known for breathtaking views off the cliffs.
Hidden Valley consists of the lower portion of Mount Soledad on the northern slopes. This area is made up of a mix of older homes and remodels. There are no businesses located in Hidden Valley and the area stays pretty quiet.
Country Club is named exactly why you would think, this neighborhood includes the exclusive La Jolla Country Club Golf Course. It is located on the northwest side of Mt. Soledad. Great views, and close to the freeway and activities, this is a great location for golfers who would like to live near a scenic course.
Also called the Village of La Jolla, however, don’t confuse it with La Jolla Village located to the northeast. There is a downtown business district area, including most of La Jolla’s shops and restaurants, centered on Prospect Street. This is the nightlife and energy center of La Jolla, and also the most walkable area. There are many small homes, condos, apartments, and cottages located outside of the business district.
This neighborhood stretches from the coastal homes located from Windansea Beach to the Village. It’s a nice mix of residential and commercial with a few shops and restaurants along La Jolla Boulevard. Relatively smaller homes and a few condos are located in this area. Its great for those who want to be close to the Village for walkability but still have a quieter atmosphere.
This is the coastal strip near the Beach-Barber Tract but it’s only residential. A quiet neighborhood full of a nice mix of homes ranging from traditional craftsman, beach cottage, to modern.
This is one of the most sought-after beach areas of La Jolla. Bird Rock makes up the southern coastal area of La Jolla. At its eastern side are the lowest slopes of Mt. Soledad. There is a collection of shops and restaurants along La Jolla Boulevard which is great for walkability. There are a few sometimes confusing traffic roundabouts on La Jolla Boulevard that make for an interesting drive. Gorgeous coastal bluffs and surfing await here as well.
Located on the west side of Mt. Soledad, this is a purely residential neighborhood. Quiet and gorgeous, this neighborhood is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Village.
La Jolla Mesa
This neighborhood is a strip of land near Mt. Soledad that borders Pacific Beach. While it doesn’t have any commercial businesses in the neighborhood it is a close drive to either the Village, or you can go down the hill to lively Pacific Beach.
La Jolla Alta
This is a master-planned development east of La Jolla Mesa that includes a members-only clubhouse. Many homes are built in the traditional Spanish style. It is a very active community that puts on residential activities. Considered one of the safer and quieter areas of La Jolla.
Soledad South is located on the southeastern slopes of Mt. Soledad, all the way up to the top, east of La Jolla Alta. This area is more inland and closer to the freeway. Homes here may be more affordable than those on coastal La Jolla but can be equally as beautiful. Those commuting might prefer this freeway-close location.
This small neighborhood runs along Nautilus Street between Muirlands to the south, and Country Club to the north. A purely residential neighborhood, there are many impressive homes in Muirlands West. You are still close to the Village and the I-5 in this desirable central La Jolla location.
Southwestern La Jolla, north of Bird Rock and east of La Jolla Boulevard, this neighborhood boasts some impressive views among the hills. Many large homes are located in Upper Hermosa, as well as a beautiful park that overlooks the ocean. One of the most beautiful neighborhoods in La Jolla.
La Jolla Village
Not to be confused with the Village (of La Jolla). Located in the northeast of La Jolla, east of La Jolla Heights, west of I-5 and south of UCSD. The neighborhood is named after La Jolla Village Square shopping and residential mall, which has a number of great shops, restaurants, and two movie theaters. A great place to live with lots to do nearby. Much of the real estate here consists of condos and townhomes.
Selling or Buying
If you’re ready to explore selling or buying a home in La Jolla or elsewhere in San Diego, please contact me via the form below or the contact information at the top of the page. I look forward to working with you!