Developer Frank Botsford bought a substantial area of barren pueblo land in 1886, which he then subdivided. Other real estate developers soon caught on to La Jolla’s potential and built resorts, but it wasn’t until Ellen Browning Scripps arrived in 1896 that the town developed as a research, education, and art center. Now, La Jolla (pronounced “hoya”) is among the most expensive land in the US. Befittingly, its name translates as “the jewel.”


La Jolla Map


prac_info Museum of Contemporary Art: 700 Prospect St; 858 454 3541; open 11am–5pm Thu–Tue; 11am–7pm 3rd Thu each month; adm $10; free 5–7pm third Thu of month;

prac_info Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial: Soledad Rd; open 7am–10pm daily

prac_info Scripps Institution of Oceanography: 8622 Kennel Way;

prac_info University of California, San Diego: 9500 Gilman Dr; 858 534-2230;

Google Map

  • The café at the Museum of Contemporary Art serves good sandwiches and salads.
  • Watch the paragliders launch from the Torrey Pines cliffs, or stroll the UCSD campus and its Stuart Collection of outdoor sculpture.

1. La Jolla Bay

Google Map

This gathering spot just below La Jolla village is small but startling, wedged between sandstone cliffs with glorious views. Its robust marine life is protected.


The picturesque La Jolla Bay

2. La Jolla Playhouse

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The Tony Award-winning Playhouse, founded by actor Gregory Peck, is housed in the UC San Diego Theatre district (see La Jolla Playhouse).


A production at La Jolla Playhouse

3. Museum of Contemporary Art

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Only a fraction of more than 3,000 works from every noteworthy art movement since 1950 are on display at this renowned museum.

4. Ellen Browning Scripps Park

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Stroll along palm-lined walkways and gaze out over panoramic coastline views.

5. Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial

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The 43-ft (13-m) cross on Mount Soledad, erected in 1954, is the centerpiece of a memorial that honors veterans of the Korean and other wars. Six walls beneath the cross hold 2,400 plaques.

6. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

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Brilliantly colored underwater habitats educate at this marine museum (see Birch Aquarium at Scripps). You’ll feel like a scuba diver when viewing sharks swimming in an offshore kelp bed housed in a 70,000-gallon tank.


An underwater habitat at the aquarium

7. Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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Leading the way in global science research, Scripps Oceanography is now in its second century of discovery. Hundreds of research programs are under way on every continent and ocean.

8. Torrey Pines State Reserve

Google Map

At this reserve, hiking trails wind past coastal scrub, sandstone cliffs, and woodlands, with stunning views of the Pacific. Guided tours are available.

9. Salk Institute

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Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the first successful polio vaccine, founded this institution for biomedical research in 1960.

10. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

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Six colleges make up one of the most prestigious public universities in the country.


Geisel Library building, UCSD


Born in England in 1836, Scripps moved to the US in 1844. She became a teacher, investing her savings in her brother’s newspaper ventures in Detroit and Cleveland. Already wealthy, she inherited a fortune on his death in 1900. Scripps spent her last 35 years in La Jolla, giving away millions of dollars for the good of humanity.

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