If you are looking for a quick and easy escape from Los Angeles, fuel up the car or hop on the train and head about 120 miles south to the more than 70 miles of silky white beaches, enthralling vistas, secluded parks and gardens, intimate cafés and enticing restaurants of San Diego’s spectacular north coast for a peaceful getaway. Here are a few magical places to visit:
La Valencia Hotel, La Jolla
Atop a rocky peninsula about 10 miles north of downtown San Diego lies the idyllic community of La Jolla, filled with drop-dead gorgeous views of surf, coves, hills, and lagoons. You could easily spend your entire visit at the luxurious La Valencia Hotel. Surrounded by word-class museums and galleries, this historic Mediterranean-style pink resort houses 96 guestrooms and 16 charming ocean villas. Many rooms have beach views, fireplaces, steam showers, and patios overlooking Grassy Scripps Park. The sleek, intimate Sky Room’s 11 tables on the top floor offer 360-degree ocean views and California cuisine, while The Mediterranean Room serves up local favorites including paella Valencia and braised lamb pappardelle.
La Jolla Kayak, La Jolla
For a closer look at the sea, explore the seven caves lining the La Jolla Cove shoreline via kayak. La Jolla Kayak offers 90-minute or two-hour tours along the cliffs and coves where you and your sweetheart can paddle alongside sea turtles, leopard sharks, and seals. Or, opt to linger over a picnic lunch at Grassy Scripps Park before taking an oceanfront stroll, wading in the waves or exploring nearby tide pools.
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, La Jolla
Head to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for a stay right on the beach. Here you can swim, play tennis and golf, or just chill out on the sand and enjoy stellar views of the Pacific Ocean. The 14-acre oceanfront property with palms, immaculate tennis courts, and red-tile roofs, borders a long chunk of La Jolla Shores beach. Guests can enjoy one-, two-, or three-bedroom suites with fireplaces, fully stocked kitchenettes, and several flat-screen televisions. Sitting just beyond the sand line within kissing distance of the waves, the on-site Marine Room restaurant offers outstanding French-Continental cuisine as well as stunning sunset vistas and high-tide waves that splash right up against the floor-to-ceiling picture windows.
Hotel Del Coronado
The single most recognizable image of San Diego is the monumental Hotel Del Coronado. Crowned with red-shingled turrets, cupolas, gables, and domes, Hotel Del is the largest beach resort on the North American Pacific Coast. The chandelier-lit richly decorated hallways, massive spaces filled with pictures of celebrities and days gone by, intricate woodwork, expansive and manicured grounds, and old-fashioned birdcage elevator add to its charm. Almost no two rooms are alike in this 31-acre resort, but opt for one in the main building. Open the balcony doors and enjoy the mesmerizing view across the lawn to the powdered-sugar beach before letting the surf serenade you to sleep. The Del also houses 1500 Ocean, an upscale 6,000-square-foot oceanfront indoor/outdoor restaurant serving fresh regional seasonal food.
Lamb's Players Theatre, Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge
Coronado is also home to beautiful Victorian houses, stucco bungalows, and Spanish-style haciendas surrounded by pine, eucalyptus, and orange trees. Amid the restaurants and shops on Orange Avenue lies the charming Lamb's Players Theatre. Year-round productions include classic plays, musicals, and reviews. For dinner before the play, diners can head to the new Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge, an urban open-air 45-seat restaurant with a sustainable menu and craft beer flights.
San Diego Zoo
There's no better way to enjoy San Diego’s perfect weather than by taking a stroll in the city's spacious Balboa Park, with its beautiful gardens, 15 museums, theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The spacious zoo is home to some 4,000 exotic and rare creatures such as pandas, Sumatran tigers, and koala bears, with more than 650 species in all.
The zoo houses its incredible array of animals in open, moated enclosures often designed around specific habitats. The guided bus tour and Skyfari are good options to get the lay of the land before heading off to explore the monkey and forest trails, rain forest aviary, tiger river, reptile mesa, and children’s zoo.
San Diego’s warm temperatures, endless miles of pristine coastline, farm-to-table restaurants, and small eclectic beach towns make it a perfect spot for year-round visits.