As soon as rumors of a vaccine rumbled in the news, best friends whipped out their Pinterest boards to plan their end-of-quarantine adventures. Though it’s too soon to rip off our masks and abandon social distancing, the vaccines rollout has begun. Swipe past that pin of Maui beaches and go for something closer to home. Instead of crippling an island long overrun with tourism during a pandemic, seek out sunny San Diego’s La Jolla, literally the jewel of Southern California.
San Diego bustles with highways and lively neighborhoods, from the seedy surf of Ocean Beach to the LGBT pride of Hillcrest – but San Diego’s La Jolla offers an alluring respite from the city with its oceanside cliffs and sandstone canyons. Pack up your carver for the abundance of alleyways and skate parks, tie up your surfboard for the waves and prepare your stomach for the best fish tacos in America. Here’s how to spend a fun night in La Jolla.
Eat tacos at a secret surf spot
Evening adventures on the coast deliver picturesque sunsets. Why not end the day watching the day sink under the waves on a secret beach? Surfers, hikers and beach bums assemble (so basically Southern California’s entire population). Scouting out a perfect beach while avoiding crowds has never been more imperative. Look no further for a pandemic-safe adventure than to the ocean.
Black’s Beach in La Jolla boasts fantastic waves, canyon trails and draw-dropping views – all without the crowds of Pacific Beach. Why, you might ask, don’t people flock to these shores? Reaching the beach involves a steep scramble fit for a mountain goat. The best trail that snakes down to the beach hides in a residential area of La Jolla. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, discovered by surfers in the 60s, borrowed its name from the famous trail of Southeast Asia. You might hear some refer to it as The Saigon Trail, The La Jolla Trail or even The San Diego Trail. Though the trail requires proper footwear and a bit of sliding, you only need scramble for half a mile to reach Blacks Beach. Plus, San Diego weather never disappoints, so you can go year round.
Throw your surfboards and your beach towels in the car and head over to La Jolla’s worst-kept secret. Need some sustenance for your sunset hike? Choose from an abundance of restaurants known for their fish tacos. Centrally located with no shortage of rave reviews, the Taco Stand offers mouth watering shrimp tacos fast-food style. If you need a wider range of options, try Puesto. Devour artisanal tacos, bowls and salads inside a colorful brick space. Either spot won’t disappoint.
Take an evening swim
If night hikes aren’t your thing, but you’re craving that beach sunset, drive or skateboard over to La Jolla Shores to swim at dusk. Don’t worry, you’re unlikely to encounter a live version of the animatronic shark in “Jaws,” but you might find leopard sharks swishing around from early June to the end of September. They gather off the coast to mate and hatch their young in the warm waters. You can’t miss these harmless little guys in the daytime; their brown spots make them easy to spy against the sandy ocean floor.
Snorkeling gear is available to rent in the area for as little as US$5. Or, if you’re looking for a guided experience, you can sign up for an underwater tour. Expert guides know exactly where to look for hoards of leopard sharks. The pandemic might drain nightlife out of the city’s bars and clubs, but you can DIY a night out on the town with some music and alcohol. Slake your post-swim thirst with a classic amber ale. Have a socially distanced beach bonfire, and enjoy some toffee-tinged malty sweetness.
Picnic with rare trees
Stop at a local grocery store or the Sunday La Jolla en plein-air farmers market, to put together a sunset picnic. If you happen to make it to the farmers market, pick up a handcrafted souvenir from an artisan vendor. Check out Cactus Organics for vegan, cruelty-free hand sanitizers.
A night in San Diego’s La Jolla would be criminal without at least an hour of wandering around Torrey Pines State Park. What better way to end a day than to stroll around sandy cliffs and sit under the shade of a rare tree? The titular maritime chaparral is an endangered tree with tiny, thick evergreen leaves. The reserve exists to protect these trees, so be respectful of the area. Do not eat in the reserve. Take your picnic down to the beach, but be sure to catch the sunset on the cliffs. There’s nothing like the peach-colored light glittering across the ocean while the Torrey pines fade to shadows and your evening in La Jolla comes to a close.
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