Weekend Escape to La Jolla and San Diego

La Jolla Coastline
Southern California has many places that merit a visit for a weekend getaway. One location to consider is La Jolla with its exquisite coastline, breathtaking ocean views and proximity to San Diego, Visiting one enjoys both the best of this hilly seaside town and the attractions of San Diego itself.

Recently I explored La Jolla and loved the casual pace the getaway evoked. My visit started at the Birch Aquarium. The aquarium is part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. Although not a large aquarium, I enjoyed it immensely. The exhibits are excellent. I especially liked the section where I learned about the Seahorse. One would not believe how many species of seahorses exist.

Sea Creature Birch Aquarium

Sea Creature Birch Aquarium

Speaking of fish, if you are a foodie and love seafood, visit Catalina Offshore Products, located in San Diego about 15 minutes from La Jolla.   Fishmonger, Tommy Gomes gave us a tour and tasting of the facility. You learn more about fish than you ever want to know but you also get to sample some of the freshest fish you have ever tasted.

Fishmonger Tony Gomes Catalina Offshore Products

Fishmonger Tony Gomes Catalina Offshore Products

Lunch in La Jolla

The charm of this country-style restaurant, as well as the food, draws one to Sugar and Scribe Bakery – Fine Food. We enjoyed our lunch outside on the patio. You will not leave hungry as the portions are large but save room for the pastries. Chef Maeve Irish heritage influences her cooking. She also adds a contemporary flair.

Sugar and Scribe - Fine Food and Bakery

Sugar and Scribe – Fine Food and Bakery

La Jolla Coastline

A visit to La Jolla should include a walk along the coast. The views are magnificent. Enjoying the smells of the sea and the barks of the sea lions and seals settles one into a relaxed frame of mind.

Sunset La Jolla Beach and Tennis Resort

Sunset La Jolla Beach and Tennis Resort

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Although I did not stay at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, for those looking for a great family getaway weekend this would be the place to stay. Within a few steps of the beach, the resort also offers an Olympic sized swimming pool, tennis and a 9- hole golf course and more. The beaches in front of the hotel are pristine and inviting.

The resort opened in 1925 and was purchased by the Kellogg family in 1927. Today the fourth generation of the Kellogg family runs the resort.

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Resort

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Resort

Wine Tasting

About 30 minutes from La Jolla Village is the community of Bird Rock. Here you will find LJ Crafted Wines. Lowell Jooste moved to La Jolla from South Africa where he made wines. Today, he has created a unique concept for wine, the Wine Stewart, a system that allows wine to be served directly from the barrel as it ages. The freshness of the wine proves that this method is a success.

Sourcing fruit from Napa and Sonoma. Not all wines are available at a given time, but Lowell produces in whites, Chardonnay, Albarino, Semillon, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc.   In reds, he produces Pinot Noir, Merlot, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.

The tasting room has a pleasant beachy coastal town feel. I loved the use of a surfboard as a table. The décor is inviting, and the wines are excellent.

LJ Crafted Wines Tasting Room

LJ Crafted Wines Tasting Room

Instead of buying bottles of wine, you purchase growlers or growlettes. The latter allows one to take home enough wine for two glasses.

LJ Crafted Wines logo represents three important aspects of Lowell and his wife Anne’s life. The Pelican Symbolizes Bird Rock where they are currently residing and where the tasting room is situated. The olive branch represents peace, which can lead to something fresh and new. The oak branch signifies their South African heritage because without that culture they would not be creating the wines they do today. Finally, the ribbon at the bottom ties it all together

Lowell Jooste, Owner LJ Crafted Wines

Lowell Jooste, Owner LJ Crafted Wines

On my visit, I sampled the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Dolcetto and Cabernet Sauvignon. My favorites the Sauvignon Blanc exhibiting a bright, refreshing wine with a bit of sweetness on the finish. I loved that this wine did not overemphasize the grapefruit or grassiness that so often is apparent in this variety. I also was taken with the Dolcetto with its silky texture and flavors of cranberries and blueberries.

Dining at the Marine Room

I highly suggest that any visit to La Jolla include dining at the Marine Room. Chef Bernard Guillas’ passion permeates every aspect of the restaurant. The food is exceptional, and the views, of course, are spectacular especially at sunset.

Bernard Guillas with Flying Pans Two Chefs, One World

Bernard Guillas with Flying Pans Two Chefs, One World

I love this metaphor of Bernard’s philosophy. It reminds me of an artist and a winemaker and aptly applies to a chef. Bernard states in his book, Flying Pans Two Chefs, One World, “Chefs are like scientists, artists, and magicians. A white canvas is replaced by a sleek white plate. On our palette, we use the natural color of ingredients and textures to awaken all of the senses. It is a journey through the magic of cooking.”   Bernard’s palette is the blue of the ocean that surrounds his kitchen, the regional fish and local produce and other ingredients that make up the components he chooses to utilize each day.

Marine Room Fennel Pollen Roasted Maine Diver Scallop and Foie

Marine Room Fennel Pollen Roasted Maine Diver Scallop and Foie

Looking at the dishes served to us on our visit to the restaurant, the plates, Bernard’s food art is a colorful, appetizing display that tantalizes your senses.

Marine Room Trilogy of LObster, Ahi Tuna and Kona Kampachi

Marine Room Trilogy of LObster, Ahi Tuna and Kona Kampachi

Marine Room La Quercia Prosciutto and Rainbow Beets

Marine Room La Quercia Prosciutto and Rainbow Beets

 

Georges at the Cove

One must visit Georges at the Cove to enjoy the panoramic view for either cocktails, lunch or dinner. Georges is located on three levels. At the top is the outdoor restaurant called Ocean Terrace. Level2 is the cocktail lounge and below is California Modern for fine dining.

I dined at the Ocean Terrace. I enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere and can imagine during the summer the restaurant would be hoping. The food was tasty as I sample a salad, Octopus, and short ribs.

Georges at the Cove Octopus

Georges at the Cove Octopus

Pantai Inn

During my visit to La Jolla, we stayed at the charming Pantai Inn, family-run hotel, now in its third generation, located across from the beachfront and La Jolla Park. Pantai means fine white sand beach in Indonesian and is befitting for this property due to its locale adjacent to the ocean.

Pantai Inn La Jolla

Pantai Inn La Jolla

Ideally located in walking distance La Jolla Village, the tidepools, and beachfront walk, making it the perfect escape for a relaxing weekend.

The Pantai Inn features 30 guest suites and cottages, many with kitchens. The décor is Balinese and fits perfectly with a beachy atmosphere. The details, especially in the wood accents, give a warm feel to the ambiance. Almost every room has an ocean view with a balcony Wake up to sipping your morning coffee out on the balcony while enjoying the vista.

Pantai Inn Guest Suite Sitting Room

Pantai Inn Guest Suite Sitting Room

The open lobby reminds me on a smaller scale of those one finds in Hawaii. Stop by for coffee and homemade cookies daily. Your stay includes a scrumptious breakfast.

With San Diego so close by one will not be lacking in activities to pursue. In fact, one weekend getaway in La Jolla is not enough. You will opt to return to see more of what the area has to offer.

Note: Common to the travel and wine industry, this writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.