Last Updated on January 2, 2024

Surfs up!

Winter brings great wave action on Southern California’s Pacific Coast. That includes La Jolla. It’s no wonder when Spanish explorers landed on the shores of La Jolla, they called it “the Jewel.”

With 17 miles of stunning, rugged coastline curving into a myriad of natural coves backed by verdant hillsides, La Jolla is a natural treasure.

The vibrant, upscale, bedroom community 13 miles from downtown San Diego attracts surfers, beach bums and nature lovers, along with the rich and famous. If you’re coming to La Jolla, of course, you have the option to stay in one of its high-end, luxury hotels.

But if you’re looking for a place that won’t bust your budget and offers a real-deal authentic beachfront experience, why not stay in one of La Jolla’s beachfront hotels where you can fall asleep to the sounds of the surf and Pacific breezes?

As a local, here are some of my favorites.

Scripps Inn La Jolla Cove

Scripps La Jolla Cove Suite.
Scripps La Jolla Cove Suite. Photo by Noreen Kompanik

I love everything about this boutique hotel tucked into a more residential area of La Jolla Village, but directly across the street from Cuvier Park (Whale Watch Point), just south of La Jolla Cove and near Windandsea Beach.

Each of the inn’s 14 accommodations are unique, all tastefully decorated with a classy beach theme. Some include fireplaces and kitchenettes.

The warm and charming property with its colorful bougainvillea represents quintessential Southern California charm in a laid-back intimate setting. I truly believe this is one of La Jolla’s best-kept secrets.

Rooms are not air-conditioned, but do have ceiling fans. However, due to the inn’s prime location across from the ocean, Pacific breezes are good enough, and the sounds of the ocean waves will lull you into a peaceful slumber.

La Jolla Beach & Cove views, La Jolla, California.
La Jolla Beach & Cove views, La Jolla, California. Photo by Noreen Kompanik

Inn By the Sea La Jolla

Ocean views and breezy private patios or balconies accompany each of the inn’s 131 lovely guest rooms arranged over five floors. Located less than three blocks from the ocean in the heart of La Jolla Village, the charming property offers a variety of well-designed, comfortable rooms and suites decorated with touches of the surf, sand and sea.

Each room comes with a refrigerator, and the property boasts an outdoor pool and sundeck with loungers. With its prime location, the inn is easily walkable to the area’s coves, beaches and restaurants.

The Shoal La Jolla Beach

Formerly a Travelodge, The Shoal La Jolla Beach has completely renovated its rooms making the property feel more like a two-story boutique beach hotel than a motel. This is quite appropriate given its amazing location 300 yards from Windandsea Beach.

The Shoal offers 44 queen and king rooms newly refreshed with bright colors and tasteful furniture. Guests have access to bike rentals, a heated pool and Jacuzzi, free beach chairs, and beach toy rentals.

Though this area of Windandsea Beach is one of San Diego’s most popular surfing spots, the beach area here is more of a local hangout than one attracting a drove of tourists. Sunsets from the beach are spectacular.

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Pool at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
Pool at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Photo by Noreen Kompanik

One of the region’s most timeless beach resorts, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a landmark beachfront hotel and one of the only true beachfront properties in the La Jolla Shores section of La Jolla. Pampering its guests for over 80 years, it remains one of La Jolla’s treasures.

The casually elegant and relaxing 90-room beach-themed hotel mere steps from the sand features guestrooms, studio suites, and cottages with golf course or sweeping ocean views.

Guests have access to a private beach complete with beach loungers and umbrellas, a tennis shop, 12 championship tennis courts, a par-3, 9-hole golf course, a bocce ball court and ping-pong tables.

An outdoor heated swimming pool, children’s pool, playground, and fitness center round out the resort’s impressive amenities. Lastly, it’s important to note there is no resort fee here.

La Jolla Shores Hotel

La Jolla Shores Hotel is situated on one of the most beautiful beaches on the San Diego coast. This means surfing, kayaking, or boogieboarding are only a few sand-covered footsteps away. The hotel is ideal for a perfect throwback Americana beach vacation, and extremely family-friendly to boot. 

128 casual beach-themed guestrooms are infused with a laid-back Southern California spirit, offering lush gardens and scenic coastal or beachfront views with a private patio or balcony. Its 19 rooms also include kitchenettes. A heated outdoor courtyard pool and Jacuzzi, tennis courts, ping-pong tables, and a fitness center are on-site.

Beach crews are available to set up umbrellas, chairs, and towels for guests, and beachside views meet the perfect bites at the resort’s spectacular The Shores Restaurant. This oceanfront hacienda-style eatery with indoor and open-air dining serves fresh, sustainable, seasonal California-coastal-inspired entrees and beachy-themed libations.

Next time you’re considering a warmer-weather beach-inspired destination, think about coming to La Jolla. After all, “If there’s a will, there’s a wave,” author unknown.

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