The wealthiest and most desirable part of San Diego, La Jolla sits along the coast northwest of the city proper, gazing out over azure coves to the endless Pacific. Besides the gorgeous scenery, great surfing (head to Windansea Beach for the best waves), beachcombing, and diving, tons of good cafés and restaurants have long made La Jolla an all-around great day out, suiting all budgets—especially those with no upper limit. Another big draw here is the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (700 Prospect St., 858/454-3541, closed Wed., $10 adults), currently closed for renovations expected to be completed by 2020.

Start the day off right at La Jolla’s The Cottage (7702 Fay Ave., 858/454-8409), where delicious food (including a divine buttermilk coffee cake) is served up on a sunny patio. For an unforgettable, swaddled-in-luxury SoCal experience, stay the night at the elegant Craftsman-style The Lodge at Torrey Pines (11480 N. Torrey Pines Rd., 858/453-4420, $400 and up), a modern re-creation of California’s turn-of-the-20th-century Golden Age.

Driving San Diego

From La Jolla south, US-101 is pretty well buried by the I-5 freeway. Old US-101 can still be followed, however, by following Pacific Highway past Mission Bay and Lindbergh Field toward San Diego Bay, where it becomes Harbor Drive—where the light rail San Diego Trolley now runs past the hulking USS Midway aircraft carrier.

Travel map of La Jolla
La Jolla
Map of Pacific Coast through Southern California.
Map of Pacific Coast through Southern California.