Free Things to Do in La Jolla, CA


Because La Jolla is something of a high-end community with a love of designer brands and luxury cars, it can intimidate budget travelers who don’t have a lot of money to spend on vacation. The amount in your bank account doesn’t matter in Jewel City, as La Jolla is affectionately known. Besides, you don’t need a dollar to have a memorable experience in the city, where some of the best things on offer won’t cost a penny.

Hang Out With the Sea Lions at Children’s Pool

Image via Flickr by jonlclark

Children’s Pool is one of La Jolla’s most popular beaches, and it just so happens that it overflows with free — and exciting — things to do. You can easily spend the entire day watching the sea lions and the seals romping around on the rocks and playing in the water. How often do you get to see marine animals have a good time in their natural habitats? However, there’s a seawall at Children’s Pool, as well. Not only does it make a breathtaking photo op, but you can walk along the wall out over the ocean.

Hit Up the Beach

Image via Flickr by SD Dirk

Jewel City has plenty more coastline. It doesn’t cost a dime to lounge on the packed sands of Windansea Beach, where the surfing is legendary — as are the pioneering surfers who once perfected their craft there. La Jolla Cove is another must-visit spot. The waters resemble turquoise sea glass, and the white sand beach seems like it’s made of sugar.

To make sure you score a hotel near the beach at an affordable rate, visit a travel site such as Hotel Planner to search hotels in La Jolla. Specify that you want a room as close to the ocean as possible. Since the Pacific borders three sides of the city, it’s an easy request to fulfill.

Create Your Own Tour

Although you can book tours on foot, bicycle, and kayak, those activities are not free. Researching the city for points of interest and creating your own tour based on what fascinates you is a different matter. The DIY approach won’t cost you anything out of pocket at all. Stop by La Jolla Historical Society, where you can pick up maps that highlight various parts of the city’s history. Explore the historic bungalows on the beach or admire the mid-century modern architecture. It’s dealer’s choice.

Go on an Art Walk

Art installations appear all over La Jolla, often popping up in the most unexpected places. The Edwards Sculpture Garden is a serene place to get away, whether you’re strolling through the sculptures, sitting and meditating, or having a picnic. Make your way to the University of California San Diego campus to uncover the Stuart Collection, composed of 18 pieces of eye-catching art installations, including a bear made of boulders. At the Legends Gallery on Prospect Street, peek at an astonishing collection of artwork from Dr. Seuss. The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library hosts rotating art exhibits, too.

It doesn’t matter that La Jolla is a community that loves luxury. It happily welcomes visitors regardless of how much money they spend, if any. What are your favorite cost-free activities to enjoy in La Jolla?