La Jolla is a jewel - both in terms of its scenic coastal beauty and as a rough translation of the Spanish "la joya" meaning jewel.
Whether or not one believes this proposed origin of the name, La Jolla is a spectacular coastal town that appeals to residents and visitors alike.
Officially part of the City of San Diego, La Jolla consists of multiple neighborhoods perched on the hills leading down to the ocean and in the flatlands of La Jolla Shores north of the village.
Reminiscent of the European Riviera, with its mansions with unforgettable ocean vistas cascading down to the water's edge, it is easy to see how La Jolla may be compared favorably to that world of glitz, glamour, money and fine living.
With a population of over 42,000 (as of the 2000 census), La Jolla has been a highly desirable residential community for years, as well as a popular vacation spotfor travelers from around the world.
The combination of fabulous beaches, rocky shorelines, dramatic coastal bluffs, Mt. Soledad (with its controversial Korean war memorial cross), a very upscale shopping and dining area (especially along Prospect Street and Girard Avenue), boutique hotels (the famed La Valencia from the silent film era) and expensive, beautiful homes combine to make La Jolla one of the most expensive communities in San Diego County.
A stroll in downtown or along the shore road, or dining at one of the many upscale restaurants, reveals fabulous views of La Jolla Cove and an abundance of life - swimmers, kayakers, divers, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants and more.
Be aware that La Jolla's charm, boutique shopping, refined dining (but there are casual, inexpensive eateries too), international galleries, and jewelry stores make for a crowded area much of the year, and parking, especially during the summer months, can be a very precious and hard-to-find commodity.
But this inconvenience is worth it to explore a town with an endless array of things to do, including excellent theatre at the La Jolla Playhouse on the UCSD campus. There is also an outstanding Contemporary Art Museum on the main road just south of the village.
Despite its pretty face, La Jolla is not without a significant business and educational environment and substantial brain power. The University of California's San Diego campus is here, as well as the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. National University is also headquartered here.
A drive along Torrey Pines also reveals the presence of several significant research facilities including the Scripps Institute, the Burnham Institute, and the Salk Institute. A number of high tech companies make La Jolla their corporate home.
And of course La Jolla is the home of the Torrey Pines Golf Course (with two courses), with its dramatic coastal views due to the bluff location, perhaps rivaling those of Pebble Beach (the Torrey Pines Lodge is next door). This famous golf course is the site of the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational and the 2008 U.S. Open will be held there.
Some people are not aware that this golf course is a municipal public facility owned by the City of San Diego. Just across the canyon from the course is the Torrey Pines Gliderport, attracting hangliders and paragliders from all over the area, and many visitors to simply watch and enjoy the scene.
Just north of the golf course is the 2000 acre Torrey Pines State Reserve, an undeveloped park that many feel is the wildest stretch of land in Southern California. The park is home to the rare Torrey Pine trees, incredible views, and a lagoon with an abundance of migrating sea birds.
Torrey Pines State Reserve is open daily and there is a parking fee of $8 for cars. The area is about as unspoiled as you can get.
Naturally the views, and the beaches, are a prime attraction for residents and visitors, and homes with an eye toward the ocean command big prices. La Jolla has a number of beaches, some of the most picturesque on the Southern California coast, each of which seems to have its own personality and devotees.
From the north heading south one can visit Torrey Pines State Beach, Black's Beach (famous for years as a clothing optional tolerant beach), Scripps, La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Beach and Tennis, La Jolla Cove, Children's Pool Beach, Windansea, and Bird Rock
As one would expect, La Jolla homes are expensive; indeed, the town has become one of the more expensive in Southern California, with an average price of $2.182 million (median of $1.665 million) as of August 2007.
As of this writing there were 190 homes for sale in La Jolla (detached), ranging in price from $889,000 (only 5 homes are less than $1 million) to $28 million. Attached homes (260 currently on the market) are significantly less, ranging from $254,000 (for a 500 SF studio) to $8.75 million (for a dramatic double-unit condo in La Jolla's only waterfront high-rise).
Housing styles vary widely - indeed one can probably find just about any style desired, from the most contemporary to Spanish colonial, some attractive and others more extreme.
As in other pricey Southern California towns many La Jolla properties are gated, and there are a good number of gated communities and exclusive neighborhoods along the coastline, in the flatlands, on Mt. Soledad and near the country club. Some of the more well-known neighborhoodsinclude La Jolla, Farms, La Jolla Shores, the Muirlands, the Beach-Barber Tract, Windansea, Bird Rock, Upper and Lower Hermosa, and the Countryclub area.
La Jolla is located only a few miles from downtown San Diego, but is a world apart. While the distance is relatively short, giving residents easy access to the sights, sounds, and amenities of downtown, there are only a few roads leading out of La Jolla, so travel times in and out can get lengthy during rush hour periods and in the summer.
If your wish is a ocean-view home in a coastal community with a Mediterranean feel near downtown, a year-round temperate climate (but fog and a marine layer are not unusual, as seen in some of the photos), an upscale shopping and dining area, and you are planning to spend a million or more for a detached home, La Jolla may just be your jewel.
For assistance with your real estate search and more information about this wonderful community, please contact at (760) 840-1360 (phone or text) or send me an email at JDowler@remax.net. ([photo at right - looking across the canyon from the Gliderport to Torrey Pine Golf Club]
Enjoy a coastal tour of La Jolla below
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