La Jolla Village, sometimes called the Beverly Hills of San Diego, is the ideal setting for a big-splurge fall weekend. You can soak up some glamour and mingle with the glitterati as you browse designer clothes stores and extravagant artwork, but not to worry — there are plenty of shops with reasonable prices as well. The compact village features spectacular ocean views that lure international visitors who give it a cosmopolitan vibe. Recommended first stop to set the tony mood: the lovely lobby bar in the historic La Valencia Hotel and Spa. The “Pink Lady,” built in 1926, holds court in the heart of the village overlooking La Jolla Cove and has views to infinity. The tab: Pantai Inn, $427 a night, including taxes, and $130 for meals.
The Pantai Inn is splurge-worthy. The elegant, laid-back inn offers one- to three-bedroom suites and cottages; many have kitchens, living rooms with fireplaces and charming Balinese decor. The grounds feature pretty manicured gardens, with statues imported from Bali and calming waterworks. Extras include a complimentary hot breakfast buffet with specialty items that change daily, free parking — a rarity in La Jolla — and free Wi-Fi. The inn is across the street from the beach and the tip of Ellen Browning Scripps Park, a large grassy area with a bluff-side walking path. The village center is just up the street from the Pantai so there’s no need to drive.
There are several high-end restaurants in the village, but I couldn’t crack open the wallet for an expensive one. So my husband and I stopped at Duke’s for some aloha spirit at mid-range prices. Duke’s La Jolla has Hawaiian-inspired fare in a casual, breezy venue. We sat upstairs on the outdoor patio and watched the sun set over the ocean. It was a balmy night, and the vibe was so similar to the Duke’s on Maui that it felt as if we were in Hawaii. We shared ribs with mango barbecue sauce, roasted Huli chicken, and fish and chips. Lunch was at Puesto, a crowded eatery with bright murals and rooms that open to the outside. We chose from their appealing taco menu: carnitas with guacamole and braised beef with tomatillo sauce, both on handmade corn tortillas, and a side of herb-lime rice.
The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library is the cultural heart of the village. The small nonprofit membership library, founded in 1899 and open to the public, has a large assortment of works (books, librettos, sheet music) and a notable collection of artists’ books. The Athenaeum also offers art exhibitions, concerts and lectures, so check the schedule before you go.
THE LESSON LEARNED
If La Jolla Cove is too crowded, follow Coast Boulevard below the Children’s Pool Beach; the throngs thin the farther south you go. The small rugged beaches can be tricky for casual beachgoers, but the tide pools are fun and the sunsets are priceless.
La Valencia Hotel and Spa, 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla; (855) 476-6870. Wheelchair accessible.
Pantai Inn, 1003 Coast Blvd., La Jolla; (858) 224-7600. A single partial ocean-view room is wheelchair accessible.
Duke’s La Jolla, 1216 Prospect St., La Jolla; (858) 454-5888. Wheelchair accessible.
Puesto, 1026 Wall St., La Jolla; (858) 454-1260. Wheelchair accessible.