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La Jolla. Beach. Tennis. Seals.

SmarterTravel

Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: April 2016

My friend Tracee and her parents used to vacation in La Jolla twice a year throughout her childhood. They drove from Albuquerque, NM to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in San Diego, CA to play tennis, surf in the Pacific Ocean, bask in the sun and swim in the heated pool.

The resort was bulit by Frederick William Kellogg and Florence Scripps Kellogg in the 1930s on 20 acres of beach front land. Hacienda-style accommodations were built right on the sand.

A concrete seawall was built to protect the property from winter storms. Later in the 1940s, this wall became the foundation for the award winning Marine Room restaurant. Throughout the years, during violent storms, the ocean has dramatically crashed through the windows and into the restaurant. It’s rebuilt and reopened for romantic sunset and celebration dining, because of its unique and exquisite views.

In 1973 the resort was renovated by the next generation – William Crowe Kellogg. Today the fourth generation owns and manages the resort. We booked a room for one night as my husband participated in a tennis tournament.

Staying in Room 137 located in the patio section, we noticed it is on the bottom floor of a two-story building. This is one of the original structures. We stood on the sea horse welcome mat, as we unlocked the door walked inside the dark room. There were two double beds and a sofa bed. The room lacked pizzazz in color and design, as did the basic white bathroom. The highlight of the room is a kitchenette to refrigerate food for parties on the beach.

Next time we stay at the resort, will reserve an Oceanview room that offers more light and unobstructed views. These rooms are hard to get, because families who have been vacationing here for years, just like my friend Tracee, reserve them year after year.

When Kellogg developed the tennis club, it was one of the finest in California. It’s still a gem. The club has hosted a first-round tie of the 2006 Davis Cup between the United States and Romania, and the 2008 Fed Cup between the United States and Germany.

While my husband and Tracee warmed up for their tennis match, my 11-year-old daughter and I explored La Jolla. We walked on the beach in front of the resort. Beach staff members were setting up barbecues, tables and chairs for family parties later in the day. Guests can reserve a spot to host sunset dinners from 5 to 10 p.m. right on the sand.

Also on the beach are toy boxes filled with sand toys and wave boards. The beach staff are happy to set up complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas and towels. They will even come by with a food and drink menu, while you are enjoying the beach and ocean views.

We walked along the water’s edge to the Scripps pier. There were groups of kayakers getting in and out of the water. Children were building sandcastles and families were swimming and boogie boarding in the waves.
After a two-mile roundtrip walk on the beach, we walked inland to explore the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club grounds.

Besides tennis courts, there is a jogging path around a lovely lake with a fountain in the middle and ducks floating on tip. The outdoor fitness park offers ten workout stations at the North end of the park. There is a kid’s play structure, bocce ball and croquet area near the first hole of the nine-hole Executive golf course. Golf clubs and balls were available at the first hole. We learned there is a green fee for guests.

After exploring, we donned our bathing suits and swam in the heated at 83 degrees pool. From 12 to 1:30 p.m. the pool becomes an adult lap pool for guests 18 years and up. Instead of eating in the courtyard we decided to drive into the town of La Jolla.

Parking near La Jolla Cove, we noticed a crowd of people looking down at the beach. Walking down the stairs, we saw almost one hundred sea lions basking in the sun and swimming in the shallow water. Mother seals lying on the warm sand had a flipper resting on their nearby pups. Even though there was a lifeguard station at this beach, no one told the tourists and visitors to stay away from these marine mammals. People stood within a foot of twenty to thirty sea lions.

There is a paved walkway along the La Jolla cliffs offering visitors views of the Pacific Ocean, dramatic caves, pelicans flying overhead and observation areas to admire the barking seals.

Inland a few blocks on Girard is the European-style Cafe – Girard Gourmet offering farm-to-table items and creative bakery treats. They also squeeze fresh juices and sell gourmet sandwiches, salads and breakfast items. We ordered some items and took them away to sit outside on a bench in town.

Eager to see more marine life, we drove to the interactive Birch Aquarium. It’s a public exploration center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Located up on a hill above the Scripps pier, we spent an hour observing jellyfish floating in tanks, sea horses and sea dragons, sharks swimming with rays, and participated in an on-camera news anchor mock television station. We reported about wildfires and watched our performance afterwards.

Back at the resort, we learned my husband won his tennis matches and wanted to celebrate. We walked over to The Marine Room for a early sunset dinner before driving home. The on-the-surf dining room offers an award winning menu by Executive Chef Bernard Guilles and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver. Since it was Saturday night, we couldn’t participate in the restaurant’s Happy Hour specials. Every Sunday through Friday starting at 4 to 6 p.m. in the lounge area offers specially priced gourmet small plates and cocktail specials.

We enjoyed Pacific Blue crab cake with buckwheat yam noodles, nashi pear, burnet sprouts, and a yuzu emulsion. The signature lobster bisque was served with a delicious pistachio cornbread. For an entree we split the line caught swordfish and each had a glass of wine. Our daughter enjoyed the Herb de Provence Mary’s Farm Chicken with fingerlings potatoes.

Driving home, I noticed we all had a little pink tinge on our cheeks and relaxed look on our faces. La Jolla is a destination that entices visitors to come back on an annual visit for surf, fun, seals and sun.

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