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Introducing La Jolla & North County Coast

Immaculately landscaped parks, white-sand coves, upscale boutiques and cliffs above deep, clear blue waters make it easy to understand why ‘La Jolla’ translates from Spanish as ‘the jewel’ – say la-hoy-yah, if you please. The name may actually date from Native Americans who inhabited the area from 10,000 years ago to the mid-19th century, who called the place ‘mut la hoya, la hoya’ – the place of many caves. Whether your interest is jewels or caves, you’ll feel at home in this lovely enclave. It also has some of the county’s best restaurants.

Today’s La Jolla has its roots in 1897, when newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps moved here, acquiring much of the land along Prospect St, which she subsequently donated to community uses. She hired Irving Gill to design local institutions, such as the Bishop’s School and the La Jolla Woman’s Club, setting the unadorned Mediterranean architectural tone of arches, colonnades, palm trees, red-tile roofs and pale stucco.

The surrounding area is home to the University of California San Diego (UCSD), several renowned research institutes and a new-money residential area called the Golden Triangle, bounded by I-5, I-805 and Hwy 52.

Like pearls on a strand, a handful of small beach towns extends northward from La Jolla. ‘North County’, as locals call it, begins with pretty Del Mar and continues through low-key Solana Beach, Encinitas and Carlsbad (home of Legoland), before hitting Oceanside, largely a bedroom community for Camp Pendleton Marine Base.

North County’s coast evokes the San Diego of 40 years ago, even if inland development, especially east of I-5, has created giant bedroom communities for San Diego and Orange Counties. The beaches are terrific, and the small seaside towns are great for a number of days of soaking up the laid-back SoCal scene, working on your tan and catching up on your reading while watching the California sun glisten on the Pacific.

All that, and only about a half-hour’s drive from Downtown San Diego. Will wonders never cease?