Old Hollywood Glamour at La Jolla’s Historic Hotels

Stroll through one San Diego’s seaside towns and villages, and you may feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Along the North County’s Coast Highway, the vintage surf culture of Encinitas might have you expecting to see the original Beach Boys stepping out of a taco shop. At Mission Beach, the red and white-painted slats of Belmont Park’s wooden rollercoaster call to mind a bygone era when the beach boardwalk was king. But if you’re looking for vintage glamour, head straight to La Jolla, where a collection of historic hotels will fill you with the romance of Old Hollywood.


La Valencia

Often referred to as La Jolla’s “Pink Lady,” the elegant and charming La Valencia hotel sits atop Prospect Street, offering breathtaking views out to La Jolla Cove. The only thing more sparkly than the Pacific Ocean outside the hotel’s enormous picture windows is the cast of previous occupants – before heading into the Whaling Bar for a perfectly poured martini, stop to admire the photos of Old Hollywood stars that frequented to the hotel in the first half of the 20th century, including Clark Gable, Mary Pickford, Groucho Marx and Greta Garbo.

Grande Colonial Hotel

Opened in 1913, the Grande Colonial Hotel is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel property. Bright blue and white awnings jutting out from a sunny colonial-style building beckon visitors to see why celebrities like Charlton Heston would stay at the hotel when in town to perform at the world-renowned La Jolla Playhouse. Once inside, the lobby is every bit as glamorous as when it first opened, thanks to a recent renovation and fresh design update.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Few things are more glamorous than staying in a resort right on the beach, and that’s what you’ll get at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, where guest rooms literally open onto the sands of La Jolla Shores. Don’t miss the resort’s signature restaurant, the Marine Room. As you enter through the discreet wooden front doors and descend the sweeping staircase into the dining room, you’ll know why the Marine Room as been a favorite for celebrities and world leaders alike for more than 70 years.

Tell us in the comments below, where is the most glamourous place in San Diego?


Sunny Jim Cave

Recently, our blogger extraordinaire Stephenie wrote an entry about interesting historical sites in San Diego. I realized after reading it my kids might actually get a kick out of seeing them (and learn something too!) I decided our first stop would be the Sunny Jim Cave, located in La Jolla. If you haven’t been or heard about it; it’s worth the 145 steps down and up. Mia and Brett were really excited to hear there is a “secret” cave you enter through a store. It does sound really fun, especially when I told them it was built over 100 years ago.

The tunnel down to the cave was hand-dug back in 1902 and was used to smuggle contraband during the Prohibition. It is also one of the only known caves accessible from land. Once you enter The Cave Store, you can check out the sea shells and other San Diego mementos for sale. The store also has snorkeling gear available for rent if you are interested in seeing the cave from the water. We chose to go by land.

Once you pay your entry fee ($4 for adults, $3 for children), The Cave Store employees will tell you to watch your step because the steps get pretty slippery. They are correct; the steps can be narrow in spots and can get quite slippery the farther you descend. Once you reach the bottom, you are inside the mouth of the cave. The view is really beautiful and there is a nice landing for you to spend some time taking pictures and to enjoy the view.

Once we snapped our pictures and took in all there was to see, it was time to head back up. It really wasn’t that bad. I thought they would complain going back up, but they were having so much fun checking out the slippery walls, and knowing they were in a real cave, I never heard a peep from them. It was a really fun excursion that we all enjoyed (and learned a little something too!)