During our recent getaway to Torrey Pines, I’m not sure how often my husband and I simultaneously said, “I’m so glad we did this.” If I had to guess, maybe 653 times. With each step, each view of the ocean and each gorgeous tree sighting, we felt a sense of awe. The combination of all the natural beauty, plus the fact that this was our first trip staying in a hotel since last March, created lots of feel-good vibes. Like most people, our days over the last year and a half have been pretty routine: work, cook, walk, clean, work some more and repeat.
We needed a getaway. But we worried that we would feel strange and anxious sleeping in a hotel room and eating in restaurants again. We decided to venture out close to home with a mini-vacay the week after Memorial Day weekend. We picked Torrey Pines (30 minutes north of downtown San Diego) because we wanted less city and more nature, in addition to feeling pampered and safe. Once we arrived at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, our worries dissipated as the staff welcomed us with warmth and a genuine desire to make sure our stay was as comfortable as possible.
The Lodge — perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and home to one of the most celebrated golf courses in the country — is a perfect summer retreat. During our visit, workers were busy setting up for the U.S. Open, which took place there in mid-June.
What this Craftsman-style resort does best is combine old-world elegance and luxury with rugged natural beauty. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by staff in kilted Scottish dress, and the hotel’s rich wood accents and roaring fireplace will feel like a cozy, rustic country house. As you walk through the glass doors, you’re greeted with a stunning SoCal scene — the glistening ocean, hang gliders soaring in the sky and golfers teeing off.
Families looking for outdoor fun or parents looking for a weekend away from the kids will love the surrounding beaches and protected forest, as well as the hotel’s pool, spa, croquet lawn, complimentary electric bikes and, of course, golf.
Right next to The Lodge is the Torrey Pines State Reserve, where you can hike eight miles of gorgeous ocean-view trails, which range from easy to advance. You can also join one of the resort’s twice-daily hour-and-a-half nature walks. This 1,750 acres of unspoiled land is home to the nation’s rarest pine tree, the pinus torreyana, plus wildflowers, native plants and dramatic overlooks of the ocean. Picnicking and camping are not allowed.
After a day of hiking and exploring, come back to the hotel for a swim in the pool, a relaxing shower with custom-formulated bath treats — rosemary and sage shampoo and conditioner and lemongrass and sage body lotion and gel help you bring nature’s vibes inside — and then savor a wonderful dinner at A.R. Valentien, where every dish is a celebration of local flavors with an emphasis on farm-to-table ingredients. The Lodge also offers a more casual dining alternative, including breakfast and lunch at The Grill.
Torrey Pines is a 10-minute drive to La Jolla Village, lined with local restaurants with charming outdoor spaces and shops, including Warwick’s, a family-owned independent bookstore operating since 1896. We enjoyed an outdoor dinner under heat lamps at Piatti’s on Avenida De La Playa. The herbed cauliflower cakes with roasted pepper aioli is a must! You can also grab some food and find a shady spot at the beautiful Scripps Park just above La Jolla Cove. With views of the ocean, it’s perfect for family Frisbee, picnic and cartwheels on the grass.
La Jolla is also home to Birch Aquarium, part of the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where you can view colorful marine life such as seahorses and sea dragons, giant kelp forest, leopard sharks and moray eels. You and the kids can get hands-on with sea stars, sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and lobsters at the Preuss Tide Pool Plaza. Check its website for up-to-date reservation requirements.
Ten minutes north of La Jolla Village is UTC Westfield, an outdoor shopping and dining area with free live music by local San Diego musicians from noon – 2 p.m. Thursday-Sunday in Palm Plaza, and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday at The Pointe. The center also features lots of outdoor seating, fountains and eating options, including Hanna’s Creamery Café offering homemade ice cream, caramel and chocolate apples and other sweet treats. If it’s savory you’re after, enjoy a burger and fries at the Shake Shack.
After a relaxing and fun few days exploring Torrey Pines and La Jolla, my husband and I pulled into our driveway and looked at each other, repeating our mantra for the past three days: “I’m so glad we did this.”
If you’re short on time when you go, I highly recommend at least including these not-to-be-missed activities in your plans:
- Hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Play a game of croquet on The Lodge’s Arroyo Terrace overlooking the golf course
- Have dinner at A.R. Valentien
- Play Frisbee at La Jolla Shores Park
- Stroll through La Jolla Village and enjoy the charming boutiques, bookstores, restaurants and ice cream shops
- Pet sharks at Birch Aquarium
Elena Epstein is Creative Director of L.A. Parent.