Overlooking the Pacific Ocean just north of San Diego, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a destination in its own right.
Situated on prime real estate with ritzy boutiques several blocks south and a private beach to the west, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club embraces families and, in my opinion, is a better choice than its more famous competitor in Coronado. Due to its operation as a club (with local members in addition to guests) and controlled access, it’s decidedly less touristy. Guests are active – from throwing footballs on the beach to tennis and golf (hence, the name) to a myriad of water activities. Or you can simply choose to lounge on the beach. Up to you!
Where to stay?
The property offers several different accommodations from cottages on the golf course to club lodging (with views of the club, not the ocean) to a variety of beachfront options. We stayed in a beach suite: a two-bedroom/2-bathroom, second floor apartment, complete with dining area, kitchen, and spacious living room. Modern amenities include a trio of big-screen TVs throughout the quarters. The living room and the master bedroom have lovely ocean views. The suite has direct garden/courtyard access as well as beach access, plus a shared balcony. With a nod to Ferris Bueller’s feelings toward a particular Ferrari, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking a Beach Suite.”
A stay starts at just over $250/night with beachfront suites costing significantly more. (To join the club, plan on at least a $75,000 initiation fee and annual fees in excess of $7,000… suddenly, that beachfront suite is looking affordable).
KidTripster Tip: Check for specials on the club's website. AAA discounts also are offered.
What to do?
It’s impossible to compete with the raw power of the Pacific, the allure of sand and sun, and the multi-million dollar views, but resort management does its level best to make sure the words “I’m bored” are never uttered by young guests. There’s a par-3 golf course, numerous tennis courts, and an outdoor pool – as one would expect. A pristine, fenced playground, a bocce area, a walking path around a small lake, and even a little rose garden were all extras that were not anticipated. Additionally, low tides provide an opportunity to explore tide pools toward the southern end of the beach. Boogie boards, surfboards, kayaks, scuba gear, and the like are available to rent just north of the club’s beach, but the club does have a somewhat-motley collection of sand toys for tykes. There is a fitness center (with exceptionally fine air conditioning) as well as thrice-weekly offerings of morning yoga. Beach set-up service makes hitting the sand relaxing and easy on parents.
Schedule a tennis lesson for your family. My 7-year-old daughter and my college-age son shared a tennis lesson with Coach Steve. They learned a lot and were ready to hit the surf afterward to cool off.
Play golf during your stay. My 12-year-old son (who has autism) and I had a fantastic hour with the club’s golf pro, Jim Ragan. My son announced toward the conclusion of our session, “I am very talented and now like golf!” Meanwhile, I suspect that I now hold the title of “Most Improved Golfer by a Single Lesson.”
KidTripster TIp: Private/semi-private tennis or golf lessons run approximately $100/hour. However, green fees for guests at the Spindrift Golf Course are valid for the entire day and run only $6 for youth and $7.50 for adults.
Need a break? Consider the on-site Kids' Club (ages 3 to 10, who are fully toilet-trained). My 7-year old attended one day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. She loved it! The staff fed her a light breakfast and a snack as well as kept her so entertained that when I conducted a bit of surveillance (for limited purposes of later article-writing - definitely not because I lacked for things to do without her delightful shadow next to me), her eyes widened, and she began giving me the wave-off. She pointed at the clock and said, "but it's not over yet!" I was really impressed by the staff-to-child ratio, the level of engagement by the counselors, and the sustained activity level. My daughter’s favorite activity was a seawater relay race that looked really fun (and tiring).
Where to eat?
We ate exclusively at the resort during our stay, even though there are scores of nearby dining options. I toured the Marine Room with Chuck Merriman, the Front Office Manager, and can vouch that it’s regarded as an institution among San Diego natives. High tide meals merit further exploration for those who would enjoy tides crashing against the massive windows.
The kids and I chose to do a cook-it-ourselves beach BBQ (and by “ourselves,” I do mean my Eagle Scout under verbal tutelage of his perched-on-a-chair, milkshake-slurping, watching-the-sun-drop-toward-the-horizon mother). Two of us had salmon, while the other two inhaled burgers. Accompanying the meat was an enormous amount of wedge salad as well as a cheese and fruit board. Milkshakes and brownies rounded out that meal, and we were grateful to march our rounded bellies the short distance to our rooms.
KidTripster Tip: We enjoyed the beach BBQ. If you have school-age kids, the cook-it-yourself option saves a bit of money (which one can apply to golf and tennis lessons) and makes it a leisurely meal.
The following day, the kids enjoyed lunches from the snack window at the beach. Chicken fingers, fries, grilled cheese, and a jumbo hot dog all received the much-coveted “stamps of approval” from my offspring.
KidTripster Tip: If you are eating on the beach, keep an eye out for seagulls. There’s a reason the food is served in covered containers!
We dressed up (unnecessarily, as it turned out) for dinner at Club Dining. My eldest enjoyed steak, the middle chose salmon, and youngest predictably and unimaginatively selected a burger, fries, and a Shirley Temple. My dinner, fittingly, was the standout – a special of wild mushrooms and Brussel sprouts with cedar-plank fish. Delicious dining, great view, and my children were far from the only youngsters present.
We ambled to the Shores Restaurant (the companion property just north of the club) for breakfast. The service was attentive, the kids’ meals were sufficiently-sized, and the view was lovely. We recommend both the chilaquiles and the crab and avocado omelet.
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is located in the beach town of La Jolla, just 13 miles north of downtown San Diego and within close proximity to KidTripster's Top 10 Plays.
Moira Allbritton spent 21 years in Pacific Beach, just a few miles south of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club before ever seeing it for herself. Now she’s plotting a dinner at the Marine Room to celebrate her husband’s return from his latest naval deployment.