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When I discovered that you could see sea lions and seals in the wild at La Jolla in San Diego, I knew we had to make La Jolla Beach a part of our quick diversion to San Diego.  We only planned one night in San Diego after two in Los Angeles, so we had to prioritize our activities.  Visiting the seals and sea lions was a perfect activity for our family!

Finding the Sea Lions and Seals

La Jolla Beach San Diego

This was our first visit to San Diego, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  We chose Fairfield Inn and Suites San Diego Old Town for our hotel for its proximity to Old Town.  La Jolla is about 20 minutes away, so it’s an easy drive from Old Town.  Once we got to the La Jolla area, we looked for a  place to park.  Here is a map of the area from the San Diego Attractions website.  We found a place to parallel park somewhere between Shell Beach and Boomer Beach, according to the map.  We had a view of the Children’s Pool, but we didn’t walk that direction. Instead, we headed towards the La Jolla Cove.

View of the Children's Pool La Jolla

We were immediately captivated by the beauty of the area!

La Jolla San Diego

Flowers and plants add to the beauty of the area.

La Jolla Beach San Diego

We strolled along watching the waves crash.  Soon we found some wildlife.

La Jolla San Diego

And we saw sea lions!

Sea Lions in La Jolla

Walking Towards La Jolla Cove

La Jolla San Diego

This area is nice for walking.  The walkway is paved, and you can sit on the grass or at picnic tables as you get closer to La Jolla Cove.

Picnic table at La Jolla

You can get off the path and get closer to the water.  Just be careful, the rocks may be slippery.  Also, be sure to keep a respectful distance from the sea lions and seals.  They are still wild animals, and they can be unpredictable.  Plus, the mothers will defend their young.

La Jolla Sea Lion and Pup

We saw people getting really close to the animals, trying to take the perfect “selfie” and such.  It was sad to see people getting so close.

La Jolla San Diego

Differences Between Sea Lions and Seals

Speaking of the sea lions and seals, we enjoyed learning the difference between them. We mostly saw sea lions around the cove, but we heard that there are more seals near the Children’s Pool.

Sea Lions and Seals La Jolla

We also learned that sea lions are louder–they tend to bark.

They use their flippers to “walk” around on the rocks.  Seals move around more awkwardly on their bellies.  You can also look for the ear flaps on sea lions to distinguish them.  We’re no experts; when they are lying down or swimming, I really had to look closely.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla CoveLa Jolla Cove is a real happening spot.  We saw the most tourists here, and before we left, the lifeguards came to the station.  We also saw some SCUBA divers here.

La Jolla Cove

There is stairway access to the water here.  Again, just be mindful of the sea lions.

La Jolla Cove

It’s also worth noting that there are some public restrooms and shower houses near La Jolla Cove.

La Jolla Cave Store

After exploring La Jolla Cove for a while, we continued on towards the La Jolla Cave and the Store.

La Jolla Cave

Though the cave looked cool, we opted not to pay the $5.00-per-person fee.  We did check out the store, and we found a great magnet for our collection.

The Cave Store La Jolla

After visiting the store, we decided to backtrack and return to the car.  Since we only had one night in San Diego, we still had some other places to explore.  Plus, it was getting close to lunchtime.

We took some bench breaks on the way back, though, to take it all in one more time.

On a bench at La Jolla

La Jolla was a great place for my family to visit.  We’d never seen sea lions or seals in the wild before, so we were amazed that they were just sitting on the beach or swimming around.  Our visit to La Jolla is definitely one of my favorite California memories.  I hope you’ll get a chance to see the La Jolla sea lions and seals in San Diego, too!

La Jolla California

Read about another adventure we had in San Diego: Ghosts and Gravestones Ghost Tour, including the Whaley House, in Old Town.

Beaches at La Jolla, California
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11 Comments

    • Stacey Reply

      This land-locked girl couldn’t believe they were just there, hanging around!

  1. This is so neat! I’ll have to remember this when we take our kids out to California. I loved seeing your pictures and your video as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love La Jolla and seeing those sea lions and seals sunning themselves is so cool! But I’ve never been to the cave. Will have to check it out the next time I’m there!

  3. I’ve never been that far south in California but this article makes me want to visit San Diego very soon. Seeing seals and sea lions sounds so fun!

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