Get Out of Town!
La Jolla Where Relaxation Resides
June, 2014 - Issue #116
Early on the second day of our weekend visit to La Jolla, April asked, "Is this what relaxation feels like?"

The simple contentment of sitting, maybe sipping a glass of wine or hot cappuccino, and not feeling compelled to go
somewhere? Or do something? Or respond to an electronic ping? Yes, that's exactly what relaxation feels like.

It had settled in the moment we turned into the winding driveway of our hotel, Estancia La Jolla. But since relaxation is rare for parents of four children, we didn't immediately recognize the unfamiliar feeling.

Perched on bluffs that surround rocky beaches in northern San Diego, La Jolla is an ideal destination to pursue that state of contentment. And Estancia La Jolla delivers it. With two restaurants, a wine bar, spa, pool and Jacuzzi, the hotel is both well-appointed and welcoming (Champagne at check-in!).

The driveway leads to a modern rendition of a Spanish hacienda. Covered outdoor corridors meander past sunny courtyards and burbling fountains. Wide staircases descend to lush lawns and blooming gardens. Most rooms overlook the green spaces, providing a serene, tranquil view from your balcony or patio.

The relaxation continues in the evening at Estancia's signature eatery, Mustangs & Burros. The sprawling patio, with a fireplace, heaters and wide booths, is perfect for sipping drinks, savoring dinner, or, in our case, sampling dessert. Thoughtful conversation unspooled between bites of chocolate lava cake and sips of coffee.

It would be easy to spend the entire weekend at Estancia. But La Jolla's amazing coastline requires exploration. For us, relaxation is often enhanced with a long walk or hike. Thanks to some local knowledge from a hotel valet, we scored one of the two public parking spots tucked in between oceanfront estates at the Coast Walk trailhead. That led us on a ramble along the bluffs above La Jolla Cove, through Scripps Park, down to Children's Pool, where we watched harbor seals lounge on the sand, and along the rocks at Nicholson Point to watch the waves splash.

We also explored Sunny Jim Cave, billed as "the only known land access sea cave on the California coastline." Makes me wonder what else is out there. But anyway, it's worth taking a lap through the kitschy Cave Store, and then paying the $4 to descend the dim, slippery stairway down to the bottom. It's a bit spooky. Before you get there, the sound of waves crashing on the rocks echoes up the man-made tunnel. It ends at a platform at the back of the cave where you stand above the foaming waves and peer out across La Jolla Cove.

Our walk left us hungry. So, we took the valet's advice again and headed to Brockton Villa for breakfast. Built in 1894 by a San Diego doctor, it has since been restored to become one of the best breakfast destinations in Southern California. It overlooks La Jolla Cove and serves up mile-long views of the coastline, along with inventive omelets, their signature "Coast Toast," and breakfast potatoes that make you order seconds.

We sat on the patio gazing across the water and sipping coffee while a breeze rustled the palm trees overhead. It was then that April wondered aloud whether we had discovered relaxation.

Indeed we had. And while it might be elusive at home, it's easily found in La Jolla. Even if it does takes a while to recognize it.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic, which is not a Native American word for "relaxing on the
shore of the lake."

Find Yourself Relaxed
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Brockton Villa
Sunny Jim Cave
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