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La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club – A Place for the Simplest & Best Pleasures

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The sun begins to tilt toward the sea, stretching shadows and hinting at cooler temperatures and evening’s approach. It’s time. Carts and coolers are loaded with ketchup and mustard, bratwurst and shish-ka-bobs, a tray of brownies, triangles of watermelon. There’s an unspoken buzz of excitement of what’s to come at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

Collecting shells is one of the simple pleasures at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Collecting shells is one of the simple pleasures at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Despite the luxury price tag, this hotel/private club isn’t all that fancy. But La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club has bragging rights no other property in San Diego County can claim: it’s home to the only oceanfront beach where alcoholic beverages can legally be consumed. As a private beach, the local no-drinking on the beach law does not apply. You don’t need to be a big drinker to appreciate this detail either. Each evening in the summer, this exclusive stretch of sand becomes the best family beach party in Southern California.

Preparing for the best beach party in town at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Preparing for the best beach party in town at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Booze on San Diego’s public beaches led to littering, crime and a not too child-friendly atmosphere. At La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, on the other hand, parties are family centric affairs. Toddlers sit table-side, scooping sand into buckets. Parents clink glasses of wine together, celebrating another beach day done well. Teens gather in bunches, giggling and pointing at who has a crush on whom this year; many of them have been coming here since they were babies. Families coordinate with beach-found friends and return year after year for the resort’s mellow, beachy vibe.

Sipping a smoothie poolside at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Sipping a smoothie poolside

White tables and chairs are set up for you by the attentive staff, along with beach umbrellas striped in joyous red, yellow and blue. You can order food from La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club: salads, desserts and meat—either raw to barbecue yourself or prepared and delivered in Styrofoam containers. You spare the environment and get in on the grilling fun. Most families pack their own BBQ goodies, with menus ranging from simple dogs and burgers, to filet mignon and grilled salmon.

An elaborate table setting adds to the festivities at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

An elaborate table setting adds to the festivities

Table settings are elaborate, but homey. Road trippers hailing from elsewhere in California or Arizona bring cloth napkins with rings, flower vases for fresh-cut floral centerpieces, and votive candles to adorn their tablescapes. Every night might have a different theme, cowboy casual one night and the next evening an elegant meal served on china plates packed carefully from home.

Family tennis lessons at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Family tennis lessons at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

For such an upscale private club, the indoor furniture is surprisingly casual and the in-suite fully equipped kitchen outdated. The resort’s guests don’t come to La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club for elegant décor, though.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club - A Place for the Simplest and Best Pleasures

Spying on dolphins

This is a place for the simplest and best pleasures. For sea shell collecting and seagull chasing. For cold cereal slurped from bowls on your shared patio, mere steps from a swath of sandy beach. For family tennis lessons followed by romping on the playground. For swimming in the rectangular pool, no waterslides in sight. For doors left open all day so you can hear the swoosh of ocean waves. For the smell of campfire wood burning memories into your family’s favorite vacation stories. For dolphins leaping as the sun sets, while you rush to the water’s edge with the rest of the human party-goers to get a closer look at the evening’s ocean guests.

S'mores and a sunset at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

S’mores and a sunset

At once, you are overwhelmed by a sense of connection to the children at your side, the beach, the water, the dolphins, and all of these people standing with you in awe at nature’s beauty and your small role in it. The word, “thankful” arises as the sun lowers itself into the ocean.

Have you ever felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude during your travels? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family’s visit to La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club was provided free-of-charge. All opinions are my own, as always.

All photos by Colleen Lanin.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Tricia at Southern Spark says

    Wow. That sounds heavenly. The beach, booze, and the fam are some of my favorite things.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Tricia – It really was pretty heavenly. I don’t feel a big need to go back to many places but I hope to return to La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club for another weekend (or longer!) retreat sometime!

  2. Tom Lanin says

    Nicely done! And the beach with all the activities sounds like great fun!

  3. Ellen Lanin says

    I would spend my time watching the ocean for dolphins. Very special.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      It was pretty incredible to see all of those dolphins joining the party!

  4. Oh this is so nice, what better than a sunset on the beach. I’ve had this experience up in Northern Canada in the Summer to lay on your back at night and watch the “Northern Lights”. So breathtaking beautiful, you just feel so thankful for all Nature and world has to offer.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      So true, Richard! We all need to take time out of our busy lives to just be still and connect with nature sometimes. Thanks for the comment!

  5. When are we going ??

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Seriously, Sara…how much fun would it be to go with our two families?! Maybe someday…

  6. wanderingeducators says

    sounds amazing! my favorite photo is the dude with the cart. he is PREPARED!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Jessie – Oh that dude was just one of many who had a cart (provided by the resort) all piled up with goodies galore!

  7. David Evans says

    Hi Colleen, You are right on with the word, “Thankful” when thinking about the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. I live in San Diego, but even though I spend a lot of time on the beach; it was impressive visiting this tennis club. Played in a tennis tournament there a few years ago; and after my tennis match, my wife and I walked over to the beach side of the club and it was breathtaking. The club is virtually situated right on the sand. We did not expect that we would be on the sand jumping in the cool ocean within 30 seconds after leaving the courts, and the view is just surreal. Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

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