A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.
Location: La Jolla, map here
Best For: Wave watchers, seal gazers, sandy feet aficionados, soul searchers
Near downtown La Jolla is the Children’s Pool, a small beach protected from ocean waves by a sea wall. The wall was built in 1931 to create a calm area of water for swimming. Today the Children’s Pool is the center of a battle between those wishing to see it refurbished and preserved as a swimming area and those that advocate for protection of the harbor seals that have established a home at the Children’s Pool in the past two decades.
The debate continues, with the current compromise including a yellow rope to separate humans from seals, at least during the pupping season for the seals which lasts from mid-January to mid-April. The gathering of seals has become a minor tourist attraction and on the day I visited on December 26th parking spots nearby were in high demand despite overcast weather and a light rain falling.
The rope barrier allows visitors to come within feet of the seals, or to view them from atop the sea wall or from the sidewalk along Coast Boulevard to the east. (Swimming and diving is still allowed and I saw two divers leave from the Children’s Pool during our visit.) Being so close to the seals, which can weigh up to 290 pounds, is an experience not often found outside of zoo walls. On my visit there were roughly 100 seals on the beach, although 200 have been counted at other times. Combining the proximity, along with the number of seals, is an experience that is very unique. (Their fuzzy cuteness may have something to do with the feeling as well).
The opportunity to visit these kind of sights is the kind of amazing experience that is often taken for granted in San Diego, because it’s always available and therefore not a top priority for a resident. When something is always present, there is less need to take advantage. It will ‘always’ be there. I sincerely hope that this assumption proves to be true for the seals, and the other natural wonders in San Diego.
Just north of the Children’s Pool is the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This park is higher above the ocean and provides views north of La Jolla Shores and onward to Torrey Pines. There are typically a large number of pigeons and sea gulls in the park and a large grassy area with picnic tables. The park is named after an early philanthropist in San Diego, who also paid for the construction of the Children’s Pool sea wall. The park is a nice place for a picnic.
In the final days of 2012 best wishes to you for a fulfilling end to the year and for health and happiness in 2013.