Tucked next to a 2,000-acre coastal state park near San Diego, The Lodge at Torrey Pines feels like a secluded Craftsman-style cabin in the woods. Even the name, inspired by the rare pine tree that grows in the adjacent Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, conjures images of wilderness.
But then you walk through the stained-glass front door to an elegant lobby, complete with rocking chairs, to gaze out at one of the most prestigious golf courses in the country and the ocean beyond. Coupled with a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant, a top-notch spa and impeccable service, the property gets it right on all counts.
Opened in 2002 and built in the Craftsman style, The Lodge at Torrey Pines sits atop the cliffs of La Jolla, with easy access to the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course and the natural reserve. Rooms, 170 in total, are incredibly spacious. Our family of four had plenty of space to move about — even run, I dare say. Most rooms feature a balcony or patio; ours, overlooking a courtyard of Torrey pine trees, was the perfect spot for the kids to color while we parents sipped afternoon tea. Families can also opt for connecting rooms. Dark wood furnishings, leather armchairs, writing desks and Tiffany-style lamps, along with sprawling baths, are in keeping with the property’s luxury cabin look.
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Though it boasts all the amenities of a 5-star resort, the property feels quite intimate. Our dinner at A.R. Valentien, the property’s signature restaurant and a foodie destination in its own right, was among the highlights of our weekend getaway to La Jolla. It’s an upscale venue, but sitting outdoors and eating early made us a little less conspicuous with two kiddos. That said, the restaurant offers a kids’ menu, so it’s not unusual for them to have younger patrons.
Dining at twilight, overlooking the pool, greens and coast, made our already spectacular meal all the more magical. As a vegetarian, I’m usually unsure of how flavorful or enjoyable our meal will be at a fine-dining restaurant, as we’re typically relegated to some kind of risotto and a few veggie sides. A.R. Valentien knocked our socks off, which as a home cook and farmer’s market regular, isn’t that easy for me. Our dishes of corn soup with pickled shishito peppers and heirloom eggplant with vadouvan-flavored couscous were flavorful and light, prepared with thought and high-quality ingredients.
Even the toughest critics were impressed. Just ask our 7-year-old how quickly she gulped down that corn soup and the thumb-sized roasted carrots she gobbled. She even asked if she could have my amuse-bouche of borscht after finishing hers, and this is the one who regularly refuses beets at home.
Family-friendly activities in the San Diego area are countless: Legoland, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, museums in Balboa Park and more. Since we live in Los Angeles and have visited some of those places during past trips, we wanted to enjoy the outdoors and a slower pace this time around. We spent one afternoon at the La Jolla Shores beach, a 15-minute drive from the property, digging in the sand, wading in the water and basking in the sun.
The next morning, we hiked in the gorgeous Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The trails are very well marked and easy for kids, and the jagged sandstone cliffs and ocean views make it a stunning and rewarding excursion. Given its proximity to the preserve, The Lodge offers complimentary guided walks; on Saturdays, you can make your own bag of trail mix before you set off. We chose to venture out on our own, just so we could walk at our kids’ paces and take snack breaks if needed. A volunteer docent at the trailhead gave them pictures of brown pelicans, flowering sage and lizards to look for.
Strolling downtown La Jolla also makes for a casual and fun afternoon. From watching the seals and sea lions that gather at the cove to stopping for made-from-scratch gelato at Bobboi, and from mural hopping (visit Roy McMakin’s playful Favorite Color wall on Eads Avenue) and digging into a grilled avocado taco at Galaxy Taco (so good!), there are plenty of sights and sounds for your brood to take in. Or you could just hang by the pool at The Lodge and admire the view — we wouldn’t blame you.
Editor’s Note: Tanvi received a media package to review The Lodge at Torrey Pines for families. As always, all opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Tanvi Chheda except where noted.
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