On the list of luxury hotel amenities, charcuterie never makes the cut. But then, Fodor's never tasted cured meats like this. La Valencia Hotel's house-cured bacon is so popular -- it comes with its own dipping sauces.

Discovering bacon as an appetizer was just one of the many surprises I found on a recent trip to La Jolla.

At the heart of what has always felt more like Monte Carlo than SoCal is La Valencia -- a hotel so storied -- she is known simply as "the pink lady."

La V has played host to the world's rich and famous since 1926. She played host to me last month, proving she'll embrace even guests with a modest budget and wardrobe.

Shopping is part of La Jolla's allure. Blocks of boutique shops and trendy chains beckon with sexy window displays. It took less than an hour for me to find the kind of deal women post on their Facebook page -- a floral spring sweater with an orange flowing skirt. It would stay in the bag until evening.

The thing about La Jolla is there's too much to do. This is no longer your rich aunt's enclave -- it's a hip mix of students and sun seekers who shop, dine and play in the nearby Pacific.

By early afternoon, I'd swapped out my capris for a wetsuit. I joined a group of kayakers on a paddle to the nearby San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. We were looking for leopard sharks in the waters near La Jolla Cove, where they come to spawn in the summer.


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Some tours launch out to explore nearby sea caves with names like Sunny Jim and The Clam. We paddled out to calm waters where we splashed out of our kayaks and snorkeled. I was swimming with some kind of silvery fish -- and a sea lion who kept his distance about 20 yards away. The water was warm for March -- and the salt spray intoxicating.

I'm told that La Jolla Cove is the most photographed beach in San Diego. If so, then La V must rank as the most photographed hotel. She sits atop the Cove like a princess -- pretty in pink with a "curvaceous coastline."

And much like the nearby marine reserve -- the pink lady is being protected and restored to her original splendor. Nearby shops will see fashions come and go, but La V's terraced gardens and Spanish mosaics and fountains will never go out of style. And the bacon is also here to stay.

What are your favorite local adventures? Drop me a line, and I'll share them with readers. You can reach me at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or online at www.ginnyprior.com.

FYI

Spring promotions can be found at http://www.lavalencia.com/promotions.htm.
Kayaking tours start at $39 at http://bikeandkayaktours.com/kayak-tours/kayak-la-jolla/.