Where It’s At: La Jolla, California

Artists fortunate enough to frequent La Jolla are never short on beauty and atmosphere—or sunshine, for that matter. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean (known as the "Big Blue" to locals), La Jolla is San Diego’s gem suburb and community extraordinaire for art connoisseurs.

The small seaside community draws visitors from near and far thanks to its picturesque avenues, an impressive array of boutique shops, art galleries and street fairs, as well as countless places to plop an easel down and paint. Prospect Street, which runs parallel to the shoreline, is the community’s main thoroughfare, and acts as home to several of the area’s most well known galleries and shops, such as the Eagle Art Gallery.

"I do think there’s an artistic energy here," says Carol Thomason, president of the San Diego Watercolor Society. "Southern California—and the San Diego area in general—is just such a wonderful place to be creative. La Jolla is gorgeous. For artists, it’s a haven. We have lots of artists doing so many things—watermedia, sculpture, glass blowing and a lot of innovative digital work. You can paint anything here—the ocean, people, landscapes, the cliffs."

Anyone who gravitates toward plein air work should keep an eye out for the watercolor society’s periodic "paintouts." A recent one-day paintout in the La Jolla area saw brave artists visit multiple locations along the coast. Participants even had the opportunity to snorkel and catch some underwater images.

And if you’re looking for arts festivals, San Diego has more than its fair share. Most notably, there’s the La Jolla Festival of the Arts (June 28-29), an event that draws up to 200 local, national and international artists. Besides festivals, visitors should check out the area’s other art venues, from the newly expanded Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to smaller galleries such as Quint Contemporary Art and Thomas Mangelsen’s local photography gallery.

For visitors, the area is more than just beautiful and warm—it can also be dangerous. Those who visit La Jolla (which translates, fittingly, to "the jewel" in Spanish) may never want to go home.

Travel on the Web: http://lajollaart.org; www.lajollaartfestival.org; www.mcasd.org; www.fingerhutart.com/gallery/lajolla.html; www.quintgallery.com; www.mangelsen.com; www.sdws.org; www.sandiegoartandsol.com; www.sandiego.gov/arts-culture

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