Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla

I’ve been dragged to art museums by my mom for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I got older, though, that I could actually appreciate the art and the experience. One of the most beautiful art museums I’ve ever seen is the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla Cove. The museum is literally stuck into the side of a sea cliff overlooking the ocean. So even if you’re not into art, it’s still worth paying the admission just to hang out in the sculpture garden and enjoy the view. Exhibitions change a few times per year, but now through April 24, you can see Álvaro Blancarte‘s artwork on the deserts of Baja, California, and Ed Ruscha‘s paintings of the west coast from the 1960s and 2000s. The sculpture garden is a permanent outdoor exhibit originally created by Kate Sessions in the late 1880s, and is now home to cactus, palm trees, succulents and shrubs.

The sculpture garden at MCASD
The sculpture garden at MCASD

I would guess that most museums aren’t known for their on-site restaurant, but MCASD is the exception to the rule. Museum Cafe is run by Italian chef Giuseppe Ciuffa who owns a successful local catering business, Giuseppe’s Restaurants & Fine Catering. The European-inspired eatery is located just outside of the museum, so you don’t have to be a museum patron to dine there. Museum Cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunch, and serves brunch on the weekends. For lunch, my favorites are the burrata Mason jar appetizer, Mexican shrimp & grilled papaya salad, and signature tuna melt sandwich. They also have some of the best carrot cake of all time, and serve refreshing peach iced tea. You may just find yourself at the museum… simply to eat.

The Mexican shrimp & papaya salad and carrot cake from Museum Cafe
The Mexican shrimp & grilled papaya salad and carrot cake at Museum Cafe
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