Thing To Do #61: Enchanting Coronado Island
Coronado Island is the kind of place where you feel at home the moment you arrive. Situated just across the Big Bay from downtown San Diego, Coronado is known for the historic Hotel del Coronado and the distinctive San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Coronado offers much more: sparkling sand beaches, charming small-town quaintness, cheerful gardens, old-world mansions, unique shopping experiences, and dining options with spectacular ocean views.
You may decide to rent a bike and tour the Island via Coronado’s beachfront boardwalk. Bikes and Beyond has bicycles for all your needs: surreys for two to six, beach cruisers, and tandems. Or you can spend time on the water with a kayak tour or go stand up paddle boarding with Bike and Kayak Tours. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll create life long memories!
In 1886, Elisha Babcock and Hampton Story purchased the land that is now Coronado. After planting trees and irrigating the land, they were able to start selling plots for $500 to $1600 apiece. Eventually, these sales generated enough money to build a resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” The Hotel Del Coronado was built in 1888 and sure enough, people loved it and the city quickly became a major resort destination. Travel to Coronado was originally possible by automobile ferries.
In 1917, the US Navy bought ‘North Island’ for use as a base. North Island became a site of many firsts—the first seaplane flight, the first mid-air refueling and the first non-stop transcontinental flight. Travel to Coronado was originally possible by limited automobile ferries, and in 1967, the city was connected to San Diego by the Coronado Bay Bridge. Since then, there has been a significant increase in business and tourism.
“Coronado” is Spanish for “the crowned one” and thus the city is nicknamed “The Crown City.”
In 2008, The Travel Channel rated Coronado Beach as the fifth best beach in America.
Presidents who have visited the Hotel Del Coronado include Franklin Roosevelt, William Taft, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush.
There have been stories that the Hotel Del Coronado is haunted by Kate Farmer, a visitor to the resort in 1892.
Things To Do
Getting here. There are several ways to get to Coronado. The most common route is via the Coronado Bay Bridge. The drive over the bridge can be a thrill in itself, and the views are amazing from its highest points. Flagship Cruises has a water taxi service from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, and Downtown. Taking the water taxi offers a unique perspective on San Diego’s stylish skyline. If you’re driving from south San Diego, you can ride along Silver Strand, where you’re surrounded by water on both sides for several miles. Or, let the Metropolitan Transit System get you there, with Mass Transit routes #901 and 904.
Go to the beach. It makes sense that an island would have plenty of beautiful beaches and Coronado is no exception. Coronado Beach is a 4-mile stretch of sandy coastline with a variety of attractions—a sunken ship that can be seen at low tide, great surfing, bonfire pits, volleyball nets, and a designated dog beach. The white sand seems to go on forever. With so much space, it never seems too crowded! Silver Strand Beach, a little south of Coronado, has a natural reserve with calm waters. Kiteboarders come from all over to ride the wind and water here, either on the ocean- or bay-side of the Strand. The Coronado Ferry Landing also has a small sandy area with great views of San Diego. While it’s not the best place to go for a swim, it’s a cute picnic and photo area.
Bike around town. Because of its small size and lack of hill, Coronado seems like it was made for biking. Rent a bicycle for the day and go anywhere on the Island. Bikes & Beyond has great deals and a helpful staff. They also host a couple organized bike rides—Saturdays at 7am for all levels, and Wednesdays at 6pm for fast-paced cyclists. Getting around by bike is not only good exercise, but also a fantastic way to see everything Coronado has to offer. Ride through The Village and see the boutique shops, or travel along the coast for beautiful views.
Visit the Del. The Hotel Del Coronado is often referred to just as “the Del.” Coronado’s most famous landmark has plenty to offer. Within the hotel, you’ll find a spa, salon, good shopping, amazing restaurants, and luxury accommodations. They also host several public events throughout the year, including their very popular ice-rink by the beach in the winter. The hotel’s event calendar is always packed with fun activities for you and your family. Even if you’re not staying here, definitely check out the beautiful architecture and grab some lunch.
Coronado Ferry Landing. The Coronado Ferry Landing is a small, quaint shopping area within Coronado. If you’re sailing to the island, dock your boat here—they have 4 hours of free boat parking! Then browse their collection of shops, eateries, and art galleries. Recurring at the Coronado Ferry Landing include farmer’s markets, free concerts, and dining specials.