A Weekend on Coronado Island, California

Leisure on Coronado Island

There are almost too many choices in Southern California for a great vacation.  So telling you about Coronado Island, California in San Diego County is going to just make that a harder choice.   But Mrs. Guru and I recently spent a weekend on this charming island across the bay from San Diego and I feel compelled to add this to your short list of So Cal vacation options.

Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado – rear

It didn’t hurt that we had absolutely fabulous weather in early March—sunny, mid-70s, a light breeze.  Coronado could easily serve as the headquarters for a vacation that let you be as busy or sedate as you like, and even alternating from one day to the next.  First, a brief overview.

Coronado Island, California

Coronado Island is a separate city of 25,000 residents, but is clearly identified with San Diego, with its population of over 1 million.  It is home to two naval bases, with the city between the two.  It’s about a 130 years old or so, having been developed and evolved over a century into what is a very enticing residential and commercial beach community.  It’s very convenient to the greater metro area, thanks to the San Diego- Coronado Bridge, a rather impressive structure that sweeps across the bay.  The other means of access, besides by water, is to drive up the coast from Imperial Beach or thereabouts, which can be nice drive as part of a sightseeing weekend.

The other anchor of the island is the world-famous Hotel Del Coronado (the Del), built on the beach in 1888 as the largest resort hotel in the world.  It has been visited by all manner of notables over the years and has been used in a number of movies.  We stayed here several years ago and it is the classic full-service resort with beachfront playground, pool, restaurants and amazing architecture.  This is a plum gig if you’re in the hotel profession, so the staff are first-class.  It has, or at least has had, a AAA four-diamond rating.  On a clear day you can see Mexico to the south when you are out on the beach.

Coronado Street
Coronado Street

Coronado is a great place to settle down for a vacation.  Being a beachfront community, the hotels won’t be the cheapest around, so if budget is a major deal, make the visit a day trip from your inland hotel.  It is easy to get around so this is not a bad option.   On the other hand, as the photos show, you do have a nice selection of hotel choices that range in quality, features and price.  You could stay at one of the more moderately priced hotels and walk along the beach, grab a meal at the Del Coronado and do some window shopping as if you were in a thousand-dollar-a-night bungalow.

La Avenida Inn is one of the more modest hotels located
a couple blocks from the beach.

Our Stay in Coronado Island

During our trip we stayed at the 1906 Lodge, a fully renovated B&B just a couple of blocks from The Del and the beach.   It offers underground parking as a result of an amazing construction project undertaken by the owners.  They host seminars or individual guests.  Afternoon wine, very respectable breakfast and nice air-conditioned rooms make this a strong choice.  We walked for quite awhile to burn off at least some of the calories we consumed in several great meals.  We would definitely return another time.

1906 Lodge
1906 Lodge
1906 Lodge Interior
1906 Lodge Interior

Many of the restaurants and shops are clustered on and around Orange Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. If you’re a walker, there are blocks and blocks of amazing residences from which to get landscaping ideas. One old home was being made ready for a move, either elsewhere on its lot or to another parcel.

El Cordova Hotel
El Cordova Hotel

If you are looking for a quiet weekend to rest, shop, try some great restaurants and hit the beach, you can do all of that without leaving the island.    But if you want to mix in some more action, it is not hard to get off Coronado to hit Sea World, downtown San Diego, the zoo or dozens of other destinations that can fill out a week or more.  The public bus system or a taxi ride can get you to and from the AMTRAK station or the airport (Lindbergh Field) or to many of the other nearby points of interest.

Coronado has its place along with the other many beach-side communities in Southern California, with its own  personality.  It has some of the beautiful residential neighborhoods found at the end of the Balboa Peninsula or La Jolla, but also the proximity to big-city attractions as you’ll find in Santa Monica, Venice or Long Beach.