Coronado is a picturesque resort town in San Diego County in Southern California. It is on a peninsula just across the San Diego Bay from Downtown San Diego and offers quiet beaches, lovely bay scenery, and sights such as the historic Hotel del Coronado.
The northwestern half of Coronado is the busy North Island naval base, in the middle of the San Diego Bay. It includes a large Navy Air facility and the West Coast's active fleet. South of Coronado is the Silver Strand, a narrow strip of land connecting Coronado to the mainland and home to various Navy training facilities, including beach areas used by Navy SEALs and amphibious assault groups. As can be expected, the military plays a major function in the day-to-day life of Coronado, with many old military families making their home here, but the affluence of the town has also drawn many celebrities to make their home here over the years, and scores of tourists fill in during the summer months.
Coronado is a peninsula, and there are two routes in and out: the Coronado Bay Bridge, from I-5 just south of downtown San Diego, or the Silver Strand, a narrow spit of land running up the coast from Imperial Beach. Both are known as State Route 75. The Bay Bridge is worth driving over just for the panorama.
The Coronado Ferry, a pedestrian/bicycle ferry, launches from the Broadway Pier and the Convention Center in Downtown San Diego to the Ferry Landing Marketplace in Coronado. Departures from the Broadway Pier downtown occur every hour on the hour, from 9AM-9PM (10PM on Fridays and Saturdays), and departures from the Convention Center occur every half-hour, from 9:10AM-9:55PM (10:55PM on Fridays and Saturdays). It costs $4.25 one-way.
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates bus service throughout the San Diego area. Route 901 serves Coronado, connecting it to Downtown San Diego across the Bay Bridge and Imperial Beach south down the Silver Strand.
Coronado is small and dense enough that one can easily walk around and take in the sites the area has to offer. One of the better ways to get around Coronado is by bicycle; bike paths and quiet streets (along with beautiful weather) make biking easy. A number of bicycle/pedestrian trails straddle the coastline.
The MTS runs a small circulator bus line, Route 904, from the ferry landing down past Hotel del Coronado. If you're not up to walking, it's an option. It generally does not run very often. However, during the summer, it's free and runs more frequently.
- 1 Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave, ☏ . The hotel's architecture is a must-see, with its brightly colored wooden Victorian style exterior and its slightly dated art deco interior. Built by hand in 1888 by two railroad engineers, it is today a National Historic Landmark and has been a favorite location for films (including classics like Some Like it Hot) and weddings. Many presidents and celebrities like Babe Ruth and Marilyn Monroe have stayed here. You can view it from the beach or Orange Avenue.
- 2 Coronado Museum of History & Art (Coronado Historical Association), 1100 Orange Ave (At the intersection of Orange Ave, Isabella Ave, and Park Place. Public Transit: MTS Routes 901 & 904 at Orange Ave and 10th St (to Downtown San Diego) or Orange Ave and Park Pl (to Silver Strand).), ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM. A small museum operated by the Coronado Historical Association, dedicated to preserving the art, history, and architecture of Coronado. The museum also holds walking tours of Coronado, which feature some of the island's historic buildings include the house where Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz. $5 adults, $3 seniors, children 16 and under/active military free (tours require separate admission).
- There are a couple of performance art spaces in Coronado:
- 1 Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way (just south of the Hotel Del Coronado), ☏ . Where Coronado's community theater group plays. $20-$25.
- 2 Lamb’s Players Theater, 1142 Orange Ave, ☏ . Home to the region's third largest professional theater company. This ensemble based theater presents a wide variety of productions throughout the year in Coronado's historic Spreckel's Building. $20-56.
- Silver Strand Bikeway. An 8.48-mile bike path running from Coronado down to Imperial Beach. This is one of the area's most popular due to its scenery and the fact that the path does not run through any car traffic. The bike path ends at Pomona Avenue and Glorietta Boulevard and runs along the San Diego Bay. There are restrooms and a drinking fountain at Silver State Beach (see below).
- 3 Glorietta Bay, at the southeastern corner of Coronado. Offers facilities for boaters on the San Diego Bay. There is a launching ramp and a small anchorage, where boats are allowed a maximum stay of up to 72 hours during a seven-day period.
Beaches and parks
The entire west side of Coronado (facing the Pacific Ocean) is essentially one long beach, although parts of it are a little more accessible than others.
- 4 Central Beach, along Ocean Blvd on the south side of the island. Coronado has a splendid beach, made up of beautiful white sand and the crowd is mostly families enjoying the day. If you look closely you can read the name Coronado in the sand dunes close to the Hotel del Coronado. A small tidepool area in front of the Hotel Del gives you a chance to explore a bit. There's plenty of free parking along Ocean Blvd, but it fills up quickly during the summer. At the north end of the beach, up by Sunset Park, the beach is open to dogs as well as bonfire pits and surfing. Surfing is also allowed in-front of the "Shores" just south of the Hotel Del. Lifeguards on duty seasonally. Restrooms and showers available.
- 5 Centennial Park, at the bottom of Orange Avenue, at the bay. Visitors can walk several different paths with views of downtown San Diego. Bike rentals are also available, with a bike path that runs all the way to Imperial Beach. Boat rentals are also available for sailing around the bay.
- 6 Glorietta Bay Park. Just south of the Hotel Del on the bayside of Coronado, this small park offers shady trees, big grassy lawns, and a small beach with views of the Coronado Bay Bridge.
- 7 Silver Strand State Beach, ☏ . Daily 8AM-7PM. This is an excellent beach to swim or surf at about 5 miles south of Coronado on the Silver Strand. RV camping and fishing are allowed here.
- 8 Spreckels Park. In the heart of Coronado, on Orange Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets, this shady park has a gazebo, a playground, and is the site of local events such as a summer concert series and other community events and shows.
- 9 Sunset Park. Near the north end of Central Beach is this small park with an expansive lawn.
- 10 Tidelands Park, 2000 Mullinex Dr. Just north of the Coronado Bay Bridge, this large park offers lovely views of the bridge (a bayside trail leads you right under the bridge), a large children's playground, a skate park, and big grassy lawns perfect for sports.
- The Coronado Flower Show, the world's largest tented flower show, takes place on the third weekend of every April in Spreckels Park.
- Coronado holds a huge Fourth of July celebration, with a fair and concert in Spreckles Park, a marathon, a large parade, a rough water swim in Glorietta Bay, and of course the fireworks display on the bay, with pyrotechnics fired from several locations in the bay simultaneously, making for a spectacular show.
- December brings the Parade of Lights to San Diego Bay, when dozens of boats decked out in Christmas lights make their way across the bay past the Coronado ferry landing.
- 1 Coronado Ferry Center (Ferry Landing Marketplace), 1201 1st St (On the northern side of the island. Public Transit: MTS Route 904 at 1st St and B Ave.), ☏ . M-Su 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM. A themed shopping area home to some lovely little shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The ferry to Downtown San Diego launches from here. In addition, a Farmers' Market takes place here every Tuesday from 2:30-6PM.
- 1 Bluewater Grill, 1701 Strand Way (just south of the Hotel Del), ☏ . A former boathouse overlooking the southern San Diego bay.
- 2 Clayton's Coffee Shop, 959 Orange Ave (cross street is 10th), ☏ . Old style coffee shop, good food, mostly breakfast and lunch, very affordable -- around $8 per person.
- Hotel del Coronado. Offers a Sunday Brunch, a steal at just under a hundred bucks per person; go for the atmosphere.
- Loews Coronado. On the Silver Strand, also has a Sunday Brunch; go for the food.
- Miguel's Cocina, 1351 Orange Ave; inside the El Cordova Hotel, ☏ . Delicious, authentic, Mexican cuisine ranging from enchiladas to chimichangas to their rather unique fish taco. Seating is on a heated open-air patio.
- 3 Tartines, 1106 1st St (just off of Orange Ave), ☏ . A European style cafe open for breakfast lunch dinner and desert. They have hose made ice-cream as well as a large assortment of European deserts.
- 4 Village Pizzeria, 1206 Orange Avenue; second location in the Ferry Landing Marketplace, ☏ . A local favorite.
- 1 Coronado Brewing Company, 170 Orange Ave, ☏ . Opens at 10:30AM. Small brewpub. Happy hour Tu-F 2PM-6PM.
- 1 Best Western Suites, 275 Orange Ave, ☏ , fax: .
- 2 Coronado Island Marriott Resort, 2000 Second St, ☏ , fax: .
- 3 Crown City Inn, 520 Orange Ave, ☏ .
- 4 El Cordova Hotel, 1351 Orange Ave, toll-free: .
- 5 Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave, ☏ . A massive luxury hotel; the architecture is remarkable, the lodgings less so.
- 6 La Avenida Inn, 1315 Orange Ave, ☏ .
- 7 Loews Coronado Bay Resort, 4000 Coronado Bay Rd (south of Coronado on the Silver Strand), ☏ .
- 1 Coronado Public Library, 640 Orange Ave (Between 6th and 7th Streets. Public Transit: MTS Routes 901 and 904, both at Orange Ave and 6th St.), ☏ . M-Th 10AM-9PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1PM-5PM. Free access to computers with internet and free wireless internet available.
- Downtown San Diego is a short ferry ride or drive across the bridge and offers plenty of sights, not to mention the sights just beyond in Balboa Park or Old Town.
- You can also bike or drive south along the Silver Strand to Imperial Beach at the southern end of the bay.