At the height of the summer season, Coronado Island bustles with activity. The wide, open beaches, distinctive architecture, and fine dining options attract locals and tourists. But I have a soft spot for the fall and winter. That’s when the air is crisp yet still warm enough for comfortable walks along the beach.
The off-season months offer a calm and quiet, which, coupled with the beautiful expanse of sand and water, create the perfect backdrop for a peaceful long weekend on Coronado Island.
The adventure begins when crossing the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. I’m awed by the dreamy views whenever I travel this two-mile-plus span over San Diego Bay.
Visiting The Del: A hotel imbued with history
One of the island’s main attractions, the Hotel Del Coronado (usually shortened to Hotel Del or The Del), serves as the visual and historical centerpiece of the island.
This Victorian beachfront resort has been a marker of luxury and indulgence since its opening in 1888. President Benjamin Harrison, Charlie Chaplin, and Marilyn Monroe are among the luminaries who’ve stayed here. And tours of the on-site Ice House Museum share the resort’s storied history.
Settling in at the Hotel Marisol for a weekend on Coronado Island
On this three-day, two-night stay, my husband and I chose to stay at the boutique Hotel Marisol, located in a quiet, walkable area close to the beach and the main strip.
After checking in, my husband and I strolled to the Bluewater Grill, a stunning bay-front restaurant where one of the servers invited me onto a private viewing deck. While I gazed out over the marina, she fascinated me with the history of the restaurant’s origins.
Built in 1887 as a boathouse for the planned Hotel Del Coronado, it served as an example for the engineers and workers of how they might construct The Del.
When I returned to my seat, our chipotle blackened swordfish, pan-seared scallops and shared calamari fritti awaited. I loved the swordfish. The accompanying corn-and-avocado relish was light and fresh, perfectly complementing the charred and fragrant spices of the swordfish. And my husband raved about the scallops.
Tracing history on the island
After relaxing over the hotel’s light breakfast in the morning, we parted ways. While my husband visited the Coronado Beach Historical Museum, I borrowed one of Marisol’s complimentary bikes for a long afternoon ride. Since the main streets are busy, I preferred pedaling the broader and quieter neighborhood streets lined with historic houses.
Most people call Coronado an island, but it’s technically a peninsula. The Silver Strand, a long, thin strip of land with a dedicated bicycle path, connects to San Diego’s Imperial Beach. Pedaling it makes for a fun day trip to the beaches of California’s southernmost city.
Coronado feels very different from its neighbor, downtown San Diego, across the bay.
It’s calmer, more like a self-contained seaside village than part of a metropolitan area. But especially during the summer months, it gets busy and crowded. And yet, even then, it retains a dignified charm reminiscent of another era.
In the evening, we dined at Chez Loma, a French restaurant inside a quaint little house. I devoured my boeuf bourguignon with garlic whipped potatoes. And afterward, we treated ourselves to a rich, creamy and indulgent two-chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
Visiting old and new favorites
For breakfast on our final morning, we strolled five minutes from Hotel Marisol to Clayton’s Coffeeshop for rave-worthy biscuits and gravy. The narrow diner with a horseshoe counter reminded me of my childhood and simpler times. Once outside, I listened to the soothing sound of waves while slowly walking the beach.
Before the end of our weekend on Coronado Island, we stopped at one of my favorite restaurants on the island: Miguel’s Cocina, located inside the historic El Cordova Hotel. I love the food and the contrast between the outdoor plant-filled courtyard’s tranquility and the busy service staff. We chased our shared ceviche appetizer with enchiladas suizas and tacos al carbon.
It was a perfect send-off after our relaxing stay on Coronado Island.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- The concentration of shops, restaurants, and attractions on the main strip make this a very accessible, walkable vacation spot.
- Other notable attractions include the Coronado Golf Course, the Old Ferry Landing, the San Diego Bay Ferry, and various walking tours and boating opportunities.
- The Hotel Mariposa has an ADA-accessible room.
- Coronado is eight miles from the San Diego airport.
- It’s important to remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, and water on long walks or boat rides.
- To avoid driving onto Coronado Island via the bridge, drive along the Silver Strand from Imperial Beach, located just south of the island.
Disclosure: The author was as a guest of Hotel Marisol and Bluewater Grill.
All photo credits as shown: Lead photo, Brett Shoaf Artistic Visuals, courtesy San Diego Tourism Authority
IF YOU GO
For more information, go to the Coronado Island Visitor Center
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