Coronado Island, despite the name, it is not an island. A thin strip of land connects it to the mainland and it is this peninsula that creates the bay of San Diego. It is no coincidence that the first settlement of the conquistadors on the Pacific coast of the current United States was founded here: Coronado offers natural protection for boats making this bay perfect for a port. In this article we will see why it is worth taking a tour to Coronado from San Diego during a stay in the city.
- How to reach us
- What to see in Coronado
- Coronado Bridge
- Coronado Hotel
- Coronado Beach
- Orange Avenue
- Viewpoints for the San Diego skyline
- On the trail of the Wizard of Oz
- Silver Strand State Beach
- Map of the places mentioned
- Organized tours
- Where sleeping in Coronado
How to reach us
Reaching Coronado is very simple, both by car and by public transport. If you are equipped with rental car, there are two alternatives. Coming from the center of San Diego, the most direct way is to take the Coronado Bridge, which leads directly into the town of Coronado and through which you will reach all the attractions of the peninsula in a few minutes.
The second option is to walk the long strip of land which makes “Coronado Island” not an island, but a peninsula. In this case from San Diego you will have to circle the bay going down to Imperial Beach and then go up again along the Silver Strand State Beach. My advice is to walk the bridge on the way out and the strip of land on the way back or vice versa, because in both cases the view of the sea is interesting.
In case you are using i public transport, there are two options:
- Ferry: the fastest way to get to Coronado is by ferry, of which there are two lines. The first departs from Fifth Avenue Landing, South Embarcadero, takes 5 minutes and costs $ 4,25. The second departs from Broadway Pier, takes 15 minutes and always costs $ 4,25.
But be careful: the pier you will dock at in Coronado is a short walk from Centennial Park, but it is located exactly on the opposite coast from the beach and the Hotel Del Coronado, which are about a 20-30 minute walk along Orange Avenue. In case you want to avoid walking and heading directly to the beach, you will have to take bus 904 from the pier and get off at Orange Av & Park Pl. Or 901 from 3rd St & Orange Av. (5 minutes walk from the pier ), which then makes the same stops as the previous one.
- Bus: the center of San Diego is connected to Coronado by bus n.901, which makes numerous stops in the city and crosses the entire town of Coronado, then pushing along the beach and thus allowing you to also arrive at the Silver Strand State Beach. Specifically, the bus terminus in downtown San Diego is Front St. & B St. (among the main stops is 12th & Imperial Transit Center, one of the main trolley hubs).
If in Coronado you want to get off near the viewpoints on the San Diego skyline, refer to the 3rd St & Orange Av stop. Use Orange Av & 7th St instead to be halfway up Orange Avenue and close to its main attractions. Or continue to Orange Av & Park Pl. For Baum's house, the beach and Hotel Del Coronado.
PLEASE NOTE: bus 901 also travels in the opposite direction. In this direction, however, it makes one less stop and the terminus is at Broadway & 1st Av., On the northern edge of the Gaslamp district.
What to see in Coronado
Coronado is one of the most interesting coastal resorts in close proximity to San Diego. Here, in fact, it is not worth coming just for the beach: viewpoints, historic buildings and curiosities may tempt you to take a leap across the bay during your stay in San Diego.
But beware: not all of Coronado is accessible! About half of the Coronado area is occupied by a military zone: specifically, the entire western end of the peninsula is off-limits. Here there is a naval base and a military airport.
From anywhere in downtown San Diego, the most visible and distinguishable infrastructure is the Coronado Bridge. The large bridge that connects the capital to the village on the peninsula is one of the American engineering masterpieces. It may not be as famous as San Francisco's Golden Gate, but it may still be worth a photo shoot.
Over 3,4 kilometers long, this huge five-lane bridge opened to traffic in 1969, but its design and subsequent construction was neither short nor trivial. Crossing the bay, the bridge had to be not only long, but also equipped with spans wide and high enough to allow the passage of any ship, including aircraft carriers.
From both San Diego and Coronado the bridge lends itself to panoramic photos, especially in the evening, when the row of lights reflects on the sea below. One of the best places to take pictures is there Bikeshore Bikeway, a seafront promenade on the north-eastern side of Coronado, in the stretch that goes from the bridge to the pier where the boats land.
Unfortunately, however, the Coronado Bridge is often remembered for reasons that are anything but romantic. It is in fact associated with suicide: among the bridges of the United States it is second only to the Golden Gate in the number of people who have jumped from its span and lost their lives. There have been over 400 in the last 50 years.
The most iconic building on the peninsula is theCoronado Hotel, also known more simply as The Del or Hotel Del. Overlooking the ocean, this 1888 hotel is distinguished by its red roofs and its unique architecture in the city and now rare in the United States. It is in fact a style, the Victorian wooden beach resort, of which very few buildings survive.
At the time of its inauguration, the Hotel Del Coronado was classified as the largest resort in the world, as well as being at the forefront for many collateral services offered to its customers, such as the Olympic salt water swimming pool. Today it is certainly not the largest hotel in the world, neither in size nor in number of rooms, but it has nonetheless grown in size compared to the nineteenth century. Over time, other wings and a series of lodges and villas have been built that flank the main building. The hotel is currently operated by the Hilton chain.
Numerous have stayed here celebrities, from actors like Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin to as many as 16 of the presidents of the United States, not to mention Thomas Edison. The hotel also did it by set design in some films (the first was “The Flying Fleet” of 1927) and in television series such as Baywatch and Ghost Story. The silhouette of the building is also recognizable on a stamp issued in honor of director Billy Wilder, with Marilyn Monroe who was the protagonist of the film “Some Like It Hot” here.
If you go to Coronado, you cannot fail to take a look at its most famous building and maybe stop here for something to eat. Using his restaurant is undoubtedly a good way to say you've seen The Del. An alternative is to take part in one of the Legendary Tours (every day at 10am and 14pm), during which you will get to know the history of the hotel and its most famous guests, among which the ghost of Kate Morgan stands out.
Book a camera at Hotel Del Coronado
Almost 2 kilometers long, Coronado Beach is recognized as one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States (even first in some rankings). Indeed, we can confirm that the beaches of San Diego are among the best in the USA and that of Coronado can easily stand on the podium. Do you think you have reached it but you are not 100% sure you are on the right beach? Well, fear not, just read in the sand! As you can see even looking at it from the satellite, the words “Coronado Beach” have been written in big letters on the beach.
On this long stretch of golden sand it is pleasant to walk at any time of the year and in the warm months it is filled with bathers. It is suitable for families with children, as for the more sportsmen who practice the surf on the ocean waves. Couples cannot miss it at sunset, when the reflection of the red sun on the sea and the palm trees in the wind make it a decidedly romantic place. Along much of the beach you can also take advantage of bathrooms and showers, located near the lifeguard stations. The northern end offers a section of beach that is open to dogs. The southern area, the one in front of the Hotel Del Coronado, on the other hand, is reserved for hotel guests.
Reaching it is easy: just follow Ocean Blvd and park (for free!) in the spot you think is most appropriate.
The main street of Coronado, which runs from coast to coast (from bay to ocean) is Orange Avenue. This large avenue is the one that is most worth walking through, for a few reasons. Compared to the surrounding streets, mostly residential, here are concentrated shops and restaurants, thus making it more pleasant for a walk. Between the two lanes there is a long green strip, while more or less in the middle we find it Spreckels Park: a small public park with a curious pagoda in the center.
The only building in Coronado that is interesting from an architectural point of view besides the Hotel Del Coronado is the Village Theater, which overlooks Orange Avenue. Closed as a normal cinema in 2000, after 63 years of activity, this historic cinema with an art-deco style sign reopened to the public in 2011, offering mainly independent cinema films.
Viewpoints for the San Diego skyline
One of the reasons why it is worthwhile to come from San Diego to Coronado is to turn towards the city you just left to admire its skyline. If in many neighborhoods such as Gaslamp, Little Italy and the historic Old Town you can find the old-fashioned soul of California, seen from here San Diego appears much more futuristic. Skyscrapers rise from the coast and reflect the sun with their windows, appearing as the avant-garde metropolis it has become over the years.
The best viewpoints are two:
- Centennial Park. The public park at the far end of Orange Avenue is the most popular for viewing and photographing the San Diego skyline. A terrace overlooking the bay offers beautiful wide-ranging views. Getting there is easy by car because, as I mentioned, just follow Orange Avenue to its end. However, it can also be reached on foot in a few minutes from the ferry pier, in case you arrive in Coronado by sea. Centennial Park, the ferry boarding and the Coronado Bridge are also connected by the Bayshore Bikeway, a beautiful bike path along which it is also pleasant to walk to get a full view of the San Diego bay.
- Bayview Park. Less large and less famous than the previous one, this small and intimate green area is, however, more welcoming especially on hot summer days. The benches in the shade of the trees allow you to wander over the bay and the city, sitting comfortably in the cool. Did you bring a sandwich for lunch during your day in Coronado? Come and eat it here, you won't regret it! It is located along 1st St, where I Avenue begins.
On the trail of the Wizard of Oz
Who does not know Dorothy's story, who in her red shoes followed the yellow brick road in search of the great and powerful Wizard of Oz? Everyone, even if they haven't read Baum's novel, has at least once heard of it. But since the protagonist sets out on her fantastic journey from a remote location among the cornfields of Kansas, what does this have to do with Coronado?
Few know that the author lingered for a long time on Coronado Island to write your own masterpiece. The house he rented at that time still exists and is located in Star Park Circle, a roundabout a few steps from the beach. It cannot be visited, because it is a private residence, but you can find out more about Baum's stay in Coronado at the public library (640, Orange Avenue), in which there are painted glass display panels. To the Coronado Museum of History and Art (1100, Orange Avenue), on the other hand, are preserved three copies of the first edition of the novel.
One of the curiosities that link Oz's story to Coronado is that it seems that Baum was inspired by the Hotel Del Coronador to describe the Emerald City. Indeed, the illustrations of the first edition are somewhat reminiscent of the structure of the large hotel, although many argue that the author was rather influenced by the drawings of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, also representing cities with the same style. architectural.
Silver Strand State Beach
As I mentioned, the island of Coronado is not really an island. And just along the thin strip of land that makes it a peninsula is one of the most beautiful beaches in California, la Silver Strand State Beach. As we have described in more detail on this page, it is a unique beach of its kind among those of the Californian coast. If you're spending a few days in and around San Diego, this beach may be worth a stop over others.
Map of the places mentioned
If you are looking for a organized tour to visit Coronado starting from San Diego, and to discover all the secrets of this very particular municipality of San Diego, I would like to point out a couple of different options, both with a slightly anti-conventional means:
Coronado Segway Tour
Coronado tour by electric scooter
Where sleeping in Coronado
The most popular hotel for sleeping in Coronado is undoubtedly its most iconic hotel: Coronado Hotel. However, this is not the only option, on the contrary there are several with different price ranges and different characteristics. Being a very residential area, apartment accommodation options abound. On our page on where to sleep in San Diego you will find different options and tips for your stay both in Coronado and in the other districts of the city.
Our advice on where to sleep in Coronado