The exclusive beach community of Coronado is just across the bay from Downtown San Diego and where readers ask to stay the most, thanks to the iconic beachfront Hotel del Coronado.
Coronado also makes an excellent day or half-day trip on a San Diego itinerary. Below, I’ve collected my best Coronado travel tips, guides to Coronado Island attractions, and information about where to stay.
GETTING TO & AROUND CORONADO ISLAND
MORE CORONADO ISLAND ADVICE
There’s something about Coronado! Its old-fashioned resort-town vibe and its beautiful boutiques and beaches keep visitors coming back year after year.
This city just across the bay from downtown San Diego is an island connected to mainland San Diego by a tombolo or strip of land known as the Silver Strand (or simply The Strand).
While Coronado feels exclusive in the best possible way (thanks in part to the iconic Hotel del Coronado), it’s actually pleasantly accessible. There are wonderful beaches, miles of walking paths, a public golf course, friendly sidewalk cafes, and gorgeous views in every direction.
FUN Coronado ACTIVITIES
Even if you’re staying elsewhere in San Diego, plan on spending a day here. There are lots of things to do in Coronado, whether you want to spend time outdoors or enjoy a little culture.
Stroll along the waterfront park, fish off the pier, build a sand castle at the beach, go tide pooling, or explore the Coronado Farmers Market on Tuesdays. You can even walk on a sunken ship on a handful of days per year! The SS Monte Carlo, which was famously used for illicit activities, drifted onto the beach during a storm in 1937 and no one claimed it. During very low tides in winter, the skeleton of the ship emerges from the water, and you can get a closer look.
Renting a bike makes getting around easy if you want to hit the various gift shops for souvenirs. There are also bike tours that will take you past the Hotel del Coronado, under the Coronado Bridge, and to so many other photo-worthy spots. You can also see the sights while burning some calories by paddling up and down the Silver Strand in a kayak or take to the streets on a Segway.
Need to get out of the sun? Spend some time in the Coronado Museum of History and Art, which has both permanent exhibits and changing displays showcasing the art, architecture, history, and life of the neighborhood since the 1880s.
WHERE TO GO TO THE BEACH
The beach may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Coronado, but its white sandy beaches have been voted some of the best in the entire country. As for which actually are the best beaches in Coronado will largely depend on what you’re looking for. Most visitors to the area go to Coronado Central Beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado because it’s so broad and there’s plenty of room to spread out. The sand here is amazing, with shimmery flecks of gold mica and the water is calm.
There are also (sometimes) less busy, equally beautiful beaches to check out, like North Beach. It’s sometimes called Coronado Dog Beach because pups are permitted to roam leash-free year-round at its north end. The most family-friendly beach may be Glorietta Bay Park beach, which has a playground and is located in a protected spot in the bay.
Keep in mind, no matter which Coronado beach you visit, finding parking will be tough if you’re in the area during peak beach season. The best thing you can do is either walk from your hotel, take an Uber, or go early if you have to drive.
More About Where to Stay in Coronado
San Diego’s best full-service beachfront resort is the sprawling historical Hotel del Coronado with its iconic red and white color scheme, the full-service spa, famous Sunday brunch, restaurants, varied room options, holiday events, and kid activities.
The best part is that even if this hotel doesn’t end up being your home base, you can still explore the exhibits and photographs and dine onsite. Check out my guide to the Hotel del Coronado.
I also like the four-diamond and pet-friendly Loews Coronado Bay Resort, located on a private 15-acre peninsula across the street (about a 10-minute walk) from stunning Silver Strand State Beach and four miles south of the central area. People choose this resort or Coronado Marriott when Hotel del Coronado is out of budget.
You can also opt for a myriad of boutique hotels like 1906 Lodge or Hotel Marisol that are within walking distance of Coronado Central Beach, shops and restaurants.
Need to Know
Most people who stay in Coronado have rental cars. However, it’s possible to go carless by using Uber and Old Town Trolley.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
For weather, come between July–October. For price, come in shoulder seasons of September (after Labor Day)–beginning of November or January–mid-March.