Guide to Coronado

Pretty beaches, Hotel del Coronado, and more near downtown San Diego

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.

Coronado Hotels

This neighborhood makes an amazing home base whether you’ve traveled to San Diego from far away or you need a change of scenery. While the most famous hotel in Coronado is arguably the majestic Hotel del Coronado (definitely read my guide if you plan to stay there), there are other accommodations in the area worth checking out. See my list of best Coronado Island hotels.

Things to Do in Coronado

Coronado is close enough to Balboa Park and Downtown while offering plenty of activities for all travelers to enjoy, making it one of the easiest neighborhoods for tourists who want to skip car rentals. It’s also a popular day trip destination from other parts of San Diego.

Where and What to Eat

Some of the very best Coronado restaurants can be found inside the historic Hotel del Coronado, and you don’t need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy those fine dining options. Then again, even if you are, why limit yourself? Coronado has great restaurants with everything from seafood and steaks to burgers, barbecue, and Baja cuisine. Some of our personal favorites include Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill, Saiko Sushi, and Lobster West Coronado.

You’ll find lots of eateries with menus featuring fresh produce from San Diego’s farms, seasonal and organic ingredients, and vegetarian-friendly options. And if you’re dining outside, the views can’t be beaten! There is everything you could possibly want here including delicious sweets and amazing coffee.

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.

Coronado Island Attractions

8 Best Coronado Island Hotels

8 Best Coronado Island Hotels

I share the best Coronado Island hotels based on personal experience, reader and client feedback, and tips from our contacts at each property.

El Cordova Hotel in Coronado

El Cordova Hotel in Coronado

Why El Cordova Hotel, a Spanish-style boutique hotel in Coronado, may be right for your San Diego beach vacation. Hint: The location & suites.