15 Things to Do at the Hotel Del Coronado
San Diego's most historic and beloved hotel sits on a near-perfect beach and offers a ton to do
The iconic Hotel Del Coronado is certainly one of San Diego’s most family-friendly hotels, but you don’t necessarily have to check-in to enjoy it. Between the stunning public Coronado beach, spa, restaurants and more, this luxury hotel is a great place to spend the day.
Things to do at the Hotel Del Coronado with kids (and without) include the following.
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Go to the Beach
Publications like Travel and Leisure have repeatedly name this stretch of Coronado Beach as one of the best in the nation. The soft, flat sand actually has gold specks in it–a mineral called mica–that causes the ocean water to sparkle. The waves break fairly gently, usually, and there is so much available space on the sand that it doesn’t always feel crowded even on a summer weekend.
Day rentals for hotel guests and San Diego residents are available at Del Beach including cabanettes, sturdy umbrellas, and lounge chairs. This area has waitstaff who can bring snacks, sandwiches, margaritas, bottles of champagne and more to your spot on the sand. For more details, read about our day at Del Beach.
A San Diego institution, no visit to the Hotel Del Coronado is complete without a heap of ice cream topped with candy, sprinkles and other fun stuff from its MooTime Creamery branch. I personally think it’s some of the best ice cream in town.
Cruise the beachside boardwalk in front of the Del by renting a number of different bikes on the south end of the property at PeDels (get it?). Opt for standard 2-wheel bikes on up to bikes seating 6 people. Two-wheel bikes are a much easier way to explore the boutiques and restaurants on Orange Avenue during peak season anyway because you can avoid the hassle of street parking. Helmets are available as are kids’ bikes.
Low tide exposes a variety of sea life in the tide pools on the Coronado beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado. We saw starfish, tons of anemones, sea slugs, small fish, hermit and larger crabs, barnacles, mussels and more creatures.
The city of Coronado encourages people to explore the tide pools with care and sometimes staffs them with a volunteer to answer questions. The small seawall here is a very popular place for photographs in the early evening.
Arrive early in the morning to collect pristine shells. It was sand dollar heaven on the morning we were there and you could see people walking on the beach for morning exercise constantly bending over to pick up treasures lying in the sand.
Look for the Sandcastle Man
The Sandcastle Man leaves beautiful creations on the beach, with his business card displayed. Talk about a great marketing. He creates these masterpieces with an extraordinary amount of detail for beach parties and events. This sand castle must have been built at the crack of dawn because we saw it shortly after our early breakfast at Sheerwater.
Go Ghost Hunting
The ghost of Kate Morgan is thought to haunt the Hotel Del Coronado. She died at the hotel in 1882 from what is thought to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. One theory is that she was jilted by a lover who was supposed to meet her at the hotel.
The bellman during our last stay told us the room number and it has since slipped my mind. Access to rooms is supposed to be limited to hotel guests anyway.
But, you can find books in the shopping arcade that tell her story. I flipped through one while waiting for my spa treatment. The resort’s gift shop is reported to be the most haunted with occasional glassware flying off the shelves! Apparently, it’s usually memorabilia related to Marilyn Monroe who filmed Some Like it Hot at the hotel. Apparently, Kate doesn’t like sharing the spotlight.
Book Spa Treatments
The Spa at the Hotel Del Coronado has a private adults-only pool, pictured above. My daughter and I were treated to manicures and pedicures in the salon downstairs but the upstairs has treatment rooms and lounging facilities for facials, massages and the like.
Take a Photo
Hop into this old-school photo booth for a fun souvenir. It’s located right next to MooTime Creamery.
Have San Diego’s Best Brunch
Sunday brunch in the stunning Crown Room is quite a treat. Come hungry because the lavish event features not only bottomless champagne and a gourmet Bloody Mary bar, but carving stations, seafood and sushi, housemade charcuterie, salads, impressive desserts and so much more are up for the taking.
(Don’t forget about 1500 OCEAN, Sheerwater and the other dining establishments!)
Taste Flights of Wine
ENO Pizzeria and Wine Bar offers something for all ages. My daughter gobbled up a woodfired pizza while I noshed on charcuterie paired with wine. The themed wine flights are pretty good value for what you get. Sit on the patio to soak up the California vibe and watch the sunset.
Go Boutique Shopping
Most resorts have a store or two that are worthy of a quick look. Well, shopping at the Hotel Del Coronado is different. I’ve been browsing Babcock and Story for well over a decade and buy something almost every time. These boutiques are well done.
Your kids will love Spreckels Sweets and Treats for vintage candy (jawbreakers!), fudge and other vintage treats you remember from childhood.
Forget your bathing suit? No problem. Need extra luggage? There’s a travel store, too.
Mark Where You Came From
Stick a pin in the map inside the gift shop, Est. 1888, indicating where you’ve traveled from. Don’t forget to sign the guest book. Pick up hotel souvenirs here, too.
Ice Skate in the Winter
The annual Skating by the Sea event at the Hotel Del Coronado is a quintessential Southern California experience. The luxury hotel’s Windsor lawn is transformed into an ice skating rink, just steps from the sand. In fact, the holiday decor throughout the hotel is simply gorgeous. A portion of the skating proceeds goes to the Make a Wish Foundation.
Spend the Night at the Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del Coronado is one of the best luxury hotels in San Diego for a quick staycation or vacation. Of course, the activities on this list are available to any resident or visitor but you can take advantage of them all in one go by spending the night in one of the recently refreshed rooms. No plane ticket is required. Tip: If traveling with kids make sure that your room is away from events happening in the ballrooms.
What is your favorite thing to do at the Hotel Del Coronado?