Across the bay from downtown San Diego, the small resort town of Coronado is an idyllic escape from the city with a wide, sandy coastline and a tree-lined main drag that’s home to shops and restaurants. Visitors go to hang out on the beach, tour historical sites, and watch the sunset.
You may hear Coronado called an island, but it's actually a peninsula, connected to the mainland by a long spit of sand known as the Silver Strand. Most visitors arrive, however, via the 2.1-mile (3.4-kilometer) Coronado Bridge. There are a variety of ways to see Coronado, from a quick visit during a San Diego city tour or a more in-depth Coronado Segway tour to a brunch cruise or sailing tour where you can admire the enclave from the water.
Popular destinations include the Coronado Museum of History and Art, Coronado Ferry Landing, Silver Strand State Beach, and shopping along Orange Avenue. If you only do one thing, though, it must be a visit to Hotel del Coronado, the grand dame of the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The town is only about 1 mile (1.6 kilometer) wide—it’s best explored on foot or by bike.
- Bike rentals are available around town; children are required to wear helmets.
- If you want to spend time on the beach and visit some of the attractions, plan for a whole day in Coronado.
- Metered parking and paid parking lots can be found around town.
How to Get There
Coronado is roughly 15 minutes by car from downtown San Diego via the bridge. You can also take the Coronado Ferry for a 15-minute ride across San Diego Bay. By public transport, bus 901 travels between San Diego and Coronado.
When to Get There
Go on a weekday to avoid crowds of locals who descend on the weekends for beach time or brunch. If you’re returning to San Diego on the ferry, pay attention to the schedule, as it does not typically operate late at night. Popular events in Coronado include the summertime Tuesday farmers market at the Ferry Landing and the Holiday Festival at Hotel del Coronado.
Hotel del Coronado
“The Del,” as it’s known, is Coronado’s top attraction—a National Historic Landmark built in the Victorian style in the 1880s. Admire its architecture and design inside and out, from the elegant, polished wood lobby to the recognizable red rooftops. Former guests include Charlie Chaplin, Katharine Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, and several U.S. presidents. If you’re not staying there, go for drinks or a bite to eat, or take a docent-led tour.