Our love for our gorgeous city of angels is constant, but sometimes it’s exciting to venture elsewhere in sunny SoCal. One place you’ll surely want to visit is Coronado Island. Located across the San Diego Bay, Coronado Island has a bit of everything. Surrounded by the Big Bay and the Pacific Ocean, this spot has long enticed visitors with its breathtaking views of the San Diego skyline, immaculate beaches (one of the best in California), charming shops and restaurants, and year-round sunshine. Getting there is a breeze too. It can be a drive straight down the 5 freeway or if you’re already in SD, you can catch the Coronado Ferry, a short boat ride from San Diego’s Broadway Pier or San Diego Convention Center. If you really want to live it up, you can also take the Water Taxi which is a private on-call transportation service you can schedule anytime. Once you’re there, don’t fret about getting around. Many people prefer exploring Coronado Island on foot. However, seeing the island by electric bike is also an option. They’re easy to rent for the day. Of course, those who need to drive can access the island via the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1967 — a curved 2.12 miles with a 220-foot clearance for tall ships to pass. Ok, are you ready to be charmed by this little coastal community? Discover Coronado with our list of the 12 best things to do on the island.
1. Take a Coronado Island Tour
Start your visit on the right foot with a lay of the land. There are various hour-long and 90-minute island tours you can join the minute you step off the ferry, including a general guide of what to do in Coronado Island, a historic walking tour and a public art tour. Those celebrating an anniversary or simply enjoying a day date on the island can also schedule a Venetian-style gondola cruise that take you through Coronado Cays’ most romantic and alluring water channels.
This island is a true winter escape gem! It’s an excellent choice for those who prefer not to endure long drives, especially during the colder months. With the snowbird auto transport service, you can have your car shipped to another state, eliminating the need for exhausting road trips all while reducing wear and tear on your vehicle. It’s a convenient and efficient way to enjoy the warm climates of the Sunbelt during winter. Book in advance and prepare your vehicle before pickup to ensure a seamless transition. Then, you can fully immerse yourself in all the sights and attractions of your winter retreat, knowing your vehicle will be awaiting your arrival.
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2. Play the Coronado Golf Course
There’s much to love about the Coronado Golf Course. For enthusiasts, the 18-hole fairway is a refreshing challenge for every skill level. Yet, what really draws golfers in are the sweeping views of the San Diego Bay. The Coronado Golf Course has earned impressive accolades, too. Golf Digest ranked it No. 5 in the country for the best value while the Golf Channel also named it the best course in San Diego. Work up an appetite and stop by the Feast & Fareway restaurant for a late breakfast or lunch.
3. Stay at the (Haunted) Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del Coronado is the idyllic overnight stay on the island. It’s also haunted. According to staff, you can hear strange noises at night — particularly on the third floor, where a woman named Kate Morgan died in 1892. Some guests report seeing her wandering the halls in a black dress.Spooky activity continues on the fifth floor — the location of another guest’s death. Experts in poltergeist behaviors have caught chairs, curtains and objects moving on their own, while sinks have turned on and off by themselves. Wondering what to do in Coronado Island during October and Halloween? The Hotel Del Coronado runs Nightly Happenings and Paranormal Activity tours, pumpkin carving, and guided visits to Room 502, where Kate Morgan slept.
4. Holiday Celebrations
No better time to tour Coronado Island than during the holidays. There are so many festive activities to indulge in with friends or loved ones. First, block your calendar for December 6, 2023 for The Del’s annual Holiday Festival — an exciting affair for all ages. There will be Christmas carolers, ice skating at the beach, a sky diving Santa Claus, photos with Santa, a magical Christmas tree light show and fireworks. Work up an appetite from the festival and satisfy it at The Del’s Frostbite Lounge.You can choose from your favorite holiday-themed libations and bites as you enjoy watching the holiday atmosphere. If you need Christmas Eve plans, The Del creates a beautiful evening in their Southpointe Ballroom with breathtaking holiday decor and light displays. Celebrate Christmas with a gourmet buffet, including chilled seafood, a poke station, a cheese and artisan meat station, vegan curries, pepper-crusted prime rib, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and other decadent offerings. Save room for the array of holiday desserts and the hot chocolate station before leaving. This year’s Holiday Festival theme is “A Twenties Holiday Affair,” in which 1920s art deco motifs will adorn The Del.
5. Relax with a Spa Day
There’s a reason why everyone looks good on Coronado Island. For a small town, it has a great selection of spas and salons like Malahini Day Spa, Orchid Day Spa and Calla Lily Day Spa. Of course, there’s always the Coronado Skin Care & Beauty — a beauty bar offering facials, manicures, pedicures, microblading and several other services to meet your beauty needs. You’ll relax and learn a lot about skin care at these places. If you really want to splurge on a self care day, we suggest hitting up the Spa & Salon at The Del. After your massage, facial, or body treatment, you can also get access to their relaxation lounges, spa terrace, and oceanfront spa pool. In Coronado Island, it’s especially important to apply at least SPF 30 in the summer and SPF 15 during the winter.
6. Shopping and Restaurants
Like any small town, one of the best things to do in Coronado is to visit the many shops and restaurants. You’ll find yourself surrounded by little boutiques filled with souvenirs and tourist merchandise when you arrive at Coronado Ferry Landing. However, the real shopping experience is in Downtown Coronado, simply known as Orange Avenue. Locals will say the island has everything they need — clothing, books, stationery, surfboards, spices and oils, flowers, and more. You might need to return to San Diego for name brands though. Foodies will also satisfy their taste buds with Coronado Island’s delicious restaurant selections, such as The Henry, Brigantine, Il Fornaio Coronado, Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint, and Peohe’s.
7. Visit Coronado Farmer’s Market
The Coronado Farmer’s Market is held every Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Although small, the market sells the highest quality goods and produce from local farms. It’s also conveniently located near Boney’s and Albertsons — whatever you can’t buy at the market, you can grab the rest at the grocery store.
8. Go to the Coronado Flower Show
Every April, the Coronado Floral Association hosts the two-day Coronado Flower Show in Spreckles Park — an island tradition since 1922. The event exhibits beautiful horticulture and flower designs with an educational component. Visitors can also enjoy food, drinks, vendors and live entertainment. Each floral exhibit is staged and judged as the community welcomes the start of Spring. Admission is $10 per person and free for children under 12. Although the Coronado Floral Association doesn’t sell tickets online, you can purchase them at the gate.
9. Visit the Coronado Beaches
Many come to Coronado Island for the beaches alone. Enjoy miles of soft sand, pristine turquoise waters and golden sunsets. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you if you think you’ve spotted gold, either. Coronado sands contain mica — a sparkly mineral from sedimentary rock. You may even catch a glimpse of bioluminescent water at night if you’re lucky.Although Coronado Central Beach, Silver Strand Park and South Beach are popular destinations on the island, you shouldn’t miss Coronado Dog Beach. This clean strip of coastline allows off-leash visits for you and your dog year-round. Just be mindful of the sand’s temperature in the summer heat to avoid your dog burning their paws.
10. Take a Historic Home Tour
Celebrate Mom with the Coronado Historical Association (CHA) Mother’s Day Historic Home Tour. Every year, the CHA invites people to walk through some of Coronado Island’s restored charming architecture, stunning interiors and beautiful gardens. The tour is self-guided, and you can stop by each place on foot or by bike. These homes are privately owned and open to the public for Mother’s Day only. For the rest of the year, the CHA hosts hour-long walking tours every Sunday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday through Friday at 1 p.m.
11. Book a Beachside Igloo
From November 17, 2023, to January 7, 2024, ( the cooler nights of the year) you can rent a private igloo at The Hotel Del Coronado. Each igloo has a living area that accommodates eight people (four inside and four around the outdoor fire pit). Reservations are two hours long. Although outside food isn’t allowed, you can have an unlimited supply of s’mores ingredients and water for an additional cost. The Del also sells blankets if needed.
12. Come on 4th of July to Coronado Island
The annual Independence Day celebration is one of the most popular events on the island. People come to see the parade, live music in the park and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay. You can expect heavy traffic, so it may be a better idea to walk or ride your bike instead of driving. Most people rush to grab a parking spot as early as 4:30 a.m. the day of. To avoid the bustle, consider viewing the fireworks from the Coronado Golf Course instead.
For more ideas of what to do in the San Diego area, we’ve compiled a weekend guide to help you plan.