The Instagram Guide to Coronado, California

Fresh seafood, historic hotels, and gorgeous sunsets.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Editor's note: As we continue to practice social distancing, we encourage our readers to check the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date information on how to safely travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, bookmark this Instagram travel guide for inspo—you're going to love it.

Southern California’s Coronado Island, a quick ferry ride from San Diego, is a picture-perfect resort town with quiet beaches, a charming main street, and near-perfect weather year-round. You’ll find the pace is slower in Coronado, perfect for travelers who want to enjoy a bike ride along Orange Avenue, a day at the pool with a book, or a leisurely dinner of seafood fresh from the Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for more action, try your hand at kayaking, standup paddleboarding, or sailing in the clear blue waters.

While it's called Coronado Island, the area is actually a peninsula attached to the mainland by the Silver Strand, a narrow strip of land. The entire island was purchased in 1885 by Elisha Babcock and Hampton Story who built the grand Hotel del Coronado, which remains the most iconic spot in town. Start your vacation there, then explore your way around Coronado for a relaxing and picturesque trip—whether you're spending the full weekend, or just looking for a quick 24-hour getaway. Here’s what you won’t want to miss.

From downtown San Diego, you have two beautiful ways to get to Coronado. The first is by driving over the impossibly-high Coronado Bridge, which offers spectacular views of the San Diego skyline as you follow its curve. Or, you can hop onboard the Coronado Ferry, which will take you from the Broadway Pier in Downtown San Diego to the Ferry Landing Marketplace in Coronado once an hour.

Stay at the Historic Hotel Del

You might recognize Hotel del Coronado as the setting of the iconic Marilyn Monroe film, Some Like it Hot. The spectacular architecture, with bright red wood, rotundas, and a Victorian style exterior, has earned its distinction as a National Historic Landmark. Known to locals as “The Del,” the hotel offers beautifully-restored rooms that mix charm and history. New portions of the hotel, like the cabanas (more on that below), are modern and breezy with private patios. The adjoining Del Beach is open to the public with beds for lounging available for rent during the day, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows in the evening.

Get Pampered Poolside

To sink into vacay mode, rent a luxe private cabana with queen size bed and sip cocktails by the pool. Grab your favorite book to catch up on your reading, and unwind while lunch and drinks are brought to you.

Eat Superb Seafood While Watching the Sunset

Steps from the sand, Serẽa Coastal Cuisine offers a rich menu of sustainable seafood with sunset views. The menu by Chef JoJo Ruiz highlights the best of the ocean with a raw bar, whole grilled fish, and seasonal ingredients. Grab a seat on the expansive patio, then start with a cocktail and the Baja hiramasa sashimi. Stay for dessert: the Message in a Bottle ice cream sundae comes complete with an edible handwritten note to be discovered within.

Cruise Down Orange Avenue

Coronado’s main street is Orange Avenue, an idyllic row of boutique shops and cafés. Coronado doesn’t have a boardwalk bustling with food options, but Orange Avenue is where to go for something sweet. Be sure to pick up an afternoon ice cream at MooTime Creamery. The nostalgic ice cream shop is a Coronado staple, serving up fresh-baked waffle cones and handcrafted flavors.

The Coronado Golf Course, a walkable par-72 course, promises gorgeous views of the bridge and Downtown San Diego during a relaxing afternoon of play. Before your game, stop by Feast and Fareway for a Bloody Mary and some brunch—or after your game for happy hour.

Enjoy Brunch and Bubbles

When you’re on vacation, every day should start with a mimosa. Little Frenchie is a Parisian-style café with an exceptional brunch menu, including great options like smoked salmon benedict on a croissant or avocado tartine with poached eggs. Grab a table on the sidewalk to watch the world go by, and tell 'em to keep the mimosas coming!

Bike to the Bay

One of the best ways to get around Coronado is by bicycle; quiet streets make it easy to cruise around the San Diego Bay. Pack a picnic to bring to the beach or, better yet, sit on the patio at Il Fornaio and take in the views over pasta and Italian wine. Try the Conchiglie Norcina con Pollo, or black truffles and porcini mushrooms in a Grana Padano cream sauce.

If you've fallen in love with Coronado, book a trip here.


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(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.