Coronado Charm

By Kate Riley September 6, 2012

We spent last weekend in San Diego, stopping by several of our favorite places while in town.  We visit the area at least once a year since we have family and friends that live there and it’s one of our most favorite places to relax and soak up some So Cal sunshine.

One of the most charming places to stop is just outside downtown San Diego, the small city of Coronado with its famous Hotel del Coronado.

san diego palm trees


To get to Coronado Island, you take the bridge and along the way you get a great view of the downtown San Diego skyline.

downtown san diego view


The Hotel Del is a beautiful Victorian structure that draws visitors from around the world.

hotel del coronado from beach

hotel del  coronado entrance

hotel del coronado



The classic comedy ‘Some Like it Hot’ was filmed at the Hotel Del in 1958, though in the film the location was deemed to be in the state of Florida.  The flick is a family favorite of ours which is another reason we love to visit.

some like it hot


There’s a wide path along the pale sandy beach where you can stroll the grounds or grab a bite at the oceanfront cafe.

hotel del sign


Sunbathe in the afternoon or simply take a walk with your toes in the sand.

hotel del umbrellas


We stayed in the old hotel once many years ago and the inside is a historic beauty.  If you spend the really big bucks, you can snag one of these newer beachfront cottages with Pacific Ocean views, wow!

cottages hotel del

sand hotel del


The town is pretty affluent so the real estate prices are super high, but I’m a looky loo when it comes to houses and they’re so much fun to drive by, from the beach cottages to the larger villas in the residential area.

cornado home

seaside home coronado


There are plenty of shops and cute restaurants in town too, Coronado is definitely worth an afternoon visit if you’re in the San Diego area.

shops in coronado

open windows coronado


Other San Diego top attractions we love:  the downtown Gaslamp Quarter; Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo; the beaches and Cedros Avenue shops in Solana Beach (amazing interior decor shops and weekend farmer’s market); Mission Bay; touring the USS Midway, Shelter Island and Point Loma, especially Point Loma Seafoods, yum!

san diego sailboat


Fellow San Diego lovers, what are your local favorites?



  1. so lovely! that’s where I was married back in 1995. it was definitely like a fairy tale. I’m not a beach person, but Coronado is by far the best beach in the area…the sand is like butter and everyone manages to keeps their clothes on :-)

  2. I also go to San Diego a few times a year to visit family. Any favorite junk/antique/vintage shops or fairs there?

  3. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting there but loved all of your pictures and details on where to go. Beautiful! Love that house with the picket fence.

  4. You’re making me miss San Diego terribly today! We lived there for a year and a half before being transferred back to Virginia. While we certainly enjoyed our time there, we didn’t get to explore all of its wonderful aspects. Last night as we took a family walk in the blazing heat and HUMIDITY, I commented to my husband, “Man, I wish we were still in SoCal!” I don’t miss the high cost of living, but San Diego really was a wonderful place to live. Coronado was one of my favorite go-to spots for a relaxing day!

  5. Kate!! My hubby has family there so we’ve been a few times. Next weekend, we are going for a wedding (reception at hotel del) and I cannot wait!! Thanks for the gorgeous photos to get me even more excited for the visit :)

  6. Newport Ave in Ocean Beach for their antique shops. The house in Point Loma are really charming as well. I was just over at Cedros area today, saw the most beautiful trestle table at Bon Bons. Did you go into that shop while you were down? Thought maybe it was you who bought the table because it was sold :)

  7. I was born in San Diego, as was my mother, and have lived here all my life. I love all of the places you mentioned, and can highly recommend the following: (1) The beach community of La Jolla, especially La Jolla Cove. There is a grassy park just above the water, where they hold free concerts on several Sunday afternoons during the summer; there is a small beach that seal mothers and their pups are allowed to use exclusively during pupping season, and they offer escorted and unescorted kayak tours, where you float among seals and bright orange fish. (2) Del Mar, also a coastal village atmosphere, with great restaurants, shops and parks, and the best monthly free summer concerts in town. (3) Encinitas, which is also on the coast, which has a more casual and spiritual feel than upscale Del Mar and La Jolla. I also love the Wild Animal Park, which is operated by the Zoo, but offers more expansive, and natural habitats for large animals.

  8. We were on Coronado today….it was glorious!!! You missed posting a photo of Moo Time….a MUST when you are on the island !!!! YUMMY. Glad you enjoyed your visit. WOuldn’t it be a dream to live there?

  9. Love the Hotel Del! When I was living in Ocean Beach, I would occasionally head over to the Hotel Del to walk the grounds and enjoy a complimentary glass of lemonade that the staff would serve to guests.

    It looks like you hit some prime spots. The Point Loma Lighthouse is also fun and the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (also in Point Loma) is quite moving and has amazing views of the city.

    For food, I always recommend Phil’s BBQ & Miguel’s Cocina. Glad you had a great trip. :)

    • Hey Stephanie, we tried Phil’s BBQ for the first time, the line was around the restaurant, amazing how many people wanted into that place! We read about the line so we phoned in our BBQ ahead, and had a picnic in Point Loma, great BBQ and a fantastic evening view, bliss!

  10. I was there on Aug 27th! with Stephanie (cre8tive designs) It was my first time to visit California, and it was beautiful! We had a wonderful brunch at the Hotel Del!
    Your pictures made me smile with fond memories!
    thanks for sharing your photos with us.

  11. Love your review of our sunny San Diego! I am a native, went away to a snowy place for college and couldn’t bear it so I moved back and met my husband here, so here we will stay! I am so excited to have my kids grow up on the beach like I did (so far we have a 1 year old boy who is crazy about digging in the sand). I went to my senior prom on Coronado, but have done minimal touring there – thanks for inspiring me to be a tourist in my own town!

  12. I stayed at the Del in March. Loved,loved, loved it! I would take every vacation there if I could afford it!

  13. I’ve never been to California and this place looks absolutely beautiful! The farthest I’ve been west is Las Vegas to visit my sister. After seeing this, I’m going to try and plan a trip soon. You’ve convinced me :)

  14. San Diego has probably the greatest micro brewery scene in the country. Go to Stone Brewery for a tour, beautiful architecture and dinner in their amazing gardens, but also check out some of the tiny breweries in industrial parks and random locations around the county. Mother Earth in Vista is one of our favorites. They collaborate with the surrounding restaurants, and you HAVE to have the pizza from across the street (URBN). Best pizza I have had on the west coast.
    I love the Wild Animal Park, since it’s one of the few parks, where not every exhibit comes with a giftshop. You actually see more real animals than stuffed ones… Much nicer than Sea World or even the Zoo, I think.
    For a good workout, hike up Cowles Mountain on a clear day. You’ll definitely break a sweat, but the view is worth it.

    • Wow Anna, I was unaware, thanks for sharing about those microbreweries, will put it on our “next time we visit” list!

  15. One of our favorite getaways. Hotel Del Coronado is a special place for hubby and me. We booked 3 nights there last year for our anniversary and upon arrival found out they had accidentally given our room away. Well, they treated us to one of the newer beachfront cottages and what a fabulous treat it was! Coronado is such a pretty little town.

  16. Kate, so glad you enjoyed your time in Coronado. I grew up there and my folks still live on the island. It’s a fun place to visit but I enjoy living in Northern Cal. I have always been fascinated by the diversity of houses in Coronado, everything from quaint little beach bungalows to those huge mansions over looking the ocean – all in one square mile of real estate! I sort of miss the old Hotel Del before the new beach front cottages went in, such a grand old place!

    • Hey Barbara, you’re not the only one! A couple of the long time residents have expressed the same sentiment about the old v. new parts of the hotel. Coronado is so special it almost feels like a movie set to me, just so quaint and picturesque, I would love to rent one of those little beach bungalows someday, if only for a week! *sigh*

  17. My husband and I loved visiting Hotel Del! There is actually a great (and free!) guided tour of the hotel you can take most mornings. Just check their website, call ahead and get there on time. Ours was about an hour long walking tour and the guide gave us tons of interesting information about the hotel and its history. If you like that sort of thing I’d highly recommend it. I love all the places you mentioned – especially the Gas Lamp Quarter! I’d add on Old Town San Diego for a fun afternoon if you enjoy history. Thanks for a great post!

  18. I love Coronado! If I could live anywhere, it would probably be there.

    We are headed down to SD in November for a family wedding. Last time we were there (pre-kids) we stayed at the Del but this time we are staying at Paradise Point. Can’t wait to take my kiddos to the beach! Also looking forward to seeing Balboa Park which we didn’t have time to visit when we were there last time.

  19. That was like a mini, mental vacay. Thanks for the great pics. I love the beach. I’ve been to San Diego, but not Coronado. It’s beautiful.

  20. I love San Diego and especially Coronado! Your pictures brought back great memories of my time there when I was 18 and starting out on my own. I now live in Washington, DC and rarely get chances to visit CA. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the beach.

  21. We just went to Coronado this April for a little mini vacation, it’s very beautiful and the town is adorable. We also went up the coast as far as LA to see Cali better. There’s so much to see though, we could have stayed longer and gone all the way to San Fran, maybe another trip. Our favorite place we visited was la jolla for its beautiful cliffs and view of the water, it was gorgeous. We also really loved laguna beach for the restaurants and shops.

  22. You have great timing. We are beginning to plan next years family vacation to San Diego and I love getting recommendations on the what to do and where to go first hand instead of just the web. We are taking our teenage son with us so if anyone has ideas that a teenager would be interested in I would love to hear about them!

    Thanks for sharing your visit!

    • Hi Corrine, our teenager always loved the beach, and there’s plenty of that in San Diego, it’s a fun place to play (and learn to surf!)

  23. WOW Kate, that just makes me want to hop on a plane and go there. Gorgeous pictures. I wonder where I could get one of those lounge chairs with the “canopy” type thing. I haven’t seen anything like that for sale where I live – Canada.

  24. We went to San Diego for the first time this summer and I was so enamored of the homes there! We tried to pack too much into the few days we had, so all of my pictures were from a moving van, but yours make me want to go back!

  25. I love these photos. My brother moved to San Diego a few years ago, and I love going to visit him. He was married in Balboa Park. I love that whole area, and how there is so much gathered together there. Also, the gardens there are exquisite.

  26. seeing these pics of Coronado made my heart go pitter patter! love it there! my husband is in the navy and we were stationed there. we rented a LITTLE OLD house for WAY too much money.. but it was so Worth it! especially for the 8 months he was gone and the kids and i got to enjoy island life! such wonderful people, neat places, walking everywhere… just love it! oh and the library.. have you ever went in? it is amazing, especially the kids area. thanks for the trip down memory lane ;)

  27. oh.. did you check out Sea Side Papery? you would like that place!! it’s on Orange ave :) they have one in la jolla too.

  28. we LOVE San Diego. My husband went to San Diego State University. We always say we are going to retire in San Diego- but I could move there now! heck why wait till were old! right?

  29. I was fortunate to be able to attend a conference there back in the early 2,000’s for a week. I worked for a small consulting firm, women owned, and our industry conference was at the Coronado. Our owners surprised us by taking almost 25 of us (the whole company!) there as our annual retreat. While it was work related, we also had plenty of free time to hang out, swim, sight see and enjoy all the amenities. It was an unforgettable time because my coworkers were also my friends, it was all women, and it seemed more like a sorority trip. HAHA Truly a beautiful place. So my trip wasn’t romantic but enjoyable just the same. Honestly don’t know if I would ever be able to afford to stay there on my own (maybe for a weekend at most!) so really appreciated being able to do so even if work related. Ahhh, those were the good old days when work was actually fun. Your pictures are lovely!!!

  30. I’m bookmarking this thread…so many helpful ideas to enjoy San Diego and ‘don’t miss’ suggestions. Thanks everyone. A future trip to San Diego is on the bucket list now!

  31. WOW I can’t believe I almost missed your pictures. Gorgeous Kate!!! Now I want to go back to San Diego again. We love it there. We have been there 3 times and we loved it every time. Those vacations have been some of our favorite. We love Downtown San Diego and especially the Seaport Village area. We love to walk up and down that whole boardwalk area with the water on one side and the shops/restaurants on the other. Also Balboa Park is gorgeous and the Zoo is always lots of fun. And you can’t go to that area without seeing Coronado. Such charm. Thanks for sharing your awesome pictures Kate. Hopefully we will get out there again some time soon to enjoy the gorgeous weather. :) Here are pictures from our last trip there…

    • How could I forget Seaport Village? Love that place, thanks for the reminder Jen!!

  32. Our family went to San Diego over spring break last year and LOVED it. We found ourselves going back to Coronodo Island over and over again. So pretty. We also loved “Children’s Pool” (by La Jolla) and watching the seals and sea lions – unlike anything we had ever seen before.

  33. We are moving to San Diego as soon as our home in OR is sold…both my kids live there now and hubby is born and bred and can’t wait to get back to sand, surf, and mild winter temps.

    Me Included! Even tho I am an east coast girl-NYC is my hometown-I ♥ SD and SoCal.
    The Coronado area is my fave place to buy a home as soon as the lottery winnings hit, LOL.

    Point Loma seafood is simply the BEST! This was a nice surprise to read through this morning.
    I can almost smell the salty air…thanks for the refresher course on one of my fave cities.

    • Totally agree on Point Loma Seafood, so fresh and so much to choose from, yum!!
      We had crab sandwiches and clam chowder, but the sushi and smoked salmon was tempting too!

  34. We just moved to NC (blah!) from San Diego. I miss CA so much it hurts. We we lucky to be able to keep our house in South Park. Have you been to that area of San Diego? Great restaurants, awesome little shops, and the best fish taco truck in the city! Check out The Station for good burgers, Cafe Madeleine for coffee and crepes, Stone Brewery’s tasting shop for tasty brews, and it’s all “tres bien” at The Big Kitchen. (Big Kitchen owner Judy will have you singing with her by the time you leave.) The neighborhood is all about keeping it local and they do a damn good job of it.

    • Hi Jami, I haven’t been to South Park yet but Matt has, it’s great! Don’t you love all the fish tacos in SD? Thanks for the cafe recommendations for good eats !!!

  35. We love staying at the Hotel Del and Coronado! Our first time there I fell in love with all of the perfect little cottages. My kids were little and made fun of me for taking pictures of houses. It is such a charming place and is always relaxing after a week in Disneyland.

  36. I moved here 4 years ago from the bay area and LOVE it. My favorite when friends visit is the Old Town Mexican cafe – BEST mexican food and amazing hand made tortillas.
    You should come back at Christmas and visit Hotel Del then – they have an ice skating rink right on the beach. So much fun to skate and watch the beautiful Pacific Ocean at the same time!

  37. We visited this summer and found out that those beachfront condos (3Bedroom) cost 6 grand per night!

  38. Love San Diego! I might be a bit biased since my boyfriend and his family/friends are from there, but I really don’t mind escaping to some 75º weather at Christmas and a burrito!

  39. Coronado is one of my favorite places! I grew up just north of San Diego and were lucky enough to stay at “The Del” a few times a year when my dad gave lectures at conferences for several years. It has changed quite a bit, but I still love going back to visit :)

  40. Kate, did you check out ENO wine bar at the Del? Flights of wine and cheese, and they give you these olive oil rosemary Marconi almonds that are divine! To finish, sample a flight of …. wait for it… CHOCOLATE! This is all while sitting on the patio overlooking a beautiful sunset over the ocean! Seriously, I was in heaven! Wine, cheese, chocolate, and sunset, what more could a girl ask for???!!!

  41. Nice of you to visit my home town. We live just across the bridge from Coronado but my best friend actually lives on the island (did you know it is not really an island since it is connected to san diego via the strand?) My absolute favorite spot in Coronado to have lunch (try the cold chicken pasta and a cool glass of chardonnay) is called Island pasta right on Orange avenue. You will love the people watching and be sure to take your dog, they are welcome too. And head to the Ferry landing for the best view in town and have dinner at Peohe’s. Be sure to schedule your next visit during the annual garden show and walk the island or stay long enough to attend the Sunday night concerts in the park….our favorite thing to do of all time so stop by our blanket and share some munchies!

  42. I love living in San Diego! The weather is mellow, lots of places to go to, there’s a diverse choice of food to sample from, and the people are generally nice. Since I work in Downtown, I do love to stroll around Seaport Village or hit Little Italy for a bite to eat for lunch.

    This year, when the weather starts to cool down, I really would like to go apple picking in Julian. Or go to Bates Nut farm for some pumpkin picking.

  43. I live in Cardiff so am partial to north county. Come to my town and check out VG Donuts for a 1960’s style pastry or donut. The humane Society Thrift Store in the same strip mall can be good if you catch it right. Hang out with a diverse crowd at Pipe’s and then head on over to Seaside Market for a sandwich or other takeout for the beach or Rimel’s for great fare.. Encinitas has great little shops and restaurants as well. Try Solace, Qero, Union just to name a few. Take a walk at the Self Realization Center garden overlooking the ocean. It’s free. Did I mention the miles of beach and there is a campground in Cardiff too?

  44. Love Coronado …We toured the hotel while vacationing in the area and had a fabulous lunch beachside at the hotel while watching the Navy Seals train on the beach…that was amazing! The hotel is magnificent..just love that entire area…and La Jolla is one of my favs too..Love those houses…oh, one can dream…

  45. My Grandparents met while working at Hotel Del in the twenties! (yes, 20’s!)
    Viola, my grandmother, a Swedish immigrant, worked as a maid there and my grandfather, as a concierge…
    I would love to have been in that hotel in the 20’s …however, not as a maid! lol.
    My family lived in La Jolla for many years. Now we are all scattered however, I can still remember the smell of the ocean when going outside…loved it:)

  46. Hope that you enjoyed your stay here!! Happy to see some of my favorite locations mentioned, I love downtown Coronado :-).

  47. Wow! What a coincidence – we just spent a week in San Diego (8/28 – 9/3)! We had the honor and privilege of watching our son graduate from recruit training at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot). We also got to visit Old Town, SeaWorld, the USS Midway and Coronado, too. It was amazing! There was so much to see and do, we could have stayed a month and still not seen everything.

    Thanks for the great pics! Maybe we passed each other a time or two while there. ;-)


  48. Visited for the first time last year, and can’t wait to get back (although it’s a hike from the east coast!). We also love Coronado, although it was chilly when we were there. Loved downtown SD, Balboa Park was beautiful:loved the cactus and rose gardens and took 100’s of pictures just there! Great children’s museum and IMAX….we went long and hard for 8 days and didn’t get it all done. Would definitely go back. You’re so lucky to be close!

  49. Oh yes…someone mentioned La Jolla…amazing, and would love to spend more time there than to/from LegoLand! Lego Land was fun too though, and really was the impetus for the whole trip.

  50. I fell in love with Coronado Island since my first visit there when I was just 20 yrs. old. I was fortunate enough to visit there for 2 weeks, staying with my friend’s sister, who worked at the Del. San Diego is such a special place for me, if. I could afford to live there, I’d be on the first plane out of Phoenix! I have been visiting there for over 25 yrs. now and Pt. Loma Seafoods is one of my favorite places. We always stay at Humhrey’s Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island, it’s the perfect location, and a beautiful, tropical hotel with a fabulous restautant, Humphreys. Red Sails Inn is another favorite seafood spot, as is Old Venice for Italian food. Both on Shelter Island. There are also great Concerts by the Bay there, as well! Love, love, love San Diego!

  51. Thanks for the great pics of our beautiful city! You can almost see my house in the view of Downtown, Ha HA HA! So much to do here, we are always stumbling over some event. The Greek festival in Cardiff this weekend is a must!! Bring an empty tummy… Our favorite beaches are Coronado where it bumps up against North Island Air Base and La Jolla Shores. Don’t forget to drop by Birch Aquarium for a fantastic view of sea life and San Diego. I could just go on & on… Then there are the quilting shops!

  52. I’m glad you had fun in my (adopted) hometown! You made it to lots of of our favorite places, and your post reminded me I haven’t been to Point Loma Seafoods in a while. I think I’ll have to go this week!

  53. Kate,

    My MIL just turned 90 and she was the jazz pianist at the Hotel Del during the War. She is a still teaching and playing jazz piano and is the organist at her church.

    Thought you’d like to know . . .

    Lovely photos!

  54. I love San Diego. I was there for my first and only visit to California a year and a half ago. I am a “forever” Nova Scotian but San Diego was the only place I have visited and thought “I could live here”.

    We had a lovely late-January evening on Coronado as the sun set and then ate a delicious Mexican meal under the heat lamps on a patio. It was awesome! Your photos took me right back there – thanks!

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