Just across the bridge and a world away. This is Coronado Island, widely regarded as the crown jewel of the San Diego waterfront, and the playground of princes and presidents. And there is a reason why it is a favorite among the rich and famous just as much as for the locals. There are so many things to do on Coronado Island, California that no matter what your budget, you will never get bored.
Located only 15 minutes from the heart of downtown San Diego, this captivating beach hamlet has a unique classy magical vibe all its own.
Getting to Coronado means crossing over the impressive arching Coronado Bridge with its dramatic curves and 360-degree views. And that’s only the beginning of the allure of this magnificent isle.
Coronado is utterly charming. Possessing a lovable small-town USA feel, this quaint coastal village invites visitors and locals to ‘sit a spell’ and take in the many blessings bestowed upon the isle by Mother Nature. Its beaches are renowned as some of the most beautiful in the United States.
But this postcard-perfect community is more than its stunning sandy beaches, palm trees, and sunsets. It’s filled with a myriad of wonderful experiences and active pursuits.
Hotels in Coronado
Best Things to Do on Coronado Island You Have to Try
Go on a Tour of Coronado
There are several ways to explore the things to do on Coronado Island, but if it is your first time, take a look at these fun tours that will let you explore Coronado in a fun way:
- San Diego: Best of Coronado and Ferry Ride from San Diego
- Fat Woody Beach Cruiser Experience – Coronado Island Electric Bicycle Tour
- Coronado Walking Tour
- Coronado Island Segway Tour
- GPS Guided Coronado Electric Scooter Tour
Explore the Hotel Del Coronado
The island’s iconic priceless gem is the Victorian architectural masterpiece—the Hotel Del Coronado. Built in 1888, the legendary and quintessential grand lady of the sea has hosted numerous presidents, royalty, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities throughout the years.
Fronting the cerulean waters of the Pacific, this famous San Diego landmark has it all — stunning beauty, a dazzling sandy-white beach, swaying palms, incredible oceanfront dining, and what we believe to be the best of the best — its fascinating historical legacy.
Several Hollywood movies were filmed here. L. Frank Baum, writer and creator of the famous Wizard of Oz did much of his writing here calling it his personal “Oz.” The Del is also the setting of one of the most famous true love stories of our time — Edward, Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson who met at a grand dinner here in 1920.
Photos and memorabilia located throughout the hotel capture the essence of the Del’s early days and historical characters that once stayed and played at this enchanting resort. Click here, if you want to book your room at the Hotel Del Coronado.
Check out Coronado Ferry Landing
A charming waterfront village filled with boutique shops, eateries, and yes, a tantalizing ice cream shop. Coronado Ferry Landing is located in one of the most picturesque settings on the island and provides a stunning panorama of the San Diego skyline.
The ferry landing is also a means to getting across the beautiful San Diego Bay to downtown San Diego on the San Diego Coronado Ferry. The cost is $5 one-way courtesy of Flagship Cruises. Children 3 and under ride free. And the best part is there’s no charge for bringing bicycles or Segways on board.
Boats also drop off in this spot for riders to dine in one of our favorite Coronado restaurants—Peohe’s. Famous for its fresh fish, seafood, steaks, prime rib, and other island-inspired cuisine, it offers one of the most picturesque and memorable dining spots in all of San Diego.
Spend a Day on Coronado Beach
One of our favorite seashores is award-winning Coronado Beach also known as Central Beach. Stretching nearly two miles along Ocean Boulevard, it’s an ideal place to soak up the sun, swim, tide pool, and watch the impressive sandcastle builders create awe-inspiring sand sculptures. Beach volleyball is also a super popular pastime.
And here’s a little insider tip on what makes the cashmere-soft sand sparkle: those flecks of gold in the sand are mica crystals that create a glittery appearance when touched by the sun’s rays. And sunsets here are simply incredible.
Other notable Coronado beaches include Silver Strand State Beach and Glorietta Bay Beach. North Beach is a fun dog-friendly beach for our canine companions to take a run and play in the surf.
Kayak the San Diego Bay
For a perfect aqua adventure and some great exercise to boot, kayaking in Coronado is a wonderful activity. The Coronado Bay Channel located between Coronado and downtown offers beautiful views of both the island and the unmistakable San Diego downtown.
For those who don’t have their own kayaks, it’s not a problem. Several places in Coronado have 1 and 2-person kayaks available to rent.
Bike around the Island
Biking in Coronado is an absolute delight. Unlike much of San Diego, the island is fairly flat, so even beach cruisers are great for getting around and exploring. Biking with a spectacular Pacific Ocean backdrop, we love the wide bike path running along this coastline.
If you don’t have a bike, that’s ok. For a small town, Coronado has several bike rental places at your disposal. Low speed limits and respectful drivers allow for safer biking, as many residents here bike as well. If you prefer to go on a guided tour, check out this Coronado bike tour or this fun FAT e-beach cruiser tour!
Take in a Show at the Lamb’s Players
We recall the first time a friend invited us to a production at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. The set was impressive and the acting quality superb.
For a small-town boutique theatre, plays here in this live venue are first-rate. Past stage shows in this intimate setting include performances of notable productions like The Miracle Worker, Le Misérables, and Fiddler on the Roof to name a few.
Hop-on-Hop-off Trolley Tours
Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley, and it’s an absolute fun and nostalgic way to get around to some of Coronado and San Diego’s best sites. Even as locals, we love trolleying around America’s Finest City and hear anecdotes, stories and historical revelations we wouldn’t otherwise have known. It’s also the perfect way to enjoy Coronado and San Diego with visiting family and friends without having to worry about driving or parking.
The 25-mile trek by Old Town Trolley Tours includes a full-narration of 12 stops around the city and Coronado with unlimited hop-on, hop-off one and two-day privileges allowing riders to choose to stay in any location for as long as they want. Book your Trolley Tour tickets here>>
Golf in Coronado
Opened in 1957, the Coronado Municipal Golf Course is likely one of the most beautiful courses you’ll find on the West Coast. Not only is it a public course, but green fees are reasonably priced. The 18-hole, par-72 course offers almost distractingly beautiful views of the Coronado Bridge, San Diego Bay, and the San Diego skyline.
Take a Coronado Walking Tour
Coronado is such an easily walkable village. Why not take a leisurely stroll and see the island in a whole new way?
Coronado Beach Company offers 60-minute excursions that depart from Coronado Beach Cafe. Guides regale guests with local tales of movie stars, moguls, Navy pilots, and SEALS spanning over 100 years of remarkable history. Visited landmarks include the magnificent Hotel del Coronado, Coronado Beach, Orange Ave, and numerous mansions and cottages of the island. After your tour, you are invited for a coffee and donuts at the Beach Cafe. Book your walking tour tickets here>>
Shop on Orange Avenue
One of the most charming aspects of Coronado is the collection of small boutique shops lining the main drag of downtown Coronado — Orange Avenue and its picturesque side streets.
From vintage finds to the latest trends, nautical to beachy décor, soft cotton clothing and colorful beachwear to jewelry, artwork and so much more, the island’s 50-plus shops are literal eye candy offering an irresistible allure for the shopper.
Play in the Parks on Coronado Island
Coronado boasts 18 beautiful parks on the island scattered throughout the downtown and its environs.
Centennial Park near the Coronado Ferry Landing has beautiful gardens, paths, benches, and an extraordinary view of the bay and skyline. Perfect for a sunset or night time skyline photo shoot.
Spreckels Park located in the heart of Coronado features a playground, gazebo, picnic tables, and restrooms. But its most known for its summer concerts centered around the park’s gazebo bandstand. This is where you’ll find both locals and visitors pulling their wagons packed with blankets, libations, and gourmet goodies for a complimentary picnic while enjoying the music.
Coronado Tidelands Park is fantastic for families. Check out its sandy play area, top quality playground equipment, picnic area, and loads of grass to run and roll in. Views of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge from this site are iconic providing picture-perfect photograph opportunities.
Pamper Yourself at one of the Best Coronado Resorts
Coronado has various resorts and hotels to choose from for an overnight or weekend stay. You will find bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels to full-service resorts offering dining with a view. We mentioned the enchanted Hotel del Coronado earlier. It’s fun to check out some of the island’s other spectacular resorts offering places to stay, play, and dine.
Perched on a 15-acre peninsula on the southern end of the island, Lowes Coronado Bay Resort is a secluded waterfront oasis. Surrounded by shimmering bay waters and the San Diego cityscape in the distance, it’s a perfect place to escape and enjoy a host of water activities to boot.
Located along the waterfront, Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa offers an idyllic retreat. Enjoy the stunning views and lush tropical courtyard grounds filled with wandering streams and fountains.
A sign in one of Coronado’s charming boutiques reads “At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but moment to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.”
Ahh, doesn’t this just describe Coronado Island to a T?
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Last Updated on June 17, 2022 by sandiegoexplorer