Sometimes described as an island because its village-like atmosphere is far removed from the big city, picturesque Coronado lies on a sliver of land between the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. More retired Navy officers live here than any other place in the US, and although the military presence is high, it’s unobtrusive. For over 100 years, visitors have flocked to Coronado to be part of this charmed life. Even with its thriving resorts, restaurants, sidewalk cafés, and unique shops, the village never seems overwhelmed.
Hotel del Coronado: 1500 Orange Ave; 619 435 6611; www.hoteldel.com
Meade House: 1101 Star Park Cir
Ferry Landing Market Place: 1201 1st St at B Ave; 619 435 8895; open 10am daily, various closing times
Coronado Museum of History and Art: 1100 Orange Ave; 619 435 7242; open 9am–5pm Mon–Fri, 10am–5pm Sat & Sun; adm $5; www.coronadohistory.org
San Diego Ferry: 619 234 4111; adm $4.25
This 1887–8 Queen Anne wooden masterpiece is a National Historic Landmark. It was the first hotel west of the Mississippi with electric lights.
L. Frank Baum moved to Coronado in 1904 and produced much of his work at this charming house, now a private residence.
South of Coronado, along the Silver Strand, this training camp for the hallowed Navy SEALS is off-limits to the public.
Connecting San Diego to Coronado since 1969, this 2.2-mile (3.5-km) span has won architectural awards for its unique design. Struts and braces in a box girder give it a sleek look.
Coronado’s main beach claims a golden swath adjacent to the Hotel del Coronado. Families, fishers, surfers, and swimmers all stake spots, while dog-walkers rule the north end.
Designed by prominent early 20th-century architects Hebbard and Gill, mansions dominate Coronado’s oceanfront.
Next to the ferry dock is a shopping area selling beachwear, jewelry, souvenirs, and art. This is a handy spot to rent a bike or grab a snack.
In a 1910 Neo-Classical bank building, galleries exhibit early village history, with photos of the Hotel del Coronado, Tent City, and military memorabilia.
Before the Coronado Bridge, access was only by a long drive around Southern San Diego or via the ferry, which is now only for foot passengers.
The main shopping street has restaurants and sidewalk cafés, as well as a theater and a museum. Independence Day and Christmas parades see residents out celebrating.
When the British King Edward VIII gave up his throne to marry American Wallis Simpson, romantics insisted they originally met at the Hotel del Coronado. In 1920, Wallis Spencer, then married to a naval officer of that name, lived at the hotel. That April, Edward visited Coronado. It is unclear whether the couple met then; it wasn’t until 15 years later that they were formally introduced.