Although sometimes referred to as Coronado Island, Coronado really is a peninsula with narrow Silver Strand connecting it to the mainland and San Diego. Coronado is accessible via Silver Strand Boulevard, the San Diego Coronado Bridge, or by boat to Ferry Landing Marketplace with its panoramic city views.
The Hotel del Coronado—probably the most famous building in the San Diego area—is on Coronado Beach, one mile directly across the peninsula from Ferry Landing Marketplace.
Historic homes in Coronado and the Glorietta Bay Inn are worth visiting.
Book a room at the Hotel del Coronado, Glorietta Bay Inn or several other boutique hotels and Inns to experience the sights and sounds of Coronado Island,
Coronado has retained its small town atmosphere and is easily toured on foot or bicycle.
The U.S. Navy has a strong presence on Coronado occupying all of North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base at the north end of Silver Strand. Ferry Landing Marketplace
A bayside complex of specialty shops, art galleries, restaurants and bike rentals now known as Ferry Landing Marketplace is the final destination point for San Diego Harbor Excursion ferries.
The ferry leaves Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego every hour on the hour and the Coronado Ferry pier every hour on the half hour.
It’s worth a visit to “The Old Ferry Landing,” as it was once known, for the panoramic view of San Diego’s skyline and San Diego Bay.
A waterfront park with fishing pier, large grassy lawn and sandy beach make this a very family friendly spot to watch sailboats, tugs and other bay traffic.
The Coronado Farmer’s Market with locally grown fruits and vegetables is held at the Ferry Landing Marketplace every Tuesday afternoon, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. A Jazz Festival in June and other special events occur throughout the year. Ferry Landing Marketplace is just one mile north of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
San Diego-Coronado Bridge
A dramatic two mile long orthotropic design bridge (traffic drives on the bridge structure itself, without the need for a concrete deck) connects Coronado to San Diego from Interstate 5. Thirty mission-arch shaped concrete towers support he world’s longest continuous box girder providing vertical clearance of 200 feet over the shipping channels.
Views from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge of Coronado, San Diego and San Diego Bay are enhanced by a low, moveable center barrier and low side rails on the five lane bridge.
A 90-degree mid-span turn — quite evident in this photo from near Coronado Cays on the Silver Strand — enables the bridge to be long enough to have gentle slope yet enough height to clear an empty aircraft carrier. Bridge tolls are no longer collected on the San Diego-Coronodo Bridge.
Hotel Del Coronado
Modern Coronado history really began in 1886 when a consortium of five men — Hampton L. Story, Elisha S. Babcock Jr., Jacob Gruendike (Who along with H.M. Covert started the San Diego Water Company in 1873 —the first in the city), Heber Ingle, and Joseph Collett — formed the Coronado Beach Company and began construction of the Hotel del Coronado.
The Del, completed in 1888, was desiginated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
Many famous guests have stayed at the Del including President Benjamin Harrison in 1891 and every U.S. President since Lyndon Johnson. The movie ‘Some like it hot’ starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis was filmed at the Hotel del Coronado in 1958 and many Hollywood stars such as Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and Marilyn Monroe frequented the hotel.
When England’s Prince of Wales visited The Hotel del Coronado in 1920 he may have met his future wife who was then living in Coronado. The wife of the Naval Air Station, North Island’s first commanding officer remarried twice and finally become Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor, the late Duchess of Windsor, for whom King Edward of England gave up his throne in 1936.
The Coronado Municipal Beach is one of the best in the world and essentially extends from here to Mexico. North Beach is angled due south and can be a great spot to surf. Central Beach runs past the Hotel del Coronado and is fronted by historic homes. The Shores is the name for the large beach south of the Hotel. Silver Strand State Beach extends along Silver Strand to the community of Imperial Beach. Pictures and information about more San Diego beaches can be found on my Mission Beach and La Jolla pages.
John D. Spreckels bought out Hampton Story’s one-third interest in the Coronado Beach Company in 1889. He eventually owned most of Coronado and North Island, taking over the Hotel del Coronado when its builder was unable to repay a loan. In 1900 Spreckels opened a tent city just south of the hotel that was popular with vacationers from around the world and lasted 39 years. Spreckels built a mansion for himself in Coronado, now the Glorietta Bay Inn.
Spreckels Mansion on Glorietta Bay
At the age of 53 John D. Spreckels began designing his dream home on five acres of land across from the Hotel del Coronado overlooking Glorietta Bay. The Italian Renaissance style mansion with six bedrooms, three baths, a parlor, dining room and library was completed in 1908.
Spreckels later added an 800 square foot music room with an enormous pipe organ. A dedicated musician and pipe organist, Spreckels donated the pipe organ that can still be enjoyed in Balboa Park. John’s brother Adolph Spreckels built a mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights that is currently owned by romance novelist Danielle Steele.
The mansion was designated a Coronado Historic Landmark by the Coronado Historical Association in 1977. It operates today as the Glorietta Bay Inn.
Shortly after the United States entered the war against Germany in 1917 a joint Army-Navy Board recommended that North Island be used by the Army and Navy Air Services. The Army-Navy continued to use North Island after World War I to train aviators. John D. Spreckels who had allowed the continued use by the military eventually sold North Island to the United States Government.
North Island is now known as Naval Air Station, North Island. There’s also an Amphibious Base south of where the Tent City was located. Navy Seals from the base can frequently be seen running in formation on the beach in front of the Hotel del Coronado.
Coronado “Promenade through the Past” Walking Tour
Whether you are a resident of Coronado or just visiting, the Coronado Historical Association Museum’s 60 minute, easy-paced walking tour is a wonderful way to learn more about the architecturally and historically significant buildings that surround the Museum. This tour is led by specially-trained docents from the Museum’s Promenade Guild.