Family Fun on Coronado Island

Coronado Island

Located just 20 minutes south of San Diego International Airport and surrounded by the breathtaking San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean, the quaint beach town of Coronado –  known as “the Crown City” – is renowned for its pristine white sand beaches, gentle surf, mild year-round climate and family-friendly activities.

Sometimes referred to as “Coronado Island,” it is technically a peninsula with a small strip of land in the south that connects to Imperial Beach via State Route 75. However, the most direct — and scenic — route is to drive over the landmark San Diego-Coronado Bridge, which connects residents and visitors to downtown San Diego in just minutes.

Coronado Bridge

Here’s a guide of lodging options and activities in and around the Crown City.

Where to Stay:

To experience one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, book your stay at the luxurious beachfront Hotel del Coronado. Rich in history and legend, “the Del,” as locals call it, is an elegant Victorian property constructed in 1888. Over the years, the Del has hosted a variety of politicians, royalty and celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan and Oprah Winfrey.

Hotel del Coronado

For a more affordable stay near the bay and the town center, try El Rancho Motel, a charming motel situated just three blocks from the bay and one mile from the beach on Coronado’s main drag: Orange Avenue. Here you will find the heart of the city, including boutique shops, restaurants, craft breweries, grocery and convenience stores, and the centrally located Spreckels Park, a popular outdoor venue for concerts and festivals.

If you’d prefer to camp seaside, drive 4.5 miles south of the city on State Route 75 to Silver Strand State Beach. Boasting enviable beach and water views, this park offers hiking and biking trails, water activities, fishing, guided tours and more.

Things to Do:

Enjoy the Beach

Behind the great mansions on Ocean Avenue, families will find Coronado Central Beach, which is free and open to the public. Park for free on Ocean Avenue and then walk over to the beach to swim, bodyboard, bodysurf or simply relax. If you’re traveling with man’s best friend, head to the north end of the sandy sprawl where dogs can run wild and free on Dog Beach.

Take in the View

Next, check out the tranquil and serene Bayview Park. Hidden from street view, locals consider the park one of the best-kept secrets in the city and it offers incredible skyline views of downtown San Diego. Rent a surrey — a four-wheeled bike that allows you and your family to cruise at your own pace while taking in the sights — from Wheel Fun Rentals on the peninsula’s south end or Ray’s Rentals on the north.

Explore the World of Oz

The author of The Wizard of Oz may not be from Coronado, but he spent many winters there and discovered much of his inspiration for Oz in the Crown City. So if you need a break from the sun, follow the yellow brick road to the Coronado Public Library, where you can see L. Frank Baum’s vision come to life at the Wizard of Oz glass art exhibit featuring nine large glass panels that depict scenes from the beloved storybook. Afterwards, drive half a mile south on Orange Avenue to the Coronado Museum of History and Art. The museum offers families a chance to view three first edition Oz books and several exhibits depicting the unique history and culture of the city.

Shop and Eat

After you’ve worked up an appetite, drive north on Orange Avenue to the scenic Coronado Ferry Landing, where you will find a bevy of restaurants and boutique shops. Check out island-style seafood offerings at the elegant, tropical-inspired Peohe’s. For a more casual meal head over to the Village Pizzeria, where you can find an extensive list of local craft beers on tap and both traditional Italian fare as well as unique pizzas with toppings like Brussels sprouts, goat cheese or a soft egg.

Go to the Green

If you fancy a round of golf, you can’t beat the Coronado Golf Course’s sweeping bay views, pristine grounds and reasonable greens fee. With its clubhouse less than a mile southwest of Spreckles Park, this is one of the most popular golf courses in the region, so make sure to book your tee times in advance online.

Coronado Map

Hop on the Coronado Ferry for a 15-minute ride, or drive 10 minutes over the Coronado Bridge, and you’ll find yourself in downtown San Diego. Explore highlights of this pedestrian-friendly urban playground such as Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres; the San Diego Convention Center; and the historic Gaslamp Quarter, where locals and visitors enjoy unique restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

Spend part of the day in Balboa Park, where you can check out the San Diego Art Institute, or enjoy a day at the San Diego Zoo. History buffs can spend a few hours exploring an aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum and then enjoy a leisurely stroll through neighboring Seaport Village.

Water park enthusiasts can take the short 20-minute jaunt south from San Diego on Interstate Highway 805 to Aquatica by SeaWorld, located in the neighboring city of Chula Vista. Here families can experience one of Southern California’s largest wave pools at Big Surf Shores, or grab a tube and float along Loggerhead Lane, the 1,250-foot-long lazy river dotted with live flamingos.

Want more? Check out 5 Things to Do in San Diego.

Get the best deals on rental cars when you book your trip to Coronado Island.

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About the Author

Cynthia Beisiegel is a writer and editor based in Dallas. A New York native, she lived half her life in what she considers America’s finest city: San Diego. Her love for travel has led her to five of the world’s seven continents, yet Southern California remains one of her favorite places to explore, time and time again.