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We spent most of our holiday in San Diego, but Coronado Island easily occupied a few days of our trip. We went in the fall when peak travel was over. We were a family of three: two adults and a three year old at time of trip.
One of the highlights from the trip was renting bicycles and touring around the island. There are bike-friendly paths and many different places to rent bikes. We rented a bike seat for our son and an adjustable helmet. (I’m a bit of a nervous cyclist and I felt completely at ease.) By bike you can get to all of the island’s main highlights (Ferry Landing, playgrounds, Hotel Del Coronado and around again!). We rented from Holland’s Bikes and LOVE them. It’s a local business and the service was phenomenal.
The island is most famous for its Hotel Del Coronado. It’s open to shoppers and those who want to dine at their restaurants (a bit on the pricier side). It was a fun spot to walk-thru and escape the mid-day sun. It’s also on the white sandy beach that they brag has been rated as top in the country; it is gorgeous, but we were there on a day when the tides were dangerous for little ones so we just watched the crashing waves from the shore.
Ferry Landing is a little site to explore as well; there are shops and restaurants, as well as piers for the ferries into downtown. We paused to dip our toes in the cool water at one of the sandy beaches there. On an earlier trip we took advantage of a date night – if you can get some adult-only time it’s worth it for the view at night of downtown San Diego lit up.
I could live at Bay Books. They have a wonderful children’s section; it’s decked out with tables and chairs, toys for their little patrons and a great selection of books and toys for sale. While my little one entertained himself I could explore the range of fantastic fiction on their shelves. My favourite feature of this store are all of the hand written staff recommendations on various books. We went back more than once! (They have a little café too, so you can stay and enjoy yourself once you find something you love.)
There are some lovely playgrounds on the little island that are suitable for kids (probably toddlers up to 12 year olds). One favourite was the Coronado Tidelands Park; the playground was surrounded by palm trees for a bit of shade and overlooking the water and the big Coronado Island bridge that connects San Diego to the island. The playground is also right along the bike path, making it a no-brainer pit stop. There are sports fields and skate park nearby as well.
Spreckles Park, downtown and just off of Orange Avenue, was another hit. They have great public bathrooms, a wide grassy lawn dotted with trees for shade. The playground itself has two big playsets that are again good for kids of varying ages. (There are a ton of parks on the island, so you can explore more if you’re there for longer.)
Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge. So delicious. We stopped for lunch and were delighted with the amazing food. They pride themselves on farm-to-table. Our son had hand-made pasta that he loved. I was particularly thrilled when they brought out a magnetic drawing board for him before the food arrived. (Their website includes some recipes if you’re feeling adventurous.)
Hotel Del Coronado. Although it’s pricy, this place is one of those must-do tourist things. The Babcock & Story bar is special for our family because C had his first solid food here when we traveled with him at 6 months (yummiest guacamole and chips!). Depending on what you want, there are options for simple (though pricy) snacks & drinks, lunch or dinner. On this trip we enjoyed a drink at the Sun Deck Grill; we lounged under an umbrella overlooking the pool and the beach while our little one had a nap in his stroller.
Village Pizzeria. This was a nice casual, local restaurant. Big booths inside and tables outside made it a hassle-free experience. They make a great pizza.
Island Pasta Coranado. Our little one was in a bit of a picky eating phase during this trip. Pasta, however, was a consistent hit. This place was yummy for everyone (and we could probably have shared a single order they were so generous). The restaurant isn’t that big, but our earlier eating schedule made it possible to fit us all and the stroller.
Easy food – there is a Starbucks and Panera Bread centrally located on Orange Avenue. We stopped at both a couple of times when we needed something easy and familiar.
Rather than celebrating my birthday with a traditional birthday cake, we indulged in chocolate sprinkle ice cream cones at MooTime Creamery. Obviousy you don’t need to have a birthday, but it was an extra excuse to indulge. Sitting beside my little guy we shared a lick of each other’s yummy cones.
We stayed in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in a room that overlooked Coronado Island, but also took advantage of all the downtown city’s amenities. There are several big hotels on the island, as well as small hotels/motels.
We flew to San Diego and rented a car. Once on the island we found free parking on side streets easily and the street pay parking on the main strip, Orange Avenue, was affordable. We did a lot of walking, which I highly recommend. The houses are quaint and the shops and restaurants on the main street are wonderful to explore. In the busy season parking might be harder to come by.
Don’t worry about packing all of the stuff you need for the beach. Shops along Orange Avenue sell boogie boards and sand buckets for under $15. You can also rent umbrellas if you need.
Don’t forget life jackets for the kiddies, as the ocean waves can be big.
Sunscreen, sun hats, towels and beach blankets are a must.
Beach tides & times schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.
Beach umbrellas and chairs can be rented at the Hotel Del Coronado so you can enjoy the beach without buying or bringing all the gear.
Coronado Ferry: There are walk-on ferries that go between Seaport Village in San Diego and Ferry Landing on Coronado.