Coronado, California

Coronado, California

Coronado is the “enchanted island” of America's west coast. Here is the only community nearly surrounded by both Pacific Ocean beaches and sheltered bayfront beaches, parks and promenades. The flat, compact little island is technically a peninsula because it is connected to the mainland by a long narrow sandspit called the Silver Strand. As a perfect complement to the delights of an aquatic playground, Coronado enjoys one of the nation's most salubrious climates.

The island was nothing but sagebrush and sand dunes until 1888 when the grandiose Hotel Del Coronado opened, complete with one of the first electrical systems anywhere. Coronado prospered, thanks to the location, subtropical climate and the incomparable resort. A strategic location on Southern California's finest deep-water bay made the north end of the island a major Navy base by World War II. North Island is still home port to some of America's mightiest warships. The village has always seemed detached and surprisingly well-screened from military activity. Transition from a genteel getaway with a naval presence to a vibrant year-round vacation destination happened quickly after the graceful blue San Diego-Coronado bridge replaced ferry service across the bay in 1969.

The “Hotel Del” still reigns over an expanding array of lodgings ranging from historic bed-and-breakfast inns to two world-class bayfront hotels that opened in the 1990s. Downtown remains one of California's most strollable, with many distinctive shops and fine restaurants. The aquatic playground's charm is now enhanced by a wealth of luxuriant subtropical gardens.