Travel for our family has always been an exciting opportunity to explore both far-flung destinations and closer-to-home hidden gems. During these unprecedented times defined by shelter-in-place and safer-at-home, we - like many families - pressed pause on several planned summer vacations and weekend getaways to destinations farther than an easy driving distance. For Southern Californians, the beaches are open, and the weather is bright and warm well into the fall and few places are as idyllic as Coronado Island to while away a couple of days in the surf and sand.
Just over the bridge from San Diego, Coronado is a small, quaint, tree-lined retreat characterized by beautiful, rarely crowded white sand beaches, a rich, romantic history and laid-back, small town atmosphere. Although locals refer to it as “the island,” Coronado is really a peninsula connected to the mainland by a finger of land called the Silver Strand. With wide leafy streets lined with Victorian homes and Southern California beach bungalows, the island is small enough to walk almost anywhere (it’s only a mile from the San Diego Bay side of the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean). Once we parked upon arrival for a recent stay at the lovely Glorietta Bay Inn, we discovered that Coronado truly is a “car-optional” environment and were able to easily navigate the relatively flat paths on foot and by bicycle.
We chose the Glorietta Bay Inn (www.gloriettabayinn.com), a beautiful boutique hotel and historic landmark famous for its grandeur architecture, as “home base.” The former private residence of sugar baron John D. Spreckels, the hotel (which features 11 historic mansion rooms in the main original building circa 1908 and 89 contemporary rooms and suites in structures added to the property in later years) is situated across the street from Coronado Beach and a short walking distance from an array of retail shops and restaurants.
Defined by an artful blend of Old World charm and contemporary coastal comfort, the Inn features a scenic outdoor verandah, a storied music room complete with a baby grand piano and a sun warmed lobby that once served as the grand foyer to Spreckels’ home.
Each of the historic mansion rooms are uniquely styled: the Sugar Baron Room, originally the private bedroom of Mrs. Spreckels, features king-bedded room with a large balcony and a spectacular view of Glorietta Bay; the Spreckels Suite the private bedroom of John D. Spreckels, this beautiful room has a living room area with a convenient kitchenette, and a separate bedroom with a king size bed. French doors off the living room open up to a spacious balcony with an equally gorgeous view of Glorietta Bay. Amenities for all accommodations include the complimentary use of beach chairs, towels, and sand toys for Coronado Beach.
As our family discovered on similar sojourns to “the island,” it doesn’t take much planning to have a perfect day in Coronado. We had brought our bicycles and started off along Coronado Beach - a picturesque stretch of sand and surf that stretches for over a mile along Ocean Boulevard in front of historic and glamorous houses. Voted in the top 10 beaches in the USA by the Travel Channel, this long and wide beach is great for walks, runs, beach volleyball or sandcastle building. If you bring along a furry friend, there is a leash-free dog zone at the far end of the beach where pups chase each other in the waves.
Fans of author L. Frank Baum’s iconic classic “The Wizard of Oz” will enjoy pedaling past the quaint yellow Cape Cod-style home (located right across from Star Park) that he rented during his stays and the place where he penned three of the books in the Oz series.
We spent the better part of an afternoon tooling around town, along the Bayshore Bikeway, past Glorietta Bay and the Coronado Golf Course and under the Coronado Bridge (if you continue following the well-marked bike path, you’ll end up at the Coronado Ferry Landing, where a ten-minute ride would bring you to downtown San Diego.) After our bike ride, we strolled Orange Avenue, a beautiful commercial boulevard that curves back to the Glorietta Bay Inn, and stopped in Bay Books where staff members leave heartfelt handwritten recommendations under their favorite reads and stumbled upon MooTime Creamery - where locals and tourists alike were lined up for what they all (accurately) claimed was “the best handcrafted ice cream and hand-rolled cones” in town.
We kept the “enjoy the outdoors” theme going through the end of the day, spending the afternoon and early evening playing in the waves and soaking up the sun on Coronado Beach. The kids spent the entire trip outside and active - and much to their parent’s pleasure, off their respective electronic devices. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed kicking back on the balcony with a glass of wine each evening and even managed to finish a couple of books we’d been wanting to get to for weeks (you’d think we would have found the time at home, but it seems as though there’s been no shortage of home improvement projects to focus on).
Our weekend away in Coronado was just what we all needed - a change of scenery and experience - at a destination fast becoming one of our favorites. Given its ideal location central to literally everything, its unparalleled amenity and service and laid-back charm, the Glorietta Bay Inn will undoubtedly be our family’s first choice for future visits.
Glorietta Bay Inn is the ideal location for an Orange County Staycation. For our readers, use code ORANGE at www.gloriettabayinn.com for an Exclusive Staycation Offer with discounted room rate and free parking until January 31, 2021. With extra hygiene measures in place for the safety of guests and staff and flexible cancellation up to the day before arrival, feel confident in booking.
Glorietta Bay Inn
1630 Glorietta Boulevard