Hotel del Coronado 1500 Orange Ave., 7 mi. from downtown San Diego, (800) HOTEL-DEL, (619) 435-6611. 2 outdoor pools; hot tub; 3 ocean-front tennis courts; oceanfront health spa & fitness center. 5 restaurants.
This all-wood, Queen Anne-style luxury oceanfront hotel is situated on 31 oceanfront acres and is the largest beach resort on the Pacific Coast. Built in 1888, it is both a state and National Historic Landmark. Your jaw might drop when you see the main building, with its Victorian gingerbread architecture dripping with turrets, cupolas, and hand-carved pillars, not to mention the sprawling grounds lined with palm trees and dotted with topiaries. With the varied height of its red roofline and its striking whitewashed walls, it is quite a visual delight.
Almost 700 guest rooms are available in both the original structure and in several newer 7-story towers. Counted among its restaurants is Sunday brunch served under the magnificent 33-foot-high rib-vaulted pine ceiling of the Crown Room. Don’t miss it. The Del has been visited by 12 U.S. presidents. Author L. Frank Baum is said to have modeled the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz after its appearance when brightly lit at night, and it has been featured in many movies, most notably Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe.
Did I mention the hotel is right on the beach, where kids can frolic endlessly and attempt to replicate it as a sand castle (currently an artist does this every day)? This wide public beach has to be one of the world’s best. Lifeguards are at their posts, and everyone is having a great time. Last time I visited, the sand shimmered with gold, but the waves hid little manta rays that were busy stinging waders.
Bicycles are available for rent, allowing you to explore the island’s 15-mile dedicated bike path. A special kids programs is available for ages 4 through 12, and teens can take kayaking and surfing lessons.
This exceptional hotel is a must-see, even if you don’t stay here. Consider signing up for the Hotel del Coronado Tour (M, W, F 10.30am, Sat-Sun 2pm. Reservations required. $15.) It runs 90 minutes and is led by docents from the Coronado Historical Association.
Or visit right now via webcam!
|vintage elevator in Hotel del Coronado lobby|
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers