We spent a weekend in Coronado for Halloween and it was marvelous. The weather couldn’t have been better. The quaint little shops, historic landmarks, incredible beaches, and good eats are calling me to come back. Until then, here are a few things about Coronado that might be useful to you.
1. James and the Giant Beach
Coronado, the Crown City or Emerald City if you’re an Oz fan, is a skinny stretch of land connected to San Diego by the impressive Coronado Bridge that seems to curve on forever. Coronado can be described as a small beach town, and what a beautiful beach it is! There are several beach entries, but if you head out of downtown Coronado you’ll reach Loews resort hotel, and right across it is the Silver Strand beach.
The beach goes on forever! At Silver Strand (entrance across from Loews Resort), you can see Hotel Del Coronado on one end and infinity on the other end. Here, the soft sand caresses your feet and the sunset paints the sky in the most vibrant hues. The waves glide along the beach and create a thin layer of water that’s perfect for a skim board. I imagine that on a windy day, this would be the perfect place to fly a kite or wind surf – it would be so epic! People who visit the San Diego area all praise La Jolla for its dramatic cliffs and cute wildlife citizens, but the beach at Coronado has my heart.
2. Warm weather all year round
Is it possible to get sick of sunshine? If you were so inclined to find the answer, this would be a good place to test your hypothesis. While the rest of us in the Pacific Northwest get to rake leaves in the cool and grey sky of autumn and winter, Coronado bathes in sunlight, enjoying sunshine consistently throughout the year. It doesn’t get too flustered with the seasons, staying a steady pocket of joy for those of us seeking refuge from the incessant light rain. Why can’t you just rain all at once and clear up, Puget Sound? WHY?
As the figure above illustrates, Coronado receives sunlight all year round, dipping only during the brief “April shower, May flowers” period. The figure below shows the average temperature for Coronado throughout the year. Temperature doesn’t fluctuate much here – staying at a comfortable average all year long so you can visit anytime and you’ll probably have good weather. So bust out the summer clothes and rage in the sun!
3. European outdoor living
Thank to the incredible weather, Coronado residents enjoy outdoor living every day. This is evident in the outdoor furniture lining the streets of Coronado’s downtown area. Deep into the night, people leisurely gather outside in one of the many restaurants in the area to enjoy delicious food, refreshing drinks and good company. We visited in October. The weather was slightly cooler and visitors to Coronado were less numerous, but people still partied late into the night. And when I say “party,” I mean sit around eating, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants in the area. Ask for seating outside. I recommend Leroy’s on Orange Avenue – this place makes excellent food and has great outdoor seating. It’s also in the heart of downtown Coronado so you can shop around as well. Right next to Leroy’s is the ever-decadent Moo Creamery, serving ice cream as they’ve done for years. I promise your taste buds will be attacked by deliciousness and will have to work overtime.
4. Laid back
First time travelers to California always seem to prefer Los Angeles because of its lights and fame, but the hectic lifestyle, incomprehensible traffic, and visible smog cloud lingering above the city make laid-back Coronado a haven from chaos. People aren’t really in a rush. The average commute time for workers in Coronado is 15 minutes – a ridiculously short commute compared to what Los Angeles natives must endure. Even during the peak season, the crowds are far and few in between so you can relax, stroll along the beach, take your time shopping and dining, and really absorb the culture and environment.
5. Full of history
With the Navy base looming in the distance, Coronado houses many distinguished military personnel and their families. And why not? With such an amazing community, fantastic weather, and proximity to large cities and attractions, Coronado is a natural magnet for Special Forces and Pentagon people looking to get away. Though the Naval Base itself wasn’t created until 1997, this strategic location has been a prime defensive position since the World Wars for the nearby San Diego Naval Base.
The relics of these times can be seen in the downtown area itself with its numerous flashback diners from the fifties and architecture prevalent of that era. You could be eating in the same seat as the generals of years past.
6. Hotel del Coronado
If we’re talking history, we have to talk about Hotel del Coronado. Built in 1888, this hotel has been visited by 11 presidents and is a favorite location for films such as Some Like it Hot (Marilyn Monroe) and The Stunt Man. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, Hotel del Coronado is an distinguishable fixture for the city, sitting right on the beach and can be seen miles away.
And if you’re into ghost hunting, you’d want to request room 3372, the infamous room frequented by the ghost of Kate Morgan who supposedly committed suicide in 1892 – it remains a mystery to this day as to whether foul play was involved. Maybe you can strike a conversation with her and find out what really happened.
Speaking of films, Coronado has long been linked to L. Frank Baum and the Oz series. The renowned author visited Coronado so much that he rented a house (which still stands and can be visited to this day). He wrote 3 Oz books from 1904-1910 while in Coronado. He was greatly entranced and influenced by the city as evident in the books themselves. For example, the Emerald City in Oz is based after Hotel del Coronado.
8. Small community
Coronado was established mainly as a resort town; thus, tourism is its mainstay, but even so it hasn’t lost that small community feel. We visited this little city during Halloween and were shocked to see the streets teeming with children in costumes going from business to business on Orange Avenue trick or treating. This is definitely a family friendly destination. And as you will notice, there aren’t many high-rises there. The quaint little shops sell mostly locally produced arts and crafts.
9. Highly educated
The residents of Coronado Island are highly educated: 98% with a High School diploma, 55% with a Bachelors degree, and 26% with a graduate degree. These numbers consistently rank higher than the California and national average every year. The data above is additive (adds up to 100% from all the categories).
Being a resort town isn’t cheap. With about 24,000 inhabitants, median income sits around $90k/year, a $30k/year higher than California’s average. It’s no surprise that the median income is that high since the median house/condo in Coronado is a cool $1 mil. But don’t be afraid, restaurants and shops are reasonably priced. If you plan on staying at Hotel del Coronado or Loews, come during the fall and winter seasons for the best deal.
Statistically speaking, Coronado is about 3 times safer than the rest of California – with the crime index coming in at 114.5 in 2013 versus California’s 294.7 average (the higher the index the more crime). When we visited, we did not once feel threatened. The graphic above shows Coronado’s crime rates compared to California’s averages. Again, the stats can only do so much. You should take all the necessary precautions when traveling to an unknown location. My own personal experience tells me that Coronado is extremely safe.
Perhaps a factor for the safe city, along with that community feel I talked about earlier, is the average age of Coronado’s citizens (roughly 39.4 years old). There are a lot of retired civilian and military folks here. We saw a show while in Coronado – it was the premier of a modern twist of The Wizard of Oz – at the local theater and in attendance were 80% retirees. For more statistical data of Coronado, visit city-data.com.