Coronado

Coronado certainly lords it over other nearby tourist destinations

The sea, the sea! With a sublime location on a peninsula lapped by the warm waters of the Pacific, Coronado is among the most popular of California beaches, especially for those looking for an effortless holiday of fun in the sun. Coronado is like San Diego's spoiled little sister: it peers across the harbor and soaks up the adoring looks of its many visitors and amours.

With a population of just over 24,000, Coronado is small enough to feel relaxed and cozy, but big enough to be full of things to do at any hour of the day. Fortunately, with its sunny summers and fairly mild winters, it serves up the perfect weather to accommodate all the wholesome activities you have planned. A key resort destination since the late nineteenth century, when the famous Hotel de Coronado planted its feet in the warm sands of the peninsula, Coronado has a long history of keeping tourists and visitors entertained—and you'll be more than taken with what this friendly little outcrop has to offer.

Flanked by naval bases, Coronado attracts plenty of binocular-toting airplane aficionados, but there's plenty to be seen at ground level, too. Orange Avenue is worthy of a lengthy promenade, and is abuzz with theaters, boutique shopping, and some fine dining options so impressive you'll find yourself wishing you'd worn looser trousers.

Self-avowed beach-goers will find themselves whiling away the days on Coronado's west side, which is a mile-long stretch of beach featuring dazzling white sand and aqua-hued water. Bring your towel and swimsuit and spend some time splashing about or dawdling along the dunes that butt on to the stunning Hotel del Coronado. Parks and Marketplaces abound nearby, so bring a picnic basket or stock up on trinkets. For surfing, fishing, and swimming, pop over to the Silver Strand State Beach.

Coronado basks in its status as a must-see destination among things to do in San Diego, and puts on a show at just about any time of the year. The 4th of July parade is a popular tourist draw, and features beguiling attractions like a two-hour parade and a glorious fireworks display. Athletes go crazy for the July Sports Fiesta, while horticulturists and flora-lovers statewide put down their secateurs to visit the Coronado Flower Show, which takes place each April.

But it's not just the fleeting and the flashy that makes Coronado such a must-see location. Coronado earned its name, meaning “the crowned one,” the hard way, building its reputation over many long decades. It's famous for its bright and sunny architecture and its wealth of parks and gardens: it even manages to squeeze in a world-class 18 hole golf course.

If exclusivity is your thing, and the galleries, theaters, and museums don't quite hit the mark for you, you'll be able to book a suite at one of Coronado's ultra-privileged resorts and spend your days being pampered away from the gaze of the public. These self-contained mini villages offer all the pampering, entertainment, and recreation you could possibly need, so get out that black Amex and go to town.