A Coronado Staycation Story | When San Diegans Need A Vacation From Vacation Life

October 31, 2015

Coronado, best known by its misnomer, Coronado Island, or to others as The Crown City, lives up to the expectations of pristine beauty, affluence and prestige, and certainly serves as a source of pride for America's Finest City. Just 2.12 miles across the iconic Coronado Bridge from the Gaslamp Quarter, or a 15 minute ferry cruise across the bay, lands you in a bustling little downtown along Orange Avenue where tourists and locals alike can be found strolling the sidewalks, peering into art galleries, shopping, or eating and drinking their ways through some of the many diverse and highly praised restaurants. We recently immersed ourselves in San Diego's 'island life' for a brief staycation, so read about our exploration and plan your own weekend on the other side of the bridge!

'Staycations' are a fun way to add excitement to life and explore parts of your home city that are otherwise remote or unfamiliar. We were recently provided beautiful accommodations by ResorTime to enjoy the city of Coronado with the lovely Coronado Beach Resort as our home away from home. Being that we already live in San Diego, we thought we were familiar enough with the Navy town that is Coronado, but we soon learned that there was far more to explore than we had thought possible.

Coronado Beach Resort

Coronado Island's hidden gem, the Coronado Beach Resort, is situated in the most prime and picturesque location along Orange Avenue, directly across the street from the famed Hotel del Coronado, and offers a resort vacation with home-like amenities, making your staycation that much more comfortable. Upon entering the resort, you are greeted by welcoming staff, as well as the lobby's notorious macaw's loud squawking "HELLO!" Guests are invited to rent one of the many bikes to explore the Island, to play some leisurely billiards, or to venture up to the rooftop sundeck for a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi.

Coronado Beach Resort offers a homey feel and boasts luxurious seaside suites steps from one of the world's best beaches. We stayed in a stylish two bedroom, two bathroom unit with a cozy living room with a queen size sofa sleeper, a kitchenette, and a large balcony overlooking The Del, Orange Avenue, and the Pacific Ocean. The spacious unit sleeps six comfortably, offering enough space for families to spread out, but remain together for quality time.

Before heading out, guests have the freedom to prepare lunch in the fully stocked kitchen for a beach picnic or to chill a bottle of wine for imbibing on the balcony, watching passersby on the streets below. Feel free to bring a couple of steaks or fresh fish fillets to the roof to make dinner on one of the roof-deck barbecue grills with other guests who become friendly neighbors. Or pop out of the hotel's front doors to embark upon a new adventure in the heart of downtown.
One of the many highlights of a stay at the Coronado Beach Resort is full access to the Lowes Coronado Bay Resort's facilities and amenities, including their pools, jacuzzis, basketball and tennis courts and restaurants.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Restaurant Mistral
Loews Coronado Bay
Perched on its own 15-acre peninsula, Loews Coronado is seemingly a world away from downtown Coronado in the almost European Coronado Cays. Driving 5 miles down the picturesque Silver Strand, an expanse of road surrounded by San Diego Bay on the left and nothing but ocean on the right, one becomes immersed in the peace and tranquility that are ever-present on the island. As guests of the Coronado Beach Resort, we had access to three heated pools, hot tubs, dry saunas, steam rooms, and several excellent dining options at Loews. We ventured down Silver Strand and enjoyed an afternoon of more rest and relaxation alongside the Adults Only pool, which offered full food and beverage service at very reasonable prices.
Poolside sandwich at Loews Coronado
After soaking up ample sun, rejuvenating in the steam room, showering off and readying in the spa, we went to dinner at the resort's most notable and award-winning restaurant Mistral for what was and will be my most memorable dining experience on the Island.
A nearly perfect view at Mistral
We made early reservations so that we could really enjoy the kaleidoscope of colors of the fall sunset from the dining room's sprawling windows overlooking the bay. To really summon the allure of a staycation, my date and I ordered a couple of delicious dirty martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives, and slowly sipped while we watched the sun fall upon the city's skyline and the twinkling lights gradually light the dusk sky.
Dirty martini and a view at Mistral
We then began our meal with the refreshing yet savory mango and torched tuna appetizer, drizzled in white soy and topped with sprinklings of finger lime ($18).
Mango and torched tuna
For our entrees, we enjoyed the risotto di Coronado, a rich and spicy mix of mussels, shrimp, scallop, and chorizo with saffron risotto topped with avocado and heirloom tomatoes ($30) and a perfectly grilled filet mignon topped with chanterelle mushrooms and a generous dollop of truffle butter over a bed of creamed kale.
Risotto di Coronado
Grilled filet mignon
I also ordered a side of the super-creamy manchego mashed potatoes, because, meat and potatoes. The buttery filet, enhanced by the exquisite truffle melted in my mouth, making for a meal I will not soon forget in such a romantic and elegant setting. Service was not only impeccable, but performed with knowledge, and gracious smiles. We are still amazed that Mistral is not a more widely known dining destination in San Diego. It very well should be!

Hotel del Coronado & Del Beach

No venture to the 'Island' is complete without a visit to the truly iconic Hotel del Coronado, a beautiful masterpiece of a resort built in 1888, occupying 28 acres of some of the most beautiful oceanfront in the United States. The hotel offers a wide array of rooms and villas, but if you cannot foot the bill, you may still enjoy so many aspects of the resort. Walk the halls of the hotel to discover detailed pictures highlighting the rich history of those who built the fortress and those who have since stayed; dine in one of the several restaurants; ice skate amongst magical Christmas decor with views of the Pacific; or take the day to indulge in a relaxing day at "Del Beach," a private stretch of sand in front of the hotel.
Our beach bed cabana at Hotel Del
Del Beach offers luxurious lounge chairs and half-moon cabanettes and plush day beds for your afternoon's delight with courteous food and beverage service. We laid back, breathed in the warm ocean air, and took it all in while enjoying an icy bucket of local craft beer. As our stomachs began to rumble, we perused the extensive menu and decided on a portobello sandwich and what has been professed by Sir SanDiegoVille to be one of his most favorite burgers of all time - the BBQ bacon burger pictured below. We devoured our sandwiches, fries, and fresh fruit before the seagulls caught wind, and sank back into the plush day bed for some digestion under the sun. Living in the lap of luxury.
BBQ burger!
Bucket o' Ballasts
Del Beach also offers a wide array of yummy beach cocktails, ya know, so you truly feel the vacation vibes! Even a local can blink their eyes and transport to a tropical location!

Islander Restaurant

Born of the couple behind Escape Fish Bar in the Gaslamp, Islander Restaurant boasts fresh seafood and local beer in a laid back atmosphere, and we couldn't have asked for more. This casual, counter-service restaurant is the perfect location for large and small groups alike to come quench their thirst and fill their bellies after a day on the beach.
Tempura fried seabass fish and the most delicious chips (and curry ketchup!)
Grilled local cod with roasted vegetables
The restaurant's signature dish is the tacone (their spin on a fish taco), but we opted for mainstays, like the tempura-fried sea bass with pistachio cole slaw and delicious double-fried french fries with curry ketchup and a fresh fish plate of grilled local cod in a lemon butter seasoning with freshly roasted vegetables - clean, crisp and refreshing. The curry ketchup and fries alone are worth a visit to Coronado!

Vigilucci's - Happy Hour Time!

No vacation or staycation is complete without afternoon cocktails, and happy hour at Vigilucci's offers one of the best on the island.
Our view for happy hour!
Restaurateur Robert Vigilucci, hailing from Milano, Italy, has opened truly elegant yet approachable eateries up and down San Diego's coast, featuring delectable Italian cuisine. With $5 wine and well specials, $7 cocktail specials, 1/2 off draft beers, complimentary charcuterie and bruschetta, and a diverse menu of small plates all $3.50 - $10.50, you will not leave hungry or thirsty.
Complimentary bruschetta and charcuterie during happy hour!
We sipped on a cold California craft brew while watching the sun set from the corner of the bar and snacked on braised veal raviolis (a small plate fit for a meal!); spiedini alla Griglia, marinated and grilled chicken skewers with Thai chili and the most delicious truffle fries; and potato and prosciutto crochettes over a bed of arugula (an absolute favorite!).
Braised veal ravioli
Potato and prosciutto crochettes
Happy hour is offered in the bar area on Monday through Friday from 3-7pm, as well as Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Coronado Brewing Company Brew Pub

What's a visit to the island without a visit to its namesake craft brewery - Coronado Brewing Company. For the past 19 years, Coronado Brewing Company has held down the craft beer scene while maintaining its family-friendly comfort and putting out great food. Family owned and mostly family run, Coronado Brewing Company exudes passion, and the food and beers that they offer exemplify the pride with which each is made.
With an almost overwhelmingly huge selection of dishes from soups to sandwiches to burgers to tacos to pizzas and pastas, everyone's palate, no matter how picky or unique, is sure to be tickled. Being a former east coaster, I can never turn down a cheesesteak, so when I saw the jalapeno cheesesteak served with horseradish sauce and a side of au jus, I drooled and promptly ordered it with the addition of mushrooms. The peppers were fresh and crisp, the sirloin flavorful and tender, and the cheese so gooey and delicious. Paired with Coronado Brewing's new Stingray Imperial IPA, this meal put me to bed!
Jalapeno cheesesteak
While I slowly sank into a satisfied food coma, my partner dove into the wood-fired, pepperoni calzone, a hearty mess of meat, cheese and sauce with delicate flavors. His Idiot IPA, a brewery mainstay, refreshed and cleansed his palate between bites. Coronado Brew Pub makes nearly everything from scratch. None of the recipes are copied - they are all made by hand, with heart and soul. When you sit down in the Brew Pub you instantly feel like family, dining in a friend's kitchen, surrounded by friends, laughs, great food and even better beer.
Pepperoni calzone with Caesar salad
We as San Diegans are insanely spoiled by the beauty constantly surrounding us and are blessed by the nearly perfect weather year round, and sometimes we take this permanent vacation life for granted. Staycationing and really immersing one's self in unexplored or already beloved areas of town provides us with an opportunity to once again appreciate and enjoy our beautiful city through new eyes and new experiences.

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Cruise in a private gondola through the enchanting canals of the Coronado Cays with The Gondola Company
Catch a live show at the Lamb's Theater
Shop, dine and stroll the Coronado Ferry Landing
Hit the links at the Coronado Golf Course
Rent a boat or waverunner at Seaforth Boat Rental
Hop on a bike or kayak and explore with Bike and Kayak Tours

Nado Gelato - Italian gelato, dessert
Coronado Brewing Company - brewery with casual American fare
Miguel's Cocina - Mexican seafood
Candela's On The Bay - Mexican, great for brunch with a view
Brigantine - casual seafood
Saiko Sushi - sushi and sake bar
1500 Ocean - upscale American at the Hotel del Coronado
McP's Irish Pub - divey Navy pub with live music
Vigilucci's - upscale Italian
Islander - casual seafood
Primavera - upscale Italian
Chez Loma - upscale French, Spanish
Park Place Liquor & Deli - great selection of beers and spirits with an awesome deli
Boney's Bayside Market - specialty grocery, gourmet deli, beer and wine

Wine A Bit
Bluewater Grill
The Tavern