With median incomes at twice the national average, mixed drinks at the Hotel Del costing $14, and homes starting at $1 million you might think that there aren’t any cheap things to do in Coronado. But you would be wrong!
Camping on Coronado
We are fortunate, because of Denise’s military service, to be able to utilize military campgrounds during our travels. We spent one night at Admiral Baker’s RV Park and eight at Fiddler’s Cove Marina and RV Park. Fiddler’s Cove is located on the strand, a thin sliver of land separating the ocean and the bay. Our campsite overlooked a bayside marina and the city. Fiddler’s Cove is definitely our favorite military campground so far.
This campground is adjacent to the Navy Seal training facility, and on occasion, we witnessed wet-suited BUD/S running through the campground. We also took the opportunity to play at the Sea N’ Air golf course on the North Island Naval Air Station. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with an underwater demolitions specialist just days from deployment. Godspeed, Brent.
We realize that not everyone has the opportunity to stay in military campgrounds, so today we share with you five free or low-cost ways to spend time in Coronado.
1. Bike the Strand: $0
A wide, smoothly paved bike/walking path extends the full length of the Silver Strand. Leaving our campground we turned left to head south. We traveled through Coronado Cays Park and were able to access its yacht club via the Grand Caribe Causeway. Heading north, turning right when you leave Fiddler’s Cove, you can take the path to the well-appointed
Heading north, turning right when you leave Fiddler’s Cove, you can take the path to the well-appointed Community Center which offers indoor pickleball. A bit further you will pass municipal tennis and golf facilities. Continue on the path and pass under the bridge, enjoying beautiful views of parks, the bay and downtown San Diego.
2. Coronado Historical Museum/Visitor’s Center: Cost $0
Bike or walk to the free Coronado Historical Museum/Visitor’s Center on Orange Avenue. We spent over an hour learning about the history of Coronado, sometimes mistakenly called Coronado Island and also known as the Enchanted Island and the Crowned City. Incorporated in 1890, Coronado began and continues as a “resort city” primarily because of the Hotel del Coronado. Interactive displays and short videos are available to educate and entertain you.
3. Coronado Self-Guided Art Tour: Cost $0
At the Visitor’s Center, we picked up a map for the self-guided art tour which you can easily cover in about 90 minutes. If you are looking for something a bit more strenuous, consider walking the perimeter of “the island” center shown to the left. At a fast clip, you can complete the loop in about 90 minutes, though we took our time and enjoyed a 2-hour stroll. Whether you follow the suggested art tour route, just stroll through neighborhood streets or walk the paved walking paths, you will enjoy the view. As a lover of architecture, I was repeatedly struck by the charm of craftsmen bungalows, mid-century moderns, and palatial estates sitting side by side.
4. Guided Walking Tours: $10 – $20
Reasonably priced guided walking tours are also available. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays join Nancy Cobb and Gerry MacCartee for a 90 minute, 8 block tour of downtown. These ladies are the local experts having published a book on Coronado and serving as officers of the local historical association. Tours are $12 and begin at 11 am at the Glorietta Bay Inn, just across the street from The Dell.
The Coronado Historical Association also offers a 60-minute walking tour called The Heritage Walk. The fee of $15 includes a guidebook, and begins Wednesdays at 10:30 am. The historical association also offers the Official Hotel Del Coronado Walking Tour for $20. One-hour long, this tour explores the buildings and ground of this most impressive facility. To learn more about these options, and to make reservations, call 866-599-7242.
Finally, consider the Coronado Tree Tour in Spreckels Park. For $10 per person, you’ll enjoy a 90-minute tour hosted by a local arborist. Enjoy the flora, fauna and gentle breeze while leisurely strolling under the canopy of mature trees and learn the history of how and why trees came to this region. To learn current times and to make a reservation call 619-992-8921.
5. Enjoy a Movie in an Old Time Theatre: $8
Even if it isn’t a rainy afternoon, take the time to visit the Village Theatres. We enjoyed the movie Lion during our visit, but you will want to visit regardless of what is being shown. This is a beautiful, spacious vintage cinema that was lovingly restored over a 10-year period at a cost of $3 million. We were shocked to see matinée prices so competitively priced for first-run productions. The large screen, comfortable seats, and art-deco lobby reminded me of seeing movies when I was a kid.
It’s clear that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy time on Coronado.