Welcome to San Diego, California! The most iconic hotel in San Diego is the Hotel del Coronado, locally known as “The Del”. Located on Coronado Island, The Del has graced the Pacific coast skyline for 125 years. Founded in 1888 by Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, The Del has housed 11 U.S. presidents starting with Benjamin Harrison in 1891.
Celebrities have always flocked to this seaside resort. One of the resort’s most famous visitors was England’s Prince of Wales in 1920. He would later become King Edward VIII, only to give up his throne in 1936 to marry Coronado divorcee Wallis Spencer Simpson. Rumor has it they became lovers at The Del. Inventor Thomas Edison, aviator Charles Lindbergh and baseball slugger Babe Ruth all were guests as well as writer L. Frank Baum. Legend has it that The Del was Baum’s inspiration for writing the Wizard of Oz. The 1958 Hollywood Classic “Some Like It Hot,” featuring Marilyn Monroe was filmed at The Del, and Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Brad Pitt and Madonna have all booked rooms. The Victorian resort even has its own resident ghost: Kate Morgan checked into the resort on November 24, 1892, and never checked out. Reports of ghostly happenings, all thought to be connected to the death of this beautiful young woman, have been circulating at The Del ever since.
Our time at The Del was superb. We rented bikes and circled around the island. The panoramic coastline is gorgeous. About a mile north of The Del is one of the country’s largest U.S. Naval Bases. The south bike path takes you around the marina. Riding bikes is the most popular way to commute in southern Cali.
The Del has exquisite dining and shopping. Featuring an expansive outdoor dining terrace and giant fireplaces, Sheerwater is The Del’s oceanfront restaurant. We enjoyed light fare while keeping warm by the open fire pits. Eno Wine Bar and The Babcock & Story bar are full of travelers swapping stories over cocktails. The fine dining venue is 1500 Ocean. We’ll never forget that night as that Saturday the Ravens won their dramatic overtime thriller against the Broncos. We were the only guests in the hotel sporting Ravens apparel. It was the longest game ever and we had to keep pushing our reservations back. We celebrated in style at 1500 that evening! Sunday brunch the next day in the Crown Room was an absolute palatial spectacle.
No trip to San Diego is complete without a trip to the Zoo. The San Diego Zoo may be the best on the planet – the only one we’ve visited that compares is Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. The SD Zoo was an animal lover’s paradise. We took a 40 minute bus tour to get an overview before riding a cable car gondola from one end to the other (yes, it’s that large). Big cats, hyenas, gorillas, flamingos, elephants, meerkats, koalas, pandas – this place had it all! It was chillier than we expected in San Diego and we found exotic animal caps at the gift shop to keep us warm.
We definitely recommend the five hour flight out to San Diego (some of my friends who visited came back once to get their stuff and never returned). The weather’s brilliant most of the year and even when it’s chilly, it rarely rains. The laid back surfing culture is embedded in a city with all of the amenities of a major metropolis. Hopefully we’ll make it back one day!