TRAVEL / Where romance whispers and weddings abound


A little more than two miles from San Diego via the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge is Coronado, a resort with a population hovering around 30,000 that attracts more than two million visitors annually.

While staying at the Glorietta Bay Inn’s Mansion, which was built by John Dietrich Spreckels, the “Sugar Baron,” the history lesson began. His original home, today known as “The Mansion,” just celebrated its 100-year anniversary. Reminiscent of Italian renaissance in classical lines, it now has 11 spacious guestrooms, including a 1,000-square-foot, ultra private Solarium, each a story in itself. We stayed in the Coronado Suite with all the comforts of a luxury hotel, from fresh flowers and nightly turndown service to triple-sheeted beds with 300 thread count linens. There are 89 contemporary guestrooms in a garden setting, convenient parking and a continental breakfast daily starting at 7 a.m. It is a far cry from the hectic Hotel Del Coronado across the street but in its own way a magnet for weddings and anniversaries. Around the corner is another hidden gem, the charming 40-room El Cordova Hotel where Earl Winfield Spencer, the first husband of Wallis Warfield Simpson (eventually the Duchess of Windsor), died in 1950 due, some say, to a broken heart. On a brighter note, the new Paseo del Mar Beach walkway is irresistible with breathtaking views of the luminous beach. There were four weddings taking place on a perfect Saturday afternoon in November when we visited.

If you’re in the mood for a sentimental journey, the San Diego Bay Ferry still operates every day with a 20-minute trip across the bay on the hour starting at 9 a.m. from San Diego (one way, $3.50). The Coronado Ferry Landing at 1201 First St. is home to shops and restaurants, including Poehe’s for waterfront dining. Try the Pupu Platter brimming with coconut crunchy shrimp, Maui onion rings, bacon-wrapped sea scallops and Thai chicken spring rolls ($25.50); it’s worth the round-trip ferry ride. The Farmers’ Market is staged here every Tuesday from 2:30 to 6 p.m., and Sunday concerts year round at 1 p.m.

Wherever you turn in Coronado, history abounds. Even if you don’t stay at the Hotel del Coronado, there are tours with volunteer docents from the Coronado Historical Society on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, $15 for adults; children under the age of six get in free.

Writers have flocked to Coronado over the years. This literary legacy includes “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was penned here by L. Frank Baum, and you’ll find a pin-sized replica of the Ruby Slippers at the Coronado Historical Association and Museum of History & Art’s gift shop. If you visit by Jan. 3, you’ll be just in time to view the “Bicycles & Bloomers: Women’s Emancipation and the Bicycle” exhibit, the first of its kind featuring 63 loaned pieces from the Pryor Dodge Collection, from lithographs and postcards to historical photographs and trade cards. Coronado is definitely worth a few days at a leisurely pace and a bike ride.

For a look at the 30-page Coronado Visitor’s Guide call 619.437.8788 or visit the Web site, www.coronadovisitorscenter.

Pam Price is the coauthor of the first edition of “Day Trips from Los Angeles,” published by Globe Pequot Press.