Travel Destinations

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Romantic Weekend in Coronado

Coronado Bridge and Downtown San Diego View from Loews Coronado Bay

The tiny island of Coronado is one of my favorite places in San Diego.  If I could, I would live there.  But since we will probably never be able to afford living in Coronado, we make up for it by occasionally spending the day in Coronado, eating breakfast in the outdoors at the dog-friendly Tent City, drinking a beer at Coronado Brewing Company, taking the dogs to Coronado Dog Beach, or wandering through the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries at Loews Coronado Bay

There is one place in Coronado that holds a special place in my heart, and that is Loews Coronado Bay.  Fourteen years ago Romeo and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together at Loews.  The restaurant at the time was offering a package of dinner for two and a gondola cruise.  Views of Coronado Bay, fine dining, and a cruise through the Coronado Cays in a Venetian gondola sipping champagne and eating chocolate covered strawberries; what could be more romantic?  Ten years ago Romeo and I were married at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club.  Our wedding ended with us boarding a gondola and gliding back to Loews Coronado Bay where we spent our wedding night and our first day as a married couple. 

Loews Coronado Bay

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

We were scheduled to spend our 10 year anniversary weekend in Tri-Valley, but our plans suddenly changed when Romeo had an emergency appendectomy and his surgeon ordered he not travel for two months.  I knew immediately what we should do instead.  A staycation in Coronado, celebrating our 10 year anniversary at the same hotel where we had stayed our wedding night, dining at almost the same restaurant of our first Valentine’s Day, and again taking a cruise through the Coronado Cays in a gondola.

Loews Coronado Bay Lobby

Loews Coronado Bay, as the name implies, is located on the waterfront of Coronado Bay.  It is on the Silver Strand, a land mass south of Coronado connecting the island to the mainland.   The hotel is five connected buildings and rooms either face the resort and pool or the bay.  Rooms are decorated in 21st Century style with a retro flair.  Our king size partial bay view room was decorated in light blue and pale yellow with silver accents and white linens.  Loews rooms are always spacious with a seating area, desk and plenty of open floor space.  

Loews Coronado Bay Room View

Of course my favorite feature of Loews resorts is they are dog friendly.  Henry and Charlie stayed with us on our wedding night before we flew off on our honeymoon and they stayed with us again on our 10 year anniversary.  We even chose Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson on a road trip through Arizona because of Loews’ incredibly dog friendly pet policy.

Dog Friendly Loews Coronado Bay


When we sat down for dinner at Mistral, Loews Coronado Bay’s restaurant, and looked out the second story windows at the view of the bay, Coronado Bridge, and San Diego skyline, I was reminded that our Valentine’s Day dinner at the prior restaurant had been one of my first introductions to fine food and helped shape me into the food lover I am today.  Mistral, which opened approximately six years ago, did not disappoint.  In addition to the gorgeous views we were served a stellar meal.  Mistral’s chef Adam Cho is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, worked under Todd English, and previously oversaw San Diego’s Katsuya. 

Mistral Salmon Carpaccio Loews Coronado Bay

Because of Chef Cho's sushi background, a couple of appetizers on the Mistral menu are sushi inspired, including the unusual Salmon Carpaccio expertly paired with crispy shallots, finger lime ponzu and cara cara orange segments.  Our waiter also clued us in on the very popular White Peach Salad made with kale, pancetta, peaches, and sweet and spicy pecans, letting us know we wouldn’t be able to see a single table in the restaurant without one of these salads.  While the Sizzling Beef or Shrimp is the most popular entrée, Rome opted for the Pan Seared Alaskan Halibut and I chose the Char Siu Pork Tenderloin, which is brined in a beet mixture that allows the pork to mimic Chinese pork and is served with roasted summer cherries and a shaved Brussels sprout coleslaw.  All of this was perfectly paired with the Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon our server suggested and completed with a trio of ice creams including lemon rosemary gelato, banana gelato, and chocolate ice cream.

The Gondola Company

The Gondola Company Coronado

One of the most unusual and memorable experiences to be had in Coronado is to cruise the Coronado Cays in a traditional Venetian gondola.  The Gondola Company has been running cruises since 1997.  Most of the gondolas were made in Venice, though the fleet does include a handful of California-made gondolas.  The best time of day for a cruise is about an hour or so before sunset, followed by evening.  Since our weekend was planned at the last minute, we enjoyed an early afternoon gondola cruise.  Guests can bring their own beverages and The Gondola Company provides ice buckets, glassware, wine openers, and blankets.  What I didn’t know before is that gondola rides are dog friendly.  I asked on a whim and learned Henry and Charlie were invited to join us.  However, if your pup has a propensity for jumping in the water or is very large and likes to wander, you might want to consider leaving them behind.  Just like in Venice, your gondolier will serenade you for part of the cruise.  Our gondolier had his favorite sections of the Cays which provided the best acoustics.  While at first I thought it might feel odd to be serenaded in the middle of the day, our gondolier’s voice was so gorgeous and clear it was still a beautiful experience, even with the sun high in the sky. 

The Gondola Company Gondolier

The Gondola Company’s main office and departure point is within the Coronado Cays, just south of Loews Coronado Bay.  They have a second departure point on the Loews Coronado Bay resort grounds.  There is an additional cost for being picked up at Loews.  Cruising the Coronado Cays in a gondola is a romantic experience and we were told that of the many marriage proposals made during a gondola cruise, not one has been turned down.

1500 OCEAN

Hotel del Coronado

Another one of my favorite places in Coronado for a romantic dinner is 1500 OCEAN in the Hotel del Coronado.  1500 OCEAN is on the ocean side of Coronado and has ocean views from the patio and window tables, perfect for watching the sunset.  It’s always fun visiting the historic Hotel del Coronado and viewing it’s iconic red-shingled sloped roofs.  For the second night of our anniversary weekend we dined at 1500 OCEAN and had a dinner of Burrata & Beets, Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi, California Duck Duo, and Colorado Lamb Rack.  1500 OCEAN and the adjoining Sunset Bar also make unique and delicious cocktails.

1500 OCEAN Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi

Coronado Beaches

One of the most relaxing activities to enjoy on a romantic weekend getaway is to just soak in the sun by the water.  In Coronado there are two ways to do this.  For pool lovers, Loews Coronado Bay has three pools from which to choose, an adults-only pool for those on a romantic weekend, a family pool, and a children’s pool.  For beach lovers Coronado offers miles and miles of white sandy beaches.  During the summer some of San Diego’s beaches can get quite crowded.  But with so many miles of beach in Coronado, you will rarely be jostling for sand space and can easily spend some romantic alone time together.  

Silver Strand State Beach Coronado

The northernmost beach in Coronado is Coronado Dog Beach, which is my favorite dog beach in San Diego.  The beach is large and clean and the dogs are almost always well-behaved and well-trained.  South of Coronado Dog Beach is Coronado Beach, which runs along the west side of the island past the front of the iconic Hotel del Coronado.  South of Coronado Beach is Silver Strand State Beach, which runs along The Strand.  Silver Strand State Beach is directly across the street from Loews Coronado Bay Resort and can be reached via a pedestrian walkway or in a resort golf cart.

Coronado Dog Beach

Coronado Neighborhoods

While in Coronado you will most likely want to explore the little island itself.  It’s always fun to walk along the main streets of shops and restaurants and maybe stop for a beer at the pub or an ice cream at MooTime Creamery.  Or you can wander through the neighborhoods, a mix of multi-million dollar homes occasionally neighbored by tiny cottages with owners that are holdouts in a place where new mansions pop up frequently. Walking is not the only way to get around Coronado.  Visitors can rent bicycles, tandem bicycles, surreys, golf carts, or Segways.

Coronado Island

I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life and Coronado is one of my favorite places in the county, especially for a romantic evening or weekend.  I might be a little biased because of my special memories, but I’m pretty sure you’ll agree if you visit for a day or weekend.

Thank you to Loews Coronado Bay and The Gondola Company for hosting our stay and making this post possible.  As always, opinions are my own.

Travel the World: San Diego's Coronado island is the perfect place to spend a romantic weekend.

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Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.