Robert Arends

5 Things I Love about Coronado

Coronado Beach - OrangeandPark.com

Beautiful Coronado Sunset. Photo courtesy of OrangeandPark.com

Oh Coronado, the “Enchanted Isle,” how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

OK, that’s a little sappy, but I can’t help it. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and love is in the air. What better time to talk about five things I really love about the Emerald City.

1. The Restaurants

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

I love that Coronado was made for romantic dining, with fabu restaurants from the Pacific to San Diego Bay beckoning couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a delectable candlelit dinner. Two of my personal favs: Chez Loma, an intimate, authentic French bistro, and Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort with views as phenomenal as the cuisine.

2. The Journey Around Coronado Island

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

I love the joy in the journey to and around the island. The views by car from the graceful blue arch of the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge are second to none! You can see as far as Mexico and the ‘lil Islas Coronadas (crowned islands) off the coast. Better yet, take a fun ferry ride over from downtown San Diego! Then explore the island by beach cruiser (there are bike rental shops throughout the island), Segway of Coronado or Pedego electric bike.

3. Playing in the Water

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayak Tour adventure!

I love all the ways to play in the ocean and bay. There’s stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Coronado, surfing with Coronado Surfing Academy, the new Coronado Kayak Tour, The Gondola Company’s authentic Venetian gondola rides and San Diego Seaplanes, launching from the bay by the Coronado Ferry Landing!

4. The Island’s Secrets

The "Baby Del" (144 Isabella Ave.)

The “Baby Del” (144 Isabella Ave.)

I love the “secret” sights around the island, from sand dunes on the beach that spell C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O and the flock of flamingos and aviary at Coronado Island Marriot Resort, to Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s cottage on Star Park Circle, the ghost of Kate Morgan’s room at the Hotel del Coronado and the “Baby Del” on Isabella Ave.

5. The Sunsets

sunset2

I love the stunning sunsets. I took the photo above just last weekend. No matter how many times I see the sun set in glorious hues of yellow, orange and red over the beach, it’s never ceases to leave me in awe.

Coronado, what’s not to love! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Robert Arends

Family Fun for Free in San Diego’s Coronado!

Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach

Family fun in the sun in Coronado! Courtesy Joanne DiBona, SanDiego.org

The Kidvasion has begun! Kids Free in San Diego month is in full swing. As you and your family are in town enjoying the numerous (100+) free deals, be sure to visit sun-kissed Coronado, a bridge away from downtown San Diego.

Kids are sure to get a kick out of these free activities around the island:

The Beach

Build a Sandcastle at the #1 Beach in America - Coronado Beach

Build a Sandcastle at the #1 Beach in America – Coronado Beach

Make sandcastles at Coronado Beach – the #1 beach in America – with its expansive stretch of soft white sands. To the north, check out the tail-wagging fun at Dog Beach where friendly fidos splash in the surf and play fetch. Along Ocean Blvd., can you spot the giant sand dunes that spell C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O? Pretty neat!

Coronado Museum of History & Art

US Navy's aircraft carriers at NAS North Island

Mighty aircraft carriers and high-flying jets at NAS North Island

Fly by the Coronado Museum of History & Art (kids under 12 are free with 1 adult paid admission) to check out their new 100+ Years of Yachting exhibition, plus cool U.S. Navy display. To see the real thing, head to Shoreline Park (First St. & I Ave.) for a peek at the Navy’s mighty aircraft carriers. A free air show of sorts can be seen almost daily at Coronado Beach, with Navy jets and helicopters flying overhead on their way to NAS North Island.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Coronado Public Library

Wizard of Oz Glass Panels - Coronado Public Library

Wizard of Oz scenes at the Coronado Public Library

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Coronado Public Library to gander at massive glass panels depicting scenes from the Wizard of Oz. Oz author L. Frank Baum lived in Coronado! Join Coronado Touring on a walk back in time through the Hotel del Coronado (Baum’s inspiration for the Emerald City) and past the yellow cottage where Baum wrote a few of his fantastical children’s books. Tour is free for kids under three ($12 each for mom and dad).

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

The whimsical "Secret Art of Dr. Seuss" at Stephen Clayton Galleries

The whimsical “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” at Stephen Clayton Galleries

Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat greets kids at Stephen Clayton Gallery

Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat greets guests at Stephen Clayton Gallery

Another famous children’s author who lived in San Diego was Dr. Seuss. Discover the “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” – including sculptures of magical creatures and other-worldly paintings – at the Stephen Clayton Galleries at the Coronado Ferry Landing.

And don’t forget Coronado’s Kids Free month participants and special deals, including:

Coronado’s fun and free playground of activities awaits! 🙂

Robert Arends

Coronado: Fun for All this Fall!

Coronado 1887 on the Bay Restaurant

Ah, sun-kissed Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego. Fall is one of the best times of year to visit the “Crown City,” as the beach crowds diminish, hotel rates dip ever so slightly and the days continue to be nice and warm, with an average autumn temp of 74!

If you’re headed to Coronado this season, following are some fun new things to see and do around the island:

Fine Dines

1887 on the Bay

Coronado 1887 on the Bay Restaurant

Coronado’s new 1887 on the Bay restaurant

The redesigned 1887 on The Bay – formerly the Coronado Boathouse, an iconic landmark on Glorietta Bay that looks just like the Hotel del Coronado’s main turret – introduces new Chef Jess Le Desma who instills a rich Asian/Hawaiian ethnicity into his Pacific Rim menu.

Mistral

Just down the road, the elegant Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort – featuring spectacular panoramic views of San Diego Bay – introduces an eclectic global-fusion menu by new Chef de Cuisine Adam Cho that highlights his penchant for tapas-style small plates, Mediterranean flavors and passion for seafood.

Joy in the Journey

Kayaking Tour

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayaking Tour, San Diego’s only urban kayaking tour

If you’re ready for adventure, go on a guided Coronado Kayaking Tour around the island – San Diego’s only urban kayaking tour – with the new Bike & Kayak Tours – Coronado, based at the Coronado Ferry Landing.

Beach Buggy Tour

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For landlubbers, hop aboard the new Coronado Beach Buggy for a fun 40-minute tour that uncovers all the treasures that make Coronado so special, including America’s Best Beach, historic homes, the charming Village and Naval Air Station North Island. The buggys makes daily stops at the Glorietta Bay Inn; cost is only $10.

Ahoy!

100+ Years of Coronado Yachting

Sail along with “100+ Years of Coronado yachting”

Set sail for the Coronado Museum of History & Art (1100 Orange Ave.) to check out their popular new exhibit, “100+ Years of Coronado Yachting,” spotlighting the island’s rich nautical past as a yachting hub. Admission is free.

> Discover more of Coronado

Robert Arends

Coronado for Comic-Con Fans – Wizards, Dwarves and Dorothy

Wizard of Oz art exhibit at Coronado Public Library

Wizard of Oz art exhibit at Coronado Public Library

Long before Harry Potter or the Twilight series about vampires and werewolves, an author by the name of L. Frank Baum penned a few – well, 14 to be exact! – incredible fantastical novels about a Kansas girl (and original storm chaser) who hitched a ride on a tornado and found herself over the rainbow.

Yep, I’m talkin’ about The Wizard of Oz.

When Disney added its magic touch to the original movie classic earlier this year with Oz The Great & Powerful, I was in awe at how this timeless story continues to enchant and entertain a whole new generation of viewers.

Hotel del Coronado, inspiration for the Emerald City!

Hotel del Coronado, inspiration for the Emerald City!

Well, for you movie buffs and pop culture fans, there’s a fun surprising San Diego/Coronado connection to the Wizard of Oz. Between 1904 and 1910, Oz author L. Frank Baum frequently vacationed here with his family, staying at the Hotel del Coronado, which if you look very closely at the book cover below, was the inspiration for the Emerald City! Note the red turrets and white awnings in the background. Cool huh!

Hotel del Coronado- Emerald City of Oz

Did you know: In addition to “Crown City,” Coronado is also nicknamed the Emerald City.

If you get a chance to explore the Hotel Del, head to the Crown Room, look up and you’ll spot four regal crown chandeliers that were designed by Baum!

L. Frank Baum's historic Coronado home.

L. Frank Baum’s historic Coronado home.

Down the street from The Del, Baum also rented a humble yellow cottage on Star Park Circle where he wrote three of his famous Oz books: Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz and The Road to Oz. You can check out rare first editions of the books at the Coronado Museum of History & Art!

Oz books

At the Coronado Public Library, you’ll not only find the complete Oz book series, but also a spectacular Wizard of Oz Glass Art Exhibit, where  Baum’s storybook jumps off the pages onto nine huge glass panels depicting Dorothy, the cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Glenda the Good Witch, Munchkins and more.

Welcome Comic-Con fans to our fine city and if you get a chance, definitely follow the Yellow Brick Road over the bridge to Coronado to discover the home-away-from-home of one of America’s most beloved authors. One look at our island paradise and you’ll see why Baum was so enamored!

Also, plan to return this fall for Coronado’s premier Wizard of Oz Weekend (September 20-22), celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. There will be exclusive screenings of the first-ever, re-mastered 3D version of the movie at Coronado’s Village Theatre, as well as a Wizard of Oz parade down Orange Ave. – Coronado’s main street – book signings, exhibits, character look-a-like contests and more!

Robert Arends

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…The Wizard of Oz and Coronado!

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

On the heels of today’s premiere of the new Disney movie “Oz The Great & Powerful,” I thought it might be fun to spotlight Coronado’s remarkable link to author L. Frank Baum and his famous Wizard of Oz book series.

Between 1904 and 1910 Baum and his family frequently vacationed in Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego. He was so fond of the island’s magical setting, that he wrote several of his Oz books here.

Following are six fun and surprising sights in Coronado that either inspired Baum’s whimsical literary works directly or were inspired by the author’s visits to the enchanted island:

1. Hotel Del Coronado

Coronado Beach and Hotel del Coronado - photo credit Brett Shoaf

Coronado, the “Emerald City”

They say the Hotel del Coronado with its iconic red castle-like turrets and enchanting fairy tale setting, was Baum’s inspiration for the Emerald City. He and his family often stayed at The Del on their Coronado vacations. Did you know: Coronado is nicknamed the “Emerald City.”

2. The Crown Room

Crown Room chandeliers by Baum at The Del.

Crown Room chandeliers by Baum at The Del.

The Del’s grand Crown Room is home to four spectacular crown-shaped chandeliers designed by Baum; his lasting legacy to the hotel he loved so much.

3. Baum’s humble Coronado home

L Frank Baum house on Star Park Circle - Photo credit Coronado Historical Association

L. Frank Baum’s home on Star Park Circle.

The charming yellow house he rented on Star Park Circle is where he wrote several Oz books: Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz , The Road to Oz  and parts of The Marvelous Land of Oz. From the sidewalk, you can spot the face of the Wicked Witch peering out from the side of the house.

Please Note: This is a private residence, so please be respectful to its occupants and view the house from the sidewalk.

4. Wizard of Oz Glass Art Exhibit

Wizard of Oz Glass Panels - Coronado Public Library

Wizard of Oz glass panels at Coronado Public Library.

The Wizard of Oz Glass Art Exhibit at the Coronado Public Library is where  Baum’s storybook jumps off the pages onto nine huge glass panels depicting Dorothy, the cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Glenda the Good Witch, Munchkins and more.

5. Three Rare First Edition Oz books

Check out three rare first edition Oz books by Baum on the “Celebrities” wall at the Coronado Museum of History and Art on Orange Avenue; admission is free.

6. Author’s Study

Author's Study at 1906 Lodge

“There’s no place like home…” in the Author’s Study at 1906 Lodge.

In addition to spending the night at The Del, celebrating its 125th anniversary, guests can rest their heads in the Baum-inspired “Author’s Study” at 1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach, featuring framed art prints of the glittery Ruby Slippers, Dorothy and the cowardly Lion and the classic front cover of The Wizard of Oz book, plus an autobiography on Baum and a writing desk with antique-looking typewriter bookends.

This spring, ease on down the road to Coronado to discover our merry little land of Oz! While you’re there, why not catch a screening of Oz The Great & Powerful at the beautifully restored Coronado Village Theatre.

Wizard of Oz Weekend (WOW!)

Oh, and next fall the city is planning its premier Wizard of Oz Weekend (WOW!), celebrating Coronado’s love of all things Oz and the 75th anniversary of the original Wizard of Oz movie!  I’ll have all the exciting details later this summer! 🙂

Robert Arends

5 to Try – Coronado’s Hidden Gems, Part II

A few months ago I revealed some little known places around the “Crown City” of Coronado that many folks hadn’t heard of. During a recent media tour I discovered a few more secret and not so obvious spots around the island worth checking out.

Following are my five hidden gems:

Glorietta Bay Inn's...

  1. Stare down… The stately Glorietta Bay Inn is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes areas that guests rarely – or never – see. In addition to a basement and sub-basement (how low can you go?), there’s an inconspicuous door leading to a hidden passageway on the first floor. Within the secret alcove a three-story staircase spirals down from the top-floor Penthouse Suite. If these stairs could talk!
  2. ...secret spiral staircase.

  3. Safe bet… What’s better than a safe to stash your valuables? How about two safes! Last time I spotted Mrs. Spreckels personal safe in her former bedroom at the Glorietta Bay Inn, I thought that was the only one. But there’s another, much grander vault tucked inside a closet near the top of the grand staircase. No telling what’s inside, as nobody knows the combination.
  4. Kate "checks out" (of) The Del.

  5. Room with a boo… Many folks have heard of Kate Morgan, the Hotel del Coronado’s famous ghost who supposedly haunts the resort. But do you know the exact room she stayed in before her untimely demise? Room # 3327 on the third floor, where narrow hallways only add to the spine-tingling feeling you get when exploring the recesses of this Victorian marvel.

    Walk this way to...

  6. Follow the yellow brick road… Actually, follow Star Park Circle to a humble abode hiding in plain sight (see photo below), the home of acclaimed author L. Frank Baum. He wrote two of his famous children’s’ books here, The Road to Oz (1909) and The Emerald City of Oz (1910). It’s easy to see why he was so inspired by the “enchanted island” and The Del nearby.

    Historic home of L. Frank Baum, 1101 Star Park Circle.

  7. Fly boys… Did you know Coronado is an enclave for military retirees and home to some of San Diego’s original Navy heroes? This Sunday (11:00 am – 4:00 pm), in conjunction with the “Centennial of Naval Aviation”, the Coronado Historical Association spotlights six legendary naval aviators’ houses during the Annual Historic Home Tour. Decked out domiciles include Vice Admiral James Stockdale’s – one of the most highly decorated officers. Go Navy!