Just a bridge away, Coronado is full of sparkling surprises to put visitors in the holiday spirit and bring some smiles amidst the hustle and bustle of the season. Following are my five fav fun and festive finds from this fantasy island (say that five times fast!):
1. That’s amore! I love the Gondola Company at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, with their blissfully relaxing Venetian gondola rides through the Coronado Cays to view homes and boats festooned with holiday lights. It was pure magic as we glided over the calm bay waters, sipped cocktails and listened to the gondolier singing Christmas carols.
2. Chocoholics unite… for not just any ol’ chocolate dessert. But a chocolate bread pudding with coconut (!) at Tartine, a charming French bistro & bakery near the Coronado Ferry Landing (1106 First St.). Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe how delicious this is. Dozens of other delectable desserts and pastries are made fresh daily (pick up some ginger snaps for Santa!).
3. Talk of the town. This yuletide, take a trip back in time with Coronado Touring. Hear riveting tales of dreamers and daredevils who turned a Christmas tree-less isle of jackrabbits into the shining crown city of today. And discover insider secrets like a supposed tunnel connecting the Del and Glorietta Bay Inn (Santa’s shortcut?) and kelp ‘n sand dunes on the beach that spell “Coronado.”
4. Trim the tree. Each year the Hotel del Coronado debuts a collectible Christmas ornament. My coworker has a nifty Limoges-style one from 2008 that I can’t find on eBay (oh well). But you can still trim your tree with this year’s treasured glass creation. (Sidebar – Last-minute holiday shoppers: enjoy two hours of free metered parking on the island!)
5. Ice princess. The Del’s Skating by the Sea is simply surreal and incredibly cool with its postcard backdrop of palm trees, sun, sand and surf. Christmas doesn’t get any more SoCal than this. And it’s for a great cause too: portion of proceeds benefit Make-a-Wish Foundation. Ice is nice!