5 to Try: Coronado’s Hidden Historic Gems

I thought I knew the “Crown City” of Coronado. I pretty much do – its postcard-perfect beach, charming main street, The Del and iconic bridge.  But during a walkabout with Coronado Touring I found a few historic jewels in the island crown that I had never heard of before. Only two of these I haven’t seen (yet). But if you’re lucky, you just might find them all!

The Glorietta Bay Inn keeps a secret (or two).

  1. Tubular… The stately Glorietta Bay Inn – former mansion home of sugar baron John D. Spreckels located across the street from the Hotel del Coronado – has a few cool secrets up its historic sleeve. One is the supposed tunnel leading from the hotel basement, going underneath Orange Avenue and connecting at the Shops at the Del. They say this was how Spreckels, an early owner of the Del, could get (secretly) to and from his beachfront investment.
  2. Mrs. Spreckels’ safe at Glorietta Bay Inn.

    Play it safe… Also at GBI is a small (nonworking) personal safe built into the wall of Room 102 – the Sugar Baron Room. Back in the day this was Mrs. Spreckels’ private bedroom. If these walls could talk…one can only imagine what the well-to-do matriarch stashed away. Overnight guests still try their darndest to crack the safe, but to no avail.

  3. Rock bottom… Located in the lower level of the Hotel del Coronado among its labyrinth of shops is a rocky cavernous storefront (now home to a real estate company) that was once a massive water cistern for the hotel in the early days. Though tempting, no spelunking or rock climbing allowed!

    C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O sand dunes

  4. Under a spell… I’ve seen them, flip-flopped over them a million times, but I had NO idea the sand dunes on Coronado Beach are actually made of heaps of kelp scooped up from the beach and buried under tons of sand. The big reveal: from the air (those lucky North Island naval pilots!), the ice plant covered dunes spell the word “Coronado.” Now that’s civic pride!

    Remains of S.S. Monte Carlo at Coronado Shores.

  5. Mast from the past… Buried beneath the sands of Coronado Shores (just south of The Del) is a ship! The S.S. Monte Carlo – a gambling ship that touted “drinks, dice and dolls” back in 1936. That is until tragedy struck that New Year’s Eve. A mighty gale caused the ship to break from its anchors, pushing it to its shoreline demise. Occasionally, at low tide, you can see the ghostly outline of the ship exposed. What watery secrets wait to be revealed? I’m keeping my eyes on the tide charts.
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Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener. What would you do on your ideal San Diego day? I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my! If you were invisible, where would you go? I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL). What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity? Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine? Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay. Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are… Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix). Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar

3 thoughts on “5 to Try: Coronado’s Hidden Historic Gems

  1. Pingback: 5 to Try – Coronado’s Hidden Gems, Part II | San Diego Travel Blog

  2. Coronado is awesome and a wonderful place to relax and enjoy all there is to see.
    How is the renovation on the Village Theatre going? When is Opening Day?

  3. Robert, these finds are so fascinating! I never knew about the SS Monte Carlo. Imagine the faces of those who come across the outline for the first time!

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