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I have two criteria for hotels. For me, one type of hotel is solely meant to serve as a place to sleep—to rest your head until you wake up to start a new day of sightseeing. The second type of hotel is meant to be an experience.

The Hotel Del Coronado fits the second category. One of a few wooden Victorian beach resort structures left in the United States, a stay at the Hotel Del is best spent exploring the property and enjoying it’s oceanfront location.

Start your day with a stroll along the shore. Coronado beach spans about 1.5 miles and is quite different than what you’ll find right across the bay in San Diego. The beach in front of the Del is expansive and there are dunes to right of the hotel (if you are facing the ocean) and tide pools directly in front of the hotel.

If you are visiting on the weekend, you’ll want to stop by and see what the SandCastle Man is up to. He’s the self-appointed sand castle builder who spends hours building elaborate and quite amazing sand masterpieces on the beach in front of the hotel.
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Head to Coronado Shores beach (located just south of the Hotel del Coronado) during low tide to spot the outline of a shipwreck. It’s all that’s left of the S.S. Monte Carlo, a 1936 ship and a notorious for gambling that was known for “drinks, dice and dolls.” But, watch your step– lots of edges poke up through the sand.
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If you want to extend your time at the beach, The Del offers full-service lounge chairs, fringed umbrellas, half-moon cabanettes and plush day beds as well as food and drink service.
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If you are ready to head back to the hotel grounds, my favorite spot for a casual lunch is the Sun Deck Grill. Always, playing a great soundtrack of rock classics, the restaurant offers a variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads as well as stunning beach views. I recommend the 100% Black Angus beef Del White Cheddar Burger served with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes on a toasted brioche bun and fries. If you are in the mood, they serve up a great bloody Mary.

After lunch head to the onsite ice cream store, Moo Time Creamery for your favorite flavor and wander the halls of the hotel to soak up some of the nostalgia and history – there are many displays sharing photos of celebrity visitors, movies made at the hotel, memorabilia and guestbooks that date back to the 1800s.

If you want to dig a bit deeper into the hotel history and especially the resident ghost, Kate Morgan head to 1888. This memorabilia shop sits behind the reception desk on the lobby floor. If you are lucky, Sandy will be working and the store won’t be too busy.  Sandy has amazing stories about the history of the hotel, Kate’s hauntings and her own personal experiences with Kate’s ghost.

Once you have learned about the Hotel Del history and trivia head to your room. I highly recommend an ocean view –  the spectacular view is worth every penny. Sit in the rocker on the porch and enjoy an amazing sunset. They are guaranteed most nights and a perfect way to relax and truly enjoy this amazing spot on Coronado.
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For dinner there are a variety of options. Eno, an outdoor spot featuring wood-fired artisan pizzas or the casual Sheerwater serving up favorites like the Lobster Mac & Cheese with white cheddar cream. The menu offers a bit of everything and is a great choice for families.

For a fine dining experience head to 1500 Ocean. The restaurant is known for it’s California fare featuring local ingredients from Chef de Cuisine Meredith Manee. You’ll find dishes such as California rack of lamb with black garlic potato purée, brussels sprouts, caramelized shallots, lamb jus or entrees such as local golden spotted sea bass spaghetti squash, tomatoes, shishito peppers, chorizo-clam broth as well as a host of other delicious options.

After dinner there is nothing better than a leisurely stroll around the grounds. The evening lights on the hotel are spectacular and offer great photo opportunities. If you head to the beach,  you’ll most likely find a bonfire as well.

Sleep well!