A Beachside Dowager
It is eternal spring on the curved isthmus of Coronado, famous for its broad, family-friendly, and almost impossibly white beach—one of the nicest in a state that knows its beaches and gets to enjoy them 365 days a year. This is the home of the Hotel Del Coronado (a.k.a. the Del, a.k.a. the Grand Lady by the Sea), which sits like a Victorian wedding cake on 26 lovely beachfront acres, the largest oceanfront resort on the Pacific Coast. Open since 1888, the Del has hosted every American president since Lyndon Johnson, plus countless celebrities and film crews—most importantly director Billy Wilder, who chose the hotel as the principal setting of his 1958 film Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe. Rumor has it that the big, white hotel with red gables was where the visiting Prince of Wales first met American widow Wallis Simpson in 1920, and where author and neighbor L. Frank Baum allegedly found his inspiration for the Emerald City in his The Wizard of Oz.
Simply put—you can’t come to Southern California without staying here. Rent a bike at the hotel for a tool around the golf course, under the bridge that links Coronado with downtown, and along the harbor for the best view of San Diego.
Nor can you come to San Diego without visiting its world-famous zoo, one of the first in the world to display animals in naturalistic habitats free of cages or bars. Nearly 4,000 exotic animals (from pandas to Sumatran tigers) representing 800 species roam the park’s 100 hilly acres. There’s even summer nighttime viewing for those who’d rather spend sun-drenched afternoons lolling on the beach. However you spend your day in this archetypal Southern California town, be back at your Oz-like home for a poetic Pacific sunset on wave-swept Coronado Beach, where there is nothing between you and Honolulu.