2 hrs by car
There’s a reason Coronado has topped lists of the country’s best beaches: Its wide shores never feel overcrowded, the soft, fine-grained sand is easily walkable and the weather is practically perfect. Just a quick ferry ride or bridge drive from San Diego, this wealthy peninsula has the feel of a resort town with the amenities that come from being near a major city.
The beachfront grounds of the regal, red-roofed Hotel del Coronado are a must-visit, even if you can’t foot its $600-plus room reservations. Back in town, stop into hole-in-the-wall diner Clayton’s Coffee Shop for a quick meal or MooTime Creamery for frozen treats. Coronado is also home to a sizable naval base, and while you can’t exactly visit, you can spot fighter jets coming in for landings and submarines surfacing off the coast. —Michael Juliano