San Diego Section 10

Downtown San Diego Waterfront to Hotel del Coronado

San Diego Section 10

Downtown San Diego Waterfront to Hotel del Coronado

The land surrounding the natural harbor now called San Diego Bay was the home of the Yuman-language Kumeyaay people for at least a thousand years, perhaps ten thousand or more. The Kumeyaay were prospering in this land of aquatic bounty and mild climate when Juan Cabrillo sailed into the bay in 1542 and stayed for six days, claiming the land he called San Miguel for Spain. Sixty years later Sebastian Vizcaino visited the area and renamed it San Diego.

Though it wasn't until 1769 that the Spaniards finally established a settlement here, San Diego still became California's and the entire west coast's first European town. Still, it remained a rather sleepy village until gold was discovered in the mountains to the east during the late 1800s when San Diego first became a boom town. The railroad arrived soon after and since then the boom has continued almost unabated. In the early 1900s the U.S. Navy discovered the San Diego Bay, building ample facilities and eventually making San Diego the permanent home of the West Coast fleet. For years San Diego was first and foremost a Navy town. Now with a growing population of 1.25 million and military and defense industry downsizing, San Diego has become, though still nominally a Navy town, primarily the center of a vast outdoor playground. People here tend to be outdoors whenever they can, making good use of the city's numerous parks, the county's 76 miles of shoreline and the vast desert and mountain parks to the east.

This short interesting section samples the heart of this vast playground, beginning on the bustling waterfront beside the high-rise downtown and ending at the Hotel del Coronado ("Hotel Del"), the historic and totemic symbol of local tourism. This section's excursion includes a ferry boat ride across busy San Diego Bay, stunning views of downtown San Diego, plenty of tourist oriented shops and the tranquil gardens and sparkling waterfront of affluent Coronado, an "island" that's really a peninsula.

Start out by buying an inexpensive one-way ticket for the ferry that chugs from the Broadway Pier to Coronado every half hour. After the 15 minute crossing, leave the ferry and turn left on the multi-use path along the concrete walkway past boutiques, shops and restaurants. The path reaches the shoreline at ¼ mile, then passes several hotels before reaching Coronado Tidelands Regional Park, a big grassy recreation park with a small beach on San Diego Bay. Follow the multi-use path down coast with views of San Diego Bay. Beyond the park, the path passes under the San Diego-Coronado Bridge at one mile and turns right to follow a fence along the edge of the municipal golf course.
The multi-use path ends at Glorietta Blvd. where the CCT turns left. Either walk along the edge of the golf course on the grass or on the sidewalk across the street. Glorietta curves gently to the left, then makes a sweeping half circle around 2 miles before reaching the municipal tennis courts. Beyond the courts at 2⅝ miles you'll find a bike path with a sign marked "IMPERIAL BEACH." This path follows the entire south end of San Diego Bay.

Our route continues on Glorietta Blvd., crossing busy Silver Strand Blvd. at the crosswalk. Turn right and walk the sidewalk along Silver Strand Blvd. briefly, then turn left into the main vehicle entrance for the Hotel del Coronado where our route ends at 3 miles in front of the grand front entrance of the Hotel Del, bustling with arriving guests, porters and valet parking attendants. The huge hotel, one of the largest wooden structures in the United States, was built in 1888 in grand Victorian style. It remains a premiere west coast hotel, having attracted celebrities, eleven presidents and countless tourists from its inception. You can check out the spiffy grounds, luxurious interiors and the museum in the basement to get a full appreciation of the immensity of the structure.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS AND LOOPS: Take the ferry from San Diego and hike the route described above, tour the Hotel Del, walk up to a mile north on the beach and back, then return to the ferry via Coronado's main street, Orange Avenue, a for a 7-mile loop. Another choice from the Hotel del Coronado is to walk the white wide beach north to the fence of the military reservation and back for a 2-mile round trip.

Distance: 3 miles plus a 15-minute ferry boat ride (4.8 kilometers).

Open to: Hikers, bicyclists.

Surface: Paved trail, sidewalk.

Access point: Broadway Pier.

How to get there: Broadway Pier is on Harbor Drive at Broadway in downtown San Diego just off Interstate 5.

Other access: Coronado Tidelands Regional Park and all along the street route in Coronado.

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain/loss: Negligible.

Cautions: San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge allows no pedestrians or bicycles.

Further information: San Diego-Coronado Ferry (619)234-4111.

Facilities: Urban amenities abound along the route.


Lodging: Downtown San Diego and Coronado both offer many choices. San Diego has two hostels, Point Loma (619)223-4778 and Downtown (619)525-1531.

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