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Coronado: San Diego’s crown jewel

In Coronado, an island off the coast of San Diego, residents and tourists alike — decked out in shades and their finest athletic apparel — stroll along the city’s bay and Pacific waterfronts at a flaneurial pace.

In Coronado, an island off the coast of San Diego, residents and tourists alike — decked out in shades and their finest athletic apparel — stroll along the city’s bay and Pacific waterfronts at a flaneurial pace. Families and couples old and young actually seem happy to be on vacation together. It may be largely because the Southern California outpost boasts such an agreeable climate year-round that it will leave you asking, “What winter?” But Coronado’s wealth of activities and pastoral landscapes is just as appealing.

Everything is sumptuous, from beachfront jetties that at sunset are the perfect stage for your next Facebook profile pic, to moonlight gondola cruises through the Coronado Cays with The Gondola Company (www.gondolacompany.com). And it’s not embarrassing to wipe out while paddle-boarding or to window-shop Orange Avenue’s charming boutiques from the backseat of a tandem or surrey bike. You’re on vacation, after all.

Just don’t forgo the island’s rich history and culture to bask in the sunshine. Uncover city secrets with a charismatic guide on Glorietta Bay Inn’s afternoon walking tour (www.gloriettabayinn.com). Hint: The sand dunes on Coronado Beach spell out the city’s name. At night, find out why Lamb’s Players Theatre’s intimate, world-class productions earn standing ovations (www.lambsplayers.org).

Victorian splendor

Founded in 1888, the pristine Hotel Del Coronado (www.hoteldel.com), affectionately called The Del, isn’t just a Victorian architectural marvel: It’s a time machine. Once host to the American elite, celebrities and presidents — not to mention royalty — the all-inclusive resort takes pride in its historical legacy. For those intrigued by the occult, it’s even said to be (gasp!) haunted.

The landmark hotel blends modern luxuries with old-fashioned hospitality. It boasts shops, restaurants, a fitness center and a salon. At The Del’s spa — ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of world’s 20 best — indulge in a Swedish massage, decompress in a private steam room and take a dip in a pool overlooking the ocean. This sense of respite doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every credit card swipe.

Toast to a phenomenal sunset at 1500 Ocean (www.dine1500ocean.com), open-air fine dining reminiscent of Ipanema. The menu boasts complex flavor combinations. Try an appetizer of raw hamachi topped with chili powder, basil and pomegranate — and save room for homespun sorbet.

 
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