Having traveled to 12 countries this summer, we were tired of airports and airplanes. But we had a week left before school starts. A perfect time for a road trip south to Coronado Island!
Our plan: play and relax without crowds and without lines. We drove right past Disneyland and Legoland, and we even decided to skip the San Diego Zoo – one of the world’s best, but we’ve been to a lot of zoos recently. Our destination: Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The last time we visited the island, seven years ago, we stayed elsewhere. But we love Loews properties. We’ve stayed at nine of their hotels and resorts around the US the past few years, including Hollywood, Nashville, New York and several in Orlando. Loews is always family-friendly (their tagline is literally Loews Loves Families, with perks/activities for every age group), and they’re nicely priced in the middle of the spectrum. Rooms at Loews Coronado Bay start at $197/night.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort
We arrived around 11am on a Sunday and left a little after noon on a Tuesday, spending roughly half our time at the resort and half in Coronado and in San Diego. Although it was only a little over two days, we fit a lot in. I’ll start with what we did at the resort.
We live half an hour from the beach and never go. Put us at a beach resort though and we’ll take full advantage! The beach at Loews is actually across the street. You can walk over (via a small underpass), but it’s even easier to let the hotel staff take you over in a golf cart. Once we arrived, the resort’s beach staff got three chairs and an umbrella set up for us, gave us water, brought over sand toys and boogie boards, and took our lunch order. We spent maybe three hours there, reading, playing Frisbee and soccer (we bring our own Frisbee and soccer ball everywhere), having lunch and doing nothing. The kids played in the water a little, but mainly enjoyed the warm day (San Diego is always kind of perfect) and warm sand.
We boarded a sailboat at the hotel’s marina and, with a captain, sailed toward San Diego, getting back to the resort right at sunset. There were snacks and drinks on board and it couldn’t have been a better evening. My son absolutely loved getting a chance to steer the boat for a while. My daughter spent most of her time at the front of the boat.
Our kids loved the pools at Loews Coronado Bay. Our final day we rented a cabana, which was a great place to base, and got lunch from La Cantina at the pool. Our tacos were our favorite meal of the entire trip – so good!
A Scavenger Hunt (and the Resort’s Gardens)
At check-in we received a scavenger hunt for the kids and we did the entire activity, leading from the lobby to the hotel’s gardens to the marina. It was a great chance to explore the gardens, all of which are different, and each with an area to relax.
A Surrey Ride
This was my kids’ favorite activity of our stay. We rented a surrey bike at the hotel (from Action Sports Rentals by the water) and rode around for an hour, circling the resort and then heading to the beach. In the morning there were very few cars at the beach parking lot, so it was a perfect place for each of the kids to practice driving and parking. We had never rented one on vacation before, which apparently was a mistake! Highly recommended.
Games by the Pool
The resort has giant chess, corn hole, ping pong, ladder toss and more set up near the pool. We played every one of them, every day.
Gelato and Cupcakes
Loews’ gelato is homemade and very good, and it’s perfectly positioned right off the lobby at Silver Strand Exchange. We stopped by several times. And while you’re there, pick up a Sweet Cheeks cupcake. Sweet Cheeks won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and Loews (as part of the Flavor by Loews Hotels program) carries several flavors. My kids loved them.
San Diego and Coronado
The other half of our trip we explored outside the resort. Our goal was to leave the car at Loews Coronado Bay and avoid driving (and parking) for a couple days. FYI, we used Loews’ Family Activity Guide when developing our agenda.
The Coronado Ferry
Loews Coronado Bay has a shuttle to Coronado every half hour. We took the roughly ten-minute shuttle into town and then walked to the Coronado Ferry Landing. There’s also a free local shuttle down to the water that would have been faster, but we were in no hurry. At the Ferry Landing we purchased round-trip tickets to San Diego (Broadway Pier). The ride over took 15 minutes or so. We even saw a seal.
USS Midway Museum
How often do you get to explore an aircraft carrier? The USS Midway is permanently docked right at Broadway Pier. We explored for roughly an hour, skipping the audio tour, and I loved it. The kids liked elements of it, but not all of the interior doors from compartment to compartment that they had to step high to pass through.
San Diego Harbor / Embarcadero
Beyond the USS Midway, we walked all over the Harbor area, getting lunch, shopping at street vendors, exploring Seaport Village, and playing at Embarcadero Marina Park North. It was a fun day!
Coronado itself is a great little town – all about walking, dining and shopping. It’s easy to spend hours exploring. Loews runs free shuttles from the resort to Coronado (and back) every half hour from 9am to 8:45pm during the week, and until 9:45pm on Fridays and weekends.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort – Specifics
We checked into the resort as soon as we arrived, but we were several hours early and didn’t expect the room to be ready. Thus our beach excursion! At roughly 2:30 we got a text that our room was now ready, and a little while later we headed back from the beach.
We were upgraded to a Presidential Suite (a perk of being a travel writer) with a connecting standard room with two Queen beds. The suite was nice but was way too much room for the three of us, and being there only two nights we didn’t need the kitchen or dining area. Nevertheless we enjoyed the space and the views, and especially the stationary bike that was in the suite. And there were coffee makers in both rooms. It’s 2019 – why doesn’t every hotel have coffee in the rooms?
Dining at Loews Coronado Bay
Both mornings we had breakfast at Crown Landing. I had the Coronado Benedict (made with crab cakes) our first morning and a shrimp spinach omelet the next day. My kids got the chilaquiles (my daughter’s favorite thing), an omelet, waffles and pancakes. Everything was very good. And I was impressed that Eggs Benedict are on the kids menu. Not sure if I’ve seen that before anywhere?
Lunch our first day was at the beach (brought over from Silver Strand Exchange), in San Diego our second day, and then at the pool before we departed, per my note above on La Cantina’s amazing tacos.
Our first dinner was at Crown Landing at the resort. We started with crab cakes (two orders were perfect for three of us). Then I dined on the seared tuna and the kids had fish tacos and roasted chicken. Everything was great, and it was nice not leaving the resort. And I should note that I’m usually a wine drinker, but Loews’ bartender came by our table and sold me on a signature cocktail, since he makes them with local ingredients and alcohol (to every extent possible). I went for a mojito with mint from the resort’s garden and a local rum.
Our second night, since we wanted to explore Coronado anyway, we asked the concierge for a list of restaurant recommendations and selected Il Fornaio near the ferry landing. The concierge made a 8pm reservation for us and we headed over. Loved the setting (we got to see the last of the sunset before dinner) and the food.
Summary and Finance
We loved our California getaway to Coronado Island and wished that it had been longer. The surrey ride, pool and pool deck games were my kids’ favorite things. I loved the sunset sailboat ride and exploring Coronado. Loews Coronado Bay is definitely a resort where you could park once, base at the resort for a few days, maybe head into Coronado a couple times, and your kids would be perfectly happy. If we had stayed longer we would have explored the marina on kayaks and paddle boats, and maybe rented standard bikes as well. And Fridays and Saturdays there are a lot of extra activities for kids, including movies at the pool, s’mores roasts, fishing and cupcake creation.
We were guests of Loews Hotels. Our standard room (good for four people) starts at $197/night. The Presidential Suite starts at $818/night. There’s a resort fee of $30/day per room. Self-parking is $31/day. The shuttles to the beach and Coronado are included in the resort fee.
Note: through September 30, 2019, the Family Road Trip Package is a great value. A second room is 50% off, two kids under 12 get breakfast for free, there’s a $30 dining credit, and parking fees are waived. Hopefully Loews brings this back next summer.
Coronado Ferry tickets are $5/person each direction. Kids three and under are free. The surrey is $30/hour (or $50 for two hours). A tandem surrey is $5/hour more. The 27′ sailboat rides start at $175, but there are less-expensive boats. A pool cabana for a day is $150, including waters, sodas and a fruit plate.
Breakfasts and lunches were around $50 for the three of us. Dinners were closer to $100, including drinks/wine (for me).