A Long Weekend at the Iconic Hotel del Coronado

hotel del coronado activities

For Julian’s birthday, I wanted to do something really special. Julian always takes me on the most amazing trips — from my 26th birthday trip to Istanbul to our trip to Colorado and Costa Rica last winter — and I wanted to return the favor. San Diego had been on both of our bucket lists for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s proximity to Mexico City. 2) We have a few friends living there, and 3) We’d heard amazing things and wanted to experience it for ourselves. When we found out America (one of our favorite bands from the 70s) was playing there the weekend before Julian’s birthday, it seemed like a sign. That very night I booked our tickets and began planning our trip to sunny San Diego!

When researching where to stay in San Diego, I was confronted with an overwhelming number of options both in the city and surrounding county. While Julian and I wanted to see the city, we were most interested in a relaxing beach weekend. We also wanted to explore San Diego’s state parks and see our friends. The Hotel del Coronado, with its iconic reputation and oceanfront location, seemed like the ideal option to fit our needs.

DwD Tip: If you’re visiting San Diego for the first time, keep in mind that it is very spread out with many neighborhoods to choose from. Check out this neighborhood guide to help you decide what area is right for you. Then choose accommodations accordingly. If you’re just going for the weekend, accept that you won’t be able to do it all and focus on your must-dos.

hotel del coronado activities

Coronado Island

Coronado Island is located just across the bridge from San Diego and yet it feels like a whole different world. It has a laid back, family-friendly vibe with a charming main street, grand old homes, and wide sandy beaches. Staying at Hotel del Coronado allowed us to have the best of both worlds — easy access to the city with the peace and quiet of a beach town.

hotel del coronado activities san diego bridge

An aerial view of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. The bridge connects Coronado and San Diego over the San Diego Bay. Photo credit: Frank McKenna

Getting There: Mexico City to San Diego

From Mexico City, San Diego is a great three-day weekend destination. At around $150 USD, flying to Tijuana International Airport was less than half the price of flying to San Diego International Airport. It was also much more convenient as there are many non-stop flights to Tijuana (whereas there aren’t any to San Diego).

hotel del coronado activities tijuana airport

Crossing the Border

Crossing the border into the US from Tijuana International Airport is an absolute breeze. In fact, you cross the border into the US while still in the airport. All you have to do is buy Cross Border Xpress (CBX) upon arrival. It costs $15 per crossing, regardless of nationality.

*Note to Americans without an FM2 or FM3: On the way back into Mexico, the immigration officer told me I’d need to buy a visa if I was staying longer than a week. I was initially confused because I’ve never needed a visa before when entering Mexico. The immigration officer explained that there are special regulations when crossing the border via land. If you travel beyond the 22 miles/35 km “free zone” after crossing into Mexico you will need to pay around $22 USD for a Mexico Visitor’s Permit (FMM).

When we exited the airport, we were officially on US territory. From there we ordered an Uber and in a little over 30 minutes we’d arrived at the Hotel del Coronado.

Hotel del Coronado

Rich Heritage

Hotel del Coronado, or “The Del” for short, is an American treasure and a California icon. When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. Today, it is the second largest wooden structure in the US and one of the few surviving examples of the Victorian beach resort. Over the years, it has hosted celebrities, royalty, US Presidents, and, now, Julian and I!

hotel del coronado activities

The dark wood lobby immediately transports you to the Victorian era

hotel del coronado activities

The Del is also a National Historic Landmark

Accommodations

The Del offers rooms and suites in the original Victorian building, the contemporary Ocean Towers, or beachfront cottages. If you want to get the authentic experience, I’d definitely recommend staying in the original Victorian building. After all, that’s half of the fun! 

hotel del coronado activities

While our room didn’t have an ocean view, we did have a lovely view of the interior courtyard. The courtyard has a perfectly maintained garden that’s ideal for strolls or lounging in the grass. I loved waking up to a view of the courtyard’s magnificent Ceiba trees from our balcony.

hotel del coronado activities

hotel del coronado activities

How stunning are these Ceiba trees??

Coronado Beach

One of the best things about The Del is its oceanfront location. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beach. Growing up on the East Coast, I’m used to much narrower (and ever shrinking) beaches. The beaches of Coronado go on for ages and, thanks to the mineral Mica, literally sparkle. 

hotel del coronado activities beach

Coronado is often named one of the country’s top beaches and I can definitely see why.

hotel del coronado activities beach

Coronado beach is teeming with activity from dusk to dawn.

Hotel del Coronado Activities

Our weekend in San Diego was so packed that we weren’t able to take advantage of all of the fun activities at the Hotel del Coronado. However, we made sure to schedule in time for their famous brunch and a bike ride around Coronado Island.

*Disclosure: The Del generously treated us to the brunch and bike rentals but all opinions expressed are my own.

The Del’s Famous Brunch

If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of brunch. The concept of brunch doesn’t really exist in Mexico (shocking, I know). So whenever I’m in the states I make it a point to treat myself to a stellar brunch. I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard The Del has a legendary brunch.

hotel del coronado activities The Crown Room brunch

The Crown Room

The Del’s lavish Sunday brunch takes place in the Crown Room and features a chilled seafood bar, Bloody Mary bar, omelette and carving stations, and tables upon tables of decadent desserts. It’s also bottomless, meaning that all drinks are included and the waiters keep them coming. Needless to say, I was in absolute heaven.

hotel del coronado activities crown room brunch

Started with my favorites — a Belgian waffle and an omelette

hotel del coronado activities crown room brunch

And ended by sampling almost every dessert!

Biking around Coronado

Unsurprisingly, Julian and I left brunch in a full-on food coma. Luckily, a bike ride around Coronado was the perfect remedy. There’s a little bike rental shop on the boardwalk with a variety of bikes to choose from. Julian and I chose two beach cruisers and set off to explore the island. 

hotel del coronado activities biking

We biked along the boardwalk and, when it ended, began cruising through the neighborhoods of Coronado. I loved the different styles of houses, from Victorian-style mansions, to modern residences, and quaint beach cottages. At one point, we stopped at a park on the bay to enjoy the spectacular view of the city.

san diego skyline

Must-Do Activities

If you stay in Coronado, I guarantee you won’t get bored. There are countless things to do on the island itself, across the bridge in San Diego, and in the surrounding county. Three days wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything we wanted to, but we did get to check two things off our list: hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve and experiencing the nightlife in the Gaslamp District.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 1,750 acre reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree and other indigenous wildlife. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Coronado so I would recommend renting a car for the day. DwD Tip: Reserve a car at least a few days in advance. We rented one the day of and got the last car in San Diego!

torrey pines state reserve torrey pines state reserve torrey pines state reserve

As far as parking at Torrey Pines, there are spots available right before the park entrance which are free of charge. However, these are hard to come by, especially during weekends. If you can’t find a spot, you’ll have to park in one of the parking lots of the reserve. This will set you back $10-25, depending on the day and time of year.

If you’re feeling lazy, you can drive to the top. But, if you’re physically able to, I’d definitely recommend hiking up. It’s a rather easy, and very enjoyable, hike to the top. Once you reach the summit, take some time to breathe in the fragrance of the pines and soak up the gorgeous views of the Pacific.

torrey pines state reserve

San Diego’s Gaslamp District

The Gaslamp District is a historic neighborhood in downtown San Diego. It’s the epicenter of San Diego’s nightlife with numerous nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. It’s also the cultural heart of the city with theaters, art galleries, symphony halls, concert venues and museums. 

gaslamp district san diego

Photo credit: Hotel Indigo

I was determined to experience this vibrant part of town and what better way than on the weekend? Friday night, our local friends took us to Vin de Syrah, a whimsical, hidden cocktail lounge in the center of the Gaslamp District. It becomes a club on the weekends and we had a great time dancing the night away in this quirky, Alice & Wonderland themed bar.

Vin de Syrah san diego

Photo credit: Andrew Jorgen

Saturday night, I booked dinner for us at Rustic Root, a restaurant and rooftop bar in the center of the action. If you want to get a taste of San Diego’s nightlife without actually going out, have a late dinner or drinks at Rustic Root. We sat at the high-top tables near the street and watched the hoards of partygoers pass by as we dined. It was truly first-rate entertainment.

rustic root san diego

Photo credit: Open Table

Lowriders

The highlight of the night, however, was when the San Diego lowriders came cruising through town. It was towards the end of our dinner when brightly-painted cars driven extremely low to the ground began bouncing down San Diego’s 5th Avenue. A crowd quickly gathered to watch them and snap videos with their phones. The drivers put on a show, driving to the side with their wheels in the air and using special hydraulics to bounce up and down the street. I had never seen anything like it!

lowriders san diego

I later found out that lowrider culture began in California in the 1950s and 60s. Young Chicanos created the lowrider car style to express the pride and playfulness of Mexican American culture. The guiding principle here was bajito y suavecito: low and slow. It’s awesome that lowrider culture is still thriving today and was so fun to have found ourselves right in the midst of it all.

Final Thoughts

Our three-day weekend in San Diego passed all too quickly and there was so much we didn’t get to do. But by staying at The Del we feel we got a taste of it all — the laidback beach town of Coronado,  the vibrant city of San Diego, and the beautiful California coast. Now that San Diego is on our radar, we’re already planning another trip in the New Year.

Until next time… Stay classy, San Diego!

hotel del coronado activities

P.S. The Del is celebrating their 130th Anniversary this year and is offering a $130 resort credit with any two-night stay in 2018. So now is the time to go!


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A night in Adelboden at The Cambrian

the cambrian hotel adelboden

When planning a trip, I usually decide on the destination and then find accommodations. For our weekend getaway to the Swiss Alps, however, it was the reverse. We’d been having some difficulty finding a reasonably priced place to stay in Interlaken so we expanded our search to the surrounding area. As soon as we discovered The Cambrian, we knew we’d found our hotel.

The Cambrian Hotel

The Cambrian is one of the only design hotels in the Swiss Alps and it was built to showcase the natural beauty surrounding it. We later learned Adelboden has much to offer and were so glad The Cambrian led us to this charming Alpine village.

cambrian hotel adelboden

cambrian hotel adelboden

View from our room

*Click here for availability and current prices at The Cambrian. For a four-star Swiss design hotel, the prices are quite reasonable!

Interlaken & Adelboden in a day

By car, Adelboden is less than a hour from Interlaken. If you have limited time, it’s definitely possible to see both Interlaken and Adelboden in one day. We set off from Basel early Saturday morning and were in Interlaken by mid-day. Read about our afternoon in Interlaken here. We then left Interlaken mid-afternoon and had a few hours to explore Adelboden before sun down.

adelboden

The town of Adelboden

Engstligen Falls

While Adelboden does not have any lakes, it does have some amazing waterfalls. We were determined to see the Engstligen Falls, the second highest waterfalls in Switzerland, before nightfall. After a ten minute drive from the hotel and a short hike, we had arrived.

Engstligen Falls drone

From a long way off, you can see the 600 meter (1969 feet) falls. But it’s not until you’re right underneath them that you truly grasp their immense size and force. Next to the thunderous falls and towering rocks, I felt very small. For a long while I stood on the bridge over the base of the falls in awe of their power.

Engstligen Falls

Unfortunately, we were too late to take the cable car to the top of the falls. However, with Julian’s drone we were able to get the same perspective of the raging falls, expansive meadowlands, and dense pine forest below.

drone adelboden Engstligen Falls

drone adelboden

Once the sun began to set, we knew it was time to head back. One thing I underestimated was the temperature difference in the mountains. In Interlaken, it was over 32° C (90° F) but once we got high into the Bernese Oberlands, the temperature dropped dramatically. 

drone Engstligen Falls

Until Next Time…

Back at our hotel we enjoyed a delicious, fresh dinner at The Cambrian’s restaurantThe next morning we rose early as we had another full day in front of us. We were off to visit our friend Linda at her home in the mountains outside of Gstaad, Switzerland. Her family owns a dairy farm there and they had promised to show us the wonders of life in the Swiss Alps. Read all about our day spent making cheese, hiking, and exploring the glam resort town of Gstaad here.

If we’d had more time, I would’ve loved to have taken greater advantage of The Cambrian’s amenities. I was dying to take a dip in its gorgeous infinity pool and enjoy the spa. But I guess that’ll just have to wait until next time 🙂

the cambrian hotel switzerland

This will be me on my next visit! Photo courtesy of The Cambrian


For a 2-day itinerary of our weekend in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alpsincluding Interlaken and the glam resort town of Gstaad, click here.

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Pura Vida at the Four Seasons Costa Rica

As a kid, I visited Costa Rica once on a family surf trip. I still remember the white sand beaches with gentle waves, the friendly locals, and the incredible flora and fauna of the rainforest. I was recently invited to stay at the Four Seasons Costa Rica on the idyllic Peninsula Papagayo and it was even more stunning than I remembered. We spent the weekend sailing through the Gulf of Papagayo, relaxing on the beach, and immersing ourselves in the local philosophy of pura vida. And of course, enjoying the many amenities of the Four Seasons.

Peninsula Papagayo

Peninsula Papagayo is located on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast. This remote 1400-acre peninsula was formed by volcanic activity and sculpted by wind, rain, and sun over thousands of years. Today, it is home to 31 different beaches, two luxury resorts (the Four Seasons and the Andaz), a marina, and an Arnold-Palmer designed golf course. However, thanks to a government mandate stating that 70% of the land must remain undeveloped, the vast majority of the peninsula is wild and a nature-lover’s dream.

four seasons costa rica peninsula papagayo aerial

The Four Seasons is located on the narrow strip of land

four seasons costa rica map

Map of Peninsula Papagayo

The Four Seasons Costa Rica

The Four Seasons Costa Rica is ideally positioned on a narrow stretch of the peninsula. Guests are treated to views of the water on both sides and have access to two golden sand beaches. At a high enough vantage point, you can see the Gulf of Papagayo to your right and Culebra Bay to your left.

four seasons costa rica peninsula papagayo

Photo credit: Four Seasons

The peninsula is stunning even in the dry season

costa rica four seasons tree

costa rica four seasons beach

Beach on the Gulf of Papagayo side

The Four Seasons Costa Rica recently underwent a major renovation and the aftermath is stunning. It felt fresh and vibrant and the epitome of eco-chic. I especially loved the resort’s use of locally sourced materials, its seamless melding of indoor-outdoor spaces, and incorporation of its natural surroundings.

four seasons costa rica lobby

The redesigned open-air lobby

four seasons costa rica restaurant

Every space takes advantage of its beautiful surroundings

four seasons costa rica pool

The reimagined pool area

The Miramar Suite

Since we were traveling with two other couples, we stayed at the three-bedroom Miramar Suite. From its position on a hilltop, we had an incredible view of the beach below. The Miramar Suite is the perfect mix of secluded and accessible. Though it’s just a short golf-cart ride away from the resort, we felt as though we were in a private residence in the middle of the jungle. I could have happily stayed there all weekend long! Only the lure of a day on the sea pulled me away…

miramar suite four seasons costa rica

monkey costa rica

We had so much fun watching the monkeys swing from the trees bordering the property

Sailing through the Gulf of Papagayo

We spent a blissful Saturday sailing with friends through the Gulf of Papagayo. Catamarans are one of my  favorite boats and this one was ideal for navigating the calm waters and coves of Papagayo. The scenery from the boat was truly spectacular and the cliffs descending into the Pacific Ocean covered in subtropical vegetation reminded me of Puerto Vallarta, one of my favorite coastal destinations in Mexico.

catamaran costa rica boat girl catamaran

After sailing for an hour or so, we anchored at a little cove for lunch. There we feasted on grilled lobster, which was some of the best I’ve ever had. We spent the afternoon swimming, exploring the beach, sipping sweet coconuts, and taking siestas in the sun.

peninsula papagayo costa rica beach

coconut girl beach

coconut girl beach

On our way home, we watched the sun set and enjoyed the company of our friends with drinks in hand. Needless to say, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

golden hour sail boat girl

costa rica sunset

Prieta Beach Club

On Sunday, we stayed land bound and enjoyed a relaxing day at the Prieta Beach Club. I really loved the aesthetic and vibe of Prieta and it has something for everyone. While kids splash in the pool, adults can lounge in the cabana beds or enjoy Costa Rican meets Baja California cuisine under the palapa.

Prieta Beach Club costa rica

costa rica tree beach

Prieta Beach Club costa rica

girl beach costa rica

bird costa rica

Pura Vida: A Way of Life

In Costa Rica, you’ll hear the saying pura vida constantly. Before this past trip, I thought it was just a touristy catchphrase. On this trip, however, I learned that Pura vida is at the core of Costa Rican life. It means simply “pure life” and it sums up the ticos philosophy: Enjoy life and be happy. After two days on this stunning peninsula, I began to understand what pura vida is all about. But a weekend is far too little time to take advantage of all this spectacular peninsula has to offer. In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until my return to the Four Seasons Costa Rica.

costa rica sunset children beach

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Would you like to stay at the Four Seasons Costa Rica? Comment below!

 

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