CORONADO’S COASTAL CHARMS
The route: Los Angeles to Coronado on Interstate 5. Miles: About 260 miles round trip Best time: With an abundance of sunny days, there’s no bad time to visit. You’ll beat the throngs outside of school breaks, especially March through May and September through November.
Why: Coronado island is a beach getaway connected to San Diego by a dramatically arching, two-mile-long bridge. Coronado village epitomizes small-town America, a reminder of a time when vacations meant strippeddown pleasures — seaside walks, bike rides, gumdrops and jawbreakers.
Highlights: Coronado has played host to Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Marilyn Monroe, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few. But it’s that laid-back lifestyle that is the drawing card. Stroll into town and take in a play at the Lamb’s Players Theatre (lambs
players.org), gorge on vintage candy at Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory (coronado.fuzzi wigs.com) and hand-crafted ice cream at MooTime Creamery
(www.mootime.com). The Coronado Museum of History & Art
(coronadohistory.org) tells the story of this enchanting island through memorabilia, historic black-and-white photos and unique artwork. Memorable stay: The Hotel del Coronado (hoteldel.com), on one of the best-in-the-U.S. white-sand beaches. The sprawling resort rentals, a toy store and the Spreckels candy store. Family S’mores Night and beach and pool movie night gets a thumbs-up. As does the Crown Room Sunday Brunch. Memorable meal: Hipster central, Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge (leroyskitchenandlounge.com )is committed to a sustainable menu with inventive farm-to-table eats and local craft beers.
Tourist trap or treat: Treat. Rent a bike at Wheel Fun Rentals at the Hotel del Coronado. There are 15 miles of pristine coast to pedal, with the paved Bayshore Bikeway leading to the Coronado Ferry Landing, a dock for more than 125 years. The spectacular view you’ll get of the San Diego skyline alone is worth the trek. To really get under the skin of the place, take a 90-minute guided Coronado Walking Tour (coronadowalkingtour
.com). It starts at the Glorietta Bay Inn (www.gloriettabayinn
.com), a 1908 mansion built by a sugar baron, and offers a stroll past castles and cottages. A threehour Culinary Walking Tour (www.coronadofoodtour.com) serves up samples from some of Coronado’s best restaurants. Plan to spend: Enough time to see more. As you head south (or on the return trip) consider stopping at Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum (www.surfingmu
seum.org) and at Laguna Art Museum (lagunaartmuseum.org), the only museum in the state to feature art exclusively by California artists. Mission San Juan Capistrano (www.missionsjc
.com) draws architecture buffs.
The route: From Santa Fe, N.M., north on U.S. 84 to New Mexico 68. (Alternate route: the “High Road” from Santa Fe: north on U.S. 84 to New Mexico 503, 76 and 518.) Miles: About 150 miles round trip. You’ll log additional miles for side trips to Bandelier National Monument, Chimayó and Abiquiú. Best times: June to March. Why: Native American history and culture, artists and art galleries, red rocks and river rafting Highlights: Bandelier National Monument (www.nps.gov/band), about 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe, is an easy, family-friendly destination. The paved 1.2-mile Main Loop Trail takes visitors past Ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs and cliff dwellings. Daredevils can walk about half a mile farther to Alcove House, reached by a white-knuckle climb up steep wooden ladders. Art lovers can gaze at the gray cliffs and cottonwoods Georgia O’Keeffe painted from her serene home and studio (reservations required,
www.okeeffemuseum.org )in Abiquiú, 60 miles northwest of Santa Fe. Taos Pueblo (taos
pueblo.com), and its cemetery filled with weathered crosses and the lone bell tower in the ruins of the original St. Jerome Church, are particularly moving. Memorable stay: It’s an easy walk from the Historic Taos Inn
(www.taosinn.com) to galleries, restaurants and shops. Our courtyard room was clean and comfortable, but the décor needed updating and the bathroom was tiny. The Adobe Bar in the lobby draws visitors and locals who stop by in the evening to enjoy the live music. Memorable meal: Bode’s General Store (www.bodes.com )in Abiquiú and its gigantic green chile cheeseburger. My sidekick, the college kid, managed to devour the half-pound slab of ground sirloin while I checked out the enamelware, fishing tackle and wild bird seed. The relaxing Rio Chama steakhouse (www.rio chamasteakhouse.com), near the state capitol in Santa Fe, fit the bill when we wanted something more sophisticated.
Tourist trap or treat: Trujillo’s Weaving Shop ( 351-4457,
www.lat.ms/trujillos) in Chimayó is more than a treat; it’s a treasure where you can watch weavers at work on 13 hand looms. The college kid chose a small weaving for his dorm room, more meaningful than any snow globe or refrigerator magnet. Also: The gift shop at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (santafeschoolofcooking.com), where I scored salsas, tins of chile powder and blue corn waffle mix. Plan to spend: At least four or five days, because wandering here is half the fun.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO on Coronado Island near San Diego is a sprawling resort on a white-sand beach that has special activities for young children and teens.
offers a Kidtopia activity camp (for ages 4 to 12) and the Vibz hangout for teens. There are surf lessons, bike and boogie board
TAOS PUEBLO, north of Taos, N.M., is a UNESCO World Heritage site by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Witnessing its cemetery is a moving experience.