San Diego's skyline viewed from Coronado


San Diego, Chula Vista, South Bay, Imperial Beach and Coronado

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Sculpture on the Embarcadero

I started this ride where I intended to finish it ... opposite the Coronado Ferry on San Diego's Embarcadero

San Diego's Cruise Ship Terminal

I planned to ride clockwise round the Bay ... passing the dock and industrial areas first and finishing in Coronado ... before completing the loop by ferry.

On the Embarcadero you can view a wide range of vessels ... from the 19thC sailing ship Star of India, through steam boats, a Russian submarine and modern cruise liners.

Poster on the Embarcadero Clock on the Embarcadero Poster on the Embarcadero
Sculpture on the Embarcadero Whale watching and the USS Midway USS Midway
The aircraft carrier USS Midway
Fisherman Sculpture

Also on display are numerous modern sculptures.

The harbourside is also home to the massive aircraft carrier the USS Midway which is now a floating museum.

Opposite the Medway the Port of San Diego have obtained on loan Seward Johnson's sculpture Unconditional Surrender.

San Diego skyline Flags at Seaport Village

The 25-foot high sculpture is reminiscent of Eisenstadt's photo of a sailor and a nurse kissing in Times Square on VJ Day.

Turning southwestward I faced the massive hotels adjacent to the waterfront and the Convention Centre.

Seaport Village: Kite Shop

Alongside new apartment blocks are springing up within a stone's throw of San Diego's lively Gaslamp Quarter.

Seaport Village: Kite Shop

I passed alongside Seaport Village which houses an eclectic mix of colourful tourist shops and restaurants.

San Diego's Marina surrounded by hotels

Alongside the waterfront the bike route shares its path with walkers and joggers ... so it's appropriate to dawdle and admire the sights.

Downtown San Diego

I looped around northern arm of Embarcadero Marina Park which encloses the Marina.

Sailboat in San Diego Marina

This park provides views of the Marina and across the Bay to Coronado as well as being a popular venue for walks and picnics.

Reflections Reflections
Reflections Reflections
Reflections Reflections
Reflections Reflections
Joe's Crab Shack

A second loop took me round Embarcadero Marina Park South ... which provides more views of San Diego's iconic skyline.

On the way round I passed a group of fire fighters ... who were fitting in a bout of exercise.

San Diego skyline from Embarcadero Marina Park South
Lorries delivering to the Convention Centre

The cycle route then squeezes its way between the massive Convention Centre and the waterfront. This gave me the opportunity to inspect the stream of lorries delivering goods to the back entrance.

San Diego's Convention Centre

I emerged at the southern end of the Centre opposite Petco Park ... the home of San Diego Padres' baseball team.

Petco Park

From here the route leaves tourist San Diego and heads south through the dock, industrial and military areas adjacent to the waterside.

Clock Tower

I was accompanied by the clangs of the trolley buses which run alongside Harbor Drive.

Unified Port of San Diego

I passed the Ebel Clock Tower sited alongside the Gaslamp/Convention Center trolley bus station ... after which the road climbs gently to cross over dock-side railway sidings.

Railyard framed by the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge Industrial landscape underneath the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge

Ahead I could see the bight blue underside of the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge.


The area around the bridge ... Chicano Park ... was the site of community action in 1970 by Mexican-Americans after a period when developments such as Highway 5 and the bridge infrastructure had been driven through their neighbourhood.

The Park contains dozens of brightly painted murals and is now recognised as an official historic site.

Mural Mural
Underside of San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge Bike path crossing railway tracks

One of the old fish processing factories alongside Harbor Drive was covered with murals of colourful seascapes.

No bike route here

I then passed under the Bay Bridge ... and the cycle lane turns to cross railway lines.

Not long after the cycle lane disappears and you have to take your chances with the traffic.

Unfortunately the signs for the Bay Route Bikeway also disappeared so I chose to zig-zag through the back-roads of Chula Vista to avoid the traffic.

Bay Route Bikeway Chula Vista Marina Chula Vista Marina
South Bay Power Plant South Bay Power Plant

Further on I returned to the coast and passed one of the military establishments where I was warned not to take photographs by a friendly guard.

Pile of salt South Bay Salt Works

The Bay then becomes decidedly more industrial ... with a big oil-fired generating plant ... followed by a salt works.

South Bay Salt Works
Salt pans

The works contained an enormous pile of salt which was glistening in the sunshine.

Welcome to Imperial Beach

The route passed the large salt pans ... and then turned away from industry to cross Otay River Marsh.

Bike path

The quiet of the marsh is a welcome change from the noise of the traffic.


At the southern end of South Bay I turned to cross a few blocks of Imperial Beach before joining an off-road bike path.

This path was originally the route of the track of the old Coronado Branch of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern railroad. This quiet route now provides an excellent vantage point over the wildlife refuge at the southern end of the bay.

Bike path Bike path Bike path and the Dinosaur Cage
Bayshore bikeway Bike path

Where the path meets the Ocean is sited a giant cage ... colloquially called a Dinosaur Cage.

The cage is the remains of a 1960s radio direction finding system which was part of a network used to track submarines.

Bike path Bike path Bike path
San Diego skyline beyond the Bay Bridge

San Diego Bay is separated from the Pacific by a narrow stretch of sand which runs 12 kilometres from Imperial Beach, through the gated community of Coronado Cays and past Silver Strand Beach to Coronado itself.

Hotel del Coronado

As you travel northward San Diego's skyline gradually becomes more prominent ... rising above the Bay Bridge.

Hotel del Coronado

Approaching Coronado the iconic red roofs of the hotel come into view from behind a clutch of palms.

Silver Strand
Hotel del Coronado

The Hotel del Coronado was constructed in 1888 and was the location where the future Edward VIII first met Wallis Simpson.

For most people however the hotel is more memorable as a location in Some Like It Hot where it was cinematically transferred to Miami.

Hotel del Coronado Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado Hotel del Coronado

After exploring the hotel grounds ... I didn't think that they would welcome a cyclist inside ... I continued round the Bay and back under the Bay Bridge.

The bridge has a bend in the middle which rather spoils its otherwise elegant lines.

The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge
San Diego skyline from Coronado
Bike sign

All I had to do now to complete my circuit was to find my way the ferry for the trip back to the City.

Peter Falstrup

The ferry runs hourly and I had plenty of time to have a leisurely coffee alongside the terminal.

I got into conversation with a local resident, Peter Falstrup, who regularly cycles around Coronado. It turned out that he had once lived not far from me in Devon and had rowed for Cambridge against Oxford in the Boat Race.

Old Coronado Ferry Booth San Diego Ferry
San Diego Ferry

The ferry returns to San Diego via a short stop at North Island Naval Station ... so for security reasons the Captain held my bike while I showed him the contents of my bike bag.

San Diego skyline

As all was well the ferry set off back to the city.

Now I had the difficult task of choosing the next coffee stop ...


Kirby James