Glamping Dictionary: Tent City

By Abby Jeffords

From the moment the word "vacation" was invented—and probably before!—holidaymakers have flocked to the world’s sandy coasts to relax and revive themselves in the sun and salty air. Although a trip to the beach has been a standard, budget-friendly vacation destination for quite some time, economy hotels and inexpensive accommodation rentals have not always been available for booking. In fact, at the turn of the 19th century, a budget-conscious beachgoer on the island of Coronado in San Diego would find something quite different: glamping.

The elegant and luxurious Hotel del Coronado was opened in 1888 and catered to wealthy travelers looking to improve their health or relax in style by the beach with their family and friends. It was an immensely popular spot, however, due to high prices, this type of lodging was inaccessible to the majority of vacationers seeking beach time with their loved ones.

The owner of the Coronado, John D. Spreckles, thus decided to erect the Coronado Tent City, a colony of safari-style tents laid out in rows parallel to the beach very near to the hotel. The tents had wooden floors, beds, washbasins, and, eventually, electric lighting. Over the years, the Tent City developed its own entertainment program and even mustered its own police force. By the time of its dismantling in 1939, the Tent City had become a year-round resort, even having a consistent population in the winter due to improvements to the tent structures.

For your own Tent City-esque experience in San Diego, book a glamping getaway at this Safari Tent at a Family-Fun Campsite in Chula Vista, San Diego. At just 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, the stunning coast where the original Tent City was built is but a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Click here for more detailed information on the history of Coronado’s famous Tent City, as well as a number of fascinating vintage photos.