Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas

Romance On a Budget in Point Loma, San Diego

submitted by: © Sheila Sobell & Richard N. Every

On the drive-in theatre type screen outside by the pool at The Pearl Hotel, a very nubile young Janet Weiss (played by an equally young and nubile Susan Sarandon) and seemingly straight-laced Brad Majors (played by Barry La Jolla5Bostwick) are transfixed by the sight of the Transylvanians belting out the “Time Warp,” the theme song from the 1975 cult hit The Rocky Horror Show.  The Pearl’s Wednesday night Dive-In Theatre featuring film, food and fun by the pool attracts quite a crowd. Some of the guests in good voice (and one or two in bits of costume) who know the lyrics join in, and suddenly it’s the 70s  again and everyone’s singing, “You bring your knees in tight, But it’s the pelvic thrust, They really drive you insane, Let’s do the Time Warp again, Let’s do the Time Warp Again!”

Tucked away in a cozy corner inside The Pearl far from Brad’s and Janet’s cinematic rite of passage, our own senses are being rocked by a culinary experience created just for the two of us! Like the rich and famous who gather nightly to explore the creations of their own private chef, we are experiencing a Pearl original – the chance to divine dine at “The Mercy of the Chef” with a wine-paired four-course gourmet masterpiece built around our likes and dislikes. Exquisite presentation, flavor and creativity at the amazing price of just $65 each!

Welcome to Point Loma’s romance on a budget hotel, where an outdated motel has been transformed into a hip mix of retro good looks with sensational food and inventive happenings that makes a trip to San Diego a joyous burst of fun. Our room, the Strand, had a sumptuous Sealy Posturpedic Dynasty pillowtop mattress platform bed with high-end linens, private patio, our own in-room pet fish named Jaws and artwork for sale to benefit at risk kids.  The downside was too little closet space and a bed so long that one end was perilously close to the flat screen TV.

Remodeled in October 2008 by interior designer Michael Soriano, who, says food and beverage manager Tim McCarthy, “was committed to keeping 20 percent of the creative cheese factor and combining it with a stylish Palm Springs twist so that you can imagine Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack swinging into the bar.”  So expect some shag carpet, white plastic molded furniture, and giant beach balls in the pool, done in high style.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Borrow a bike from the Pearl, rent a moped or a motorcycle, or hop a bus to the amazing Liberty Station at the nearby NTC Promenade, which until 1997 was the Naval Training Center. This verdant 28-acre space dotted with Weekend_art_for_sale_Point_Loma._Photo_Richard_Every.jpgSpanish Revival architecture now houses performing art groups including ballet and modern dance, as well as museums and galleries.  Opened in April 2008, the Visions Art Quilt Gallery mounts half a dozen shows a year of fiber art, quilts, tapestry and basketry. Everything in the gallery is built by volunteers, including the stunning wooden desk in the entry made by Jesse Foster as his senior class project in woodworking and fine furniture.  Topped with laminated oak, the base of the desk is constructed of a series of elongated plywood pieces with exposed edges showing striking variations in color reminiscent of a spool of thread.

Pick up a delicious crab sandwich at Point Loma Seafoods ( and a bottle of wine and head for a picnic (swimming prohibited) through La Playa, a neighborhood of waterfront homes, to  a secluded beach reached off Bessemer Street. To the right is the Southwestern Yacht Club; to the left is the San Diego Yacht Club, which housed the America’s Cup yachting trophy from 1987 to 1995.

Wanna get wet and wild? Point Loma’s proximity to nearby Harbor or Shelter Islands makes it easy to catch your own catch, book a fishing trip, whale watch or rent a sailboat.

For an awe-inspiring 360°view of San Diego, and a short course in the history of Point Loma, head for the Cabrillo Old_Point_Loma_Lighthouse.Photo_Richard_Every.jpgNationalMonument at the tip of the island on Cabrillo Memorial Drive. Three landmarks will knock your socks off – Fort Rosecrans Military Reserve and National Cemetery, with what seems like miles upon miles of somber headstones testifying to the bravery of those who perished in war; the Cabrillo Monument celebrating the discovery of San Diego Harbor in 1542, and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which for 36 years guided sailing boats to safe harbor until it was replaced in 1891 with another better located lighthouse at the bottom of the hill.

As the sun sets, get in the mood for love at Humphrey’s restaurant bar ( on Shelter Island; from 5 to 7 pm, Happy Hour in the bar features unbelievable ½ off food and drinks like incredible burgers for $5  followed by no-cover Latin, punk, jazz and tribute bands. End the night with some cool jazz, blues and Motown at Humphrey’s By the Bay concerts featuring big names like Dave Koz, Diana Krall, Joan Baez & Gregg Allman & Friends on its outdoor stage.

A lot of romance for a little cash.


Sheila Sobell and Richard N. Every  are professional worldwide travel journalists. Find articles on other romantic vacations  at