Robert Arends

5 Things I Love about Coronado

Coronado Beach -

Beautiful Coronado Sunset. Photo courtesy of

Oh Coronado, the “Enchanted Isle,” how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

OK, that’s a little sappy, but I can’t help it. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and love is in the air. What better time to talk about five things I really love about the Emerald City.

1. The Restaurants

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

I love that Coronado was made for romantic dining, with fabu restaurants from the Pacific to San Diego Bay beckoning couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a delectable candlelit dinner. Two of my personal favs: Chez Loma, an intimate, authentic French bistro, and Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort with views as phenomenal as the cuisine.

2. The Journey Around Coronado Island

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

I love the joy in the journey to and around the island. The views by car from the graceful blue arch of the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge are second to none! You can see as far as Mexico and the ‘lil Islas Coronadas (crowned islands) off the coast. Better yet, take a fun ferry ride over from downtown San Diego! Then explore the island by beach cruiser (there are bike rental shops throughout the island), Segway of Coronado or Pedego electric bike.

3. Playing in the Water

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayak Tour adventure!

I love all the ways to play in the ocean and bay. There’s stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Coronado, surfing with Coronado Surfing Academy, the new Coronado Kayak Tour, The Gondola Company’s authentic Venetian gondola rides and San Diego Seaplanes, launching from the bay by the Coronado Ferry Landing!

4. The Island’s Secrets

The "Baby Del" (144 Isabella Ave.)

The “Baby Del” (144 Isabella Ave.)

I love the “secret” sights around the island, from sand dunes on the beach that spell C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O and the flock of flamingos and aviary at Coronado Island Marriot Resort, to Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s cottage on Star Park Circle, the ghost of Kate Morgan’s room at the Hotel del Coronado and the “Baby Del” on Isabella Ave.

5. The Sunsets


I love the stunning sunsets. I took the photo above just last weekend. No matter how many times I see the sun set in glorious hues of yellow, orange and red over the beach, it’s never ceases to leave me in awe.

Coronado, what’s not to love! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Sarah Weinberg

Fall in Love with San Diego’s Valentine’s Day Hotel Deals and Packages

Couple Walking on Ocean Beach Pier
Couple Walking on Ocean Beach Pier

Bring your Valentine to San Diego for the perfect romantic sunset.

With spectacular scenery, sun-kissed beaches, world-class restaurants and luxury resorts, San Diego calls to all lovebirds looking for a romantic getaway. This February, special Valentine’s Day offerings from San Diego hotels and resorts make it the perfect time to let Cupid’s arrow fly and treat a special friend or loved one to a relaxing retreat or fun-filled adventure in romantic San Diego.

Modern Day Romance

Log-in and tweet for the Twitter-Patter package at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa with a Valentine’s deal that includes overnight accommodations at this lush, garden estate and a $150 credit that can be used for spa treatments or dinner at Adobe El Restaurant. Guests also receive chocolate-covered strawberries, a bottle of private label sparkling wine, Twitter-themed cookie welcome amenity and two plush monogrammed robes with guest’s personalized Twitter handle. For reservations, tweet “My heart wants to go #TwitterPatter with my sweetie at @estancialajolla.” The hotel will then tweet back details on how to book.

Package Dates: February 8-24, 2014
Cost: Rates start at $499
> Find out more about the Twitter-Patter Package at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Take the Plunge on Valentine’s Day

Not just any couple can be swept away by the Hotel Del Coronado’s Drop the Question Package. The landmark hotel offers the ultimate in luxury including three nights in a Beach Village cottage suite, rose petals, Taittinger champagne and caviar welcome amenities, private butler and engagement concierge service throughout the stay, private candlelight dinner prepared by the Chef de Cuisine, private sailing brunch cruise, exotic car rental, and just before sunset, two sky divers will drop from the sky and parachute onto the beach with a banner asking, “Will you marry me?” Afterward, enjoy a private romantic dinner for two on the beach with a violinist, and later a couple’s massage in your cottage, a $1,000 shopping spree at the Shops at The Del, dinner for two at 1500 OCEAN and breakfast in bed daily.

Package Dates: Available beginning February 14, 2014
Cost: $50,000 (subject to change)
> Find out more about the Hotel Del Coronado’s Drop the Question Package

The Way to a Lover’s Heart

If you can’t be in Paris this Valentine’s Day, look no further than downtown San Diego’s Westgate Hotel, where a stunning lobby reflects the anterooms at Versailles and classic décor emulates the palaces of Europe. The Westgate offers several romance packages; the most luxurious is the Etre Amoureux package (English translation: “to make you fall in love all over again”). This package includes one-night accommodation in the Presidential suite or Governor suite along with a five-course dinner with wine pairing prepared by a private chef, butler service, a dozen red roses, love quotes, a bottle of Champagne and chocolate truffles, breakfast in bed and parking.

Package Dates: February 14-15, 2014
Cost: $3100
> Find out more about Westgate Hotel’s Etre Amoureux Package

During the month of February, the historic Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows in the hip uptown neighborhood of North Park offers the Some Like It Hot Valentine’s package. First choose either dinner and bottomless champagne for two or breakfast and bottomless mimosas for two, then enjoy a special Lafayette intimacy kit and additional nights at 20% off best available rate.

Package Dates: February 1-28, 2014
Cost: Rates start at $159 per night
> Find out more about the Lafayette Hotel’s Some Like it Hot Package

Romance and Relaxation

Fell the sand of Mission Bay under your toes at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa. The Catamaran’s Sweetheart package includes a two-night stay in a standard room, California sparkling wine and chocolate dipped strawberries on arrival, two 50-minute spa treatments and spa gifts, and breakfast for two.

Package Dates: February 1-28, 2014
Cost: Rates start at $730
> Find out more about The Catamaran’s Sweetheart Package

> Spoil Your Sweetheart with a Valentine’s Day in San Diego

What’s your favorite San Diego Valentine’s Day tradition or idea?


The Lodge at Torrey Pines – Romance and Relaxation

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Valentine’s Day may be hours away, but February 14th shouldn’t be the only time of year you focus on romance. As a full-time working woman and graduate student to boot, I know how hard it can be to find the time to spend with that special someone. Fortunately for couples everywhere, San Diego is full of luxurious hotels perfect for a romantic weekend escape. And with majestic views, gorgeous Craftsman-style architecture and one of San Diego’s best restaurants, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is an ideal destination a blissful San Diego getaway, no holiday or special occasion required.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Pulling up to the Lodge’s grand yet secluded entrance, dark wood, glowing stained glass windows and the scent of fresh flowers greet you as you step into the lobby. As you head towards your room, the demure hallways feel cozy, despite the Lodge’s vast size.

Romantic Lodging

The Lodge At Torrey Pines Guest Room

The Palisades Suite

The Lodge offers a variety of guest room types that set the mood for romance and relaxation. On a recent weekend, my husband and I settled into a spacious Palisades Suite, complete with a fireplace at the foot of the bed and a balcony looking out onto the resort’s meticulously manicured lawn. As the sun began to set over the world-famous Torrey Pines golf course, we toasted with champagne and a plate of fresh fruit.

Lodge's Champagne and Fruit

A fruit plate from the hotel was the perfect pairing with a bottle of champagne.

Relaxing Activities

Relaxing Activities at the Lodge

There’s no shortage of ways to unwind at the Lodge.

The Lodge offers a range of pleasant pastimes if all the relaxing gets to be too much. In the library, you can settle in with one of the available books or enjoy a game of pool or darts. On the lawn, colorful croquet sets dot the thick green grass. Oh, and I’ve heard golf may be a popular activity here…but I chose to spend an afternoon at the spa. The pristine white marble of the Spa at Torrey Pines had me wallowing in the lap of luxury before my massage even began.

Fine Dining at A.R. Valentien

When it comes to a romantic dinner, few restaurants can top the Lodge’s signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien. Buttery sea scallops and a generous portion of tender New York strip steak were proof enough that Chef Jeff Jackson is one of San Diego’s best, and their friendly sommelier will help even the most novice wine drinker find the perfect pairing. While a bottle of Silver Oak may accompany a birthday or anniversary meal, it’s also nice to be able to indulge in a mini-splurge with their extensive by-the-glass selection of top-notch wines.

It’s the Little Touches at The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Lodge's Turndown Service

Chocolate and slippers greet you at bedtime.

Returning to our room, friendly touches from the turn down service made our stay feel even more special. A delicate chocolate bar emblazoned with the resort’s logo rested on our pillows, while bedside mats held cozy slippers waiting to warm our feet before bed. Combined with the beauty of the property and the exceptional food, the attentive and thoughtful service at the Lodge at Torrey Pines make it a can’t-miss hotel for relaxing and reconnecting.

View from The Lodge Torrey Pines

You can’t ask for a better view!

Robert Arends

Valentine’s Day Ideas – Fall in Love with Coronado!

Valentine's Day Idea - Romantic Stroll on Coronado
Valentine's Day Idea - Romantic Stroll on Coronado

Take a romantic sunset stroll on Coronado Beach this Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air! An enchanting Valentine’s Day getaway where couples can find everything their hearts desire is Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, take advantage of beautiful weather and island charms that are sure to sweep your sweetheart off their feet. Following are 5 Fabulous Date Ideas and mini escapes:

Taste buds rejoice…

Eno Wine Bar

Fine wines, cheeses and chocolates at Eno Wine Bar.

Raise your glass and indulge in luscious wines, gourmet cheeses and chocolates at the swanky ENO Wine Bar in the Hotel del Coronado. Afterward, sneak off to Coronado Beach for a moonlit stroll, serenaded by the gentle surf. Equally indulgent is Weincakes Bistro, an intimate new spot in the Village for decadent desserts.

Pack a Picnic…

Gazebo at Spreckels Park - Coronado

Enjoy a picnic for two at Spreckels Park.

In the heart of the island, Spreckels Park welcomes couples to picnic under swaying palm trees or under an ol’ fashioned gazebo. For a secret picnic hideaway {shhh!}, cozy Shoreline Park at First St. & I Ave. offers a magnificent backdrop on San Diego Bay.

Say I Do… Again

Renew your vows in Coronado!

Renew your vows in Coronado!

Renew your vows at the charming new Coronado Wedding Chapel by the Sea, the first-ever wedding chapel on the island! This chic Crown City jewel is located less than a block from Coronado Beach, across the street from the Hotel del Coronado. Two other amazing storybook settings: Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Coronado Island Marriott Resort on San Diego Bay.


Sailing San Diego Bay

Set sail on San Diego Bay.

Hire a licensed skipper for a romantic sunset sail on San Diego Bay or the Pacific Ocean. Seaforth Boat Rentals on Glorietta Bay and Action Sports Rentals at Loews Coronado Bay Resort promise to make it memorable. Don’t forget the champagne and chocolate covered strawberries!

That’s amore…

Voga Voyage at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

Voga Voyage at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

The Gondola Company offers intimate one-hour cruises and a “Voga Voyage” couples massage(!) on San Diego Bay. The authentic Venetian gondolas depart from Loews Coronado’s marina; a truly magical experience that’s made for marriage proposals!

Coronado…gotta love it! 😉

> Browse more Valentine’s Day Ideas and Packages in San Diego


Valentine’s Day – Savor the Romance at San Diego Restaurants

Enjoy a Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner at The Marine Room.
Enjoy a Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner at The Marine Room.

Enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at the Marine Room, one of America’s Most Romantic Restaurants

San Diego’s restaurants do romance right. Just ask Travel + Leisure and Yahoo, who named the Marine Room as one of America’s Most Romantic Restaurants. Nestled on the sands of La Jolla Shores, the Marine Room uses nature to set the mood as rolling waves from the Pacific lap up against the restaurant’s expansive windows.

Of course, the Marine Room is just one of many San Diego restaurants where romance is on the menu. This Valentine’s Day, book ahead to ensure the best table at one of these desirable hot spots.

The Celebrity Spot


Searsucker, celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s signature restaurant

Since opening in 2010, chef Brian Malarkey’s Searsucker in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter has been popular with locals and visitors alike. Already a celebrity thanks to his time as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef series, Brian Malarkey is back in the spotlight as a judge on the new ABC TV series “The Taste.” Grab your sweetheart and a table at Searsucker to taste what all the buzz is about.

New Kids on the Block

As San Diego’s dining scene continues to grow, finding a cozy and delicious date-night spot has never been easier. In Little Italy, enjoy a playful yet elegant meal with your sweetheart as you share small plates of Italian street food and house made vermouth cocktails at Monello.

Monello's tasty pizza and housemade vermouth.

Monello’s tasty pizza and house made vermouth.

At Pacific Beach’s latest hot spot, Table 926 serves up a sumptuous prix fixe dinner offering steamed local mussels, grilled lamb chops or pork osso bucco. Enjoy 3 courses for $60 per person, or add two glasses of wine and a glass or champagne for only $20 more.

San Diego Classics

Take in the sweeping views of La Jolla cove.

Take in the sweeping views of La Jolla cove.

You’re on top of the world with a Valentine’s Day dinner at Bertrand at Mister A’s. Perched atop a highrise in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood, Bertrand at Mister A’s looks out over downtown San Diego’s glittering skyline and vast bay. In La Jolla, George’s at the Cove offers exquisite California cuisine prepared by chef Trey Foshee. Like the Marine Room, this San Diego classic serves up spectacular food alongside an equally spectacular view of La Jolla’s coastline.

> More San Diego Valentine’s Day ideas and packages

Where will you and your special someone dine this Valentine’s Day?


Valentine’s Day Getaway Deals in San Diego

This February, love is in the air with special Valentine’s Day offerings and packages from hotels and resorts throughout San Diego County. It’s not too late to plan a romance-filled getaway to San Diego to enjoy the spectacular scenery, sun-drenched beaches, world-class restaurants and luxury resorts with the one you love.

S'mores on the Beach

From downtown to La Jolla to Coronado, here are a few of the most romantic deals to be found:

El Cordova Hotel – Marriage Has Its Benefits

Coronado’s charming Spanish-style El Cordova Hotel offers the Marriage Has Its Benefits package. For every year of marriage, the hotel will match that number in percent off its nightly rate. For example, guests married for 20 years will receive 20 percent off any one-bedroom, two-bedroom or Casa Grande Suite. Couples who present their wedding photo at check-in will also receive a chocolate gift upon arrival. Suite rates start at $160 per night, plus tax, and must be booked by Feb. 29, 2012 for stays through May 25, 2012.

Andaz Hotel – Your Crush for a Night

Fan the flames of love with the Your Crush for a Night package at the ultra-modern Andaz Hotel in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Each designer guest room features a risqué glass shower and plush bedding. This sultry getaway includes a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate covered strawberries, freshly prepared breakfast for two, a special intimacy kit and VIP access to Ivy, the hotel’s multi-level nightclub. Rates start at $189 per night, plus tax, and are valid through Mar. 31, 2012.

White Oak Ranch

Guests can bring out their wild sides with a stay at White Oak Ranch in Alpine, a property of the Lions Tigers and Bears Big Cat Rescue, which serves as a sanctuary facility and life-long haven for many exotic cats such as lions, tigers, leopards and bobcats. The inn offers a one-night stay in a safari-themed room with champagne and continental breakfast, and for every stay, a donation is made in the guest’s name to Lions Tigers and Bears. Rates start at $425 per night, plus tax, and are valid through Feb. 29, 2012, subject to availability.

Hotel del Coronado – That’s S’moré

Always a classic experience for romance, guests at the Hotel del Coronado can add on the Del’s That’s S’moré package featuring a side-by-side 50-minute Swedish massage in the couples spa suite, followed by a private bonfire on the beach. Sparks are sure to ignite as couples feed each other complimentary s’mores while sipping champagne. The package is available to hotel guests only, valid through Dec. 31, 2012 with rates starting at $445, plus gratuity.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa – Romance in Paradise

Feel like splurging and spoiling your Valentine? Lovebirds can fly to the height of luxury with offerings from the Paradise Point Resort & Spa. The Romance in Paradise package begins with a welcome glass of champagne as guests settle in to a 1,600-square-foot presidential suite located just steps from the sand and bay. The package includes a private “Chemistry in the Kitchen” four-course dinner, a sunset sail on a 22-foot Catalina sailboat with champagne and a bonfire on the beach complete with s’mores and brandy delivered by a personal butler. For even more indulgence, the package also includes rose petal turndown service, side-by-side Balinese massages on the suite’s secluded open-air patio and exclusive use of an executive golf cart for explorations of the 44-acre Vacation Island. Rates start at $4,199, plus tax, and are valid through Dec. 31, 2012, based upon availability.

Looking for more Valentine’s getaways? Check out our complete list of Valentine’s Deals.


Hoppy Valentine’s Day

Need a last minute gift idea for your beer-loving Valentine?

Valentine’s Day, today, happens to be the release date for Stone’s 2011 Old Guardian Barley Wine an über malty, super-hoppy mega beer that clocks in at 12% AVB. If your sweetie is the type to cellar age their beer then you’ll want to pick up at least two bottles because this one will continue to evolve with age.

Lost Abbey’s barrel-aged beers are works of art worth collecting in their own right. Pick up a bottle of the brand new 2011 Red Poppy that was just released on Feb. 12. The sour cherry tinged Flanders-style red ale is 5% AVB and has been aged for a full year in French oak barrels. It was one of only a few beers to be rated 99 out of 100 by the expert tasters at DRAFT Magazine.

In honor of the holiday, AleSmith has released a special seasonal brew they’re calling My Bloody Valentine. At 6.66% ABV (alcohol by volume), it is less intimidating than it sounds with a deep mahogany red color and caramel malt flavor delicately balanced by floral American hops. Pick up a growler at the brewery or take your sweetheart into the tasting room and toast to your love of great San Diego beer.


Give ‘Em Some Sugar

Want to make your Valentine's heart skip a beat?

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a box of chocolates. But, despite your best intentions, a box of mass-produced Russell Stovers from the drug store says all the wrong things. Instead, let me play Cupid. I’ve got a few sweet arrows in my quiver that are sure-fire hits.

Chuao's Elegancia Bonbons

Want a gift that’s as beautiful and unique as your special someone? Set the mood with artisanal chocolates hand-crafted right here in San Diego.

Chuao Chocolatier, with three locations in La Jolla, Del Mar and Encinitas, is offering up bonbons infused with aphrodisiac ingredients like honey, wine, chilies, strawberries and spices.  The Elegancia box holds 32 of these decadent treats for around $50.  Or, go traditional with the Sweetheart – yes, it’s a heart shaped box – filled with 22 of the upscale candies in flavors like Firecracker, Passion, and Fragolina (a port-drenched dried strawberry enrobed in dark chocolate ganache) for $49.

The Sweet Heart Collection from Eclipse

The team at North Park’s Eclipse Chocolat are already busy making a few thousand pounds of chocolate in anticipation of the big holiday.

Try the Sweet Heart Collection which includes heart-warming chocolate bars in flavors like blackberry-sage, macadamia-ginger, chile-hazelnut and orange peel-anise plus creme fraiche caramels topped with pink peppercorn, merlot-infused sea salt, or candied rose petals.  Priced at $30 and weighing in at over a half pound, it’s sure to hit the sweet spot.

If candy isn’t your thing, what about cupcakes for your cutie?

The hottest new kid on the block is the La Jolla location of the famous cupcake bakery, Sprinkles. It opened January 13 and there’s still a line around the block!

Sprinkles XOX Cupcakes

The cupcake artists at Sprinkles are whipping up two limited edition flavors for Valentine’s Day: a chocolate chip-studded dark Belgian chocolate cake with raspberry frosting and a “Red HOT Velvet” red velvet cake with spicy cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. They can also put together a specially themed “XOX box” filled with a dozen cupcakes topped with XOX and sugar heart decorations in flavors like red velvet, chocolate marshmallow, dark chocolate and vanilla for $39. (Tip: Call ahead and place your order for pick up so you can skip the line!)

Of course, you know that someone really loves you when they give you a scrumptious show stopper from Extraordinary Desserts.  Karen Krasne’s beautifully crafted dessert masterpieces are almost too pretty to eat but, don’t let that deter you because they taste even better than they look.

Extraordinary Desserts' Amor Chocolat

Her Valentines Dessert Specials, available at both the Balboa Park and Little Italy locations, include the Amor Chocolat, a rich, dark chocolate cake moistened with ruby Port reduction and layered with creamy chocolate mousse and milk chocolate crème brulée; the Shangri-La, a Kirsch-moistened vanilla cake layered with white chocolate and guava mousses, fresh strawberries and whipped cream; the Chocolate Raspberry Concorde, a chocolate tart filled with salted chocolate chip mousse and surrounded with fresh raspberries; and the Fresh Berry Vanilla Crème Brulée Tart, a buttery white chocolate tart shell layered with vanilla bean crème brulée and fresh berries, and finished with whipped cream. (That’s the berry brulée at the top of the post.)

All are priced between $8.95 and $14.95 per slice. Pick them up or bring your sweetie in for a romantic dessert date to remember.

Chocolates, cupcakes and dessert decadence. A little sugar that’s guaranteed to make your Valentine swoon. What’s your favorite sweet treat in San Diego?

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.


The Users Guide to Valentine’s Day

Happen to be in the “anti-Valentine’s Day” mindset this year? Looking to impress your new special someone? Want to spice things up and really wow your love? Then check out these Valentine’s Day restaurant recommendations!

 The Top Spots for Singles, Couples and New Relationships


Get Fluxxed at FLUXX

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
What better way to spend the holiday (or escape it!) than among your girl friends. Avoid the couple-filled restaurants this Valentine’s Day with Sammy’s Take-Home Pizza Kit, complete with Sammy’s signature fresh pizza dough, homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a choice of your favorite toppings. Sammy’s Take Home Valentine’s Day Pizza Kits are available Feb. 7 – 14 at all Sammy’s locations for $5.00 – $8.00 for traditional, whole wheat or gluten-free crust; extra toppings are and additional price.

RA Sushi Restaurant Bar
RA Sushi is heating up on Feb. 13 with a singles-only Meet Market. Eligible bachelors and bachelorettes can strut their stuff as they peruse the selection of San Diego’s finest bachelors and bachelorettes. The fun starts at 6PM with a live version of The Dating Show in the cocktail lounge and goes until close. Singles can get RA with $5 Singletinis, X-Rate Margaritas and $7 “Cuter by the Sake Samplers.” RA will be serving “Love Me” food and sushi rolls costing under $10.

You may arrive at San Diego’s best nightclub single, but you could leave with a date!  FLUXX nightclub is celebrating Valentine’s Day with celebrity guest Bob Sinclar, legendary DJ/producer, performing hits ‘Love Generation’, ‘World Hold On’ and more. Let FLUXX be your date this year and visit Event Vibe to purchase tickets. Pre-sale tickets start at $20.00. Continue reading


Who Loves You, Baby?

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  Where will you spend the most romantic day of the year?

Everyone knows we love Balboa Park.  So, it’s no surprise that you’ll find more than a few of us there with our special someones on the 14th.

Here’s a cute video featuring visitors and locals explaining why they love Balboa Park and why it’s a great spot for Valentine’s Day.  Looks like we’re in good company!

San Diego Valentine’s Day: Love in Balboa Park (4.3) from balboaparkonline on Vimeo.