Secret Spot, a brand new pirate-themed escape room in San Diego (review)

When you compare escape rooms in San Diego to places like Los Angeles, there’s not a lot down there to choose from. But that doesn’t mean escape rooms are not popping up in the city. One place I wouldn’t think I would find an escape room in San Diego is Ocean Beach. Next to downtown, Ocean Beach is one of the busiest places you’ll find in San Diego, and hidden amongst the restaurants and bars that line Newport Avenue is a new escape room called Secret Spot.

Secret Spot is a very new room, and when I say new, I mean new. At the time of our game, the room had been open for almost a month. It’s not common for us to play rooms that are fairly new, but when you love escape rooms as much as we do, you don’t let that stop you. Secret Spot is the brainchild of an enthusiast who was building these rooms for other places. But when it dawned on him to build one for himself, he went full speed ahead to create a pirate-themed escape room, which was very fitting since the secret spot is located just minutes from the Pacific Ocean.

The design of Secret Spot is top-notch. When first entering I was amazed at how detailed and precise everything was, especially after finding out the room was only built in just five weeks. When you look at the design of the room, it stands out from other rooms we’ve done that have “pirate” themes. Secret Spot didn’t aim to add an abundant amount of skeletons, spider-webs, and shipwrecks. Instead, they opted to go for a more subtle route, making the players feel as if they’re in the personal home of a well-known pirate. It felt as if you were in a ship’s master quarters, where things are clean and elegant.

When it came to the puzzles, this is where our group struggled just a bit. Some puzzles were very easy to understand, and a few were a little bit harder to connect and understand. There weren’t any puzzles that were really jaw-dropping, and you would typically find those in escape rooms that are laden with tech. The puzzles here were simple and fit the theme perfectly. As a team, we felt the puzzles were lost in some of the explanations, but then again, there’s also a percentage of human error, where we could have been overthinking and not fully understanding the riddles. Our group managed to escape at the end, and I’ll admit there were times where we didn’t think we would escape.

As a new room, the Secret Spot has some elements that I feel is working against it. The hint system is a little bit too ambitious and if you’re a seasoned escape player, parts of this room won’t work the same way you’ll be typically used to. But these elements don’t necessarily hurt the Secret Spot. In fact, I think it actually benefits the room tremendously. The owner and creator of the room are very new to the concept and it’s because of that he’s always looking for input to make improvements. He’s not one of those escape room owners who is so set in their ways, like if the room doesn’t quite meld together, “it is what it is.” The owner of Secret Spot likes to take time with each group to get feedback and critiques about his room because, in the end, he wants to create an experience that’s fit for every player of every age.

If the owner continues to engage and listen to player feedback and ideas, I could see Secret Spot becoming one of the best escape rooms in San Diego. It definitely has the foundation to become one.

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