California is a land of endless sunshine, breathtaking scenery, and unforgettable adventures for couples. Boasting cozy luxury hotels, romantic restaurants, and scrapbook-worthy sights at every turn, the state has endless opportunities for romance, making it a dream destination for lovebirds seeking to escape their routine and reconnect with each other.
Whether you’re looking for a cozy escape in a charming town, a luxurious stay in a world-class hotel, or an adrenaline-filled adventure in the great outdoors, California has something for every couple.
Cosmopolitan cities like San Francisco, filled with restaurants and big-name sights, are perfect for urban explorers, while nature-centric places like Yosemite National Park will captivate adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Foodies will love to enjoy wine-tasting sessions in the golden vineyards of Napa Valley while
those seeking an intimate experience will gravitate towards charming coastal towns such as Carmel-by-the-Sea and Laguna Beach.
Looking for a romantic getaway to whisk your special someone off their feet? In this post, we’ve curated a list of the 15 most romantic getaways in California, each with its own unique charm and appeal.
So, pack your bags, grab your significant other, and get ready to explore the magic of California – from the cosmopolitan cities to the rugged coastlines and everything in between.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a romantic city located on the Monterey Peninsula, on California’s Central Coast. This alluring coastal town oozes romance thanks to its dreamy landscapes made of rocky beaches, lush forests, and dramatic cliffs, which provide a showstopping backdrop for an array of experiences.
Couples visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea love relaxing on Carmel Beach, aka one of the most beautiful beaches in California, known for its white sands, a gentle cove backed by majestic cypress trees, and peaks that create the ideal conditions for surfing.
Other romantic activities include hiking in state parks like the Point Lobos Natural Reserve and enjoying luxurious wine-tasting sessions in Downtown Carmel.
A great way of taking in Carmel’s whimsical beauty is by driving along the 17-Mile Drive, a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove. During the ride, you and your loved one will be rewarded with amazing views of coastal cliffs, pristine beaches, and mystical forests.
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Things to Do in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Napa Valley is a true paradise on Earth. Its sprawling and sun-kissed vineyards, considered to be the finest in the United States, set the backdrop for an unforgettable romantic experience. In addition to wineries, the region boasts charming boutique hotels, award-winning restaurants, fabulous golf courses, and luxurious spas, all perfect for a couple’s getaway.
Trefethen Family Vineyard is a must-visit, where couples can enjoy outdoor wine tasting and sample limited-production wines, such as their award-winning Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with cured meats and local artisan cheeses.
Those seeking an intimate and secluded experience can opt for boutique wineries like Stags Leap Wine Cellars or Silver Oak Cellars.
After a hot air balloon ride over the sun-drenched vineyards of Napa, couples can head over to Spa Solage to invigorate their mind, body, and soul in healing geothermal pools.
And when hunger strikes, head to the triple Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, which features inventive dishes made with the finest seasonal ingredients, or the Brasswood Bar + Kitchen, which offers comforting dishes like goat cheese and spinach ravioli and herb-crusted lamb.
For a more casual vibe, visit Oxbow Public Market, where you can grab some artisanal cheeses and local produce to pair with your favorite wines.
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Laguna Beach is a gem tucked in Southern California. Perfectly located along the Pacific Coast Highway, just an hour from Los Angeles, this atmospheric town spoils couples with majestic views of secluded coves, idyllic beaches, dramatic coastal bluffs, and richly diverse coastal parks.
Bucket-list experiences here include exploring the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, home to the only natural lakes in Orange County, visiting the Crystal Cove State Park, known for its glittering tide pools, and scuba diving in the famous Diver’s Cove. Make sure to also have a romantic picnic in Heisler Park, enjoying heartwarming views of the Pacific Ocean.
Aside from exploring Laguna Beach’s world-renowned beaches and coastal parks, visitors can enjoy the city’s vibrant art scene, which comprises 100 galleries and the renowned Laguna Art Museum.
Laguna Beach also has a unique mix of romantic hotels — from swanky oceanfront resorts to 5-star boutique hotels — that treat couples to breathtaking ocean views and amenities like full-service spas, marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and majestic swimming pools, to name a few. Guarantee your cozy stay by reading this guide to the top hotels in Laguna Beach.
Before your trip, also check out our thoughtful guide to the top things to do in Laguna Beach and discover what experiences you can’t miss in the city.
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Santa Barbara is an idyllic city that exudes a relaxed, coastal vibe, making it the ideal romantic getaway for couples in California. From the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean and the towering Santa Ynez Mountains to the charming Mediterranean-style architecture, Santa Barbara is brimming with spellbinding sights that will captivate couples.
Romantic experiences for couples include lounging on sun-drenched beaches like Butterfly Beach, watching the sunset from Stearns Wharf, and discovering over 5,000 species of native California plants in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
Couples will also love having a breezy picnic in the Arroyo Burro Beach Park, which is beautifully framed by towering bluffs and offers show-stopping views of the ocean.
Aside from lounging on sun-kissed beaches, couples will have over 200 wineries to explore in Santa Barbara. The Jamie Slone Wines and Presqu’ile winery offer fantastic tasting experiences for couples, allowing them to sample some of the most delicious wines in the region.
Read our guide to the bucket-list things to do in Santa Barbara and the best hotels in Santa Barbara.
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With its towering mountains, granite cliffs, crystal clear waters, verdant forests, and wooded trails, Lake Tahoe is a picture-perfect destination for couples who love the great outdoors.
The lake straddles the border of California and Nevada and offers adventure seekers a plethora of activities all year round. During the warmer months, couples can enjoy hiking, biking, or paddleboarding around the lake. For a unique experience, take a cruise on Ms. Dixie II, which offers breathtaking views of the area’s stunning landscape. In the winter, the snowy wonderland provides opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow-related activities.
If adventure isn’t your thing, cozy up with a hot drink by the fireplace, take a dip in the Grover Hot Springs, or check out the local breweries for a fun and laid-back afternoon.
And, for the ultimate romantic experience, book a stay in one of the many luxury resorts that surround the lake, where you can indulge in a couples massage, private hot tub, or candlelit dinner with stunning views of the sunset.
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Catalina Island is a hidden gem just off the Southern California coast. A haven for adventure seekers, the island offers a plethora of activities ranging from zip-lining to parasailing, scuba diving, and hiking.
But, for couples who prefer to take things slow, there’s no shortage of options to explore as well. Stroll around the quaint streets of Avalon, visit the Catalina Island Museum, or take a relaxing couples massage at one of the local spas.
If you’re looking for the perfect sunset spot, head over to Descanso Beach, where you can sip on a cocktail while enjoying the stunning ocean views. Moreover, one of the most romantic experiences on Catalina Island is to take a private boat tour at night to marvel at the stars from the ocean while sampling some California-produced wine and artisanal cheese.
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San Diego has everything couples look for in a romantic weekend getaway. This breezy and balmy Southern California city boasts 70 miles of coastline, scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, world-class museums, and… over 100 days of sunshine a year!
Soak up the sun in the 1.75 miles long Coronado Beach, explore the raw beauty of La Jolla Cove, and walk along the scenic paths of the lush Balboa Park.
Couples will also love to enjoy achingly beautiful views of the San Diego Bay from the bustling San Diego Harbor, shop in the Seaport Village, and explore the unique nature of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
For the ultimate romantic experience, head over to the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, which is filled with cliff formations and caves, to enjoy the most spectacular views of the city.
San Diego is also one of the top destinations for year-round whale watching. For the one-of-a-kind opportunity to spot dolphins, whales, sea lions, and sea birds, go for a half-day cruise departing from Harbor Drive.
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Among the USA’s top national parks, Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful destination known for its rugged rock formations and scenic desert landscapes.
The park covers two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado deserts, and the best way to experience these natural wonders is by hiking the park’s nature trails. You’ll come across a plethora of plants and animals, including marvelous bird species like the roadrunner, phainopepla, and mockingbird, aside from spectacular geological features like exposed granite monoliths and rugged canyons.
For the ultimate romantic experience, couples can camp under the star in one of the park’s 9 designated sites. Joshua Tree National Park boasts some of the darkest nights in Southern California, so this is the perfect opportunity for stargazing and getting the chance to see the Milky Way with the unaided eye.
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Often dubbed one of the most romantic getaways in Southern California, Palm Springs is the ideal destination for couples seeking some peace and serenity.
Palm Springs is located within the Coachella Valley and flaunts an alluring desert landscape comprising snow-dusted mountains and towering palm trees. These natural wonders gloriously surround luxurious hotels where couples can spend days on end swimming, drinking Prosecco, and indulging in restoring spa treatments.
For a five-star luxury experience in the heart of the desert, book a suite at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage, where you’ll be pampered with healing massages, yoga sessions, and mouthwatering meals made with seasonal fresh ingredients.
When not relaxing in the hotel, visit the Sunnylands Center & Gardens, a historic 200-acre estate that houses rotating art exhibitions, and ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a scenic birdseye view of the desert.
In the evening, couples can take a romantic stroll around the Palm Springs Art District, which comes to life at night with its array of art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
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Big Sur is not a city or town but a 90-mile rugged and mountainous section located in Central California within a 2h30 hour drive from San Francisco.
Surrounded by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the area is home to a multitude of state parks, natural preserves, beaches, and hiking trails. Some of the finest activities here include hiking the McWay Waterfall Trail and the Ewoldsen Trail. Along the way, you and your loved one catch a glimpse of the ocean and a dramatic scenery filled with cliffs and forests.
Couples can also enjoy scenic drives along the coast, stargaze under the clear night sky, and enjoy a relaxing day at one of the many hot springs in the area, such as the Esalen Hot Springs or the Sykes Hot Springs.
And no trip to Big Sur would be complete without a visit to Nepenthe, a famous restaurant perched atop a hill that offers breathtaking views of the coast and some of the best food and drinks in the area.
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Yosemite National Park is truly graced when it comes to natural beauty. Nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, this sprawling park offers couples the opportunity to experience nature in a unique, primitive setting.
Within the park’s nearly 1,200 square miles, you’ll come across deep forested valleys, giant sequoia trees, extensive meadows, and roaring waterfalls, just to name a few.
For a one-of-a-kind couples’ adventure, be sure to explore the park’s 750 miles of trails, which will take you to discover scenic natural features like the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias — the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite, home to more than 500 mature sequoias. Another bucket-list hike here is the Tuolumne Meadows, a trail surrounded by snow-dusted peaks and domes.
Couples can also hike to the top of Half Dome granite formation that towers over Yosemite’s awe-inspiring landscape and raft along the Merced River.
Stick around for the evening for a romantic moonlit hike or a mesmerizing stargazing tour!
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Sandwiched between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is a charming small town that offers the perfect mix of outdoor activities, romantic settings, and delicious food.
Start your day by hiking the iconic Bishop Peak, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and ocean. Then, explore the downtown area and visit the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, or take a stroll through the charming farmers’ market held every Thursday night.
If you’re looking for some relaxation, book a couples massage or soak in the hot springs at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.
For the ultimate romantic experience, take a sunset walk along the beautiful Avila Beach, just a short drive away from downtown SLO.
Couples can also visit the nearby Paso Robles, a city well-known for having more than 200 wineries and 40,000 vineyard acres. Also known as “Pass of the Oaks,” Paso Robles it’s a great pitstop in case you want to enjoy a private tour and try some of California’s finest wines.
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Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Mammoth Lakes is an atmospheric town that boasts year-round activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Start your day by hiking to the top of Mammoth Mountain, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Another great way of catching a glimpse of Mammoth Lakes’ natural beauty is by boating on Mammoth Lakes Basin. From the water, you’ll be granted privileged views of the surrounding mountains and distinctive geological features.
If you prefer a more relaxed pace, take a dip in one of the many natural hot springs in the area, such as Wild Willy’s Hot Springs or the Whitmore Hot Springs.
And if you’re visiting during the winter months, be sure to hit the slopes at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, which offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the country.
For a life-changing vacation, take advantage of the stunning campsites that are located in Mammoth Lakes – several of which are located near alpine lakes and in forested streamside settings. There’s nothing more romantic than waking up to the sound of wild birds and the view of gorgeous mountains.
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Nestled on a headland surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Mendocino is a feast for sore eyes with its picturesque landscapes that encompass rugged cliffs and paradisiac beaches.
Here, make sure to visit the Mendocino Headlands State Park, home to scenic trails, secluded beaches, dramatic cliffs, and hidden grottos.
If you’re looking for a bit of action, rent a kayak and explore the nearby Big River Estuary, where you can spot sea lions, seals, and various bird species.
Just two miles north of downtown Mendocino you’ll find the Russian Gulch State Park, a dreamy nature sanctuary that encompasses pristine beaches, a 36-foot waterfall, caves, tide pools, and 15 miles of trails.
And there are gentler options, too. Couples can take a romantic stroll through the town’s historic district, where you’ll find several art galleries, boutiques, and quaint cafes to explore.
Cozy inns and B&Bs also make Mendocino one of the most amazing getaways in Northern California for couples. For a well-worth relaxing vacation, book a stay at the comfy Brewery Gulch Inn. All of the inn’s 10 rooms have fireplaces, fresh flowers, and feather beds, which are the perfect ingredients for the ultimate romantic holiday!
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San Francisco is the perfect place for a sight-packed vacation in California. The city has everything you could want from a bustling metropolis: top-notch museums, lush state parks, postcard-worthy landmarks, and, of course, lip-smacking restaurants.
Couples will love going for an outdoor picnic at Shakespeare Garden, relaxing at the Nob Hill Spa, watching the sunset from the Bernal Heights Summit, and taking a dreamy boat cruise around the San Francisco Bay.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden, filled with more than 8,000 plants from around the world, and go to Baker Beach to enjoy privileged views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Foodies can feast on jet-fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. or sample Italian dishes with a twist at cozy and upscale Serafina.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel, often regarded as the most romantic hotel in Northern California, provides couples with a wonderful stay in San Francisco. Located in a historic building near the Financial District, the hotel spoils lovebirds with luxury suites that offer stunning city views and a lip-smacking on-site restaurant that showcases stellar Bay Area wines.
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