California’s diverse landscapes, from expansive wine regions to stunning coastal views, make it an ideal destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway. U.S. News has scoured the state to identify the most enchanting escapes for couples. Whether you prefer luxurious oceanfront resorts or cozy small towns, California offers a range of romantic options.
7. Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey
Situated about 120 miles south of San Francisco, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a picturesque coastal village that beckons couples with its charming bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels like the intimate Hotel Carmel. Here, you can cozy up by a fireplace in your room and spend your days exploring the quaint shops, indulging in high-end dining, and gazing at breathtaking ocean vistas.
The historic La Playa Carmel, a hotel with over a century of history, is another inviting choice. Its flower-filled courtyards provide a peaceful backdrop for a romantic breakfast overlooking the misty ocean, and Bud’s offers a classic cocktail experience at its bar. Guests can also explore the scenic coastal road known as Scenic Road and pay a visit to Tor House, the former seaside residence of poet Robinson Jeffers, complete with a hand-built stone tower offering mesmerizing ocean views.
A short drive along the scenic 17-Mile Drive leads to Monterey, home to Cannery Row. The waterfront InterContinental The Clement Monterey is an excellent place to spend a night or two. For a more lavish, all-inclusive coastal retreat, venture about 30 miles south to Alila Ventana Big Sur.
6. Napa Valley
Nestled about 60 miles north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is the heart of California’s wine country. Rolling hills adorned with vineyards, renowned wineries, and farm-to-table dining await couples here. For a sweeping view of the landscape, consider a hot air balloon ride with Napa Valley Balloons, followed by alfresco brunch at the adults-only Auberge du Soleil, boasting vineyard panoramas. Another option is a bicycle day tour with Getaway Adventures, allowing you to explore Napa Valley’s beauty while enjoying wine tastings and a picnic lunch.
While nearly every winery in California oozes romance, some notable choices for couples include Chimney Rock and Rutherford Hill, both family-owned, offering wine cave tours and picturesque gardens with Cape Dutch-style architecture. Chateau Montelena Winery, founded in 1882, charms visitors with its pristine grounds featuring Chinese-style pagodas and elegant swans.
When it’s time for dinner, consider Johnny’s in Calistoga, located within the historic Mount View Hotel, once a favorite of Hollywood’s elite. Alternatively, savor Mediterranean cuisine at The Grove at Copia in Napa. To rest your heads in style, Andaz Napa in downtown Napa offers a contemporary and vibrant atmosphere, complete with spacious bathtubs for a luxurious touch.
5. Post Ranch Inn: Big Sur
For an adults-only retreat with one of the most awe-inspiring settings in California, look no further than Post Ranch Inn. Perched at the edge of Big Sur’s iconic cliffs, the inn offers unobstructed, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean – a feature cherished by recent guests. Alongside its extraordinary location, the inn boasts architecturally striking guest rooms, including one shaped like a butterfly, private houses, and treehouse-style accommodations for those who prefer waking up to forest vistas.
Accommodations come with enticing amenities such as wood-burning fireplaces, binoculars, hiking gear, heated floors, daily complimentary breakfast, hot tubs, and private decks. The inn also offers an array of included activities like morning yoga, guided nature walks, meditation sessions, stargazing, and complimentary use of Lexus cars. Additionally, the property features a fitness center, spa, restaurant, and an ocean-facing pool.
Travelers appreciate the sustainability efforts at Post Ranch Inn. The property is conveniently located near Pfeiffer Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, as well as a short drive away from attractions like Andrew Molera State Park.
4. La Jolla
Just north of bustling San Diego lies the charming town of La Jolla, surrounded by iconic rocky cliffs. La Jolla boasts quaint shops and eateries, offering ample opportunities for couples to enjoy leisurely strolls. One unique experience is exploring a sea cave accessible from inside a local store.
Outdoor enthusiasts can embark on a kayaking adventure at La Jolla Cove with reputable outfitter Everyday California, where they can paddle in and out of the area’s famous sea caves and spot leopard sharks and sea lions. For a breathtaking coastal hike, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, adjacent to the Torrey Pines Golf Course, provides an excellent option. As for accommodations, the Mediterranean-inspired La Valencia Hotel offers an elegant retreat with impressive ocean views.
3. Point Reyes National Seashore
For couples seeking tranquility in a remote setting amidst breathtaking landscapes, Point Reyes National Seashore, about 35 miles northwest of San Francisco, provides an ideal escape. Here, you’ll discover waterfalls cascading onto the beach, scenic overlooks revealing rugged coastlines, and trails winding through serene meadows and dense forests. The park is also home to over 50 threatened, rare, or endangered animal species, including mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Hiking trails vary in difficulty, ranging from gentle strolls to full-day treks. It’s important to consult trail descriptions before embarking on your journey. While lodging options within Point Reyes are limited, you can find backcountry campgrounds, including boat-in camping along Tomales Bay. Nearby towns such as Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness offer other types of accommodations, including inns, B&Bs, and private rentals.
Olema House Point Reyes offers a luxurious experience, with private patios and in-room fireplaces for a romantic ambiance. Couples can also enjoy picnics overlooking the picturesque Olema Creek and shop for snacks at the property’s tavern and market, featuring California cuisine with local, seasonal ingredients.
2. Yosemite National Park
For couples looking for a mountain retreat, Yosemite National Park sets the stage for a captivating getaway. Book a canvas tent or wooden cabin, or upgrade to the grand Ahwahnee hotel. The hotel’s Dining Room, with floor-to-ceiling windows, provides a remarkable wilderness view. Days can be spent hiking to stunning waterfalls, strolling through flower-filled meadows, scaling granite cliffs, or taking a refreshing swim in a pristine river.
Yosemite Village offers a general store where you can stock up on picnic essentials. Dining options range from casual pizza at Curry Village to fine dining at The Ahwahnee. After the sun sets, consider attending a stargazing or fireside storytelling event. Photography enthusiasts can find inspiration in the park’s natural beauty, with guided photography walks, classes, and a visit to The Ansel Adams Gallery.
1. Lake Tahoe
With over 70 miles of shoreline, Lake Tahoe offers countless opportunities for couples to relax and enjoy the water. Located in Northern California, this vast lake extends across the Nevada border. Known for its crystal-clear waters and surrounded by majestic, forested mountains, Lake Tahoe is a haven for couples seeking a nature-filled escape.
Outdoor adventure abounds here, with activities like paddleboarding, hiking, skiing, and sailing. For an unforgettable experience, consider a hot air balloon ride or a helicopter tour to take in the breathtaking scenery. Accommodation options are equally diverse, ranging from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, to Edgewood Tahoe Resort, and The Landing Resort & Spa. If you’re feeling lucky, you can even test your fortunes at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe or Harveys Lake Tahoe casinos.
In summary, California offers a wealth of romantic getaways, from coastal escapes to wine country retreats and mountain hideaways. Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, you’re sure to find the perfect destination to create lasting memories with your partner.