The progressive state is known for its sun, sand, surf, beautiful residents, and liberal ideals. It’s also a beautiful paradise home to glitzy sun-soaked cities, jaw-dropping coastline, vast stretches of desert, and primeval old-growth forests. In such an easy-on-the-eye region there’s no shortage of romantic places that honeymooners and couples in love can explore and experience. From sea-kayaking around remote islands to dining alfresco along the Malibu coast, here are Top 10 of our personal favorite romantic things to do in California...
1. Whale watch from your room at the Tickle Pink Inn – one of the most romantic places to stay in California
Positioned on arguably one of the most romantic spots in the Big Sur area is this much-adored inn. You’ll find the Tickle Pink Inn perched on a rocky cliff in the world’s most affluent artists’ colony – Carmel-on-Sea. It’s one of those rare hotels that manages to successfully combine subtle luxury with a romantic coziness – making it an ideal haven for couples.
Rooms with jacuzzis are available if required, although if your budget doesn’t stretch to this you can always don your Tickle Pink embroidered robes and make use of the communal out-door hot-tub. Staff will go out of their way to ensure your stay is a special one and when you arrive you’ll receive everything from a friendly welcome to champagne and freshly baked cookies delivered to your room.
You’ll also be given a pair of binoculars to whale and wildlife spot from your balcony. Okay, you’re not guaranteed of a sighting but the jaw-dropping views will more than makeup for that.
2. Get close to nature at the Treebones Yurt Resort
More comfortable than a tent but closer to nature than a guesthouse, ‘Glamping‘ or ‘glamorous camping’ is a growing trend. Staying in a Mongolian style yurt can also be a very romantic experience and where better to try it than one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world?
The Treebones Resort is surrounded by both the Los Padres national forest and the pacific ocean – a superb position for outdoor-loving couples. Here you’ll find 16 comfortably equipped yurts, a heated ocean-view pool, a shared hot tub and a community lodge making it a perfect intimate hideaway with a difference.
3. Make your own wine at the Fontanella Family Winery, Napa Valley
With acres of vineyards and rolling countryside, pretty much everywhere in Napa Valley could be considered romantic. Although if you tire of the all the usual wine tasting tours why not try heading a little off the beaten track? Fontanella Family Winery is a place that could be considered a modern twist on old Napa and is definitely worth a visit. Aside from its idyllic location and valuable production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel, here you can even try your hand at making your own wine. You’re promised friendly guidance from the resident winemaker and of course, you’ll get to name your new creation and afterwards take a case home for yourself!
4. Dine Mediterranean style along the Pacific Coast Highway
The Malibu Coast is certainly easy on the eye and the well-loved, authentic Mediterranean and romantic restaurant Beau Rivage, takes full advantage of one of Californians’ most romantic spots. Aiming to capture “the essence of the Riviera on the pacific” the restaurant exudes a casual European elegance.
The menu offers a wide range of French and Italian cuisine including everything from fresh seafood to homemade pasta, served either inside or on the pretty flowered patio in warmer weather. Head there for excellent views of the surf and a memorable meal for two washed down with plenty of well-chosen wines.
5. Have a soak in the Mono Hot Springs
A dip for two in the hot springs of the magical Sierra Nevada valley can’t fail to impress your nature-loving partner. A very special place all year round, expect to find alpine-esque settings, gorgeous landscapes and plenty of peace and quiet.
The Mono springs are more developed than some of the other springs so you’ll be ensured of well-maintained pools, cabin lodge accommodation and even options for on-site spa and massage therapy. Looking for even more alone time? Try hiking through the nearby John Muir Wilderness.
6. Kick back by the coast at the romantic Avila La Fonda Hotel, California
Once voted one of the world’s best hotels by a popular travel site, The Avila La Fonda Hotel offers one of the coziest and most welcoming stays along the Pacific Coast. With decor inspired by a 19th-century Mexican village architecture and sweet personal touches taken to the extreme – your time here will be an unforgettable and very romantic one.
It’s located only one block away from the ocean and there are 28 distinctively decorated guest rooms to choose from – each with a Jacuzzi tub for two, a large plasma HDTV, and a thoughtful hospitality bar.
Also expect to find a lobby library crammed with local history, music and movies, a hospitality room filled with complimentary wine and cookies, and even and an ultra-cute late-night pantry complete with honesty box! Easily one of the most romantic things to do in California!
7. Take a couple’s stroll along gorgeous Moonstone Beach, Cambria
Moonstone Beach is known to the locals of Cambria as a coastal romantic beauty spot. It’s also a very peaceful place, and quieter beaches are usually far more romantic than a crowded boardwalk.
The unspoiled coastline is located on the edge of a quiet town and you can take a coastal walk winding right up against the Pacific and only see a few people now and again. Search for colorful stones, watch the seals sunbathing on the rocks or have a relaxing stroll among a shady wood of cypress trees. Of course, you’ll also have to stay until later in the day if only to see the spectacular sunset.
- We also have a post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in Cambria
8. Make the most of the hot tubs at Sycamore Mineral Springs
For some serious rejuvenation how about cozying up at this historic hillside retreat? The romantic Sycamore Resort rests atop hot mineral springs and the site spans more than 100 acres of forest, hills, and meadows, giving you plenty of options to be at one with nature.
The rooms are no less romantic with luxurious suite options available if required, each with their very own private balcony spa. The main on-site spa offers everything from massages and skincare to yoga classes and healing therapies and expect gourmet organic cuisine to be served up in the restaurant.
9. Stay (or just dine) at the cute and romantic Cass House Inn and Restaurant
Located in what was once named as America’s Coolest Small Towns is this impossibly cute and romantic luxury Inn complete with sweeping ocean views and beautiful surrounding gardens. Housed in a lovingly restored 1860s Victorian building and run by an attentive husband and wife team, you’ll find the Cass House in a coastal California surf town just off Highway One.
Here you’ll be served up seasonally inspired locally grown fare complemented by an impressive wine list. Afterwards, choose one of the five luxuriously appointed rooms to stretch out your stay a little bit longer.
10. Kayak and sleep under the stars on Santa Cruz Island
Another option for nature-loving lovers is a trip to Santa Cruz island. This island – located off the Southern Californian coast – is one of eight remote and isolated rock islands making up the Channel Islands National Park.
Acres of unspoiled and pristine landscapes (as well as 2,000 species of plants and animals) await you – although be warned these islands are not developed so you will have to leave your fondness for creature comforts behind.
More adventurous types would probably jump at the chance to go sea-kayaking, cave exploring, and camping out under the Californian sky. This is one for romantic couples who really want to be away from the crowds.
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.