From sea-kayaking around remote islands to dining alfresco along the Malibu coast there’s no shortage of romantic things to do in California. Here are some of our personal favourites…
1. Whale watch from your room at the Tickle Pink Inn
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 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 make up 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 ‘glamourous 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 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 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 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 sea food 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 Avila La Fonda Hotel
Once voted one the world’s best hotels by a popular travel site, The Avila La Fonda Hotel offers one of the cosiest 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 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 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!
7. Take a stroll along Moonstone Beach, Cambria.
Moonstone Beach is known to the locals of Cambria as a coastal beauty spot. It’s also a very peaceful place, and quieter beaches are usually far more romantic than a crowded boardwalk. The unspoilt 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.
8. Make the most of the hot tubs at Sycamore Mineral Springs
For some serious rejuvenation how about cosying up at this historic hillside retreat? The 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 skin care to yoga classes and healing therapies and expect gourmet organic cuisine to be served up in the restaurant.
9. Go horse riding along Malibu Beach
To make your animal-loving other half’s dreams come true head for Park Place Stable located along the Malibu coast. This place is one of the few Southern California facilities equipped for beach trail riding – surely every horse-riders fantasy? The stables offer well cared for horses and lessons for all levels of abilities, and private beach riding sessions are available if requested. Alternatively try horseback riding in the Santa Monica Mountains where if you wanted you can even ride with your loved one to your romantic evening dinner.
10. Stay (or just dine) at Cass House Inn and Restaurant
Located in what was once named as America’s Coolest Small Towns is this impossibly cute 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 1. Here you’ll be served up seasonally inspired locally grown fare complimented by an impressive wine list. Afterwards, choose one of the five luxuriously appointed rooms to stretch out your stay a little bit longer.
11. 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 unspoilt 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 couples who really want to be away from the crowds.
Also a huge thanks to all our readers for all the visits, tweets, likes and comments over the last two years. Here’s to lots more happy travel hopping years!