From national parks to wineries to beaches, the Golden State is home to endless options for outdoor adventures that are easily accessible by car. We collected some of our favorite picks for the most swoon-worthy romantic getaways in California to add to your West Coast long weekend agenda. Cue the wanderlust!
While this one is perfect for a romantic getaway with your significant other, we also love this spot for a fun solo expedition and camping with the crew. “Get back to nature and escape to the wild and rugged coastline of Big Sur, which offers stunning views of the Pacific along miles and miles of dramatic cliffs. Visit a few ‘jewels’ of California’s state park system and walk among the redwoods to discover secret beaches and waterfalls. Soak in natural hot springs, pamper yourselves with a massage or spa treatment and enjoy a romantic dinner for two perched above the endless blue ocean.” (CBS Los Angeles)
Perhaps the quintessential romantic getaway in California, Napa is a no-brainer. “It’s an interesting experience; peaceful and quiet floating through the sky intermittently interrupted by the roar and flames, only to have the propane turned off abruptly and be wrapped by the cool air and silent drifting once again. […]Hot air balloon rides are on many travelers’ bucket lists of vacation activities. I can’t think of a better way to check that item off your list than to enjoy the sun rising over Napa Valley. ” (The Vacation Gals)
Check out our favorite road trip-friendly cars
“There’s no sunset quite as spectacular as a desert sunset. From the red-hued rocks to the yucca trees and tumbleweeds, Joshua Tree is a serene escape with sparse beauty all around. Rent a design-forward home in the middle of it all, and soak in the sights and sounds of the high desert. Explore the wilderness during the day and cozy up and star gaze with your S.O. at night.” (Refinery29)
“The village area of downtown La Jolla oozes luxury and has many romantic restaurants, bars, and cafes ideal for couples looking for a romantic getaway, but La Jolla’s main romance factor can be found at the La Jolla Cove. Curving around the Pacific Ocean, the La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacularly stunning stretches of coastline in California. With a wide grassy area ideal for a picnic and a meandering walking trail along the perimeter of the cove, its an ideal place to spend a leisurely romantic afternoon.” (One Day In A City)
If you’re making the trek between Northern and Southern California, this is a can’t-miss spot. “The air feels fresher and the ocean more serene in Santa Barbara, which offers great hiking and mountain views amid historic 1930s architecture and terra-cotta paved streets.” (LA Weekly)
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
One of our all-time favorites, “Yosemite National Park is sort of like a theme park plunked into the great outdoors: visitors can choose any number of activities during their trip, including hiking, climbing, trail rides, photography tours, live theater, and fine food.” (CN Traveler)
BONUS: Last but not least, one of the easiest romantic getaways in California requires almost no planning: a simple cruise along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, spanning San Diego to San Francisco. The sweeping views are unforgettable.