One of my favorite things of living in California is how many romantic weekend rendezvous there are nearby that Tom and I can head to for a weekend away. With both beaches and mountains close by and amazing wine countries, there are a plethora of fun romantic weekend getaways in California.
Here are my top five favorite romantic getaways in California.
San Luis Obispo
This college town has been voted the happiest place in America and I know I get pretty happy whenever I’m there.
The village of San Luis Obispo has laidback bars ideal for a conversation with your honey, gourmet romantic restaurants – some right next to the creek that runs through SLO like Novo Restaurant (also a great wine bar), and nearby vineyards and wineries. Try Wolff Vineyards for my favorite Syrahs. Also, while it may not be the most romantic of establishments, Firestone Grill is a sports bar and eatery that has the most amazing tri-tip sandwich you’ll even encounter — they might help you fall in love with each other all over again while you’re falling in love with the sandwich. (Hey, it could happen.)
I adore this little Danish-inspired town and usually try to make time to go there if I’m planning a trip to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo. It has traditional Danish architecture and feels more like a village than a town. Kitschy but cute shops selling everything from wine stoppers to cuckoo clocks line the little lanes of Solvang and are fun to browse through together.
In addition, you can add wine tasting to your romantic day walking around Solvang as many of the nearby Santa Ynez wineries have tasting rooms in Solvang. Lucas and Lewellen on Copenhagen Drive has some great wines and a Tuscan ambiance.
The wine trails of Santa Ynez valley, like Foxen Canyon, are also quick to get to from Solvang. For a romantic meal in Solvang, head to Root 246. If romance for the two of you isn’t complete without your four-legged friend by your side, Solvang is also a good option — here’s a dog friendly Solvang guide.
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. It’s located in La Jolla, the northernmost neighborhood of the city of San Diego, and should be a must-see spot on any San Diego travel itinerary.
With a wide grassy area ideal for a picnic and a meandering walking trail along the perimeter of the cove, it’s an ideal place to spend a leisurely romantic afternoon. When the tide is out, the rocky area next the ocean is fun to walk around on together to peer in the tide pools and see what sea life you can spot. In addition, there are usually lots of seals frolicking in the waters of the La Jolla Cove.
At night, it doesn’t get much more romantic than dining in the Marine Room in La Jolla and watching the surf hit the restaurants massive (and secure) windows.
You also might enjoy reading: A Guide to Shelter Island in San Diego
Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur
Don’t overlook these three small and romantic cities when planning a trip to San Francisco and the Bay Area.
Monterey and Carmel are two small California coastal towns located right next to each other and are ideal for a romantic vacation as they provide a perfect balance for a weekend away: Carmel is a sleepy, artsy town that is ideal for an afternoon of wandering and stopping in wine bars for a romantic drink, while Monterey has many activities to do like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sea kayaking, while rugged Big Sur and its famous 17-mile drive provides incredible scenery for a romantic drive. At night, both Carmel and Monterey offer romantic restaurants to dine in. Try Casanova in Carmel or the Sardine Factory in Monterey (much more romantic inside than it sounds!).
Ok, there’s obviously a wine theme going on here, but what can I say? Wine regions are conducive to romance with gorgeous scenes of vines stretching across the countryside and usually a surplus of romantic restaurants, plus…well…wine itself can make you feel quite amorous.
Of all the wine regions in California, there’s none more famous than Napa, a popular weekend getaway or day trip from San Francisco.
For couples looking for a romantic getaway, that fame means a luxurious getaway, too, as there are a surplus of spa accommodations and top-notch restaurants (French Laundry, widely considered to be the best restaurant in the world, is even located in Napa Valley, though good luck getting a reservation).
For a romantic stay during your trip to Napa Valley, try the aptly named Wine Country Inn, which is located right in the middle of wine country and and has a pool and hot tub onsite, plus a patio with gorgeous views and rooms decorated in country chic.
Where’s your favorite romantic getaway in California or beyond?