Just across the bay from San Francisco, Sausalito feels like the antithesis of its fast-paced neighbor. It’s a leisurely coastal destination where walking along the marina and admiring the bobbing houseboats counts as a well-spent afternoon. If you’re into hiking, biking, or simply gawking at the majesty of nature, prepare to be enamored by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. As far as accommodations are concerned, it’s impossible not to fall head over heels for the historic ambience and unobstructed Golden Gate Bridge views at Cavallo Point.
Napa Valley: Napa Valley is known for its world-class wineries and stunning scenery, making it the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Couples can enjoy wine tastings, picnics in the vineyards, and romantic dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Sonoma County: Sonoma County is another great option for a romantic trip to California. With its charming towns, rolling vineyards, and redwood forests, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Couples can visit the town of Sonoma, go wine tasting in Healdsburg, or hike in the redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Santa Monica Pier
The entire city of Santa Monica is worth a visit, but don’t miss the iconic Santa Monica Pier while there. The 1,600-foot pier comes with a little amusement park featuring a roller coaster so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the beach below before taking a short, belly-flipping drop back down. Then, rest your head at the Shore Hotel, which provides views of the pier, too.
Big Sur: Big Sur is a coastal stretch of highway that winds along the Pacific Ocean, offering stunning views of the coastline and towering redwoods. Couples can stop at Bixby Creek Bridge for a photo op, go for a hike in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, or relax on the beach at McWay Falls.
Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara is a charming coastal city with a Mediterranean climate. Couples can enjoy strolling along the beach, visiting the Santa Barbara Mission, or shopping at the boutiques on State Street.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a picturesque village on the Monterey Peninsula. Couples can visit the Carmel Mission, go shopping at the Carmel Plaza, or take a walk along the Carmel Beach.
Monterey is a historic city on the Monterey Peninsula. Couples can visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, take a whale watching tour, or visit Cannery Row.
Lake Tahoe is a stunning alpine lake that straddles the border between California and Nevada. Couples can enjoy swimming, boating, hiking, and skiing.
Palm Springs: Palm Springs is a desert oasis known for its mid-century modern architecture and vibrant nightlife. Couples can enjoy relaxing by the pool, hiking in the desert, or going to a nightclub.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park: Joshua Tree National Park is a unique desert park with towering rock formations and Joshua trees. Couples can go hiking, camping, or rock climbing.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park: Death Valley National Park is the hottest and driest national park in the United States. Couples can go hiking, camping, or visit Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park: Sequoia National Park is home to the largest trees on Earth, the giant sequoia trees. Couples can go hiking, camping, or visit the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park: Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Couples can go hiking, camping, rock climbing, or visit Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America.
Lake Powell: Lake Powell is a man-made lake that straddles the border between Arizona and Utah. Couples can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and camping.