8 Romantic California Getaways for Couples

Find relaxation and romance in these picture-perfect California destinations.
Couple on the beach in San Luis Obispo (Photo: @yellofishdesign via Twenty20)
Couple on the beach in San Luis Obispo (Photo: @yellofishdesign via Twenty20)

California is for lovers. Those long drives along the coast and those beautiful beaches and mountains are the perfect settings for that romantic vacation you’ve put off too long. Whether you’re on your first trip together, celebrating an anniversary, or taking a much-needed mom and dad escape from the kids, there are plenty of romantic getaways in California just right for a long weekend.

The Most Romantic Getaways in California

When we say romantic getaways in California, we’re not just talking standard hotels with some scattered rose petals. Read on for catamaran overnights, clifftop resorts, and luxe rooms that overlook acres of vineyards. Here are some of our favorite romantic hotels in the California.

1. BluReverie Catamaran, Redwood City

Dining table aboard the BluReverie boat, a romantic California getaway option in the San Francisco Bay
BluReverie’s two-night catamaran sailings offer a unique and romantic overnight option in the San Francisco Bay (Photo: BluReverie)

Imagine just the two of you on a three-day, two-night, all-inclusive BluReverie cruise aboard a 48-foot French catamaran sailing the San Francisco Bay. Set sail from Redwood City in the South Bay, and head toward Angel Island, the San Francisco Bay’s largest natural island and home to a state park with plenty of hiking, biking, and historical tour options. And if you want a behind the scenes look at running a catamaran and to try your hand at doing a few tasks, just say so.

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Food and drinks are included on this cruise, and you can look forward to a menu you can customize. Think sunsets and cocktails on the Bay, plus candlelit dinners—it doesn’t get much more romantic than that.

2. Vintners Resort, Santa Rosa

Forget crowds—this four-diamond intimate resort has just 78 rooms. The Vintners Resort setting is stunning, surrounded by more than 90 acres of vineyards and landscaped with courtyards and fountains, the perfect place to reconnect with quiet walks through the popular property.

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Consider the couples package that includes a two-night stay, a bottle of sparkling wine, six chocolate-dipped strawberries, and silk rose petals strewn about your room upon arrival. Also included in the package are: a spa credit for two 50-minute Signature Massages in the Couple’s Massage room at Vi La Vita Spa; two white cotton spa robes to take home; and a $150 dining credit to be used at John Ash & Co. (the resort’s farm to table restaurant), The Front Room bar, or River Vine for breakfast.

3. Montage Laguna Beach

The first wow factor here is the location: Montage is on a coastal bluff above the Pacific in Southern California. But there’s plenty more to this popular resort as well. This 30-acre beachfront hotel has beautifully coastal-inspired rooms, two outdoor pools, a massive spa, and three restaurants with million-dollar views. Onsite wellness offerings include complimentary yoga and exercises plus beach walk meditation.

Shake off stress at Spa Montage with the Romantic Couples Journey treatment. Enjoy a combination of exfoliation, a botanical bubble bath, aromatic scalp massage and side-by-side full body massage. Keep the good vibes flowing with a dip in the Mosaic Pool with its views of the Pacific.

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When you’re ready for action, talk to the concierge about whale watching, kayak tours, snorkeling and paddleboarding. Go all out with an Ocean Surf Bungalow Suite that’s secluded, close to the ocean and with unobstructed ocean and panoramic beach views.

4. Hotel Ynez, Solvang

This boutique hotel in Solvang on California’s Central Coast is on two blissfully private acres full of redwood, oak and Madrone trees, gardens, and bonfire pits. Between wine tasting trips to nearby wineries and stops in the Danish-inspired downtown of Solvang, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy at Hotel Ynez. Make your way to the pool, play bocce ball in the gardens, or get cozy lounging in hammocks on your private patio or sitting in Adirondack chairs sipping wine.

To maximize romantic vibes, book the Garden Suite with its king bed under skylights, wood-stove fireplace, private backyard with seating, hammock, fire pit, and hot tub. What else could you need?

5. Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a vibrant California city rich in arts, culinary offerings, and yes, lovely beaches. So obviously it’s an ideal spot for a couple’s getaway. Make the five-star Ritz-Carlton Bacara your base for taking advantage of all the area has to offer. At the popular resort there’s plenty to do: swim in three pools, borrow a complimentary electric bike, hit the beach, stroll the onsite nature trail, take a tennis lesson, and try surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

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Check out cool programs like Meet Your Maker, where you barrel sample future vintages and taste private reserve/library wines. Your experience includes a gourmet picnic lunch, a private guided tour, and tastings. Find your Zen in the 42,000 square-foot spa and wellness center. Consider a one-bedroom suite with an ocean view, wet bar, fireplace, and large balcony.

6. Alila Ventana Big Sur

aerial view of the pool and buildings at Alila Ventana Big Sur, a romantic getaway in California
Alila Ventana Big Sur is an adults-only resort with unusual offerings like celestial-infused yoga (Photo: Hyatt)

Big Sur really is a show all by itself, but the scenery just gets more spectacular at adults-only Alila Ventana Big Sur. Imagine sweeping vistas dense redwood forests in one direction and the Pacific’s crashing waves in the other—this is the stuff of the movies for sure.

Unique offerings at this luxe all-adult property include the Circle of Life Meditation Experience, which takes place in a natural ring of 100-year-old redwoods, and celestial-infused yoga. At the property’s Meadow Pool, you can chill in one of the private cabanas or the infinity-edged hot tub, with ocean and redwood views. Other great options are the Mountain Pool, perched high in the resort and encircled by trees, and the Japanese hot baths heated to 104 degrees.

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Choose from suites, cottages, and villas. With the Big Sur Spa Suite, you can relax in the hot tub on your patio with views of the ocean, canyon, or forest, and lounge in an oversized hammock. The wood-burning fireplace and oversized indoor tub for two will make coming inside just as nice as being outdoors. 

7. Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort, San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is a Central Coast sweet spot that’s still pretty under the radar. This small college town delivers good times like kayaking on Laguna Lake, wine tasting, browsing the farmers’ market or a beach day hang. Wine taste at spots like Chamisal Vineyards or Malene’s ’69 Airstream mobile tasting room. 

The Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort is the place to go for wellness and relaxation, especially when you and your partner book one of the resort’s 24 open-air mineral spring hot tubs on its forested hillside. Don’t miss a spa treatment here as well: this local-favorite spot regularly wins awards for its massages, and treatments come with a complimentary private mineral springs soak.

8. La Playa Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea  

exterior dusk view of La Playa Carmel, with view of cypresses and the Pacific in the background in Carmel, a romantic getway in California
La Playa Carmel offers a romantic setting in one of California’s most romantic towns (Photo: Classic Hotels & Resorts)

Carmel-by-the-Sea may be the most romantic place in California. This village on California’s central coast is beyond charming. It starts with the fairytale-like architecture designed back in the 1920s with rolled eaves, rounded doors, and asymmetrical chimneys. High-end boutiques, artisanal shops, galleries, and wine tasting rooms line the downtown. And the scenery is a beauty, with Point Lobos to the south, Pebble Beach to the north and the almighty Pacific stretching out from town—don’t miss Carmel Beach, which is one of the state’s most loved beaches.

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Keep the magic going with a stay at La Playa Carmel, which is nicknamed the “Grande Dame of Carmel” for a reason. For more than 100 years, this sea-side mansion has inspired romance with its manicured gardens, cozy patios, courtyards, and terrace swimming pool. Newly remodeled, the hotel has retained its vintage charm while also offering a modern take on California coastal bliss.

More Tips for Romantic Getaways in California

When you’re planning a romantic getaway in California, keep in mind that hotels (especially popular hotels) tend to book up quickly, so some advance planning will be key. Once you’ve booked your accommodations, you can start looking into romantic activities. Depending on where you’ll be, that might be as simple as a walk along the water or as involved as a champagne hot air balloon ride. The third key piece of any romantic getaway is, of course, the food. A mix of simple picnics in beautiful places and romantic restaurant meals can keep costs manageable and offer a nice blend of dining experiences.

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Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer, specializing in travel/lifestyle, personal finance and business. Her travel articles have appeared on CNTraveler, Newsweek.com, Fodors, Afar, RD.com, The Daily Beast, Culture Trip, Shermans Travel, Orbitz, among others. She is based in New York.

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