8 Romantic California Getaways for Couples

These romantic getaways in California blend stunning scenery with thoughtful ways to connect.
Couple on the beach in San Luis Obispo (Photo: @yellofishdesign via Twenty20)
Couple on the beach in San Luis Obispo (Photo: @yellofishdesign via Twenty20)
  • With more than 800 miles of coastline and endless stretches of pure natural beauty, California is a picture-perfect destination for romantic getaways.
  • From clifftop resorts to romantic vineyard retreats, California has romantic getaways to match any couples’ interests.
  • These are my picks for the best romantic getaways in California.

California is made for romantic getaways. Long coastal drives, beautiful beaches, stunning mountain scenery—it all comes together as a picture-perfect setting for a romantic vacation. Whether you’re on your first trip together, celebrating an anniversary, or taking a much-needed escape from the kids, there are plenty of romantic getaways in California just right for a long weekend.

Most Romantic Getaways in California

When I say romantic getaways in California, I’m not talking about standard hotels with some scattered rose petals thrown in, either. My idea of a romantic California escape is more like clifftop resorts, luxe rooms that overlook acres of vineyards, or an overnight stay on a catamaran. These experiences at some of my favorite romantic hotels in California are my picks for a truly memorable couples getaway in the Golden State.

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1. Romantic Wine Country Getaway at Vintners Resort

Sonoma Wine Country, California

The European-style Vinters Resort is a stunning backdrop for romantic California getaways (Photo: Vinters Resort)
The European-style Vinters Resort is a stunning backdrop for romantic California getaways (Photo: Vinters Resort)

Forget about dealing with crowds on your romantic California getaway. The Four Diamond Vintners Resort in Santa Rosa has just 78 rooms and is surrounded by more than 90 acres of vineyards. Landscaped with courtyards and fountains, the European-style estate makes for a perfect place to reconnect with quiet walks against a stunning Wine Country backdrop. Book the “Wine Country romance” package for a vineyard-view room, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a bottle of sparkling wine, and discounts on spa services.

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2. Southern California Couples Getaway at Montage Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, California

The view from one of Montage Laguna Beach's 260 rooms (Photo: Montage Laguna Beach)
The view from one of Montage Laguna Beach’s 260 rooms (Photo: Montage Laguna Beach)

The first wow factor here is the location: Montage Laguna Beach is situated on a coastal bluff above the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. But there’s plenty more to this romantic California resort as well. The 30-acre beachfront hotel has beautiful 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.

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Shake off stress at Spa Montage, where you can enjoy a combination of exfoliation, a botanical bubble bath, aromatic scalp massage, and a side-by-side massage, among other treatment options. Keep the good vibes flowing with a dip in the Mosaic Pool with its views of the Pacific. When you’re ready for action, talk to the concierge about whale watching, kayak tours, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. Go all out with an Ocean Surf Bungalow Suite that’s secluded, close to the ocean, and comes with unobstructed ocean and panoramic beach views.

3. Overnight Catamaran Getaway with BluReverie

Redwood City, California

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 an all-inclusive cruise aboard a 48-foot French catamaran sailing the San Francisco Bay. With BluReverie, you’ll set sail from Redwood City in the South Bay and head toward Angel Island, the bay’s largest natural island and home to a state park with lots of opportunities for hiking, biking, and historical tours.

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And if you want a behind-the-scenes look at running a catamaran (or you want try your hand at doing a few tasks), all you have to do is ask. Food and drinks are included on this romantic 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.

4. Blissful Central Coast Getaway at Hotel Ynez

Solvang, California

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. This boutique hotel on California’s Central Coast is set on two blissfully private acres full of redwood, oak, and Madrone trees, with gardens and bonfire pits to boot.

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

5. Luxury and Romance at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

Santa Barbara, California

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is a perfect base for Central California romantic getaways (Photo: Ritz-Carlton)
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is a perfect base for Central California romantic getaways (Photo: Ritz-Carlton)

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. There’s plenty to do here, including swimming in three different pools, borrowing a complimentary electric bike, hitting the beach, strolling the onsite nature trail, taking a tennis lesson, or trying your hand at surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

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Don’t miss out on 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. Book a one-bedroom suite with an ocean view, wet bar, fireplace, and large balcony to raise the romance factor.

6. Romantic Getaways in Big Sur at Ventana Big Sur, An Alila Resort

Big Sur, California

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 Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort. Imagine sweeping vistas of dense redwood forests in one direction and the Pacific’s crashing waves in the other—this is the stuff the best romantic getaways in California are made of.

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Unique offerings at this luxe resort 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.

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. Under-the-Radar Romantic Weekends at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

San Luis Obispo, California

San Luis Obispo is a Central Coast sweet spot that’s still pretty under the radar, which makes it a prime spot for a low-key romantic getaway. This small college town delivers good times like kayaking on Laguna Lake, wine tasting, browsing the farmers’ market, a simple day at the beach, or wine tasting at Chamisal Vineyards

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I recommend the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort for wellness and relaxation, especially if 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 is the very definition of a romantic California getaway. 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 Pacific stretching out from town (Carmel Beach is one of the state’s most loved beaches).

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Keep the magic going with a stay at La Playa Carmel, nicknamed “the Grande Dame of Carmel” for a reason. For more than 100 years, this seaside 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 romance.

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