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8 Weekend Getaway Ideas in California for Couples

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on September 16, 2023

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In search of the perfect romantic getaway with your significant other? Look no further than California!
With a wealth of stunning landscapes, from mountain ranges and redwood forests to sweeping beaches and deserts, California is an ideal destination for couples seeking a weekend away full of adventure. From road trips up the coast to luxury spa resorts in the mountains, here are some of the best weekend getaway ideas in California for couples.

1. Napa Valley

Napa Valley, California vineyard landscape with sunset

Nestled in the heart of California, Napa Valley is a perfect weekend getaway for couples looking to indulge in some quality time together. With its rolling vineyards, world-class wineries, and gourmet dining options, this picturesque destination offers a luxurious and romantic experience that you'll cherish for a lifetime.

Begin your adventure with a leisurely drive through the lush wine country, taking in the breathtaking views of seemingly endless vineyards. Stop by some of the region's renowned wineries, such as Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Domaine Chandon, or Robert Mondavi Winery, where you can sip on exquisite wines and learn about their fascinating history and production process.

As you wander through the vineyards hand-in-hand, make sure to capture the unforgettable moments with photographs that will serve as lasting memories of your romantic escapade. Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the vines, complete with local cheeses, artisanal bread, and, of course, a bottle of your favorite wine.

In addition to wine tastings, Napa Valley offers a plethora of unique experiences that cater to couples seeking romance and relaxation. Embark on a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, soaring high above the valley and taking in the stunning landscape from a bird's-eye view. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not only exhilarating but also incredibly romantic, making it the perfect way to celebrate your love.


2. Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea, often referred to as Carmel, is a picturesque coastal town in California that offers the perfect weekend getaway for couples looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its enchanting charm, beautiful beaches, and vibrant art scene, this quaint town is an ideal destination for those seeking a romantic retreat.

Carmel's shoreline is a major point of interest due to its breathtaking views. As you walk hand-in-hand with your partner along the soft white sands of Carmel Beach, you'll be captivated by the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The turquoise waters and dramatic coastline make for an idyllic backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a cozy picnic.

For couples who appreciate art, Carmel boasts numerous galleries showcasing a diverse range of works from local and international artists. Meandering through the charming streets, you'll stumble upon a myriad of art galleries, providing a delightful opportunity to discover unique pieces and perhaps even bring home a one-of-a-kind souvenir to remember your trip.

No visit to Carmel would be complete without taking a scenic drive along the famous 17-Mile Drive. This iconic stretch of road winds its way through Pebble Beach, offering jaw-dropping views of the rugged coastline, lush forests, and pristine golf courses. Make sure to stop at one of the many lookout points to capture unforgettable moments together, especially as the sun sets over the ocean, casting a warm golden glow across the landscape.

3. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Marina shoreline breakwater with recreational boats

Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is a dream destination for couples seeking a romantic weekend getaway in California. Often referred to as the "American Riviera," this charming coastal city boasts a perfect blend of picturesque beaches, rich cultural experiences, and fascinating historical landmarks.

As you stroll through the streets of Santa Barbara, you'll be captivated by the stunning Spanish architecture that characterizes the city. The red-tiled roofs and white stucco walls create a warm Mediterranean atmosphere that transports you to a different era. One must-visit attraction is the Old Mission Santa Barbara, a historic landmark founded in 1786. This beautiful Spanish mission showcases well-preserved architecture, lush gardens, and a museum where you can delve into the history of the region's early settlers.

Another highlight of Santa Barbara is its vibrant arts scene. Couples can explore numerous art galleries, attend live performances at the iconic Granada Theatre, or catch a film at the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The city also offers a variety of culinary experiences, from farm-to-table dining to wine tasting at the urban wineries of the Funk Zone.

For those looking to unwind, Santa Barbara is home to some of the most luxurious resorts and spas in California. Indulge in pampering treatments, soak in oceanfront hot tubs, or simply lounge by the pool, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Of course, no visit to Santa Barbara would be complete without spending time at its beautiful beaches. East Beach, Butterfly Beach, and Arroyo Burro Beach are just a few of the pristine sandy stretches offering a perfect setting for a romantic sunset walk or a day of sunbathing and relaxation.

4. Big Sur

Big Sur bridge along the California Highway 1 Pacific Ocean coastline

If you and your partner share a love for nature and are looking for a romantic weekend getaway in California, look no further than Big Sur. This stunning coastal region offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you both feeling refreshed and reconnected with nature.

One of the main attractions of Big Sur is its breathtaking redwood forests. Hiking through these towering giants, some of which are over 2,000 years old, is a humbling experience that will make you appreciate the beauty of our natural world. There are many different trails available that are suitable for different fitness levels. This means that whether you are an experienced hiker or simply enjoy leisurely walks, there is a trail that will suit you.

While exploring the area, don't miss the opportunity to visit the mesmerizing McWay Falls. This 80-foot waterfall cascades directly onto the sandy beach below, creating a picture-perfect scene that's straight out of a postcard. The short hike to the falls is accessible year-round, making it a must-see attraction for couples visiting Big Sur.

After a day of adventure, retreat to one of the luxurious cliffside resorts that dot the coastline. These accommodations offer unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, allowing you to soak in the serene surroundings as you relax and unwind with your loved one. Many of these resorts also offer a range of amenities, such as spa treatments and fine dining options, ensuring that your stay is as indulgent as it is memorable.

5. Lake Tahoe

Alpine skiing above Lake Tahoe on the Nevada California border, USA

There's something magical about a weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe, one of California's most beautiful and iconic destinations. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe offers a stunning backdrop for couples seeking adventure, relaxation, and romance. From thrilling outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding to serene hikes through pristine alpine landscapes, there's no shortage of experiences to share with your partner in this breathtaking setting.

Lake Tahoe is known for its top-quality ski resorts, which are among its main attractions. Whether you're seasoned pros or first-time skiers, hitting the slopes together is an exhilarating way to bond as a couple. The region boasts a variety of ski resorts, such as Heavenly, Northstar, and Palisades, each offering a unique experience tailored to different skill levels and preferences. Snowboarding enthusiasts will also find plenty of terrain parks and halfpipes to showcase their skills.

If you prefer a more leisurely pace, the area surrounding Lake Tahoe is crisscrossed by miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. A romantic hike through the Sierra Nevada Mountains allows you and your partner to reconnect with nature and each other, far from the distractions of daily life. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate the awe-inspiring views of the lake and the surrounding peaks. In the warmer months, you can even take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the lake or rent a kayak or paddleboard for a peaceful day on the water.

As the sun sets behind the mountains, retreat to your cozy cabin for a well-deserved rest. Many cabins around Lake Tahoe offer fireplaces, inviting you and your partner to snuggle up and enjoy a warm, crackling fire as the perfect end to an adventurous day. Share stories, sip on hot cocoa, or simply enjoy each other's company in the intimate ambiance of your very own mountain hideaway.

6. Palm Springs

Golf course in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a stunning desert oasis that offers the perfect weekend getaway for couples looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its unique mid-century modern architecture, luxurious hotels, and world-class golf courses, this picturesque destination will captivate your senses and leave you with unforgettable memories.

As you arrive in Palm Springs, you'll be greeted by the iconic palm tree-lined streets and the striking San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop. The city is renowned for its impressive collection of mid-century modern homes and buildings, which stand as a testament to the area's rich architectural heritage. Make sure to take a tour of these architectural gems or simply admire them as you stroll through the charming neighborhoods.

No romantic weekend would be complete without indulging in a couple's spa treatment. Palm Springs offers a plethora of spa experiences, from traditional massages and facials to unique desert-inspired treatments using local ingredients like cactus and date palm. Unwind and rejuvenate as skilled therapists work their magic, leaving you both feeling pampered and refreshed.

In the evenings, Palm Springs comes alive with a vibrant dining scene offering a variety of cuisines, from farm-to-table California fare to exotic international delights. Share a delicious meal and toast to your love under the stars at one of the city's many alfresco dining options.

7. Mendocino

Northern California Gualala Mendocino

Nestled along the breathtaking Northern California coastline, Mendocino is a picturesque village that offers the perfect getaway for couples seeking a romantic and peaceful retreat. With its dramatic cliffs, stunning ocean views, lush botanical gardens, and a host of delightful bed and breakfasts, this enchanting destination guarantees an unforgettable weekend escape.

As you stroll hand-in-hand through the quaint streets of Mendocino, you'll instantly fall in love with the charming Victorian architecture, art galleries, and boutique shops that line the village. The serene atmosphere and natural beauty of the surroundings make it easy to unwind and connect with your significant other.

No visit to Mendocino would be complete without exploring the nearby wineries. The region is known for producing exceptional wines, particularly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Embark on a wine-tasting tour and sample some of the finest vintages California has to offer, all while enjoying the captivating scenery of rolling vineyards and lush valleys.

For nature lovers, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a must-see attraction. Boasting 47 acres of diverse flora, the gardens provide a tranquil oasis where you can meander along winding pathways, discover hidden nooks, and marvel at the vibrant colors of the various blooms. As you explore the gardens, you'll also be treated to spectacular ocean views, making it an ideal spot for a romantic picnic or simply soaking in the natural splendor.

8. Catalina Island

Avalon, Catalina

Catalina Island, located just off the coast of Southern California, is a hidden gem that offers couples an idyllic weekend getaway. This picturesque island provides a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, making it the perfect destination for a romantic retreat.

Upon arrival at the island, you'll be greeted by beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the charming town of Avalon. With its quaint shops, cozy restaurants, and stunning landscapes, Catalina Island promises a memorable experience for every couple.

One of the highlights of visiting Catalina Island is the opportunity to indulge in various outdoor activities. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island are perfect for snorkeling and discovering the vibrant marine life that calls the area home. For those who enjoy exploring the ocean's surface, kayaking is another fantastic option. Paddle along the coastline and take in the breathtaking views of the island's dramatic cliffs and secluded coves.

If you prefer staying on land, a scenic tour of the island on a golf cart is a must. This leisurely activity allows you to explore the island at your own pace while admiring the lush greenery and panoramic vistas. Don't forget to stop at some of the island's iconic landmarks, such as the historic Casino building and the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden.

For couples seeking relaxation, Catalina Island also boasts several spas where you can unwind and rejuvenate after a day of adventure. Pamper yourselves with a couples massage or a rejuvenating facial treatment to complete your romantic escape.

As the sun sets, enjoy a candlelit dinner at one of the island's many waterfront restaurants. Savor the fresh seafood and local cuisine as you watch the sky transform into a canvas of vibrant colors. End the evening with a leisurely stroll along the moonlit shoreline, hand-in-hand with your partner, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

There are plenty of weekend getaway ideas in California for couples that will provide you with a memorable and romantic escape. You can choose to explore the bustling city streets of San Francisco, relax on a beautiful beach in Santa Barbara, or take a journey to Mendocino for some wine tasting.

This state also offers a great selection of outdoor activities, from kayaking to golfing and plenty of spa treatments to unwind. So pick your favorite spot and start planning your romantic escape!

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