Written by Jessica Moore
Here’s the thing about California: it’s romantic AF. Vacations for couples are so easy in California: in practically every direction, there’s a romantic getaway a few hours away that transports you out of the city and into a different world. From deserts that look like foreign planets to skyscraper redwoods along sea-crashing cliffs, it doesn’t get any more romantic than California.
Whether you’re searching for your next surprise date trip for your SO, planning out the summer getaway to end all getaways, or even scoping out or that honeymoon or proposal destination you’re planning, we’ve got the rundown on where to stay, where to dine, and where to love in the best secluded spots known for romance.
Traveling up the PCH is a California pastime that’s all it’s hyped up to be. With beautiful blue waters and priceless vistas on every corner, nature seems to truly put on its best show in Big Sur.
If you’re lookin’ for a serene resort complete with luxury yurts, hot tubs, winding hiking paths, spectacular views of the ocean, and an organic garden, you’ve found it all at Treebones Resort in Big Sur, a few hours from San Francisco.
What’s a yurt? Thought yurt never ask! It’s a beautiful circular tent held up by wood lattice on the sides and a hole at the top, perfect for stargazing and romance. And Treebones Resort has got yurts for daayyys.
But it’s all about what’s in the inside: soft beds, cute tables, and comfy chairs await you in these romantic close quarters, complete with a patio for you to take it all in. What’s outside? Trees like giants, and a sea breeze that’ll entice you to stay forever.
It’s glamping at its finest. Make the most out of your stay by indulging in their farm-to-table cuisine in a cozy campfire ambiance, or having sushi at their sushi bar for dinner (open March-November).
And now for the must-see destinations: you can’t skip a trip to Pfeiffer Beach. McWay Falls is gorgeous, and Bixby Bridge is a classic. Check out the Big Sur Bakery for amazing sandwiches and the tastiest baked goods this coast has to offer.
If you haven’t been to Joshua Tree, seriously what are you doing with your life?
It’s a place for everything groovy–artists have been inspired by the weirdness that is Joshua Tree for years, and it doesn’t look like its influence is fizzling out anytime soon. With alien-like rock formations and Joshua trees littering the desert floor as far as the eye can see, it’s a strangely cool place that offers a ton of space and privacy. Plus, you can’t beat the superb stargazing at night when you’re in the middle of the desert. Trust me, it gets pretty lit.
The best way to enjoy a vacation at Joshua Tree is by renting out an old-fashioned, out-of-the-ordinary Airbnb that matches your style. Most establishments offer acres and acres of free space for sunset strolls and relaxing amenities that will take your romantic weekend up a notch.
It can’t get any better than staying in one of Thunderbird Lodge’s homesteader cabins, the epitome of everything cool in Joshua Tree. Their seven cabins are at the most stunning High Desert spots.
Their themed lodges are rustic and truly vintage. Some cabins have several antique typewriters and abstract mosaics lining the bathrooms and the floor. There are gigantic artsy fire pits and old outdoor swings and sheds. Cozy wood burning indoor fireplaces will bring you both closer, perfect for setting the mood.
We recommend staying at the Shell House or Rock House for top-notch times. The owner of Thunderbird Lodge Retreat, Lori Portillo, is lovely beyond words, and is, in fact, an artist herself so you can find her artistic touches during your stay, mostly made from recycled material!
When you’re in Joshua Tree, make sure to check out La Copine, a French-inspired restaurant for local modern cuisine. Take some panoramas at Joshua Tree National Park and enjoy the park’s sights.
Lose yourself in The Noah Purifoy Foundation Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum–which is absolutely nuts, to say the least (if you’re an artist, this place is sure to give you some wonderful inspo). And don’t forget to stop by the famous Integratron for a romantic sound bath to remember (make sure to book in advance!).
Santa Barbara is like a laid-back daydream for couples. SB beaches will break your heart, the shopping at State Street will make any babe happy, and the food! Don’t get us started about the food.
So it goes without saying that this central coast gem is incredibly romantic. It’s probably why couples travel to SB all year round.
Downtown Santa Barbara is a mix: beautiful Spanish architecture meets beachy locals who live in their swimsuits. These beautiful clashes make it such a unique city to dote on the one you love.
Instead of staying at the usual hotel you’re outgrowing, stay at Autocamp’s modern Airstream accommodations! Oh, you haven’t heard? Modern trailers are totally in. Especially if it’s done right, and Autocamp knows what’s right.
Airstream amenities on-site include flat-screen TVs, your own audio system, even two beach cruisers perfect for a pair of lovebirds! Your Airstream also includes an electric BBQ on your own personal patio and spa bathrobes with elegant bath products. They even have a camp in northern California at the Russian River!
So these Airstreams look impeccable inside, like a modern mobile hotel! It’s a unique camping experience that will be just yours. It’s perfect for creating precious intimate moments and doing something different for a change.
When you venture out of Autocamp, dine at the famous La Super-Rica Taqueria for some delicious Mexican comfort food, have a scoop of McConnell’s ice-cream (a Santa Barbara tradition), spend some time at the Santa Barbara Zoo, get a couple’s massage and other spa treatments at a luxurious spa like the Salt Cave, and share a drink or two at Casa Blanca Restaurant & Cantina on State Street to get those Santa Barbara vibes. After all, Santa Barbara is simply paradise.
Feeling more of a stay-cation? Check out our favorite brunch spots in LA that make you feel like you’re at some place special.