Relaxing and Romantic Getaways in Northern California

Northern California Romantic Travel Ideas for Couples, B&B's and Inns, Fun Towns & more  

Northern California

Romantic Getaway in Mendocino, CaliforniaExploring the Attractive Village of Mendocino on the Romantic Northern California Coast
By Greg Mattson, ERV Editor - Updated: Nov 15, 2016

For those who only think of California as everything south of the Bay area, you’re missing out! Northern California is a great place to plan a getaway or honeymoon. Let's tell you some more about what you'll find as you follow Hwy's 101 and 1 North (and a little bit South) of San Francisco...

Best Time to Travel in Northern California: almost anytime! Late spring and autumn are our favorites. We traveled through Northern California most recently in mid to late October and had excellent weather: 72F and solid sunshine!

Fog (usually in the mornings) and cooler temps are common along the North Coast. You’ll find more people and higher prices in the summer, but not really a huge difference in most places. Summer can bring heat, especially to the more central desert areas (expect mid 90's F in July!) Winters are damp, but temps are mild. As you go east towards the mountains, expect cooler temps and snow of course anytime from November to April. 

Our guide here to romantic travel in Northern California includes:

  • Napa/Sonoma Wine Country
  • Monterey & Big Sur
  • Northern Coast
  • Inland Cities

Romantic Getaways in Northern California Wine Country

Marriott Sonoma CARomantic Marriott Lodge at Sonoma, California
Marriott Sonoma CAPoolside at the Marriott Lodge at Sonoma, CA

Romantic Wine Country Lodge:

  • The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa - great spot for a special romantic vacation or anniversary getaway to Northern California. Guest Rooms have private balconies with Wine Country views, while cottage suites include spacious living areas and a gas fireplace. In the lodge you'll find an on-site Bistro and Wine Shop, heated outdoor pool, free shuttle to Sonoma Plaza, and much more. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Sonoma, CA Lodges: 81% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (1325 Broadway, Sonoma CA  707-935-6600)

Affordable Napa Inn:

  • Best Western Plus Elm House Inn - don't be thinking dull chain hotel here - this adorable romantic inn gets very high ratings from couples for it's cozy rooms (some with fireplace), outdoor pool with hot tub and fire pit, friendly staff, and delicious Belgian waffle breakfasts. Perfect for an inexpensive Wine Country getaway. 2016 Rating* for Napa, CA Inns: 97% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (800 California Blvd, Napa CA  707-255-1831)

Napa Boutique B&B:

  • 1801 First Luxury Inn - a downtown Napa luxury boutique inn, with suites, cottage and carriage house accommodation. Jacuzzi tubs, spa treatments, plus wine and hors d’ oeuvres offering every evening give you an idea of what's in store at this romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Napa Valley B&B's: 98% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (1801 First St, Napa CA  707-224-3739)

5 of the Most Romantic Attractions in Napa & Sonoma Valley:

1. Sterling Vineyards - ride the gondola up to this Calistoga Winery for some tasting and terrific views of the Valley. 

2. Napa Wine Train - book early! Lunch in the The Vista Dome car while enroute to tastings stops at several valley vineyards is the perfect Wine Country romantic tour.

3. Romantic Picnic Lunch - grab some delectable fixings at Oakville Grocers or Dean & Deluca.  

4. Hot Air Balloon Ride - Up & Away Romantic Sonoma Balloon Tours offers rides over Sonoma Valley (even a combo balloon, bicycle and local craft brewery tour) for an unforgettable experience.

5. Food Tour - book the Sonoma Food Tour for a fun walking tour of Sonoma, filled with food, wines, and local history. 


Monterey & Big Sur Romantic Trips 

Monterey CA Waterfront HotelGreat Seaside Location: Monterey Plaza Hotel
Monterey California Romantic B&BRomantic Room at the Old Monterey Inn

Luxury Oceanfront Romantic Hotel:

  • Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa - you're going to say "Wow" when you behold the panoramic views of Monterey Bay from either the twin rooftop hot tubs, or from one of the Plaza's Ocean View rooms.   There's an on-site spa, plus dining and lounge rooms with water views, as well as complimentary bicycles and Land Rover Shuttle service. If you're making reservations here for a honeymoon or anniversary getaway in Monterey, make sure to let them know, and you just might score a special little gift of chocolate covered strawberries on your arrival. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Monterey, California Hotels: 94% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (400 Cannery Row, Monterey CA  831-920-6710)

Top-Rated B&B:

  • Old Monterey Inn - this romantic Monterey, CA Bed and Breakfast was featured on NBC's Today Show! Only a few minutes walk to Fisherman's Wharf, you'll love the inn's historic English Tudor decor, gorgeous secluded gardens, as well as the spacious rooms, many with spa tubs and fireplaces. The Old Monterey Inn specializes in romance, and can set you up with wine tours, sailing excursions, sunset bonfires on the beach and wedding elopements. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Northern California Inns: 95% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (500 Martin St, Monterey CA  800-350-2344)

Budget Romantic Inn:

  • Best Western Plus Victorian Inn - nothing cookie-cutter about this affordable Best Western. This 110 year-old Victorian Inn oozes romance, and selected suites are outfitted with fireplace and Jacuzzi tubs. Come down for the local wine & cheese reception each evening, or take it back to your private balcony with views of nearby Cannery Row. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Monterey, California Hotels: 93% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (487 Foam St, Monterey CA  831-373-8000)

Carmel, CA

Our Anniversary in Carmel, CaliforniaAfter a picnic on the beach in Spectacular Carmel, Northern California

Carmel - one of our very favorite romantic seaside towns in California. It's a super-quaint community just south of the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course. Art Galleries, Cafe's and antique shops line the cobblestone sidewalks, and at the end of the street, the sandy, scenic beach is just right for a "picnic by the Pacific"!

Carmel , CA Small Romantic Inn:

  • Happy Landing Inn - Our favorite little B&B here, because it's the one where we spent our honeymoon! And we're glad to tell you that when returning for our 10th anniversary trip, it was just as cozy and cute as ever. There's 7 Gingerbread cottages that were recently completely refreshed inside, breakfast delivered to your room (just pull the shade up), all within an easy walk to shops, galleries and the beach. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Carmel, CA Inns: 94% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (Monte Verde Ave, between 5th and 6th avenue, Carmel CA  831-624-7917)

Big Sur, CA

Big Sur, CANorthern California's Big Sur - A Must-See for Any Northern California Getaway or Honeymoon

Big Sur Coastline: California Pacific Coast Highway 1 just south of Carmel, CA is a very rewarding seaside journey. 2 lanes full of the wild, crashing Pacific, jagged cliffs, secluded little windswept communities, magnificent sunsets, and one great view after another. It has to be one of the most spectacular pieces of Oceanside highway we have ever driven.  

17 Mile Drive: This very romantic and legendary road winds its way past scenic lookouts, rugged coast and thick forest (not to mention Pebble Beach Golf Course!). Whales, sea lions and sea otters make their home in the waters here. It’s a toll road, but the nominal fee is well worth it.  


Romantic Getaways Along the Northern California Coast

Headlands Inn B&BHeadland's Inn Romantic Mendocino, CA B&B
Little River InnLittle River Inn w/ Oceanview Rooms

Mendocino - "lonely and lovely" - that's how Mendocino's been described. Perched on a cliff facing the open Pacific, it's a must-see for romantic travel in California. Wineries, tiny art galleries, and long walks on the sand are the big draw to this colorful little village, part of the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Headlands Inn - perfectly romantic choice of inn to match your weekend away in Mendocino. Room amenities include jetted tubs, four poster beds, wood-burning stoves and comfy robes. Best of all, the charm of downtown Mendocino is just a short walk away. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Carmel, CA Inns: 99% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (10453 Howard St, Mendocino CA 707-937-4431)
  • Little River Inn - we loved our stay at this romantic inn just south of Mendocino. Rooms have ocean views and fireplaces, and their dining room serves up breakfast, dinner and Sunday brunch. Best memory: sipping wine while gazing out at the Pacific from the comfort of rocking chairs on our balcony. 2016 Rating* for Romantic Carmel, CA Inns: 94% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (7901 California Hwy 1, Little River CA  707-937-5942)

Bodega Bay - this tiny seaside village on the Sonoma Coast is known for its annual Fisherman’s Festival and nearby whale watching (best time: January to April). For a relaxing lunch, try the clam chowder at the Boathouse Restaurant. And the Gourmet au Bay Seaside Wine Tasting Bar is the place for sipping California wine by the open sea.

Sausalito & Marin County - Maureen Says: "Just a short hop north across the Golden gate Bridge, it’s a “nautical” place with a nice choice of sidewalk café’s, bistros and B&B’s. Found some great little shops on the main street, and later we had a home baked muffin and coffee while watching the boats sail by".

Video: Mendocino, Northern California

Our HD video of Mendocino, Northern California, including romantic spots around town, the Little River Inn, and the Joshua Grindle Inn.

Romantic Spots in Northern California

  • The Citizen Hotel Sacramento - quite possibly Sacramento's most romantic hotel. This historic property has updated rooms with flat-screen TV's, Keurig coffee machines and luxury bath amenities. There's romantic dining on-site, and more options within a mile of the hotel in downtown Sacramento. 2016 Rating* for Sacramento CA Boutique Hotels: 88% of Couples Rate It Excellent/Very Good. (926 J St, Sacramento CA  916-447-2700)
  • Eureka – the restored Old Town is full of history and architecture, and makes a fine afternoon stroll or walking tour. And further north along the Redwood Coast, awe inspiring trees (2000 yrs old, 300+ft!) and hiking trails abound in Redwood National Park.
  • Sacramento – the political heart of California, with its State Railroad museum and Spirit of Sacramento paddle wheeler tours on the Sacramento River.
  • Yosemite – waterfalls, glaciers, rugged peaks, lakes and meadows all come together to form this postcard of a national park and World Heritage Site.

2016 Fun Events for Romantic Travel in Northern California

Mendocino Seafood & Wine Days - January 22 to 31, 2016, Mendocino, CA. Not just crab, but a 10 day festival of beer, local wine and seafood. 

Winesong - September 9 & 10, 2016, Ft. Bragg, CA.  The best wines & food tasting experience on the North Coast.

Map of Romantic Places in Northern California

The map shows the location of some of the romantic places in Northern California described on this page.

*Based on TripAdvisor.com Ratings from Couples as of Nov 2016.

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