Southern California is a very attractive and affordable romantic destination on the USA West Coast. “SoCal” enjoys great weather, beaches, interesting coastal towns, and some nice (although crowded at times) highways to connect all the dots.
Here’s our page full of ideas on where to go to find the best romantic places in California, and some tips on B&B’s, hotels and resorts offering Southern California romantic packages.
Best Time to Visit Southern California: you can enjoy your romantic California adventure or escape any time - Southern California usually has sunshine and warm temps year-round. There doesn't seem to be a real "high season", but it's generally less crowded in the winter months (Nov-Mar).
We've listed these romantic spots in Southern California starting in the LA area and moving South…
Santa Monica – Maureen and I keep coming back to Santa Monica, one of the most fun and romantic places on the Southern California coast.
You can ride the Ferris wheel at the end of the pier, grab an ice cream and people watch, or enjoy a sunny walk south to trendy Venice Beach, CA.
Santa Monica is a good base for day trips and exploring the coast west and south of L.A., so one interesting option is to spend a few affordable nights in a romantic Santa Monica hotel while enjoying this part of Southern California.
Catalina Island – just a hop, skip and ferry ride away from the Los Angeles area! Don’t miss catching a flick at the Avalon Theatre, a beautifully restored art deco-style movie house just below the Casino. Golf, dining by the harbor, long walks on the beach, and the Scenic Route high up around Avalon Bay are just a few more romantic ideas on Catalina Island.
Catalina Island Honeymoon Hotels & Inns:
Catalina Island’s location is just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, and travel time from the Marina del Ray / Long Beach / Newport Beach area is around 90 minutes by catamaran boat.
Heisler Park - wow, it's not often you find ocean views, gorgeous flowers and trees, and spectacular rocky cliffs all in one compact, easy to find spot. The beach is accessible too, and we found it uncrowded with cheap street parking right there. (375 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA)
Rooftop Lounge - also in the "Wow" category, this time for a wonderful outdoor lunch, happy hour or dinner atop the Casa del Camino hotel. With these awesome views, the tops of nearby palm trees just below you, and 180 degrees of the Pacific windward, you'll feel much the same as we did: you're really in Southern California now! Tip: on nice days, the Rooftop gets quite busy around lunch and dinner, so plan ahead, have a late breakfast and enjoy lunch around 1:45 or 2 here. (1289 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 949-497-2446)
Casa Laguna Inn & Spa - easily one of the most romantic places we've stayed in in Southern California...or anywhere! An absolutely gorgeous inn on the South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, so it's central to lots of attractions up and down the coast, and all the dining options nearby. But we could hardly tear ourselves away from sipping wine and sampling their gourmet appetizer every evening in the courtyard (that was after a swim in their picturesque pool).
Complimentary gourmet breakfasts and hot tub suites round out this extremely romantic small inn along the California Coast, just perfect for a honeymoon close to, but not in the major cities of LA and San Diego.
See our video above of the Casa Laguna Inn & Spa in Laguna Beach, CA, which includes a look at a deluxe courtyard jetted spa tub suite, courtyard breakfast area and pool.
Downtown San Clemente - there's shopping here along Avenida Del Mar (between and streets) where you'll come across some cool clothing shops, delis and wine stores. The San Clemente Pier is close by too, with some nice dining over the waves at Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar. The views are fantastic, the clam chowder's pretty good, and the fish n' chips almost big enough for 2 to share...
Cannon's Restaurant, Dana Point - there's dining with a view, and then the is dining at Cannon's. An incredibly romantic spot with jaw-dropping views from way up high of the Dana Point Marina, ocean, and around 6:30 PM, unbeatable sunsets. (34344 Street of the Green Lantern, Dana Point, CA)
Temecula Wine Country - for a cheap and romantic weekend getaway, try wine tasting in Temecula, CA. You can walk through the historic Old Town, check out the weekend farmer’s market, and of course, sample wines at the 20+ wineries in and around Temecula in southwest California. And in the evening, be sure to enjoy some romantic dining at Cafe Champagne.
Romantic Beaches Near San Diego - On a recent Southern California vacation in San Diego, we drove north for a romantic day trip starting at Oceanside, CA, and traveled south past Solana Beach to Del Mar, CA. There’s lots of places to enjoy a romantic picnic on the sand, or even fly a kite together by the ocean.