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Romantic California Vacation Travel - Ideas & Destinations for "Where Two Go" in CA

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Author: Greg Mattson, Excellent Romantic Vacations Editor

By: Greg Mattson, ERV Editor - Updated: Sep 12, 2023  

California is a very big place - where exactly in the Sunshine State will you spend your romantic vacation in 2023?

Here We Are Enjoying The Sunshine Overlooking the Bay Area Near San FranciscoAnother California Adventure Near The Golden Gate Bridge

Our favorite California vacation spots may become yours too, including romantic spots on the Central & Northern Coast (Hwy 1 destinations like spectacular Carmel & Big Sur, Mendocino and Fort Bragg), desert resorts in Palm Springs, and romantic spots near the ocean in LA's beach communities and San Diego.

Best Time to Getaway to California - anytime really! That may depend more on when you need to getaway from wherever you're at. Expense-wise, some of the best travel deals can be found anytime away from public holidays and spring break season.

Our Choice - Top 3 Romantic California Vacation Spots:

1. San Francisco: no surprise here, but this city just keeps on being amazing. Enough superlatives about romance and San Francisco have been written to fill volumes, but see it for yourselves and don't miss exploring the great neighborhoods of the City by the Bay, as well as a night or two in a small romantic inn.

2. San Diego: lots of vacation, honeymoon or anniversary things to do here, like trolley rides to the Gaslamp Quarter, day trips to Coronado Island, romantic dining in La Jolla and lots more, and all in the best climate in the USA.

3. Carmel: tucked away along the coast in Monterey County, this quiet little seaside town is a natural for picnics by the waves, a relaxing stroll among the galleries and cafes, or an attractive base for exploring more of the California's wonderful Big Sur.

video: hilton Romantic getaway resort in california

  • Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort - We stopped by here recently for a short stay and can highly recommend this oceanside resort in Huntingdon Beach. It's a bit pricey, but well worth the splurge for the warm ocean breeze and that all-inclusive resort feel in Southern California. Ocean View Rooms are bright with private balconies and coastline views, and down below, the sunny pool area has plenty of loungers. Oh, and don't miss happy hour at their fabulous rooftop bar (see the photo below). 2022 ERV Rating*: 86% - Very Good. (21100 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntingdon Beach CA 714-845-8000)
Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort RoomHilton Waterfront Beach Resort Room
Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort Pool in Huntingdon Beach, CaliforniaHilton Waterfront Beach Resort Pool
Happy Hour at the Rooftop Bar, Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntingdon Beach, CaliforniaDrinks with a View - Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, Huntingdon Beach

Northern California Romantic Travel

Romantic Getaway Near Golden Gate Bridge in Northern CaliforniaSan Francisco's Bay Area is a Favorite Getaway & Honeymoon Spot

Central California Romantic Spots

San Luis Obispo, CA - One of the most laid back and delightfully romantic places on the Central California Coast. Full of fresh Pacific breeze and reliable California sunshine, there's a plenitude of beach walks, wine tasting and tours just minutes away.

Romantic Room at the San Luis Lodge
  • San Luis Creek Lodge - "Comfortable, quiet & romantic" is how guests describe this small inn with suites featuring jetted tubs and fireplaces. 2022 ERV Rating* for Romantic San Luis Obispo Hotels: 92% - Excellent. (1941 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo CA  805-541-1122)

Paso Robles, CA - Hot springs & wineries are good ingredients for a weekend filled with romance, and this smaller Central California community boasts both. Perfectly placed almost exactly 1/2 way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this small city of 30,000 is a hub for food tours & fine dining, specialty shops, and some very nice landscapes dotted with vineyards waiting to be explored. 

  • Hotel Chaval - A 16 room boutique hotel that will welcome you with chocolate chip cookies, and check you into luxurious rooms complete with spa robes, teak furniture, sun decks and fireplaces. 2022 ERV Rating* for Romantic Paso Robles Hotels: 94% - Excellent. (1021 Pine St, Paso Robles CA 866-522-6999)

Romantic Southern California Destinations

Romantic Getaway in Dana Point, Southern California

   High Above the Pacific in Dana Point, CA along the Romantic Southern California Coast

  • Southern California Romantic Getaway - If you're not exactly sure about where to holiday or honeymoon in SoCal, this will give you an overview of some of romantic things to do, hotel packages and spots for couples in places like Santa Monica, Laguna Beach and Catalina Island. 
  • Romantic Getaways in Los Angeles - Forget about the theme parks and discover LA's great beach communities! Explore sunny Santa Monica, stroll the waterways of the Venice Canals, and discover Naples Island by hydro bike or romantic gondola. 
  • Catalina Island Romantic Honeymoon Getaways - Escape the mainland and head to the relaxing Channel Islands. Full info on planning a great honeymoon or anniversary trip in 2020 to Catalina, including hotels and things to do.
  • Romantic Getaway in San Diego - Say hi to the best weather in the USA! The Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island and luxurious La Jolla are just some of the highlights

more Romantic Places to Stay in California

Casa Laguna Romantic Southern California Bed and Breakfast InnThe Magnificently Romantic Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, Laguna Beach, CA
  • California's Most Romantic Beach Hotels & Inns - Perhaps no other state has the variety of oceanfront hotels and inns you'll find in California. Check out this brand new guide we've created, full of our hand-picked top choices for romantic accommodation close to and right on the beach along the Northern, Central and Southern California Coast.

More Romantic southern california hotels:

Newport Beach

Romantic Newport Beach HotelNewport Beach Hotel
  • Newport Beach Hotel - one of the most romantic hotels in Orange County, with Whirlpool Suites and a terrific location just steps from the beach. 2022 ERV Rating* for Santa Ana, CA Romantic Hotels: 80% - Very Good. (2306 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach CA 949-673-7030)  COVID Safety Plan: Yes

Palm Springs

Romantic Westin Resort in Rancho Mirage, CaliforniaWestin Mission Hills Resort Villas
  • Westin Mission Hills Resort Villas - for complete poolside relaxation in the shade, it's hard to beat this excellent resort in the Coachella Valley. 2022 ERV Rating* for Rancho Mirage, CA Romantic Resorts: 80% - Very Good. (71777 Dinah Shore Dr, Rancho Mirage CA  760-328-5955) √ COVID Safety Plan: Yes

Manhattan Beach

Shade Hotel Jetted Tub Suite in Manhattan Beach, CASpa Tub Suite - Shade Hotel
  • Shade Hotel - right in the heart of Manhattan Beach, with an excellent restaurant and lounge on site, and bubbly spa tubs in every room. 2022 ERV Rating* for Romantic Los Angeles Boutique Hotels: 92% - Excellent. (1221 North Valley Dr, Manhattan Beach CA 310-546-4995) √ COVID Safety Plan: Yes

san diego

Pacific Terrace Oceanfront Hotel in San Diego, CAPool at the Pacific Terrace Hotel
  • Pacific Terrace Hotel - fantastic oceanfront location, with a palm tree-fringed pool and suites giving you perfect sunsets every night. 2022 ERV Rating* for Romantic San Diego Oceanfront Hotels: 94% - Excellent. (610 Diamond St, San Diego CA  858-581-3500) √ COVID Safety Plan: Yes

Video: Top 10 Romantic California Vacation Spots

Here's our new HD video of romantic travel in California. In just 2 minutes you'll see scenes that include:

  • Riding a cable car in San Francisco
  • Sunset on the Mendocino Coast
  • Romantic Pool at the Casa Laguna Inn, Laguna Beach
  • Gorgeous Canals of Venice, CA
  • Historic Winery in Napa Valley

5 of California's Most Romantic Beaches

1. La Jolla Cove - outstandingly beautiful and serene enclave of beach and cliffs in this swanky North San Diego neighborhood. You may see seals and sea lions, some wedding photos being taken, and certainly fantastic sunsets on clear evenings.

2. Carmel - pick up a quick lunch in downtown Carmel and head west for a great time on the white sand. Occasionally the fresh ocean breeze brings along some fog, but it adds to the romance! 

3. Coronado Beach - "gorgeous" is the word that comes to most visitor's minds when they set foot on this beautiful soft sand beach. Great location too in San Diego, close to good dining and accommodation.  

4. Laguna Beach - couples holidaying here love the clean sand and water, and nearby Heisler Park and Crystal Cove State Park are very scenic stops on your way to the water.

5. Baker Beach, San Francisco - any strip of sand with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background must rate high on the romance scale! Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but it's well worth the effort. Great spot for watching people and the ocean.

More California Getaways & Deals

More Resources:

*ERV Rating: our unique, non-scientific ratings for romantic accommodation include:

  • Amenities: including Whirlpool bath or JACUZZI® Tub, scenic view, fireplace, lounge, etc
  • Location: proximity of hotel to restaurants, pubs, downtown, etc
  • Clientele: demographic the hotel attracts (couples, families, business travelers, etc)
  • Popularity: based on social media & crowd-sourced reviews 
  • Value: product offered compared to room rate 
  • Please Note: percentage ratings are not absolute but for comparative use only  

top hotels, getaways & packages on ERV