The Most Romantic California Honeymoon Destinations
Congrats on getting hitched! Planning on heading to California for your honeymoon? Take a look at some of the most romantic spots.
So you’ve picked California as a potential honeymoon destination. Great choice. The Golden State is blessed with a warm climate and practically every landscape you could ask for. Whether you want to sip cocktails by the beach, stargaze in the desert or hike in the mountains, the choice is yours (and your new spouse's, of course – it’s all about compromise).
Here at Plum Guide, we know exactly where to go, where to stay, where to eat and what to do. We also happen to know a lot about honeymoons, so check out our guide to California honeymoon destinations below.
Branded the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is a relaxed coastal city 95 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. It’s a truly scenic location, with the Santa Ynez Mountains serving as a backdrop to the golden stretches of sand. It’s the perfect spot for couples who like a bit of everything.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, the Santa Ynez Mountains are filled with fantastic hiking trails offering far-reaching views of the city and ocean below. Feeling ambitious? Tackle the 2,485 foot Gaviota Peak. Another great way to see the city is by cycling. One of the most iconic trails is Gibraltar, a nine-mile ride with some pretty unforgettable views.
Head down to shore and make the most of the sparkling blue waters. Whether you want to relax with a drink in hand, or get active and try out water sports, there’s something for everyone. We recommend taking a trip to the Channel Islands National Park just off the coast. There’s absolutely nothing on the island – all you’ll find are scenic trails and unique plants and wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else.
Make your way to Downtown Santa Barbara, where Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings are a reminder of the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. You’ll find plenty of museums and historical sites here, as well as eateries and shopping options. After a long day of exploring, visit Stearns Wharf, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. A sunset stroll out to sea? Perfect.
When in California, a trip to the desert is a must. Joshua Tree National Park in southern California is a vast area made up of rugged rock formations and desert landscapes. It’s one of the best California honeymoon destinations for outdoorsy couples. There are tons of hiking trails to take that go through stunning scenery. One of the must-sees is Keys View where you can get panoramic views of Mount San Jacinto and Mount Gorgonio with the Salton Sea stretching out in the distance. If you’re after some rock climbing, Joshua Tree has over 8,000 climbing routes for all abilities.
If you’d rather not spend your honeymoon feeling like you’re at bootcamp, take it easy and check out Pioneertown, an 1880s style Old West ‘town’ which was the set for over 50 films and TV shows in the 40s and 50s. Head down the street to Pappy & Harriet’s, part honky-tonk, part roadhouse musical oasis. Tuck into a bison burger and enjoy mock gunfights and top notch live music.
One of the most remarkable sites in Joshua Tree is the Cholla Cactus Garden, with over 1,000 chollas covering the desert floor. Take the easy walking trail that winds through the garden. We recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon to see the backlit needles glowing with a mountain range in the background. At the end of the day, head back and cuddle up with your other half to enjoy vibrant sunsets which melt into dark skies dotted with millions of stars.
Lake Tahoe is one of our top picks for romantic California honeymoon destinations. This freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is known for its beaches, ski resorts and magnificent views of snowy peaks and blue water.
One of the must-dos is getting out onto the aforementioned blue water. It’s the perfect spot to try water sports, from parasailing to jet skiing to kayaking and canoeing. You can even go scuba diving and see shipwrecks, underwater forests and mazes of colossal granite boulders. Alternatively, you can also laze around on the many beaches. As the lake is so huge, you can easily avoid any human interaction, making it the perfect honeymoon location. Check out Pope Beach with its quaint dunes and pine trees.
If you’re visiting in the winter, skiing should definitely be on the cards. When it comes to ski resorts, you’re spoilt for choice. Heavenly Mountain Resort is the largest, Squaw Valley is best for snow tubing and Kirkwood Mountain Resort gets more snow than anywhere else (don’t ask us how that works). You can also try other snow-based fun like snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
LA is the perfect balance between fast-paced city life and relaxed beach life, making it one of the best California honeymoon destinations. To experience the glitz and glamour of the rich and famous, simply head to Hollywood. Although it may seem like a cliché tourist destination, you can find anything you want here, including bars, theatres, live music venues and comedy clubs. Whether you’re after the world’s top DJs at Avalon Hollywood or a 70s themed night at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, you don’t have to look far for date night. Before you head out, enjoy a meal at the many eateries in the city, from star-strewn restaurants to intimate venues.
Not a fan of nightlife? There’s plenty of places to just kick back and relax. While Santa Monica and Venice beaches are beautiful, they’re a tad too overcrowded for a love-struck couple. Instead, head to El Matador State Beach. This beach was the backdrop for The Notebook so it can’t get any more romantic.
If you need to burn off all the good food, there are tons of hikes you can take for dramatic city views. Play tourist and hike up to the Hollywood Sign for a classic shot. Want to escape the city for a while? Go to Cooper Canyon Falls in the Angeles National Forest. Although only an hour out of LA, it feels like worlds away. Stroll through redwood forest and be rewarded with a dip beneath the waterfall at the end.