10 Best Romantic Destinations in Northern California

The most enchanting romantic destinations in Northern California have stunning landscapes, world-class wineries, and charming small towns setting the stage for an unforgettable escape.

Whether you’re looking for romantic getaways in the Bay Area or the tranquil beauty of the wine country, Northern California offers a myriad of options.

From hot air balloon rides over lush vineyards to indulgent spa treatments and exquisite dining experiences, romantic getaways in Northern California promise to create lasting memories with your love.

Best Romantic Destinations in Northern California

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Best Romantic Destinations in Northern California

1. Napa Valley

Things to do in Healdsburg

One of the best romantic getaways in Northern California is Napa Valley. It’s equally fun when you’re young and on a budget or when you can splurge on luxury hotels and Michelin dinners.

Most people visit Napa Valley with wine in mind. Visit a few vineyards of choice, take a guided wine tour, or explore the Napa Valley Wine Trail on bikes.

Take a hot air balloon ride over the lush valley as the sun rises or a glider ride in Calistoga. You’re towed into the air by a plane, then the glider pilot disconnects and takes you along the mountain ridges.

Afterward, soak in the mud baths at Dr. Wilkinson’s. If you prefer a more luxurious wellness package, try the spa at Stanly Ranch.

Delight your taste buds at the Oxbow Public Market, a culinary haven. Other musts include brunch at the Calistoga Inn, delicious sandwiches from Oakville Grocery, and the culinary excellence of the French Laundry.

In the evenings, savor exquisite dining experiences, from the rustic charm of the Calistoga Inn and the historic allure of Oakville Grocery to the culinary excellence of The French Laundry, making this romantic getaway a dream come true.

Best Places to Stay in Napa Valley

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2. Carmel-by-the-Sea

Prettiest California Towns Carmel

Carmel is known for its fairytale cottages, charming town, and vibrant art scene. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic weekend.

Every trip to Carmel should start with a stroll through town. There are cute boutiques, art galleries, and lots of cafes and restaurants. Make sure to walk down to the end of Ocean Avenue to watch the sunset at the beautiful Carmel Beach.

If you love hiking, don’t miss the Point Lobos Loop Trail along the Pacific Ocean at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Another great option is a scenic drive along the iconic 17-Mile Drive. There are plenty of beautiful stops to get out and explore. Or visit Pebble Beach for world-class golf on one of the best courses in the US.

Wine enthusiasts will love the Carmel Wine Walk or visiting a vineyard in Carmel Valley for a tasting.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the best romantic getaways in Northern California for foodies. Book ahead for the latest hot spot, Chez Noir, and have a delicious meal at La Bicyclette.

Best Places to Stay in Carmel

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3. Big Sur

Ventana Glamping in Big Sur

A romantic trip to Big Sur is one of the best California weekend getaways for couples. Big Sur is home to some of the most exclusive hotels where you can spend quality time with each other.

Ventana Big Sur and Post Ranch Inn offer luxurious experiences or opt for glamping at Ventana in the redwoods for a unique adventure. It’s our favorite spot for glamping in California.

Start your mornings with a delightful breakfast at Big Sur Bakery, and enjoy breathtaking ocean views while dining on the deck at Nepenthe. It’s a terrific place for drinks at sunset.

During the day, enjoy the beauty of McWay Falls and a hike the Pfeiffer Falls Trail. There are some great state parks in the area to explore like Garrapata State Park, and beaches like Sand Dollar Beach.

My favorite moment in Big Sur was one night when we tried our hand at astrophotography. We captured the Milky Way, and it was spectacular!

Best Places to Stay in Big Sur

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4. Sonoma Valley

Montage Healdsburg Spa Northern California Romantic Getaways
Photo: Montage Healdsburg

A weekend in Sonoma is one of the best Northern California romantic getaways, offering a more relaxed version of wine country charm, with tons of scenic beauty, and adorable small towns.

Begin your escape in Healdsburg, where you can stroll through the town square, sampling exquisite wines and farm-to-table cuisine. Take a Wine Country Sip and Cycle Bike Tour to the Dry Creek Valley vineyards for a tasting.

The Montage Healdsburg, surrounded by vineyards is ideal for a romantic stay. Relax by the pool or book a couples massage at Spa Montage.

Spend some downtime in Guerneville on the Russian River. The tranquil waters are perfect for kayaking or a riverside picnic. Johnson’s Beach has kayaks, canoes, and pedal boat rentals.

Visit the eclectic town of Sebastopol, known for its junk art, and The Barlow, a converted 12-acre warehouse district filled with restaurants, wine bars, breweries, and shops.

If time permits, visit the coastal towns of Jenner and Bodega Bay, where you can take a romantic walk along the windswept beaches and indulge in fresh seafood.

Best Places to Stay in Sonoma County

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5. Lake Tahoe

Secret Cove Lake Tahoe Romantic Destinations in Northern California

North Lake Tahoe offers a plethora of romantic activities for couples to enjoy. It’s a year-round destination with skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking, boating, and beach picnics in the summer.

Start your day with the Donner Peak Mount Judah Loop hike. It’s a popular summer hike so it pays to start early. This is your chance to follow part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

During the summer, King’s Beach is a perfect place to relax on the sandy shores, take a refreshing dip in the clear blue water, and enjoy the stunning lake views.

Rent a kayak and paddle along the tranquil waters of Lake Tahoe, where you can share the beauty of the sunset and create lasting memories together.

Visit historic Downtown Truckee, a former California Gold Rush town that now has cute shops, museums where you can learn about the history, and delicious restaurants. Stop by on Truckee Thursdays for food trucks, street vendors, and live music.

Best Places to Stay in Truckee

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6. Mendocino

Best California Beach Towns Mendocino

Mendocino Country with its rugged coastline, ancient redwoods, and quaint village, offers an array of romantic activities perfect for couples.

Mendocino is one of the best places in California to stay in a charming bed and breakfast, complete with a fireplace and ocean views.

Begin your day with a stroll through Russian Gulch State Park or Mendocino Headlands State Park with incredible ocean views and explore the hidden coves and tide pools.

Glass Beach and Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are also worth a visit.

Then, wander through the streets of Mendocino Village, browsing the unique boutiques and art galleries.

Plan a visit to Navarro Vineyards or Goldeneye Winery in the Anderson Valley wineries for a tasting of terrific wines and a picnic amidst the picturesque vineyard settings.

End your days watching the sunset from a cozy spot on the bluffs or at a romantic seaside restaurant.

Best Places to Stay in Mendocino


7. Yosemite National Park

2 Days in Yosemite in Winter Tunnel View

For couples who love the great outdoors, a weekend in Yosemite is one of the ultimate Northern California romantic getaways.

Begin your adventure overlooking the valley at Tunnel View. Then take a scenic hike together, taking in the park’s natural beauty, and pack a picnic for Sentinel Meadow, where you can savor your meal amidst wildflowers.

There’s nothing prettier than sunset at Glacier Point with breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome.

A sumptuous dinner at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite’s historic and luxurious hotel, known for its grand architecture and elegant dining is a must followed by a glass of wine by the fire at your lodge or under the stars.

If visiting around Valentine’s Day, don’t miss the chance to witness the Firefall, where Horsetail Falls glows orange and red, resembling a cascading fire.

Best Places to Stay in Yosemite

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9. Sausalito

Romantic Getaways in California Sausilito

San Francisco is still a little up in the air for tourism but there are still ways to enjoy the city.

Spending time in the Bay Area offers many romantic activities for couples. Start your day with a scenic walk along the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in the stunning views of the bay and city skyline.

A visit to the towering redwoods of Muir Woods is a must. There are multiple trails throughout the 500+ acre preserve. There are also hiking options in Marin Headlands with jaw-dropping Golden Gate views.

Check out the Sausalito Houseboat community where you’ll find over 500 floating Homes in Richardson Bay featured in the movie “The Last Thing He Told Me” with Jennifer Garner.

Walk along the Ridgeway Promenade for shopping and art galleries. Enjoy a wine tasting at Bacchus & Venus or savor a delectable seafood meal at Scoma’s Sausalito.

Finally, cap off your day with a romantic sailing excursion on the bay, a sunset cruise, or a ferry ride, allowing you to experience the city’s iconic sights from the water and head back to your hotel in Sausalito.

Best Places to Stay in Sausalito


10. Monterey & Pebble Beach

Monterey California in December

Monterey offers an array of romantic activities for couples. Start your adventure with kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding near Lovers Point, where you can explore the beautiful coastline together.

Indulge in a Michelin-star dinner with a view at Coastal Kitchen in Monterey or Maligne in Seaside, offering exquisite cuisine and a romantic ambiance.

One of the best things to do is a scenic tour of the stunning stops along 17-Mile Drive. Then unwind with a couples massage at the luxurious spa at Pebble Beach on in the jacuzzi with 180-degree views at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.

Best Places to Stay in Monterey and Pebble Beach


Final Thoughts About Romantic Getaways in California

Northern California romantic getaways are perfect for couples seeking both adventure and relaxation. From the rugged coastline of Mendocino to the historic charm of Truckee, the region is brimming with enchanting destinations.

Enjoy scenic walks, wine tastings, and intimate dinners by the sea, all set against breathtaking backdrops.

Whether you prefer exploring hidden coves, wandering quaint village streets, or indulging in cozy bed and breakfasts with ocean views, Northern California promises unforgettable experiences for every couple.

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Best Northern California Romantic Destinations

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