The 10 Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Getaways in California

Couple Kissing

Valentine’s Day is this weekend and it is being situated in the middle of a long weekend. For some, this is the perfect time to escape with your S.O. and spend a weekend in one of California’s most romantic cities. Skip the fancy dinner and the over-priced restaurant and head of for an unforgettable romantic escape in the Golden State. Starting from the most southern point of the state to the north, travel up the 101 for dreamy ocean views and quaint seaside towns.

Ensenada

While not technically in California, Ensenada is the 3rd largest city in Baja, California. The proximity to San Diego makes this an easy drive down south. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, a Mediterranean climate, and all the Mexican food you can eat.

How to Get There:

If you’re coming from San Diego or Los Angeles driving down to Ensenada is easy and no more than a 4 hour drive for those coming from the north. If you don’t feel like driving there are plenty of flights leaving LAX to Ensenada and from SFO to Ensenada.

Where to Stay:

Your best bets are a beachside resort or a Spanish style Airbnb close to the beaches. The Hotel Estero Beach is located on Todos los Santos Bay. The property features 2 pools, 2 hot tubs, and it’s own private beach area. Rooms at the Hotel Estero Beach have views of the sea or the pool. Centrally located this hotel

If you’re more of the Airbnb type consider booking this spectacular oceanfront condo. This home is only a 2-minute walk to downtown Ensenada and 25 minutes away from Wine Country.

What to Do:

One of the top sights in Ensenada is La Bufadora, a geyser that shoots up salt water. Once the geyser stops shooting up salt water take a peek down and see what makes the geyser go off. Enjoy the waves crash against the cliffs.

What to Eat:

Have dinner at the award winning La Guerrerense. They serve seafood tacos, ceviche, tostadas, and they have their own line of salsa. For dessert head to Churros Rellenos de la Primera, where they serve, what else — homemade fresh filled churros.

Coronado

Coronado is an island across from Downtown San Diego. The streets of Coronado are picturesque and lined with local shops, restaurants, and galleries. Coronado has been ranked as one of the best beaches in America.

How to Get There:

If you’re coming from Southern California drive down to San Diego and over the famous Coronado Bridge. If you’re coming from Northern California fly in from San Jose, Oakland, or San Francisco International Airport to San Diego.

Where to Stay:

The go to hotel to stay at in Coronado is the Hotel Del Coronado, this historic luxury Victorian hotel is located right on the Pacific Ocean. The Spa at the hotel has special Valentine’s Day offers so you can relax and unwind during this holiday weekend. If you’re looking for something more intimate stay at the Hotel Marisol Coronado. This hotel has been called quiet, relaxing, and romantic and is only a block away from the beach.

What to Do:

Rent a pair of bikes and set out and explore the small island of Coronado. You’ll feel like a kid again on summer vacation biking around with your crush.

Where to Eat:

When you’re staying on the ocean the only cuisine to eat is seafood. But with San Diego just miles away from the Mexican border these two cuisines mix to form a delicious union of flavors.  Have dinner at Islander and enjoy fresh fish.

Temecula

Located an hour away from San Diego and Los Angeles, Temecula offers golf courses, wineries and hot air balloons. While this city is a bit further from a major metropolitan area like San Diego, it is the perfect place to escape from your everyday reality.

How to Get There:

See Southern California from the driver’s seat and drive to Temecula.

Where to Stay:

Temecula is known as a tourist destination. Stay at the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. This resort is situated on 38 acres of vines, features various restaurants, a tasting room, and a spa.

What to Do:

Wake up early and enjoy mimosas and croissants before heading out on a hot air balloon adventure. After you’re done flying, head to one of the many wineries in Temecula and enjoy a day of tastings.

Where to Eat:

Enjoy fresh sushi and Asian fare at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar located inside the Pechanga Resort and Casino. Feast on sushi, sashimi, nigiri, rolls, oysters, seafood and specialty cocktails.

Couple in the Snow

Big Bear

Big Bear is located in the San Bernardino mountains. While Big Bear is a year-round tourist destination. It really pops off during the Winter. Enjoy all sorts of winter sports activities or stroll around Big Bear Village.

How to Get There:

The easiest way to get to Big Bear is by driving. Make sure you check the weather before you go and make sure you have snow chains for your tires.

Where to Stay:

If you’re looking to ball out rent out this seven bedroom five star vacation cabin with an outdoor jacuzzi and breathtaking lake views. If that’s a bit out of your price range but you still want to stay in a lodge book your weekend at the Marina Resort.

What to Do:

Big Bear Mountain is a winter wonderland. Spend the day skiing, snowboarding, sledding and tubing. If snow sports are not your thing, stop in to all the village shops and then warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.

Where to Eat:

Stay warm and enjoy a juicy steak at Peppercorn Grille. This restaurant is located in the heart of Big Bear Village and offers a small and intimate ambiance.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a desert oasis, with its year-long warm weather Palm Springs is the perfect getaway. From golfing, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, and tennis, this city is a huge hub for recreation. After spending the day playing outside dine at one of the many renowned restaurants.

How to Get There:

Palm Springs is an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles. If you’re coming from Northern California you can fly into the Palm Springs International Airport.

Where to Stay:

Palm Springs is known for its mid-century modern architecture. If you’re going to Palm Springs there is only one place to stay, and that is the Saguaro. This brightly colored hotel is surrounded by the mountains. Take it all in as you relax by the pool.

What to Do:

If you’re not afraid of heights go on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is one of the few places where you can go from desert to mountains. The ride up is breathtaking and somewhat adventurous. Remember to bring a jacket as it gets cold up at the top.

Where to Eat:

From Spanish tapas to farm-to-table dishes there is something for everyone to enjoy in Palm Springs. Enjoy dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar. This restaurant is housed in a newly renovated 1920’s Spanish colonial building. Enjoy a rotating menu of American dishes with a French spin on them brought to you by chef Michael Beckman.

Laguna Beach

Welcome to the real O.C. This seaside resort city is known for its scenic coves, artistic community, and of course being the hometown of Lauren Conrad.

How to Get There:

Enjoy a scenic drive along California’s coast or Fly into John Wayne Airport.

Where to Stay:

Spend your weekend at the historic Hotel Laguna. Chill out, get pampered, and enjoy the California sun. No matter where your room is you’ll have a gorgeous view of the rose garden, the ocean, or the local shops of the small town. Plus the Hotel Laguna allows dogs you can bring your favorite 3rd wheel along.  

What to Do:

There are hundreds of things to do in the small town of Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is known for being an artistic hub, take a self-guided tour around the city and check out many of the public arts projects. Laguna Beach also offers year-long whale watching tours. Head out into the ocean and maybe you will get lucky and see a whale out in the waters.

Where to Eat:

Mare Culinary Lounge is the perfect place to eat during your romantic escape. The ambiance is trendy, intimate, and sexy. Start with the calamari and then move on to your main course while enjoying an Italian wine.

Couple at the beach

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has been coined as the American Riviera. The city boosts many cultural landmarks such as the Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and Stearns Wharf.

How to Get There:

Fly into the Santa Barbara Municipal airport but I recommend you drive. Santa Barbara is a hop skip and a jump away from Los Angeles and a fun road trip down from the Bay Area.

Where to Stay:

The Hotel Santa Barbara mixes the historic charm of this seaside Spanish community with modern comforts. This hotel is located in the heart of downtown and close to State Street, Stearns Wharf, and the Urban Wine Trail.

What to Do:

Tour Santa Barbara from sunrise to sunset. Spend the morning walking along the waterfront and then spend some time at the Mission Santa Barbara. When you get back into downtown hop around to a few tasting rooms on the Urban Wine Trail.

Where to Eat:

Enjoy dinner at The Lark where they will be celebrating Valentine’s Day all weekend long. The Lark boosts locally sourced, seasonal ingredients that are only available on California’s Central Coast. While you’re dining try one of the restaurant’s craft cocktails made from artisan spirits, mixers, fruits, and vegetables.

Carmel by the Sea

Carmel is situated on the Monterey Peninsula and is known for it’s majestic scenery and vibrant artistic history. Carmel is known for being a dog-friendly town, many of the hotels restaurants and galleries allow for dogs.

How to Get There:

If you’re coming from Southern California the drive up will take you about 7.5 hours, add a bit more time as you will want to stop along the 101 and gaze out into the ocean. For those coming from the San Francisco area it is only about a 2 hour drive.

Where to Stay:

Spend your weekend at Carmel’s landmark boutique hotel, the Cypress Inn. The Cypress Inn mixes old world charm with modern comforts to create the perfect escape for you. The hotel strongly believes that dogs are an integral part of your family and encourages all guests to bring their furry friends with them.

What to Do:

The most popular attraction near Carmel is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. From sharks, to sea otters, turtles and octopuses this fun outing will have you feeling like a kid again. If you’re looking for something more outdoorsy head to Point Lobos where you can go hiking, whale watching and scuba diving.

Where to Eat:

Pop culture has lead us to believe there are few things more romantic than enjoying a candlelit Italian dinner with someone you love. Eat at Cibo Italian Restaurant where they serve up delicious food, cocktails and live jazz music.

San Francisco

San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the world’s best cities. Nestled on the sparkling bay, Victorian homes line the streets and cable cars run throughout the city. The Bay Area is filled with so much diversity that it seeps into the culture of the city, producing an electric environment of delicious restaurants, hip bars, and a colored history that shapes the city today.

How to Get There:

No matter where you’re coming from you can easily fly into San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport, the official hub of Southwest Airlines. If you have extra time you can drive up to San Francisco and cross over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Where to Stay:

Call the Triton Hotel home for the weekend, this eco-friendly hotel is located in the heart of San Francisco. When you walk outside you’ll see Chinatown’s dragon gates, Union Square, and the Gallery District.

What to Do:

Hit up all of San Francisco’s most famous sights for an intimate and fun day of touring. Ride a cable car, eat clam chowder soup at Boudin, play arcade games at the Musée Mécanique on Fisherman’s Wharf and drive down Lombard Street.

Where to Eat:

Have Chinese food at R&G Lounge, this restaurant has been serving the best Chinese food in the city since 1985. Order the salt and pepper crab, a favorite of Anthony Bourdain.

Napa Valley

Most people come to Napa Valley for the world-renowned wines. Napa is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy warm sunny days with wine, cheese, and a spa day.

How to Get There:

While Napa is located an hour and a half away from San Francisco. This city makes itself easily accessible and you can really get there by trains, planes, and automobiles. Fly into one of the many Bay Area airports, take the train into the Napa Valley Train Station, or drive.

Where to Stay:

Stay at the chic and trendy Mount View Hotel & Spa. This boutique hotel is conveniently located by tons of shopping and dining options and boosts an upscale spa.

What to Do:

What else would you do but go wine tasting in Napa Valley? Create a route and hit up as many wineries as you want.

Where to Eat:

For modern American fare head to the Napa Valley Bistro. According to reviews on Trip Advisor they serve a delicious lunch and have a great selection of choice wines and craft beer.

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