Adventurous vacations provided the building blocks for the royal romance between Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle. While he lived in England and she worked in Toronto, casual rendezvous meant trips to far-flung locations, such as a safari in Botswana and a Northern Lights getaway in Norway. Channel the couple’s love of adventure with these epic California trip ideas.
1. Whale watch in Mendocino
During a 2017 excursion in Norway, the couple spent their days whale watching. California is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world, with opportunities to spot all types of cetaceans up and down the Pacific coast. One of the best spots to experience the majesty of these beautiful beasts is in Mendocino, three hours north of San Francisco. From November through April, the California gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico and can be spotted along California’s northern coast. Book a tour with Telstar Charters or All Aboard Adventures (both in Fort Bragg) to see the whales up close. The exclusive Sea Drum House at the Inn at Newport Ranch will provide peaceful privacy at the day’s end. Watch for spouts as you relax in your outdoor hot tub overlooking the ocean.
2. Play polo in Santa Barbara
The Prince of Wales knows his way around a polo field. During one of the couple’s first public outings, Markle watched her prince on horseback as he chucked the ball around. At the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, you too can get a taste of the action. (Fun fact: Harry’s brother William, the Duke of Cambridge and second in line to the throne, played here in 2011.) The spectator season runs from May through October, while an “Intro to Polo” clinic is held on Saturday mornings year round. Tuck in for the evening at the lavish Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, or keep your vacation on an equestrian theme by renting a covered wagon at Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Stables.
3. Stargaze in Death Valley
During a 2017 holiday to the Arctic Circle, the royal couple admired the wonder of the Northern Lights. Death Valley National Park, home to one of the darkest skies in California, is the ultimate place to stargaze in the United States. Stay at the Inn at Death Valley, a remarkable oasis in the middle of the desert, complete with golf courses and spring-fed pools. After the sun sets, head to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center to pick up a planisphere. From there, Harmony Borax Works is only a short drive away and offers an ideal vantage point for taking in the sparkling sky.
4. Glamp among the redwoods
A fabulous backdrop for any date, Autocamp in Guerneville is the sort of rugged-meets-romantic experience the royal couple seems to relish. Tucked in the redwoods-filled Russian River Valley 90 minutes north of San Francisco, Autocamp offers high-end glamping options that include Airstream model suites and airy canvas tents. Chic interiors, spa-style bathrooms, and cosy fire pits make for a luxurious retreat after a day of exploring.
5. Practice falconry in Los Angeles
The royal family has a rich history of falconry dating back to the 14th century, when King Richard II constructed the Royal Mews for the sole purpose of housing his birds of prey. Harry, not surprisingly, has gone on hunting getaways with his mates and seems to enjoy manly interactions with nature. At the luxe Terranea Resort near Los Angeles, visitors can witness the resort’s remarkable falconry program at work. Guests learn about how the birds fend off seagulls, and get to participate in a flight demonstration and meet-and-greets with the owls, hawks, and raptors (private tours are available).
6. Ski in Lake Tahoe
A high-alpine aptitude is more or less a requirement for royal entrée. In fact, Prince Harry hosted his bachelor party (aka stag do) at a Swiss chalet. Cut through some powder during a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe in Truckee. After a day marked by ski-in, ski-out access, relax next to the fireplace at the Highlands Bar as you sip on a negroni (Markle’s cocktail of choice), or nab a reservation for the intimate chef’s table at Manzanita. Bonus points for booking an afternoon of mushing at Tahoe Dog Sled Tours—just like the couple did in Norway.
7. Ride a jeep through the San Andreas Fault
Experience the geological drama of an active earthquake fault with an off-road adventure courtesy of Desert Adventures’ Red Jeep Tours in Palm Desert. Ramp up the romance by booking the sunset tour to witness burnt orange and deep pink hues outlining the cuts and canyons. Settle in for the night in a private bungalow at the exclusive L’Horizon Resort and Spa, a favourite destination of U.S. presidents, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and other Hollywood golden-era royalty.
8. Go whitewater kayaking at Otter Bar Lodge
Secluded, off-the-grid, and surrounded by breathtaking wilderness, the immersive Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School in Forks of Salmon offers two things the royal couple love: an adrenaline rush and privacy. This thrilling camp in California’s northeast corner provides amenities beyond what you would expect. Throughout the weeklong adventure, you’ll be served farm-to-table meals featuring produce from the on-site garden. Opt to recover from the Salmon River paddling with a massage or a soak in the hot tub.
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