Looking for a getaway for you and your Valentine? No doubt, California has a plethora of romantic escapes for all types of travelers, from beaches to mountains, cities to country retreats. Mike and Anne Howard, founders of HoneyTrek.com, agree. The duo says they have been on an eight-year honeymoon covering 60 countries and 47 states researching their guide Ultimate Journeys for Two. “Few places,” they say, “hold a candle to the romance of California.”
Mike and Anne recently shared with us a few of their favorite California options for couples, and we added a few picks ourselves. Choose one (or a few) to plan a trip with your love.
Glamping: Mendocino and Big Sur
“We’ve experienced virtually every type of lodging throughout our eight-year honeymoon,” say Mike and Anne, “and glamping has become our absolute favorite style for its blend of nature, luxury, adventure, and romance. When writing our glamping guide Comfortably Wild, we realized that California had enough fabulous eco-resorts and outdoor getaways to fill all 250 pages.”
Of all California’s romantic glamping spots, Mike and Anne give special props to Mendocino Grove, thanks to its scenic locale among Mendocino’s sea cliffs, redwoods, and artist colony. “No matter if your significant other loves the culture of a city or the serenity of the woods, Cupid’s bases are covered here,” they writre. “Spend an evening at the Mendocino Theater Company and feasting on a farm-to-table dinner at Trillium, then head back to your plush safari tent to roast s’mores and stargaze.”
In romantic seaside Big Sur, Mike and Anne recommend Treebones Resort, whose eye-popping Autonomous Tent they call “the Sydney Opera House of camping.” But the resort also has treehouse or cozy yurt options with ocean views. “The winter season has an entertaining live music series, yoga retreats, and the chance to spot grey whales from your private porch.”
Gondola Rides: Oakland and Napa
Oakland may seem an unlikely spot for a romantic gondola ride, but Gondola Servizio's excursions on Lake Merritt, on a genuine Venetian gondola, are seriously romantic experiences. Enjoy the city lights, champagne, and warm blankets, with a singing gondolier to complete the scene, before or after a romantic meal at Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill. Farther north in wine country, Napa Valley Gondola is offering special Valentine’s Day packages for their rides along the Napa River.
Après-Ski Romance: South Lake Tahoe
The beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada, overlooking the glittering waters of Lake Tahoe, exude romance. The South Lake Tahoe dining scene has more than a dozen romantic fine dining restaurants to enjoy with your partner after a day on the slopes. Share a candle-lit meal at the highly rated Evans Tahoe with their special prix fixe Valentine’s meal, or get messy together with a BBQ feast at Ten Crows on its patio with heat lamps, couches, live music, and an outdoor fire pit.
Luxury Beach Resorts: Montecito and Newport Beach
A couple’s resort retreat is another fine way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. At one of California’s most beautiful beaches in Montecito, the new ultra-luxury Rosewood Miramar Beach, with its 26 beach-house guestrooms, is offering special romantic features this Valentine’s Day. Consider, for instance, a four-course prix fixe dinner at Caruso’s combining ocean views with decadent dishes, or hang out at its Sense Spa, whose special February treatments include a Romance, Rosé & Rosebuds footbath and massage that concludes with raspberry-infused sparkling rosé.
Or, head to Newport Beach’s lavish Resort at Pelican Hill—with villas, bungalows, and guest rooms set on 500 oceanfront acres—to make the most of its Valentine’s Day specials. Choose from the “menu dell’amore” prix fixe and other swoon-worthy dining experiences at its Coliseum, Andrea, and Pelican Grill restaurants, along with the resort’s Valentine’s Day High Tea in the Great Room Social Lounge. Its five-star spa also offers Couples’ Suite Retreat packages for the holiday weekend—or really, for any romantic weekend escape.