While the low-key city of Fresno, California definitely has its merits, the surrounding area offers beach towns, wine country, and quiet communities in the Sierra Nevada perfect for rekindling romance with your sweetheart. When you stay at one of many Fresno vacation rentals, you can easily embark on a road trip to other exciting cities and towns in beautiful Central California. From the sprawling vineyards of St. Helena to the relaxing hot springs of Avila Beach, here are some of the top vacation destinations near Fresno for a weekend of romance.

1. Paso Robles

Source: Flickr/Malcolm Carlaw

Take a two-hour drive southwest of Fresno to reach this paradise in California wine country that promises a weekend of wine-tasting and relaxation. While options abound, be sure to visit the Sculpterra Winery to stroll through the stately sculpture garden after a glass of wine, and stop by the acclaimed Tobin James Cellars. On a weekend afternoon, soak in the mineral waters at River Oaks Hot Springs and Spa, or get a couple’s treatment at Vessel Day Spa. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy an intimate dinner, choose from one of many upscale French and Italian restaurants such as Bistro Laurent or Buona Tavola.

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2. Monterey

This coastal town situated a three-hour drive from Fresno charms couples with its nostalgic attractions, including the Old Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden State Theatre. After spotting whales from a two-person kayak ride on the bay, head to the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa or the Vista Blue Spa for a rejuvenating massage. For a romantic dinner in Monterey, enjoy a plate of seafood at Charthouse or one of the other gourmet waterfront restaurants, then stop by Carmel Beach for the best sunset views in town.

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3. Avila Beach

This seaside town nestled two and a half hours southwest of Fresno draws lovers young and old with its warm hot springs, which you can soak in at Sycamore Mineral Springs. While the town of 15,000 may not offer enough entertainment for a week-long adventure, weekend travelers can fill their days with bike rides on the Bob Jones City to Sea Bike Trail, a picnic under Point San Luis Lighthouse, or even a ride on a sailing charter. Avila Beach also boasts a few classy wineries such as Peloton Cellars and Croma Vera. At the end of a long Saturday, enjoy a romantic stroll down Pirate’s Cove Beach before retreating to your beachside vacation rental.

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4. St. Helena

If you’re craving a short Napa Valley getaway with your loved one, head to this small vineyard community that lies just four hours from Fresno. Spend a day or two touring some of the area’s best wineries, such as Pride Mountain Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery, and Beringer Vineyards with its breathtaking mansion and estate. In town, sample rare wines at ACME Fine Wines, or enjoy an intimate dinner at Brasswood winery and restaurant before picking up fine, handmade candies at Woodhouse Chocolate. You can also browse artwork at Martin Showroom or stroll through the beautiful collection of furnishings at the Napa Valley Vintage Home.

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5. Sonora

Source: Flickr/Craig Howell

Drive two hours north of Fresno to stumble upon this hidden gem in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, offering rustic vacation rentals with easy access to hikes such as the Dragoon Gulch Trail. Couples can enjoy a performance at the Sierra Repertory Theatre or Stage 3 Theatre Company after stopping by the Indigeny Reserve, a renowned distillery in Sonora. For a romantic dinner, choose from rustic eateries such as the Diamondback Grill. To truly take in the beauty of the area, go for a horseback ride with your significant other from Aspen Meadow Pack Station.

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6. Three Rivers

Source: Flickr/Matt Molina

Located just over an hour from Fresno, this rustic small town lies at the foot of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, giving couples a taste of the outdoors for a romantic wilderness weekend. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at River View Restaurant and Lounge or another laid-back eatery before ordering a couple’s spa treatment at The Common Element, a favorite day spa. Three Rivers gives you easy access to the sequoia groves and mountain trails of the national parks, but if you’re looking for an easy hike to enjoy with your loved one, walk to Tokopah Falls to see the beautiful, 1,200-foot cascades.

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7. Huntington Lake

Source: Flickr/David Prasad

If a lakefront vacation rental for two fits your idea of a romantic weekend, you can’t go wrong with this mountain reservoir in the Sierra Nevada, just an hour and a half from downtown Fresno. The secluded lake offers year-round recreational opportunities, such as snowboarding or skiing at the China Peak Ski Area in the winter and romantic horseback rides from D & F Pack Station during the summer. You can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and sailing on Huntington Lake with your loved one before taking a hike to Rancheria Falls. For an intimate dining experience with a rustic touch, head to Regatta Steakhouse and Grill for fresh eats on the lake-view deck.

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