California is the perfect place to escape for a weekend with your sweetheart. Whether you’re soaking up the San Diego sun or exploring the redwood forests in the northern part of the state, California is packed with romantic getaway destinations. Enjoy the best of both worlds, bouncing between vibrant city culture and gorgeous nature with ease. Plenty of vacation rentals in California are nestled just minutes from the state’s most scenic hot spots. Accordingly, you can take in the Golden State at your leisure — there’s no better place to stop and smell the flowers. Here are eight of the most noteworthy locations in California for a romantic weekend getaway.

1. Malibu

California beach ocean
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Malibu is an affluent Southern California beach city that’s perfect if you’re seeking waterfront vacation rentals. It’s part of Los Angeles County, and it’s located just 30 miles west of the downtown L.A. area. When you stay in Malibu, you have easy access to all of Los Angeles’ world-class attractions, but with so much to do in Malibu, you may not even make it to the big city. Spend a day at Latigo Beach watching the surfers and catching some rays. As the sun starts to set, take a leisurely stroll along the iconic Malibu Pier, where you can get a bite to eat, browse some eclectic shops, or even do some fishing. While you’re in Malibu, make sure you stop by Geoffrey’s Malibu for a dinner. It’s a lovely oceanside restaurant with a romantic ambiance and delicious California-style international cuisine.

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2. Guerneville

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Guerneville is a small, laid-back town located right in the heart of Northern California’s massive redwood forests. It’s the perfect place if a cozy, rustic cabin in the woods is your idea of the perfect vacation rental. It’s located just a half hour from Santa Rosa, an extremely charming city, and San Francisco is just another hour south. It’s nestled right in the heart of Sonoma County, one of the best wine regions in the world. Whether you’re tasting exquisite wines at one of the many elegant wineries, enjoying a cup of coffee at a 60s-inspired cafe, or enjoying a world-class meal at one of the area’s fantastic restaurants, Guerneville is a foodie’s haven. If you and your travel companion enjoy the great outdoors, you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, and so much more. Be sure to enjoy a walk through the breathtaking Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve to see the massive redwoods up close.

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3. Big Sur

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Big Sur is one of the most popular local vacation destinations among residents of both Los Angeles and San Francisco. In a way, it’s the perfect combination of Malibu and Guerneville, boasting private, serene beaches as well as majestic redwood forests. Spend the day relaxing on the purple-sanded Pfeiffer State Beach with your sweetheart — it’s a tranquil paradise. The gorgeous coast is often called “California’s own Italian Riviera,” so make sure you spend some time exploring the stunning scenery. If you’re not able to find vacation rentals in Big Sur, don’t worry — San Simeon, Carmel, and Monterey are all within driving distance, and each of them has their own unique charm. When you’re ready for dinner, check out Sierra Mar. It’s located on top of a cliff, and the restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the gorgeous coast. You’re not going to find a more romantic setting, and the food is divine.

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4. Napa Valley

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Napa Valley is one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations among people who enjoy the finer things in life such as food and wine. The region is world-famous for its wineries and vineyards, including two favorites: Chateau Montelena and Shafer Vineyards. Chateau Montelena is a beautiful Gothic-style hillside chateau built from stone, and Shaver Vineyards is more of a classic winery, offering an exquisite open-air tasting room. While you’re in Napa, stop by the Meadowood Napa Valley luxury spa for a couples massage and other pampering. Terra is a favorite restaurant among local couples, offering an incredibly cozy, romantic atmosphere and fantastic Contemporary American cuisine with a Japanese twist. Napa Valley has plenty of other romantic attractions to offer, from hot air balloon rides to couples’ cooking classes to outdoor concerts, so you may want to do some planning in advance.

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5. Coronado

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Coronado Island is located just a quick drive across the bay from downtown San Diego. If you want a taste of SoCal beach living without the big crowds, Coronado is the place to go. The beaches are known for their sand that sparkles due to its mineral content, creating an enchanting atmosphere that’s perfect for romantic sunset strolls along the shore. The area has a wonderful elegance to it, featuring quaint boutiques, old-world mansions, lush gardens, and plenty of charming shops and restaurants. Rent bicycles and then tour the island on its beachfront boardwalk. Be sure to visit Orange Avenue, where you can check out the shops, restaurants, and galleries, and theaters, and then enjoy a date at the Coronado Museum of History & Art.

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6. Big Bear

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Big Bear is located in the San Bernadino Mountains, so it’s a great getaway for nature enthusiasts. During the winter, you can enjoy skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing with your sweety, then cuddle up by a fire in your mountain cabin. In the warmer months, there’s no better place to go sailing, hiking, or mountain bike riding. One of the best ways to explore the rural beauty is by horseback — rides are available all year round. For a bird’s-eye view of the area’s natural beauty, head to Helicopter Big Bear for a helicopter tour. For a romantic dinner, it’s tough to beat The Pines Lakefront, a classic upscale restaurant on the water that serves delicious steaks, seafood, pasta, and more — the wine list is fantastic too.

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7. Santa Barbara

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Often called “The American Riviera,” Santa Barbara offers gorgeous Spanish architecture and serene nature. As you wander around the beautiful central California coastal city, you see beautiful red-tiled roofs, white buildings, palm trees, and tranquil gardens that really create a romantic mood. Take a sunset stroll with your sweetheart along the picturesque Santa Barbara Harbor, where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Stop by the Cottonwood Canyon winery for a tasting, and then enjoy a harborside meal at Chuck’s Oceanfront Grill. Santa Barbara is located just a stone’s throw away from small wine towns such as Solvang, Santa Maria Valley, and Los Olivos, and less than two hours from Los Angeles, giving you plenty of local options if you feel like getting away from your getaway for a day.

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8. Yosemite

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Yosemite is one of the best vacation destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, and if you’re lucky, you may even find log cabin vacation rentals. Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls are must-visit outdoor natural wonders that can be accessed by hiking or biking through scenic trails. For dinner, visit the breathtaking Ahwahnee Hotel, where you can enjoy a truly exquisite meal while you enjoy live piano music and lovely views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Whether you’re taking a relaxing boat ride down Mirror Lake, panning for gold along the Merced River, or taking in the sights at the Yosemite Museum, you’re going to fall in love with Yosemite’s rustic charm over and over again.

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