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California’s beauty is one that goes unmatched and can truly take anyone’s breath away. The best part about exploring this west coast state is that the landscapes and cities are all so diverse. No matter what you are looking for, beaches, valleys, national parks, forests, deserts, or mountains, California has it.

The largest populated state in the US is filled with not only endless natural sights and national parks but also rich in history, culture, sports, and excitement.

If you’re trying to plan a romantic escape in The Golden State, there are some cities that seem like they were made for this. We’re going from north to south, mapping out four lovely cities perfect for a romantic getaway. Whatever city you decide to travel to, we’re sure this trip will be a memorable one! Before we start, we must include, there are no ‘wrong choices’ while choosing a romantic getaway in California. After a ton of research and discussion in our local San Francisco office, we decided on these recommendations as our favorites.

Napa Valley

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Even those who don’t consider themselves wine experts will enjoy a weekend in Northern California’s Napa Valley. Napa is located about one hour north of San Francisco by car. Once there, you’ll have your pick of over 400 different wineries operating in the area. The entire Napa Valley region can feel immense, especially for first-time visitors who may not have a lot of time.

Pro tip: If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, be sure to ask if they have any discounted deals with local wineries! This can help you decide which wineries out of the 400 to start with. If you’re staying at a private home and don’t have a concierge, don’t hesitate to ask the property manager for their top suggestions. One great winery for first timers to start with is Grgich Hills Estate. This winery was founded by Mike Grgich, the legendary winemaker who paved the way for California wines, giving Napa international recognition at the 1976 Paris Tasting, with his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

Open your door in the morning and feel the welcome of the beautiful Napa climate. Enjoy a wonderful food scene, and cherish your time with your loved one on this soon to be memorable California romantic getaway.

Favorite Romantic Activity: If in the budget, nothing says romantic like enjoying the tasting menu at the French Laundry. The California restaurant, which first opened in 1974 holds a rich history and is known to be one of the most influential restaurants in the world. The two tasting menus are updated daily. Pick between the Chef’s Tasting Menu or the Tasting Of Vegetables for a guaranteed, out of this world dining experience.

Finding a great rental in Napa for all budgets is easy with VacationRenter. Start planning your romantic California getaway to Napa today.

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Big Sur

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Making our way south towards the central coast of California, Big Sur is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. With a distinct lack of development, Big Sur is the place to go when you crave natural beauty and isolation. First and foremost, you’ll want to meander along Highway 1, which runs right through Big Sur. Many agree that this stretch of highway is one of the most breathtaking roads in America.

Although swimming conditions around Big Sur are not ideal due to cold water and unpredictable currents, do yourself a favor and spend some time taking a stroll on the sand. If you’re able to, a short hike to McWay Waterfall is definitely worth the walk!mcway-waterfall-cove

Check out the beach at Garrapata State Park, about 18 miles north of Big Sur, which features two miles of sand for coastal hiking.

Favorite Romantic Activity: If you came for the beaches, then Pfeiffer Beach should be on your itinerary too. This is the point where Sycamore Canyon Creek hits the Pacific Ocean. At low tide, you can explore amazing tide pools. Try to time your visit for sunset if you want a real treat, and don’t miss the north end of the beach.

Book a Big Sur vacation rental for your next romantic getaway.

Solvang

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Situated in the Santa Ynez Valley of Southern California, Solvang is often called the Danish capital of America. Solvang means “sunny field” in Danish, and when you arrive in this little city you’ll instantly feel like you just got to Denmark. Surrounded by historic buildings that feature European architecture, you can explore the village to your heart’s content. Danish bakeries are plentiful, serving up distinctive pastries that are out of this world.

For date ideas, early birds can head over to Brekkies for a brunch fix, with menu items like Danish pancakes, Belgium waffles served with powdered sugar and maple syrup, flaky french toast, and more. If you like to sleep in, you still have options. Check out Cecco Ristorante for traditional Italian food, or Rusack Winery‘s tasting room and picnic area for a wonderful afternoon by the vineyards.

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You can also browse the many shops and boutiques to take home a few Solvang souvenirs. Solvang boasts more than 150 different shops, many offering European imports and other high-end wares.

Favorite Romantic Activity: Hop on a horse-drawn trolley for a tour of the city. As you tour, a guide will provide fascinating details about Solvang. If you want to catch a show, you can also make plans to visit the Solvang Festival Theater, dating back to 1974, and maintaining an active calendar of events throughout the year.

Find a Solvang vacation rental that fits into the Danish vibe for your next special trip.

Catalina Island

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Located southwest of Los Angeles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island is a bustling resort town that has much to offer for couples seeking a romantic getaway. The island features everything vacationers could want, including mouthwatering restaurants, pristine beaches, comfortable lodging, and rugged wilderness. Arrive on the island by ferry or helicopter to begin your weekend vacation. You can navigate Catalina Island in a few different ways: foot, bike, or golf cart!

There’s a casino on the island which actually isn’t a casino at all. Instead, it’s a breathtaking establishment that was built in 1929 by William Wrigley Jr. as a gathering place for people to unwind after a long journey across the ocean. Take a walking tour of the casino to experience it more fully, or you can catch a movie on the premises in the on-site theater.

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Favorite Romantic Activity: Spend the day Descanso Beach Club and relax on the beach in a private cabana. The incredible waitstaff will pamper you with delicious refreshments while you soak in the sun on this classic California Island.

Your trip to Catalina Island will be filled with memorable experiences and romance.

Romance is in the California air

As we stated earlier, these are not the only great romantic getaway locations in California, but after comparing them to the others, we decided these are our favorite!

Let VacationRenter to help you plan your next romantic escape today.