While many couples flock to California to explore the various wine regions and the many cellar doors, there's much more to the state than that. Whether you and your sweetheart are looking for adventure, aerial views, artisan culture, or something else, you'll find it in this West Coast destination. To help you plan a great trip, here is a guide to California romance beyond wine.
While Temecula is known for its idyllic wine country, another romantic facet of the destination is its Old Town. Not only is the eclectic mix of Old West and modern architectural styles enchanting, but the area's artisan culture allows you to hop from shop-to-shop sampling local cheeses, olive oils, balsamics, lavender products, sodas, fudge, candies, teas, meats, and more. There is also a large number of antique stores, craft shops, and arts establishments. In fact, the only chain you'll find in Old Town Temecula is Starbucks, which blends in with a historical facade, as it got in before the law was passed that all businesses must be local.
For a bonus experience, go for a hot air balloon ride over Temecula Valle. With its cellar doors, endless rows of Italian varietals, and relaxing countryside, it's a beautiful ride.
Along with Temecula Valley, there are many places to hot air balloon for a romantic experience in the sky. While a flight above the USA's most prominent wine region with Napa Valley Balloons can show you the destination from a unique vantage point, soaring over San Diego with Skysurfer is a great way to experience this seaside city. If you're in Los Angeles, opt for a Romance & Sunset Tour, which includes a sunset helicopter tour for you and your beloved, as well as two glasses of Champagne (okay, so there's a little wine involved). Many times in California, all it takes is looking up - literally - to find romance beyond wine.
Exploring California's national parkswith your loved one allows you to step back and let Mother Nature set the stage. If you like otherworldly landscapes, Joshua Tree National Parkappears like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, and many people have claimed to have had UFO encounters there. For this, I recommend staying at Two Bunch Palms, a boutique spa resort located less than an hour away in Desert Hot Springs with a relaxing hot springs grotto, exercise classes, couples spa treatments, and green spaces to cuddle up in nature.
Yosemiteis another national park to discover with your sweetheart, home to 747,956 acres of glacier-sculpted valleys, mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, and wildlife like Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, spotted owls, black bear and bobcats. One particularly romantic area of the park is the Yosemite Valley, where you'll find attractions like the 4,000-foot Bridalveil Fall and the Half Dome, both great couples hikes. Just make sure to purchase travel insurance before you go to allow for worry-free adventure on the road.
There's just something about a beachgetaway that screams "romance!" Luckily, along with vineyards, California is also home to a plethora of beaches. Malibu is one recommendation, with picturesque stretches of sand. El Matador State Beach, with its somewhat challenging hike entrance makes it a less crowded option, and Topanga State Beach, home to a slew of water activities is a great place to be at sunset.
Another suggestion is Carlsbad, a seaside city located about 40 minutes from San Diego. Here, you can lounge in the sand and enjoy the waves before heading to the Carlsbad Chocolate Bar, going for a couples bike ride on the Carlsbad Coastal Rail Trail, or indulging with a couples Vanilla Bourbon Experience with a vanilla bourbon bubble bath and massage at the Ocean Crest Spa.
California is home to a number of romantic hotel escapes worth the trip in themselves. One is Big Surs Post Ranch Inn, an eco-friendly property with floor-to-ceiling windows situated on a cliff top overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Another recommendation is the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa in San Luis Obispo, where lovebirds can explore 100+ acres of nature, partake in wellness classes, and dip into curative mineral waters. And the oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes is a serene LA getaway, with gardens, pools, bungalows, and beach coves.
Where are your favorite romantic hotspots in California?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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