Northern California Romantic Getaways for Couples

Travel Suggestions for Northern California Getaways -
Romantic Hotels, Inns, B and B's, Attractions and More.

Romantic Vacations Guide - Home > California > Northern California Romantic Getaways

By Arnie Jacobsen, Editor 

Updated: February 6, 2013

Northern California Romantic Getaways

Northern California Getaways can include miles of secluded rocky shoreline.

Northern California romantic getaways are an exquisite blend of sandy beaches, rocky coves, hidden inlets, funky towns, and big cities.  From San Francisco, there are so many places a couple can explore with great restaurants and romantic hotels and B and B's.

So many people forget that there is a lot more to California than southern California beaches.  When planning a romantic getaway, or a honeymoon, you should consider all the variety that can be found from Mendocino to Bodega Bay and south to Big Sur, Monterey, and Carmel.  Just follow the coast highways, and don't forget to go inland too, to experience the other side of California.

Best Time to Visit

Deciding on a time to travel here really depends on what you are looking for.  Just about anytime. 

Hwy 1 does close in stretches during the winter stormy season, but just about anytime is a good time.  The weather is a lot more variable here, so it is a good idea to bring along something other than shorts and tank tops.

We were in Big Sur for a wedding in August, and we experienced quite a bit of fog and cooler temperatures in the mornings, and even into the afternoon. But then, just a few miles inland it was warm and sunny.  So come prepared.

Coastal Northern California

About 6 hours drive north of San Francisco along Hwy 1, or about 4 if you go along 101 and 128, is the charming town of Mendocino.  The atmosphere here calls people from far and wide.  What once was a logging town, is now a thriving tourist mecca.


The only town to named as a historical landmark on the California coast.  This architecture of this town has the aura and allure of Maine. The streets are lined with stately Victorian homes and smaller saltbox houses that will give you a real taste of New England, right here on the West Coast.

You will find lovely Bed and Breakfast offerings, as well fine Inns and romantic hotels.

Bodega Bay

A great place to stop for the evening as you are driving along the coast on one of your northern California romantic getaways. The town, nestled around the harbor, is quaint and offers a lovely place to stay when exploring the area.  Clam chowder is a filling and delicious lunch time treat here.

We have stopped here from time to time on road trips, and have always enjoyed it.  It's a great place for a scenic short visit particularly for fans of Alfred Hitchcock's,"The Birds" which was filmed here.

Monterey & Pacific Grove

Monterey is, of course, one of the most visited of California coastal towns.  With its aquarium Cannery Row shops, fabulous shoreline, and so much more in the surrounding area.  Of course, Monterey has a wide array of hotels, motels, Inns, and bed and breakfasts to accommodate you.

Along 17 Mile Drive

My wife, Jo, at Point Joe along the 17 Mile Drive.

But, when we visit Monterey, we love to stay in Pacific Grove.  It's a wonderful small town filled with Victorian homes and cottages surrounding a quaint downtown area with several fine restaurants.

We prefer the unhurried nature of Pacific Grove when selecting a romantic hotel or B and B. This time we stayed at the Sunset Inn, a clean and unpretentious accommodation that is reasonably priced, which we desired after having just returned from a month in France.

And, if you're heading south on your way out of town towards Carmel you will want to take the scenic route along 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach Golf and Country Club and along the rugged coast.

Picturesque Victorians in Pacific Grove, California


Cozy Carmel

I think that it is safe to say that most people consider Carmel to be the crown jewel of their northern California romantic getaways. Carmel is overflowing with charming narrow tree-lined streets with more galleries per capita than I have ever seen.

Little cafes and coffee shops serving scrumptious morsels have lines that, in some cases, stretch down the block with hungry patrons.  Charming B and B's and romantic hotels are tucked in comfy corners offering a hospitable place to lay ones head. One of the most luxurious places we have found, though not in town, is the Tickle Pink Inn.  I know the name, but oh my the setting and the amenities.

Our favorite though has to be The Vagabond House Inn on the corner of Dolores and 4th.  It has all the charm and quaintness that you want and expect from an inn in the heart of Carmel. An added bonus for us dog lovers? Our Golden Doodle, Fritz, is also welcome.

You can get an idea of how Carmel has quaint and cozy all wrapped up in the photo.  It really is a beautiful spot to spend a few days just eating, shopping, and relaxing.

Vagabond House Inn

Big Sur

And, then there is the rugged beauty that is Big Sur.  A favorite destination for those longing to get out and explore the beautiful country that makes up this part of California.

This is a must for everyone seeking northern California romantic getaways that are a little more rustic in nature.

My niece's wedding was held here, outdoors, and I can't imagine a more beautiful place to get married.  No beach wedding in the islands could possible top this spot.

As a testament to that, on the same evening just up the coast Natalie Portman was having her wedding too.

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