A version of this story appeared on JustLuxe and Medium
The word “romantic” can mean different things to different couples. To some, romantic getaways involve waking up to dreamy ocean views. Others experience romance while getting cozy next to a crackling fireplace, or relaxing in a hidden hot tub in the woods.
Regardless of your definition, California is the one destination that can meet all your expectations for truly memorable romantic getaways. The fact that you don’t need a passport to visit the Golden State, and it’s never frigid even in the winter makes it the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day weekend.Couples who love to wine and dine will find themselves right at home in Napa wine country. For a more intimate retreat, you can find several secluded stays along the Pacific Coast Highway in Carmel, Big Sur and Santa Barbara. And if you’re looking for a sun-kissed vacation, Los Angeles and Palm Springs will give lovebirds the temperate winter climate to be able to bask poolside.Below are the luxury hotels, resorts, inns, ranches and lodges that make for the most romantic getaways and will have you falling in love with California this Valentine’s Day.
A family-owned, country-style stay in Russian River Valley, the Farmhouse Inn is a six-acre estate with only 18 rooms. The main luxury suites are housed in an authentic 19-century barn, so you can almost imagine that roosters conduct all the wakeup calls. The guest rooms at the Farmhouse Inn come with feather-topped beds, heated floors, expansive walk-in closets and a fire-pit for evening s’mores. Plus, this inn also counts with a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant and a world-famous bath bar with seasonal, homemade scrubs, salts and soaps. Couples can indulge with two unique romantic packages: “Alone Time Tour” if you and your loved one want to go on private wine tastings or “Candlelit Tub Turndown” to have the staff set the mood in your room with candles, music and champagne on ice while you’re out to dinner.
Parker Palm Springs
The Parker Palm Springs is Beyoncé’s own personal hideout during the Coachella music festival, so of course you can expect the hotel to be nothing but sublime. The Parker’s unique style is eclectic but always tasteful. Superstar designer Jonathan Adler managed to blend together the chic mod vibe of the Sixties and the groovy cool of the Seventies with a dash of that iconic Rat Pack-era appeal. But the Parker Palm Springs is not only Bey-worthy during Coachella. If you can believe it, the Parker is even dreamier in the winter. That’s when the subtle desert heat allows you and your loved one to sip lemonade by the sparkling pool, play croquet on the manicured lawns or get a massage at the glamorous spa.
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur has always had a vivid love affair with nature, and the Post Ranch Inn truly captures that natural harmony, serenity and romance. Designed to make the most of its stunning natural surroundings, the Post Ranch Inn is made up of freestanding tree houses hidden in the redwood forest and coastal bungalows perched onto the cliffs with private decks and hot tubs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Post Ranch Inn is always adults-only, so you can assume they cater to couples year-round. For Valentine’s Day weekend, consider the resort’s “Romance at the Ranch” package, which includes accommodations, two four-course meals at the onsite restaurant, Sierra Mar, in-room couples massages, complimentary champagne and your choice of romantic activities, like morning yoga, a guided nature hike, a stargazing session, or borrowing a Lexus to take a roadtrip down the iconic Pacific Coast Highway to nearby state parks and beaches.
The Mission Inn
If you’re in love with a history buff, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by getting the presidential treatment. The Mission Inn is a historic landmark in Riverside, California that has welcomed 10 U.S. Presidents since it first opened in 1903, from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush. For Presidents Day weekend which coincides with Valentine’s Day, the property is offering guests a chance to “Live Like a President” with a new all-inclusive package. Couples get to stay in the Mission Inn’s Alhambra Presidential Suite where Nancy and Ronald Reagan spent their honeymoon. You’ll also get to drink special cocktails, like a JFK-inspired daiquiri, in the Presidential Lounge where Pat and Richard Nixon got married back in 1940.
One of the world’s most luxurious rural hideaways, Calistoga Ranch is made up of freestanding luxury lodges. These one- or two-bedroom love shacks are equipped with hard wood floors, modern fixtures, indoor/outdoor showers and private hot tubs. For the eco-conscious couples, consider that these sleek modern lodges were built off-site and transported to the area to preserve the 157 acres of luscious forest. Calistoga Ranch is equally splendid indoor or out, for those who dare to venture outside their comfy confines for epic nature walks, bocce games or a visit to the hidden wine cave, where iron chandeliers set the mood for enchanting wine tastings. If you’re visiting the property during Valentine’s Day, Calistoga Ranch offers a “Rekindle the Romance” package which includes accommodations, candlelit dinner and an in-lodge massage. Couple looking to take their love to greater heights should also consider the “Sip, Soar and Explore” package which includes a hot air balloon ride above Napa wine country.
El Capitan Canyon
“Glamping” has been a sexy travel trend for a few years now, but there is one luxury nature resort that practically pioneered the concept. Just twenty miles north of Santa Barbara right on the Pacific Coast, El Capitan Canyon is a collection of canvas tents, adventure yurts and heated cabins surrounded by 300 acres of creekside woodlands. The Safari Village is the campground’s version of a presidential suite located on its own private hilltop, with a living room, kitchen, a roof-deck patio and an outdoor shower for a truly-refreshing morning rinse. But just because El Capitan Canyon focuses on luxury accommodations does not undermine the resort’s responsibility to the environment and providing a relaxing, stress-free retreat in nature. The campsite is a car-free zone, and vintage bicycles are provided for free to all guests.
Manka’s Inverness Lodge
If you and your loved one don’t mind a little hibernating for Valentine’s Day, Manka’s Inverness Lodge is a cozy, coastal retreat straight out of a bohemian lumberjack’s dream. Noted California author Michael Chabon once described it as, “the sweetest, quirkiest, most exquisite gem of a luxury inn.” This collection of cabins scattered in the Marin woodland hills just one hour north of San Francisco is perfect for relaxing next to a wood-burning fireplace reading a heavy book, taking indulgent hours-long baths with your loved one or exploring the natural surroundings together. The two rustic boathouse suites built in 1911 are particularly splendid and roomy. And just because you’re in the wilderness doesn’t mean you have to forgo a world-class meal. The on-site restaurant has been lauded as one of the very best in all of Northern California, and every dish is made with locally-sourced ingredients.
If the rose-colored walls of the Hotel Bel-Air could talk they would certainly have something to say about former guests, like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. Since it opened in 1946, Hotel Bel-Air has been the place where respected Hollywood royalty checks in to get pampered after winning an Academy Award. Today guests from all over the world continue to be drawn to L.A.’s most elegant hotel with its enchanting Tuscan-style bungalows, its A-list amenities and its 12 acres of secluded gardens where both swans and celebs can be found. For Valentine’s Day weekend, Hotel Bel-Air is making the most of its glamorous charm by offering a romantic stay in a guest room that has its own private garden patio, a marble spa bathtub and Egyptian cotton sheets and towels.
Carmel Valley Ranch
California’s central coast is quickly becoming a new destination for secluded, relaxing and romantic travel. The Carmel Valley Ranch is the labor of love for billionaire investor John Pritzker and boutique hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, equipped with all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort, including a golf course and tennis courts. Carmel Valley is tucked away a few miles from the quaint town of Carmel, known for its provincial yet sophisticated charm, making it truly a hidden gem that gets only trampled over by the resident deer. For couples looking to rekindle their romance, Carmel Valley offers a Ranch Retreat package, which includes suite accommodations, daily breakfast and activity credit for golf, tennis or spa treatments. Ask about their Vineyard Suites or their Vineyard Oak Studios that come with an outdoor soaking tub.
Cavallo Point Lodge
Couples who want to escape from San Francisco’s bustling scene for a bit will love the Cavallo Point Lodge and its world-renowned Healing Arts Center & Spa. This relaxing luxury resort in Sausalito is so close to San Francisco that you’ll always have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cavallo Point Lodge consists of two different but complementary lodging options: historic or contemporary. The historic accommodations consist of former residences for the military officers of Fort Baker. Fully restored, these accommodations still retain the residential touches like porches and fireplaces that will make you feel right at home. To commemorate Valentine’s Day, Cavallo Point is offering a “Love Is in the Air” package the entire month of February.