Planning a mini moon? We recently shared our tips for planning a mini moon, along with our favorite destinations all around the US (and a few beyond!) — see the guide here. As we were perusing all these dreamy locales, we quickly realized that California destinations warranted a post all to themselves. Being such a vast state with several different regions, cultures, and micro-climates, California offers an almost endless array of beautiful spots worthy of a special trip. Whether you’re planning a mini moon, have a milestone anniversary on the books, or just need a little time away, we’ve created the ultimate guide to the top destinations and best resorts in California. Let’s go!
Our Favorite California Resorts + Hotels
Napa ValleySolage Calistoga by Auberge Resorts Collection in Napa Valley is a Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice pick with good reason: it offers modern design and amenities among Napa’s gorgeous landscapes and beautiful year-round weather. Carneros Resort is charming yet luxe, offering private cottages, three full-service restaurants, a luxury spa, two pools, and daily resort events. The Estate Yountville in Napa Valley actually offers two different boutique hotel experiences on their 22 acre property. There’s the modern Hotel Villagio and the cozy Vintage House, both of which have access to the Estate’s full-service spa and couples experiences.
Central Coast, CA
Couples can really create any type of adventure on California’s Central Coast, whether it’s taking in Big Sur’s expansive views, R&R at a luxury spa in Carmel Valley, or boutique shopping and wine tasting before taking in a sunset over the ocean in Carmel… And that’s just a few things to do.
Carmel Valley is known for its wine tasting, luxury resorts and spas, and breathtaking scenery. About an hour’s drive from Big Sur, and twenty minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea, it’s perfect for couples who want to divide their time between exploring the Central Coast and taking it easy.
For those who want an all inclusive experience, Carmel Valley Ranch – a 500 acre property – is truly an oasis in the valley. It features elevated dining, wine tasting, golf, wellness retreats, and outdoor adventures.
To get a resort feel closer to the Pacific Ocean, L’Auberge Carmel is both quaint and luxe at the same time, with only twenty guest rooms total. Book here for historic charm, Michelin rated dining, and easy access to the boutiques, cafes, tasting rooms – and ocean sunsets – Carmel-by-the-Sea has to offer. (photo by @istasik)Hotel Californian in Downtown Santa Barbara is chic luxury hotel with a Moroccan-meets-Spanish inspired design, full-service spa, and incredible dining options. El Encanto, a cozy boutique hotel in Santa Barbara, boasts sweeping ocean views. You’ll love that it’s serene and secluded, yet still just a couple miles from downtown, botanical gardens, golfing, wine tasting, and more.
Two hours up the coast from Santa Barbara, the small beachside town of Cambria, California boasts a hidden gem overlooking the Pacific. White Water Cambria is an impeccably designed modern beachside hideaway with ocean views, local fare, and even Linus bikes for exploring the coast at your leisure. Perfect for those with an equal love of nature views and elevated interiors!
Palm SpringsLa Serena Villas in the heart of Palm Springs calls a gorgeous 1933 building home for its 18 private villas, each with a claw foot tub, fire pit, and lounge seating on their own private patios. It’s also home to the colorful Azucar, a modern restaurant with a rooftop bar on the property.
Another gorgeous Palm Springs mini moon hotel is Azure Sky, an adults-only mid-century hotel built in 1959 offering modern lines, chic details, and lush gardens and 14 guest rooms.
Outside the city, Sands Hotel and Spa (you may have seen photos of their cute pink facade all over Insta) is a boutique hotel with a modern Moroccan-inspired design, trendy on-site restaurant, and luxury spa. The area is a great spot if you plan to divide your time between Downtown Palm Springs and surrounding hikes, or a visit to The Living Desert zoo.
If you’re mini (or honeymooning) in San Francisco, the famed San Francisco Proper Hotel, designed by Kelly Wearstler is a member of Design Hotels. Get a closer peek at some of the interiors in a wedding we shared at the SF Proper here!
The 1 Hotel San Francisco is a sustainable luxury retreat and wellness spa with incredible views, farm-to-table food, and on-site classes and events. The hotel is located on the Embarcadero, which makes for scenic walks along the bay and easy access to Union Square and Chinatown.
If you love to experience the outdoors as a couple, a local National Park adventure may make for the perfect mini moon or anniversary trip. One of our top California destinations for nature-seekers, Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains can make for a truly life-changing trip. To elevate your trip with a unique and comfortable stay, try Autocamp (above), The Ahwahnee Hotel or Tenaya (below) as your home base.
A quick flight for many in the Southwest and West Coast, couples can soak up the sun in LA while enjoying world-famous shopping, beautiful beaches, and incredible food. Los Angeles is sprawling so be sure to plan your stay around your top to-dos – stay where you’ll want to spend the most time, or choose a luxury resort that offers the full LA experience in one place.The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is for those looking for LA luxury (and perhaps a few celebrity sightings), but LA and the surrounding region is home to countless incredible resorts, boutique hotels, and spectacular vacation rentals. (photo by @thelosttwo)
If you’re looking for a lively spot and fun in the sun, you’ll love the vibe at The Lafayette Hotel and Swim Club – a recently renovated historic hotel featuring California-cool design and a funky maximalist twist.The Pearl offers a beachy mid-century inspired experience in Point Loma. Orli is a chic La Jolla hotel in a reimagined 1910-era landmark building steps from the beach.
Which California resorts would you add to this list? Find more honeymoon + travel ideas here!