Northern California

8 Romantic Getaways in Northern California | From Coastal Escapes to Wine Country Weekends

From relaxing winery picnics to luxurious stays on dramatic coastal bluffs, these romantic getaways in Northern California are perfect for exploring hand in hand.

We’re sitting on our balcony, lazily pondering what to do with the day. The sun is just beginning its morning stretch, lifting itself up and casting a pale pink-and-gold light over the vines that roll into the distance. Hot air balloons have taken off in the pitch darkness, adding pops of yellow, red and orange to the cornflower sky beyond.

We could go for a slow hike in the mountains, which create a deep lilac backdrop to the wineries and clusters of forest. We could drive a little and find a near-deserted lakeshore beach, swimming in cool, limpid waters before drying off in the warm sun, perhaps staying for a picnic. Or we could head out for a day of wine-tasting around Napa and Sonoma.

This is California with the crowds stripped away and the raw natural beauty stepped up a few gears. Roads wiggle like ribbons through thick forests of coastal redwoods, so broad and tall you have to lie down to see the canopies. Beaches range from stretches with sand the color of set honey, scattered with driftwood logs that make perfect seats for two, to burnished gold coves leading to rocky outcrops with tide pools.

In winter, mountain peaks and slopes are often dusted in snow. Lake Tahoe becomes an idyll for skiing and cozy, fireside evenings, while waterfalls either freeze mid-flow or continue to cascade, framed by snowy pines. It’s easy to find romance here, at any time of year.

From wine country retreats that make every day feel like a honeymoon, to tucked-away forest escapes, and hotels with views of San Francisco‘s Golden Gate Bridge, these are the best places to explore Northern California and all its rugged romance.

Sonoma Coast: A Couples' Hideaway on the Ocean Bluffs

Wine is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Sonoma, and rightly so: the region’s varied terroir yields sippers from Albariño to Zinfandel. Yet its coastline rivals its southern counterparts in the categories of rugged romance and outrageous, undeniable beauty. It’s often blissfully quiet, too, and feels like a little-known secret that you and your loved one have stumbled upon.

Timber Cove Resort feels the same—a delightful hideaway made for two. The hotel exploits its bluff-top, oceanside perch in every possible way. Many rooms and suites gaze out at the water, with floor-to-ceiling windows or sliding doors leading onto balconies edged with glass, so as not to interrupt those views.

The hotel was built in the Sixties and retains much of that golden age glamor, underpinned by laid-back hippie chic vibes. Yet every inch, from bath tubs big enough for two to fireplaces for snug evenings, has been polished with a sheen of modern luxury. Stay here on honeymoon and you’ll likely return for anniversaries in years to come.

Timber Cove Resort

Jenner
8.3 Very good (767 reviews)

South Lake Tahoe: Inn-Room Massages and Lakeshore Balconies

Winter dusts the shores of South Lake Tahoe with snow, creating a striking contrast between the shimmering white and the smooth, honey-hued sand beaches that lead towards the brilliant blue water. In summer and fall, the snow melts away along with the crowds, and you’ll often have these same beaches pretty much to yourselves.

Either way, The Landing Resort And Spa—a few leisurely steps away from the lakeshore and with a private beach—is the ideal base for experiencing this watery slice of heaven.

Every detail is designed to make the most of the views, and to help you make the most of each other’s company. Patios, dotted with fire pits, face the lake, Adirondack chairs surround an outdoor hot tub, and a bar offers a heady selection of world-class wines.

Hotel restaurant Jimmy’s also woos with cocktails, cozy booths and a shareable menu of charcuterie boards and sticky short ribs. You probably won’t want to leave, yet the surroundings are equally inviting.

Explore forested, lakeside trails on foot or, in winter, on snowshoes. Find an empty cove for a lakeside picnic in warmer months, perhaps braving the chilly water for a swim. Or simply soak up the stellar surroundings from the cheering comfort of your room, with stone fireplace, private balcony and plush, marshmallow-like bed.

The Landing Resort And Spa

Top rated
South Lake Tahoe
9.2 Excellent (1973 reviews)

Eureka: Old-Fashioned Charm and Romance in a Victorian Classic

Strolling the streets of Old Town Eureka feels like being whisked 150 years back in time. Elegant horse-pulled carriages trot past Victorian mansions and townhouses in buttercup yellow, magenta and pistachio. It feels like the set of an old Western movie; until you duck into one of the stylish restaurants and bars for local oysters, cheese and wines, or sip a craft beer from one of the micro-breweries.

Carter House Inns perfectly embody this melding of Victorian charm and modern comforts. The 33 rooms are arranged across five buildings, each of which feels like a home belonging to a fabulously wealthy relative (with impeccable taste). Four-poster beds and fireplaces share space with contemporary art and deep-soaking hot tubs—particularly soothing after days hiking through the area’s old-growth redwood forests.

Carter House Inns

Top rated
Eureka
8.9 Excellent (729 reviews)

Shasta: Reconnect in a Forest Hideaway made for Romance

The Inn at Shasta Lake is right in the heart of the action. Or lack of action, as this portion of Northern California is blissfully quiet and utterly stress-free. Spend days hiking around the shores of Shasta Lake, paddling out on a kayak or canoe, if you feel like it. Pack a picnic for a jaunt into Shasta Trinity National Forest, whose landscape of mountain lakes, rivers and wilderness areas is so vast, you can easily find a spot all to yourselves. Or gaze at Mount Shasta, whose ethereal, snow-dusted looks inspired naturalist John Muir to say his “blood turned to wine”.

The inn’s charming, homey rooms are tucked within the forest, many with private patios and outdoor seating for soaking up the sounds of birdsong and breeze-ruffled leaves.

It’s the kind of idyllic rural retreat that makes you feel instantly at home—and ready to move in. Each of the rooms feels utterly private, so much so that you might forget you aren’t in your own secluded cabin in the forest. Soft, cozy robes, fireplaces, jetted bath tubs and treetop views enhance the sense of seclusion and serenity.

The Inn At Shasta Lake

Top rated
Lakehead
9.1 Excellent (219 reviews)

Sausalito: Golden Gate Views from an Escape Across the Bay

There’s an inherent romance to the Golden Gate Bridge, from its rust-red towers to the cables that dip and curve elegantly between them. It’s striking peeping through the city’s notorious morning mist, lovely against the bright blue of a rare cloudless day, and positively glowing at sunset.

Imagine being able to gaze right at this legendary beauty from the comfort of a luxurious suite, with floor-to-ceiling glass, window seats and deep balconies. That’s what you get when you stay in one of Cavallo Point Lodge‘s contemporary rooms, perched on a hillside scented with pine and eucalyptus.

Awe-inspiring views come as standard across this quietly luxurious property, located on a former military base in Sausalito. It’s close to the area’s waterside restaurants and wine-tasting rooms, and within easy reach of San Francisco’s many attractions. But with an onsite spa, cozy dining in the restaurant or low-lit bar, and a range of immersive experiences like cooking classes and guided nature hikes under the bridge, you’ll really have everything you need right here.

Cavallo Point Lodge

Top rated
Sausalito
9.0 Excellent (874 reviews)

Napa Valley: A Romantic Resort with Vines and Views

Strolling through vineyards at elegant, honey-hued chateaux. Sipping Champagne-method bubbles on patios, and sampling Cabernet Sauvignon straight from the barrel. Driving down the squiggly Highway 29, where vine-striped slopes soar either side like wings.

Wine regions don’t come much more classic, or romantic, than Napa Valley, and the Meritage Resort and Spa distills its many charms into one inspiring property. Many rooms, decorated in timeless shades of wine and gold, have balconies that overlook the outdoor pool and gaze toward the vine-topped wine cave, while onsite bars and restaurants serve up the best of this abundantly delicious region.

The Meritage Resort and Spa

Napa
8.2 Very good (2237 reviews)

Sonoma Wine Country: Indulge in Michelin-Starred Dining and Spacious Suites

Arriving at the Farmhouse Inn feels like coming home—or, rather, being welcomed into your ultimate dream home with a warm smile and a glass of local rosé. It’s little, but oh-so-important, touches—wine on arrival, complimentary in-room local snacks and soft drinks, milk and cookies at turndown—that make this dreamy hotel stand out from the crowd.

Lounge by the pool or soak in the hot tub, surrounded by gardens with olive trees and dusky pink roses. Take a slice of olive oil soap from the blocks in reception—infused with lavender, honey and almond—and draw a bath with rose-scented bubbles for a soak in a tub that’s big enough for two.

Many of Sonoma’s wineries are within easy driving distance, but save your tasting tour until after you check-out. Because, when you’re enveloped by understated luxury like this, why would you go out?

Farmhouse Inn

Forestville
8.9 Excellent (119 reviews)

Lodi: Enjoy the Suite Life at this Rustic Chic Hideaway

The name says it all: Hotel Wine & Roses is unabashedly, unapologetically romantic. It’s in the heady, floral-fragranced air as you stroll through the verdant, Mediterranean-inspired botanical gardens. It’s in the spa, whether you opt for a couple’s massage or simply soak in the plunge pools. And, of course, it’s there in each cozy, tucked-away, individually-decorated suite.

Each of these rooms—from lofts with separate living areas and patios to traditional hideaways with four-poster beds and claw tubs—is as individual as you are. It’ll be hard to drag yourself away, but the activities on offer in this area are hardly taxing. Taste Lodi’s famed Zinfandels at one of the 80-odd wineries, take a dip in Lodi Lake, or book a table for two at one of Downtown Lodi’s low-lit bistros.

Hotel Wine & Roses

Top rated
Lodi
9.2 Excellent (452 reviews)