It’s not difficult to find romantic getaways from the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s only difficult choosing which one to go on. I am always on the hunt for a romantic getaway for my husband and myself. In Northern California (and Southern California) there are romantic experiences for every type of couple- outdoorsy, laid-back, adventurers, shoppers, those seeking the finer things and for those needing relaxation. Below are some of my favorite places for intimate day trips, exciting overnights and memorable long weekends.

Quick Answer Guide: 9 Romantic Getaways from San Francisco

‌Romantic Day Trips From San Francisco‌

‌Weekend Getaways for Couples From San Francisco‌

‌Best Couple Getaways From San Francisco‌

Romantic Day Trips From San Francisco

There are many romantic things to do in San Francisco but these romantic getaways from San Francisco make an easy day trip (and can be reached from the city driving two hours or less.) These areas are ideal for people without a lot of time to go further afield for an entire weekend.

1. Marin County

  • Perfect for:‌ Nature lovers
  • Highlights of Marin County:
    • Close proximity to San Francisco
    • Redwood forests
    • Beautiful hiking trails
    • Gourmet restaurants

‌How to Get to Marin County‌

About 20 minutes from San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge is Marin County. I recommend taking a car and using Google Maps for the ultimate flexibility; however, Golden Gate Transit does offer busses and ferries to Marin as well.

‌Things to Do in Marin County‌

There are many different ways to have an amazing date in Marin. You could start in the quaint town of Sausalito — walk along the waterfront; window shop; check out the colorful houseboats; admire the views of San Francisco or be bold and take a scenic seaplane flight over Marin. Have lunch or dinner Bar Bocce (try a freshly baked pizza) or Salitos Crab House (try a hot iron skillet roasted crab, a crab and shrimp Louis and some beignets for dessert). Take time to visit downtown Tiburon for more views, cute shops and waterside restaurants or Mill Valley surrounded by redwood trees and unparalleled views of Mount Tamalpais.

A little over an hour drive from Sausalito is Point Reyes National Seashore known for vast views of the Pacific ocean, gorgeous hiking trails, beaches and delicious seafood. Relax at Drake’s Beach; go whale watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse; dine and shop in the town of Point Reyes; hike along the Tomales Point Trail through the Tule Elk Reserve; drive through the Cypress Tree Tunnel and take some selfies at the Tomales Bay Shipwreck.

2. Napa

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  • Perfect for:‌ Wine lovers
  • Highlights of Napa
    • Ecclectic wineries
    • Stunning views
    • Farm-to-table food
    • Romantic hotels

‌How to Get to Napa‌

Napa is about 60 miles north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge (1-2 hours drive). I recommend driving for the ultimate flexibility or joining a guided tour.

‌Things to Do in Napa‌

Napa Valley makes an ideal romantic getaway year-round from San Francisco. World famous wine, high-end restaurants and views of the vineyards will take your breath away. Go wine tasting and visit a variety of tasting rooms; browse art galleries and go on the self guided Napa Art Walk; indulge in a spa treatment; sample foods from the Oxbow Public Market (two of my favorites are C Casa and Hog Island Oyster); take a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train or go on a hot air balloon ride. There are many different wineries in downtown Napa you can pop into but my favorite place to go for a wine tasting is Ashes & Diamonds with a beautiful outdoor space, wonderful wines and an excellent cheese plate. My favorite place to eat dinner in Napa is Torc, serving farm-to-table food in a lively environment.

3. Santa Cruz

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  • Perfect for:‌ Kids at heart
  • Highlights of Santa Cruz
    • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
    • Surfing
    • Laid-back vibe
    • Fun breweries

‌How to Get to Santa Cruz‌

Santa Cruz is about an hour and a half from San Francisco. I recommend driving for the ultimate flexibility. Be sure to take a pit stop at Half Moon Bay along the way and visit the J V Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and the downtown area.

‌Things to Do in Santa Cruz‌

For the more laid-back couple, take a trip to Santa Cruz. Bond by taking a beginner surf lesson; act like kids again at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk going on rides and playing arcade games; drink from local breweries and wineries; take a hike at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and watch the sunset and admire the ocean views from Natural Bridges State Beach/West Cliff Drive. A close 10-minute drive from Santa Cruz is the charming little beach town Capitola with pastel colored houses dotting the entire area.

Weekend Getaways for Couples From San Francisco

Pack your bags for a romantic road trip! These weekend getaways couples from San Francisco are filled with mountains, waterfalls, beaches, and hikes. From San Francisco, these weekend trips can be reached by car in under five hours.

4. Yosemite National Park

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  • Perfect for:‌ Hikers
  • Highlights of Yosemite National Park
    • Stunning waterfalls, valleys and granite cliffs
    • Easy to challenging hikes
    • Ice skating under the stars
    • Plenty of outdoor activities

‌How to Get to Yosemite National Park‌

Yosemite National Park is a 3.5 hour roadtrip from San Francisco located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. I recommend driving a car to Yosemite. There are tour busses from San Francisco that can take you to Yosemite for a one day or multi-day trip as well.

While in Yosemite Valley, driving, walking, or bike riding are the best ways to get around. There is also public transportation available, and visitors can take free shuttles around the park.

‌Things to Do in Yosemite National Park‌

Yosemite National Park is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the country’s third-oldest national park. It is an outdoor playground for adventure and romance seekers.

Take in the views of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point and Tunnel View; wander through the sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove; have a picnic in Tuolumne Meadows; go horseback riding in Mariposa County or go whitewater rafting along the Merced River. You could also try out rock climbing or even go skydiving if you dare.

Challenge each other and go on a strenuous hike- try Upper Yosemite Falls or even to summit Half Dome — these hikes may not feel romantic while doing them, but you will be happy you did it in the end, together as a team.

If you have some extra time make your way out of Yosemite Valley to see the other worldly looking Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and Bodie State Historic Park and see an authentic ghost town.

If you are visiting in the winter go ice skating at Curry Village Ice Skating Rink. Go during the day for spectacular views or at night and skate under the stars. Warm up with hot chocolate by the fire pit and have a romantic dinner at The Ahwahnee Dining Room.

5. Mendocino

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  • Perfect for:‌ Romantic bed and breakfasts
  • Highlights of Mendocino
    • Coastal views
    • Whale watching
    • Great place to kayak
    • Beautiful hikes and beaches

‌How to Get to Mendocino‌

Mendocino is a three hour drive from San Francisco. The closest airport is the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, but it is a 2-hour drive from Mendocino and you would still need a car.

‌‌What to Do in Mendocino‌‌

Visiting Mendocino will be a memorable romantic weekend getaway. Mendocino is known for its hiking, beautiful coastal views and beaches, redwood forests, and charming bed and breakfasts. November-April is gray whale watching season and if you are visiting in July, attend the Mendocino Music Festival.

Downtown Mendocino is filled with local shops art galleries and restaurants. Visit the Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park, hike Russian Gulch State Park, explore the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and go wine tasting.

Downtown Mendocino has plenty of romantic restaurants to choose from, such as Trillium Cafe & Inn, Cafe Beaujolais, MacCallum House and Albion River Inn Restaurant. Grab some dessert at the Mendocino Chocolate Company.

A 15-minute drive north of Mendocino is Fort Bragg. Have brunch at the Wizard of Oz-themed Egghead's Restaurant, walk around downtown Fort Bragg, visit Glass Beach, and hike or bike the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail.

6. Carmel-by-the-Sea

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  • Perfect for:‌ Relaxation
  • Highlights of Carmel-by-the-Sea
    • Carmel Mission Inn
    • 17-Mile Drive
    • Wine tasting
    • Beaches

‌How to Get to Carmel-by-the-Sea‌

My favorite way to get to Carmel-by-the-Sea is to drive about 2.5 hours down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the 17 Mile Drive that finishes up at Carmel-by-the-Sea. There are other ways to get there as well- busses and CalTrain also have transportation but it will take double the time. You could also join a tour to take you there with transportation included.

‌What to Do in Carmel-by-the-Sea‌

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small beach community on the Monterey Peninsula. Couples will be sure to have a romantic and relaxing time. Visit the Carmel Mission Inn, admire the unique cottages and architecture, spend some time at Carmel Beach, go wine tasting, purchase some artwork at a local gallery, shop in the boutiques on Ocean Avenue, take pictures along the scenic 17-Mile Drive, go on a hike in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and take a side trip to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Best Couple Getaways From San Francisco

If you have some extra time to go further afield hop on a plane and head south! These weekend trips will provide a completely different environment and experience for a couple seeking romance. From San Francisco International Airport these weekend trips can be reached by 2-3 hour flight.

7. Los Angeles

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  • Perfect for:‌ Fancier couples
  • Highlights of Los Angeles
    • Trendy eateries and bars
    • High-end shopping
    • Beautiful beaches
    • Luxury hotels

‌How to Get to Los Angeles‌

From San Francisco International Airport, it is a 1.5-hour flight to Los Angeles. Once in Los Angeles, I recommend renting a car to get from place to place or you can also use Lyft or Uber.

‌What to Do in Los Angeles‌

My husband and I lived in Los Angeles for two years and we were always looking for fun and romantic dates.

Los Angeles is massive and there is so much to see and explore. Some of our favorite dates included a day in Manhattan Beach hanging out in the sand and watching surfers followed by lunch or dinner at Fishing With Dynamite and a Blue Star Donut for dessert. We also loved people watching at Venice Beach, admire the homes on the Venice Canals, eating any pastry or anything dish with bacon at The Rose and making our way to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some boutique shopping and dinner at Gjelina to indulge in pizza and innovative vegetable dishes. Another fun idea is to go to Malibu, hang out at the beach, shop in the Malibu Country Mart and have lunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe. If you are more active, a hike in Runyon Canyon always gets the blood pumping. We also enjoyed being tourists going to Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and we even went to a taping of Jeopardy. We also enjoyed going to comedy shows at The Comedy Store or the Laugh Factory in the evenings.

There are so many great restaurants in Los Angeles. Some of our other favorites include Tar & Roses, for their innovative small dishes and strawberry crostata; Sol Mexican Cocina, for their delicious tacos; Gjusta Bakery, for some of the best baked goods and sandwiches in area, and Jinya Ramen Bar for ramen that I still dream about years after leaving Los Angeles to move back home to San Francisco.

8. San Diego

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  • Perfect for:‌ A laid-back couple
  • Highlights of San Diego
    • Coronado Island
    • Mexican food
    • Beautiful beaches
    • San Diego Zoo

‌How to Get to San Diego‌

From San Francisco International Airport, it is a 1.5-hour flight to San Diego. Once in San Diego, I recommend renting a car for the ultimate flexibility. You can also use Lyft or Uber.

‌What to Do in San Diego‌

San Diego is a great place for a relaxing, full-filled, romantic weekend getaway. Have breakfast at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery and indulge in some fancy pancakes and Benedicts. See the animals at the world famous San Diego Zoo, take a stroll around Old Town San Diego to buy souvenirs, eat Mexican food, and drink some sarsaparilla or a margarita. Rent a jet ski. Explore the Embarcadero and walk along the waterfront. Head to the beach- my favorites are Mission Bay, La Jolla, and Coronado Beach (attached to the famous Hotel Del Coronado).

Stroll through Balboa Park, take a boat cruise down the San Diego Bay and watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs or Ocean Beach Pier. Take yourself on a taco tasting tour and make sure to hit up City Tacos, and Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. Have dinner at CUCINA Urbana and be sure to try the squash blossoms, octopus and the short rib pappardelle. Finish up the night and go bar hopping in the Gaslamp District.

9. Las Vegas

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  • Perfect for:‌ Gamblers
  • Highlights of Las Vegas:
    • Fancy hotels
    • High end restaurants from famous chefs
    • Casinos
    • Great jumping off point to natural wonders

‌How to Get to Nevada‌

From San Francisco International Airport, it is a one hour and forty five minute flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. Once in Nevada I recommend taking a Lyft or Uber if you are just staying in Las Vegas or renting a car if you are going to explore further afield.

‌What to Do in Las Vegas‌

Even though Las Vegas usually conjures up images of a wild time, it can be a great place for romance. My favorite trip to Nevada was on a four day weekend. My husband and I flew to Las Vegas, spent some time at the pool, stayed in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel, ate dinner at Beauty and Essex, gambled and saw a show. In the morning we hit the road and drove 2.5 hours to Zion National Park in Utah, where we spent two days hiking and going on ATVs through the dramatic landscapes. Next we drove a little under two hours to Bryce Canyon National Park, also in Utah, where we did more hiking and exploring. We had to drive four hours back to Las Vegas, but we had an amazing trip. You can also choose to drive from Las Vegas 2.5 hours to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon as well. We drove ourselves but there are also many tour companies that offer long day trips to these locations as well. If you don’t have four days to spare you can also choose to just stay in Las Vegas to play and relax.

There are countless ways to find romance in California — from big cities to small towns, from mountains to beaches, but these couples getaways from San Francisco are among the best. Rest assured there is a special adventure for everyone!