With endless options to choose from, we know it can be overwhelming to narrow down the perfect location for your California elopement. From majestic coastlines to desert sunsets to stunning mountain views, California has something for everyone. That’s why we’ve handpicked the most breathtaking and secluded spots for you to tie the knot. Get ready to be swept away by the beauty of Malibu’s golden sands, enchanted by the rugged coastline of Big Sur, and mesmerized by the majesty of Lake Tahoe’s towering peaks as we explore the 10 Best Places to Elope in California.
1. The Redwoods
For a magical and intimate elopement experience, head to the ancient Redwoods forests in Northern California. Here, you’ll find towering redwoods and peaceful groves that create a sense of tranquility and serenity.
These ancient giants offer a truly romantic and awe-inspiring backdrop for an elopement. With options such as Fern Canyon, you can exchange your vows surrounded by lush greenery and a tranquil stream.
Stout Grove is another stunning spot, where you can walk among the towering trees. The best time to visit The Redwoods is in the summer or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are fewer.
2. Lake Tahoe
For a mountainous and romantic setting, Lake Tahoe is another stunning destination to elope in California. The lake is surrounded by mountains and forests, making it a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
Imagine exchanging vows at Emerald Bay or Sand Harbor, where you can take in the spectacular views of crystal-clear waters and the snow-capped mountains.
Located on the border of California and Nevada, the best time to visit Lake Tahoe is in the winter and early spring, when the lake’s scenery is at its best. You can drive to Lake Tahoe or fly into Reno, Nevada.
3. Mendocino County
Nestled on the stunning northern coast of California, this location is a hidden gem. It offers a breathtaking backdrop of coastal cliffs, verdant vineyards, and quaint towns that are perfect for saying “I do” in an intimate ceremony.
One spot that is sure to leave you and your partner mesmerized is Glass Beach, where the rocky shore is adorned with multicolored glass pieces, creating a surreal and unique atmosphere that’s perfect for a whimsical and romantic wedding.
Another must-visit location is Mendocino Headlands State Park, with its dramatic cliffs, lush meadows, and sparkling ocean views that make for a picturesque and unforgettable elopement. Imagine exchanging your vows with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the salty sea breeze in your hair – it doesn’t get more romantic than that!
4. Big Sur
Big Sur is a rugged stretch of coastline with dramatic cliffs and stunning ocean views. The area is a photographer’s dream, with wildflowers, redwood forests, and turquoise waters.
It is one of the most romantic places to elope in California because of its natural beauty and seclusion. Picture yourself saying “I do” on a serene beach, like Pfeiffer Beach, with the stunning coastline as your backdrop, or at the iconic Bixby Bridge, with the Pacific Ocean stretching out before you, or at the McWay Falls, with waves crashing against the rocks behind you. It’s no surprise Big Sur makes one of the Best Places to Elope in California.
Big Sur is located on the central coast of California and is best visited in the spring or fall. You can get there by driving down the scenic Highway 1 from San Francisco.
5. Yosemite National Park
Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, located in the eastern part of California, Yosemite National Park is a paradise for nature-loving couples. With towering granite cliffs, peaceful meadows, and stunning waterfalls, Yosemite offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic elopement ceremony.
Imagine exchanging vows at the Tunnel View overlook, with Half Dome and El Capitan as your backdrop, or at Glacier Point which offers a breathtaking panorama of the valley floor and its surrounding cliffs.
The best time to visit Yosemite is in late spring to early fall, when the waterfalls are at their peak, the weather is mild, and the park is less busy. You can drive to Yosemite or take a bus tour from San Francisco or Los Angeles.
6. Death Valley National Park
Get ready for a breathtakingly romantic elopement ceremony in one of California’s best-kept secrets – Death Valley National Park. This stunning location offers a magical blend of geological formations, colorful mountains, and otherworldly landscapes that will leave you and your partner in awe.
For an intimate and unique ceremony, head to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. You’ll be surrounded by majestic mountains and warm golden hues, providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic exchange of vows. Or, choose the picturesque Zabriskie Point for a panoramic view of the badlands and stunning sunrises and sunsets that will make your heart skip a beat.
The best time to visit is from October to May when temperatures are moderate, and the journey is enjoyable by car, with scenic beauty all around. So pack your bags and get ready to start your happily ever after in one of the most beautiful and romantic places in California! Learn how to elope in DTNP here.
7. Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a natural wonder in central California, with fairy tale surroundings, mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees that seem to touch the sky.
The park’s stunning scenery offers a beautiful backdrop for your elopement ceremony, with options such as the Giant Forest, home to the world’s largest trees, and Moro Rock, which offers a stunning view of the Sierra Nevada mountains and giant trees.
The best time to visit Sequoia is in the summer when the weather is mild and the trees are at their most beautiful. You can reach the forest by driving from San Francisco or Los Angeles.
8. Anza-Borrego State Park
The Anza Borrego State Park is a vast and stunningly beautiful desert expanse located. From its expansive deserts and snow-capped mountains, to its lush and vibrant oases, Anza Borrego is a natural wonderland that captivates the senses and transports visitors to another realm.
Within the park’s 600,000 acres one can discover a wealth of attractions, from breathtaking views and natural wildlife, to a rich history dating back thousands of years. Whether you’re hiking through towering canyons or exploring wildflower-filled meadows, Anza Borrego State Park has something for everyone.
The park features a variety of geological features, from wind-sculpted sandstone formations to hot springs and thermal pools. These geological features, combined with the park’s unique climate and diverse flora and fauna, make for an unforgettable experience.
For an elopement ceremony, consider Font’s Point, where you’ll have a sweeping view of the Borrego Badlands. The best time to visit Anza-Borrego State Park is between late October and April and is best accessible via car.
9. Joshua Tree National Park
For couples who want a desert backdrop, Joshua Tree National Park offers a range of stunning locations for an elopement. With its unique rock formations and iconic Joshua trees, this Southern California park is truly one-of-a-kind!
Here, you’ll be surrounded by otherworldly landscapes, stunning sunsets, and a sense of serenity that will stay with you forever. For an unforgettable elopement experience, consider two of the most beautiful spots “Keys View” or “Skull Rock” where you can say your I Do’s amidst breathtaking views of the desert landscape.
The best time to visit is fall or spring, and the desert is easily accessible by driving from Los Angeles or Phoenix! Follow my guide on how to elope in JTNP here.
Malibu is a coastal city with beautiful beaches and stunning ocean views. For a romantic and intimate ceremony, consider El Matador State Beach or Malibu Creek State Park, both of which offer sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
Now, imagine you and your partner, standing hand in hand in a beautiful beachfront setting surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The sun is shining down on you, casting a golden glow, and a gentle breeze ruffles through your hair. You’re both smiling from ear to ear, feeling the warmth and love that surrounds you.
This is the magic of eloping in one of the Malibu beaches, where you can escape the crowds and have an intimate ceremony that is just about the two of you. This beach city is located in Southern California and is a year-round destination.
From the stunning coastlines of Big Sur and Santa Cruz to the majestic redwoods of the Redwood National Park, eloping in California offers a range of romantic options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a beachside vows or a desert sunset, you’re sure to find the perfect place to elope in California.
Now that you have some of the best locations in California to elope, it’s time to start planning your getaway. Share your favorite elopement spot or ask us any questions you may have in the comments section below.
I’m Karen, a California adventure elopement photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to push the boundaries of tradition and create an unforgettable experience.
I help all couples worldwide by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.
here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience