With endless options to choose from, I 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 I’ve handpicked the most breathtaking and secluded California elopement locations, in my opinion as a California native. Get ready to be swept away by the beauty of California and explore the 30 Best Places to Elope in California.
Table of Contents
- Northern California
- Central California
- Southern California
1. The Redwoods
For a magical and intimate elopement experience, head to the ancient Redwood 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. Other parks that have Redwood trees are: Muir Woods, Sequioa National Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur).
2. Klamath National Forest
Klamath National Forest is a real treasure trove of nature, spread out over northern California and dipping into Oregon. Picture miles of thick forests, clear rivers, and scenic mountains. It’s a perfect spot for adventure lovers, with trails that wind through the wilderness, offering glimpses of wildlife and the natural beauty that’s hard to find anywhere else.
3. Burney Falls
Located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park in California, Burney Falls cascades down a 129-foot drop. It’s not just one big waterfall; there are tons of little streams tumbling down the rock face. Plus, the water is clear and stays pretty chilly, which is super refreshing on a hot day.
The park around Burney Falls features hiking trails that let you get up close with nature and maybe even spot some wildlife. And if you’re into camping, there are spots where you can set up a tent and spend the night under the stars. It’s a great place for anyone who loves the outdoors.
4. Patrick’s Point
Patrick’s Point is a real gem on the Northern California coast, sitting right in Humboldt County. It’s a spot where you can really get up close with nature, thanks to its lush forests, rugged coastline, and stunning ocean views. Whether you’re into hiking, camping, or just soaking up some breathtaking scenery, there’s something here for everyone.
5. Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is known for its stunning views and adventurous trails. It’s not a mountain- it’s a volcano standing tall at over 14,000 feet. People love hiking up its slopes, camping under the stars, and even skiing down its snowy sides during the winter months.
Mount Shasta is surrounded by local tales of hidden cities and mystical powers. Whether you’re into that or not, the small towns around the mountain, like the city of Mount Shasta itself, are cozy spots.
6. The Lost Coast
The Lost Coast is a place where the mountains meet the ocean in a dramatic showdown. This stretch of coastline is so rugged and hard to get to that they didn’t even bother putting a highway through it. Instead, you get untouched nature, with wild beaches and forests.
Getting there is an adventure in itself, and once you’re there, you’ll find that it’s all about the great outdoors. You can explore the famous Lost Coast Trail, which is a popular hiker’s bucket list location. The area is also known for its unique wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for sea lions, bald eagles, and maybe even a black bear from a safe distance.
7. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park has landscapes dotted with steaming fumaroles, clear mountain lakes, and bubbling mud pots. This park gives you a front-row seat to how volcanoes have shaped and changed the Earth. Plus, it’s home to Lassen Peak, one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world, which last erupted a little over a hundred years ago.
8. 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.
Located on the border of California and Nevada, the best time to visit Lake Tahoe is in the winter and early spring. You can drive to Lake Tahoe or fly into Reno, Nevada.
9. Mendocino County
Mendocino County offers a breathtaking backdrop of coastal cliffs, vineyards, and quaint towns that are perfect for saying “I do.”
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. The glass creates 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 elopement. Imagine exchanging your vows with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
10. Coast Dairies State Park
Coast Dairies State Park stretches over acres of land, with rolling hills, beaches, and lush fields. One of the coolest things about Coast Dairies State Park is its variety of landscapes- from its rugged coastline with sandy beaches and rocky cliffs to its forested areas filled with redwoods and streams. It also has easy-to-access trails for breathtaking views.
11. 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.
12. Convict Lake
Located in the Eastern Sierra, Convict Lake is just a short drive from the town of Mammoth Lakes. It’s known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain backdrop. There are trails around the lake that offer easy walks with breathtaking views. Fishing is big here too, with the lake being stocked with trout.
Bishop is a cool little town that’s perfect for outdoor lovers. Think mountains, valleys, and clear blue skies that seem to go on forever. The surrounding area has loads of hikes to choose from. It’s also located in between Mammoth Lakes, where you can find natural hot springs, and Lone Pine.
Not just about nature, Bishop also has a cozy downtown area where you can wander around, check out local shops, and grab a bite to eat. I recommend visiting the famous Erick Schat’s Bakery for some really good bread, sandwhiches, and baked goods.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Eureka Dunes
Eureka Dunes is part of Death Valley National Park, but these dunes offer a more secluded experience compared to the more popular Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These dunes hold the tallest in California, rising up to about 680 feet! They’re also famous for the “singing sand” phenomenon. When the conditions are right, the sand can make a sound kind of like a low humming if you slide down the slopes.
It’s also an awesome spot for stargazing since there’s hardly any light pollution. Just imagine looking up at a sky full of stars, with the silhouette of the dunes against the night sky.
18. Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills feels like stepping onto another planet. It’s famous for its unique rock formations and awesome views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A lot of people love to go there to hike, take photos, and even spot locations where famous movies were shot.
What makes Alabama Hills extra special is the way the landscape changes with the light. If you catch it at sunrise or sunset, the rocks seem to glow. Plus, it’s not too far from the town of Lone Pine, which means grabbing a bite or finding a place to stay overnight is easy.
19. Trona Pinnacles
Trona Pinnacles looks like the set design of a sci-fi movie with its tall, spiky rock formations. When the sun starts setting, the whole area lights up. Getting to Trona Pinnacles is a bit of an adventure since it’s off the beaten path, but that’s what makes it so special. You’ll need to drive through some dusty roads, but it’s totally worth it. If you’re into stargazing, the night sky here is insanely clear, making it perfect for spotting constellations and shooting stars.
20. Mojave National Preserve
The Mojave National Preserve offers a unique blend of desert landscapes. It boasts mountains, canyons, sand dunes, and volcanic features. One of the coolest spots in the preserve is the Kelso Dunes. If you’re into history, the old Kelso Depot provides a glimpse into the past of the area’s railroad days. And for those who love stargazing, the preserve’s dark skies offer some of the best starry nights you can find.
21. Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is made up of five islands that offer a bunch of adventurous things to do like hiking, kayaking, and wildlife watching. Each island has its own unique vibe, with amazing views of the ocean and landscapes. Plus, the waters around the islands are super clear making it a great spot to check out the world underwater.
What I love about this park is that it’s not as crowded as other national parks. You get to take a boat ride to reach these islands too rather than the the usual road trip, adding a whole other layer of adventure!
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.
23. Catalina Island
The views from Catalina Island are gorgeous with crystal-clear water and beaches. I backpacked the Trans-Catalina Trail some years back and got to explore more of the remote areas of the island. From the highest points, you get views of the super blue oceans. My favorite beach here is Little Harbor because of the palm trees and even BISON! You need to keep your distance, but they’re pretty cool to see out in the wild.
Other than nature, Catalina has the cool town of Avalon. You can try some tasty seafood or check out the many shops.
24. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a town with artsy vibes and stunning ocean views. It’s known for its many local art galleries, unique festivals, and, of course, the beaches. The beaches here are my favorite in all of Orange County. It has tall cliffs and vegetation that grows on it. Most of the beaches also have uniqe rock formations hanging out close to the shores, creating diversity to a standard beach.
25. Calafia Beach
Calafia Beach is a unique beach in San Clemente for the sand formations that line it. Certain areas are closed, but you can walk around the open areas and explore.
26. 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.
27. Palm Springs
Palm Springs in California is like a spot where the sun almost always shines. The scenery has big, beautiful palm trees and mountains in the background. You’ll find boutique hotels and cool, retro diners. At the same time, there are modern shops and trendy restaurants.
Idyllwild is a cozy mountain town with a dog as its mayor. It’s known for its friendly community, artsy vibe, and outdoor activities. It’s a place where creativity meets nature, making it a great spot for artists or anyone who appreciates the arts.
29. 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.
30. Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs in California is right on the coast of San Diego and stretches for about 1.5 miles along the Pacific Ocean. This place is a hit for its sunsets, as you might guess from the name.
The cliffs themselves are pretty dramatic, rising high above the crashing waves, and there are spots where you can get down to secluded beaches. Just remember to be careful because the cliffs can be slippery and be mindful of the tide.
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.
Here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience.
I’m Karen, a Southern California Elopement Photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to create an unforgettable experience.
I help couples by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.