How to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon in Southern California
Sun-kissed, beach blessed, and offering tons of lovey-dovey things to do, Southern California checks a lot of boxes. So much so that when we asked 1,500 people in relationships where they wanted to go for their honeymoon, we weren’t surprised that SoCal landed in the top 10. In fact, 54% of respondents say they want romantic things to do, 52% want pampering, and 42% desire restaurants, bars, and dancing; Los Angeles and all of SoCal offer this and more. Ready to whisk away to Malibu with your boo? Consider this your Southern California honeymoon primer.
About Southern California
Consisting of numerous metro regions including LA, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs, most visitors fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and rent a car. LA sweet spots for couples include upscale and palm-tree lined Beverly Hills, boho Venice Beach, and laidback Santa Monica. Further afield, check out the rustic chic charms of Malibu or the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is equally picturesque and exclusive. From LAX, everything in Southern California is within a few hours’ drive.
Weather-wise, coastal California is moody. Many days begin overcast with the sun cracking through the clouds in late morning. Both summer and fall are hot, dry, and perfect for dipping your toes into the Pacific while winter and spring are far fickler. Away from the coast, expect to lounge poolside almost year-round. At night, temps routinely drop around 20 degrees so pack a swimsuit, sunglasses, and a light jacket.
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What to see and do
If there’s one beach that’s for romantics, it’s El Matador State Beach in Malibu though you won’t be the first couple to discover its charms; El Matador is a frequent stop for wedding photos. The only feeling better than riding high on newlywed bliss is riding a wave. Book a private surf lesson with Fun Surf LA, a reviewer favorite. Thanks to its twisty turns and Valley views, Mulholland Drive is the stuff of legends; rent a convertible for top-down thrills!
When you’re ready to escape the city, head to Temecula Valley Wine Country less than two hours away from Los Angeles and watch the mist spill over the hills while sipping a Zinfandel. Our favorite wineries include Akash Winery and Bottaia Winery. Stay at the rustic and romantic Ponte Vineyard Inn and don’t miss a meal at EAT Marketplace.
For solitude paired with mountain views, head inland to the tiny town of Ojai, a weekend retreat where everyone from yogis to film industry folk go to bliss out. Its main drag is populated by art galleries while an extensive trail network zigzags nearby Los Padres National Forest. Visit the Beatrice Wood Center of the Arts, celebrating the life and times of SoCal’s most famous Dadaist potter. The posh Ojai Valley Inn is a luxurious and romantic retreat, and also an Expedia VIP Access hotel.
Where to eat
Head to Pasjoli in Santa Monica for exceptional French fare in a romantic dining room where service is adoringly attentive. A reservation at Mother Wolf in Hollywood might be the most difficult in all Southern California to get right now thanks to a stunning ambience, standout Italian, and famous faces everywhere you turn. Near Culver City, n/naka is one of the few restaurants in town with two Michelin stars thanks to a tasting menu where Chef Niki Nakayama expertly fuses Japanese and California flavors. For the best seafood in town, head to Water Grill, a downtown landmark in posh Art Deco environs.
Where to stay
An icon that has hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Paul Newman and others, Hotel Bel-Air opened in 1946 and is set among 12 acres of lush foliage, including some guest rooms with private plunge pools. Another magnet for movie royalty, the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel is famous for its “legendary bungalows” featuring opulent amenities like a grand piano or private swimming pool. At oceanfront Shutters on the Beach, book a west-facing room (or suite) with a balcony and wake up each morning to the sight of waves lapping against the shore. In West Hollywood, the bespoke Petit Ermitage oozes European charm and has a fantastic rooftop saltwater pool and even a butterfly garden.
And with these hotels, you can count on your honeymoon being an unforgettable experience. Each property is part of Expedia’s VIP Access program, meaning they consistently meet tough standards for quality and service—plus Expedia Rewards members can take advantage of free added perks.
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