When you dreamed of getting married, did you also dream of a (at least) two-week tropical honeymoon following your wedding day? Did you imagine flying out of state, or even out of the country, to lay under the palm trees and bask in the sun with your new husband or wife? Maybe you pictured an adventure honeymoon that included weeks of hiking world-famous destinations, skiing down snow-capped mountains, or chasing the most breathtaking waterfalls in the world. This all sounds truly wonderful, but with the current state of things, you may not feel comfortable traveling so far from home for an extended period of time. Fortunately, my adopted home state California boasts some of the best destinations for a mini honeymoon. 

What is a Mini Honeymoon?

Just as a micro wedding is no less spectacular than a traditional wedding, a mini-moon is no less romantic and relaxing than a two-week-long destination honeymoon. It just looks a little different. A mini honeymoon typically takes place in the same state you live or marry. Rather than being weeks long, most couples take an extended weekend just to themselves. Think of it as a luxurious vacation with added romance. Fortunately, for those mini-mooning in California, you can still lay under palm trees, chase waterfalls, or even spend your days sipping wine at renowned vineyards. 

Why Choose a Mini-Moon for Your Honeymoon?

A newlywed couple may choose to go on a mini-moon vs a honeymoon for many reasons. Some cannot take extended time off of work, others don’t want to travel in the season they marry, and for 2021 couples, you may not feel comfortable traveling far due to COVID. The great thing is, just because you have a mini-moon right after your wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have a longer, more traditional honeymoon experience later on when it works within your schedule or COVID restrictions have lifted. 

California mini-moon destinations offer a romantic getaway to celebrate your new marriage without traveling too far from your home or your wedding destination. You still get to enjoy a blissful few first days of marriage right after your wedding before getting back to “real life.”

Best California Mini-Moon Destinations for Your Honeymoon

Here are the 5 best destinations in California for a mini honeymoon.

1. Big Sur

If your “first look” on your wedding day took your breath away, just wait until you experience the breathtaking views of Big Sur. The ocean views, lush redwood forests, and surrounding mountainous landscape make this a perfect Northern California mini-honeymoon destination. There are multiple outdoor adventures to experience, such as hiking trails, state parks, and scenic drives with picturesque views. Plus, with luxury resorts such as Ventana Big Sur and the Post Ranch Inn, you can find rest, relaxation, and romance everywhere you look.

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2. Santa Barbara 

If you marry in Southern California and want to stay close to home while still experiencing a romantic mini honeymoon, consider Santa Barbara. With restaurants, wineries and breweries, spas, hotels, golf courses, wineries, state parks, and public beaches all open with guidelines, you can enjoy everything this upscale beach town has to offer (like all of the things just mentioned). Instead of opting for a traditional hotel, try a unique Airbnb stay like this adorable casita only two blocks from the beach, an iconic luxury 1974 Airstream, or this charming coastal cottage. If the idea of fending for yourself doesn’t appeal, there are a slew of boutique hotel properties, with San Ysidro Ranch being a personal, truly romantic favorite.

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San Ysidro ranch wedding plantation

3. Sonoma Valley Wine Country 

If sipping wine amongst the rolling hills sounds like a dream mini honeymoon to you, then venture to Northern California’s famous wine country in Sonoma Valley. Less populated than Napa Valley, Sonoma offers expansive vineyards and a laid-back atmosphere that is perfect for a long weekend mini-moon. With over 400 wineries across 60,000 acres, Sonoma recently reopened for outdoor wine tasting. And with multiple luxury hotels and spas in the area, you can toast and sip away your cares for a few days in the beautiful wine country. And if the boutique doesn’t tickle your fancy, then why not try the newly opened Montage Healdsburg for a luxury, albeit contemporary farmhouse feel.

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4. South Lake Tahoe

If you are looking for an adventurous honeymoon experience, make your way to South Lake Tahoe. From mid-November to the beginning of May, you can have a dreamy, albeit a little chilly, California mini-moon. If you and your partner enjoy skiing, consider staying at the world-renowned ski resort, Squaw Valley, for some of the best lakeside lodging, skiing, dining.

If you choose South Lake Tahoe for a mini-moon in May through September, you can enjoy multiple lake activities, explore scenic hikes, and ride The Gondola at Heavenly for a romantic and truly breathtaking experience. 

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5. Joshua Tree National Park

If you want an unforgettable, intimate California mini honeymoon filled with lots of stargazing, Joshua Tree is the perfect destination. Perfect for a long weekend getaway, you can escape the city without having to go very far. It is the perfect place to relax and breathe after many months of planning your wedding, amongst all of life’s other responsibilities. With perfect weather year-round, Joshua Tree is tucked away and ready to give you the privacy and intimacy you want with your new husband or wife. There are nice hotels in the area, and you can always opt for mid-century modern at Parker Palm Springs. However, we recommend getting in touch with your inner boho and glamping in Joshua Tree for a truly unique and memorable mini-moon experience.

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First Comes the Wedding, Then Comes the Mini-Moon

I know, I know, now you’re dreaming of the perfect long-weekend getaway after your wedding. You can nearly taste the wine… feel the sun on your face… see the breathtaking views. And you can have it all, but first, let’s plan your spectacular wedding day so you have even more good things to enjoy on your mini honeymoon. Learn more about how a full-service wedding planner can help you experience rest and relaxation in the midst of planning your wedding today!

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