The Ultimate Valentine's Road Trip in Northern California

Photo of Deanna Morgado
30 January 2018

The most romantic road trip for you and that special someone should certainly start in San Francisco. From the city along the bay, a drive through the beautiful Sonoma County is an absolute must. This drive will take you north through some of the most romantic and whimsical (as well as hidden) destinations that will make for the ultimate Valentine’s Day road trip.

Valentine’s Scavenger Hunt in San Francisco

A wonderful way to start out your Valentine’s Day road trip would be in San Francisco. Here you and your valentine can gallivant about the city to soak in its special urban beauty. A great way to spend the day would be to try to find all of the Hearts of San Francisco. These are beautifully made sculptures that are painted every year by varying artists, throughout the city. Each heart is installed at different locations and it makes for a fun and festive Valentine’s outing, almost like a scavenger hunt. A great place to start is none other than Union Square.

I heart SF | © Matthew Dillon/Flickr

North to Point Reyes

Load up the car and with your loved one leave San Francisco and head North on Highway 1, one of the most beautiful coastal highways in the country. This will take the two of you over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County outside the city. Marin County is a beautifully wooded area with the Bay as its backdrop. You’ll also drive through the breathtaking Point Reyes National Seashore, with its ocean beaches, open grasslands, and pine forests, this is a wonderful time for photos of the romantic nature surrounding the two of you. You can also make a stop at the infamous Point Reyes Lighthouse. In operation since 1870, this cliffside lighthouse makes for an incredibly romantic photoshoot.

Point Reyes Lighthouse | © jdeeringdavis/Flickr

Wine Tasting in Bodega Bay

Highway One will take you north up to Bodega Bay. This tiny beach town is a perfect escape for couples. You’ve entered the edge of Sonoma County — better known as wine country — so wine tasting here is an absolute must. Bodega Bay has clusters of wineries and tasting rooms that also serve some of the freshest seafood around. Make sure to try crab or oysters (aphrodisiac, anyone?). There are historically charming inns and hotels all over the town, making Bodega Bay the spot to bunker down with your Valentine after a romantic day of wine tasting.

Wineries | © Daniela/Flickr

Highway One North

Continue to drive north on Highway One. This is also one of the most scenic drives in California, perhaps the entire country. Nothing says romance like driving along the countryside with that special someone, soaking in the Redwood groves, sweeping ocean views, and salty air. A quaint town to stop to refuel the car and your bellies is Fort Bragg, about a three hour drive up the Highway One. This coastal cliffside town is as adorable as it is breathtaking. The vintage beach charm practically oozes out from every sandy cliff and ocean breeze here. Grab a bite at one of the restaurants in the main town area, pick up a cute souvenir and get back on the road.

Distant Past | © Tom Hilton/Flickr

Discover the Lost Coast

As the two of you follow Highway One for a couple of hours, you’ll hop on to the other wonderfully scenic Highway 101. From there, you’ll embark on a romantic journey to find the Lost Coast. This stretch of coastline has an untamed beauty that’s perfect to revel in with your Valentine. Much of this drive is rugged, without many tarmacked roads, but the views and the untouched nature are absolutely worth it. There’s a lot to visit along the Lost Coast but perhaps the most romantic spot for road trippers would be Black Sand Beach. The area is known for its mystically wondrous black sand beaches. So take some time, embark on the gorgeous hike hand-in-hand to Black Sand Beach and experience a sight not many people get to see.

Lost Coast-245 | © Georg Lester/Flickr

Head South on Highway 101

Beginning your trek back, you and your partner will be able to experience much more of the 101’s beauty. Driving the 101 will take you through the beautiful backcountry of Northern California. This highway stretches through small towns that sit along creeks and rivers, magical forests, and grasslands. A way down the highway, you’ll hop on to Highway 20, which will take you both on a scenic lakefront drive around Clear Lake. Stop here for a bite to eat and a photo or two.

You, hold my hand, by my side | © Cher VernalEQ/Flickr

Splurge in Sacramento

The last stop on your Valentine’s road trip is the state capital of Sacramento. This historic city is a great place for couples to explore and discover its rich culture. Exploring Old Town Sacramento with your Valentine is incredibly special, as the two of you can dress up like Old West pioneers, mind for gold, and then splurge on a fine dinner. To keep up the old charm, there’s numerous bed and breakfasts, or if the two of want a little more luxury for your last night, the city is full of luxe hotels that are waiting to indulge you.

Sacramento Set | © Jeff Turner/Flickr

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"