California Honeymoon Ideas
This past October my husband turned 30, and what better way to celebrate than going on a trip that provided accessibility to all of our favorite hobbies (exploring new cities, cultures, hiking, boating, hanging with friends, wine-tasting, and trying new foods!) I’m sharing this post to outline our itinerary for you, as well as provide you with some California Honeymoon Ideas if you’re interested in going to one (or all three!) of these cities we explored.
Our trip out west was one of the best trips we’ve taken in a while, and one we will remember for years to come. We spent time in three different cities, couldn’t have asked for better weather, and to top it off… his best friends surprised him in Lake Tahoe! (Which was a nice break in the middle of our trip to celebrate his birthday with some of our best friends!)
San Francisco allowed us to experience a new culture and way of living, Lake Tahoe provided beautiful landscapes and a ton of outdoor activity, and Napa was the perfect ending to our trip, encouraging us to try new food and wine pairings. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and exploration, which is why I would recommend this trip for your west coast honeymoon! Especially if you and your spouse have multiple interests and enjoy different hobbies.
If you’re looking for California honeymoon ideas, I would recommend this 8-day California Itinerary to help guide your planning!
Our first day of the trip we flew into SFO Airport and rented a car upon arriving. We were a bit jet lagged this first day, so we explored Fisherman’s Wharf and had dinner at Pier 36 before returning to our hotel to get some rest. We intentionally didn’t plan anything on Day 1 so we could ease into the trip + adjust to the time change.
Day two was our only full day in San Francisco and so we planned to get the most out of it. We spent the entire day exploring the city and all that is has to offer. We started our morning early (waking at 4:30am due to the time change, ha!) and headed out to grab some coffee. We walked to Lombard Street, admiring the colorful homes, hilly landscape in SF, it’s claim to be “the crookedst street in the world”. I would recommend seeing Lombard Street early and since no one was up and at it… we had the street all to ourselves! After walking Lombard Street, we strolled around Ghirardelli Square and then paid for a cable-car ride starting at the Powell-Hyde Line! After our cable-car ride, we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf to catch our Alcatraz Tour. The Alcatraz Tour was the highlight of our time in San Francisco, not only do you get out on the water and can view the city from afar, you also learn so much about the history of Alcatraz and what life was like for families living on the island! Later that afternoon, we walked to Crissy Field to see the Golden Gate Bride (A must do in San Fran!).
Our evening was spent grabbing drinks at The View Lounge Rooftop Bar in the Marriot. It has beautiful views of the city, and we even spent some time catching up with a college friend who lived and worked in SF at the time! After drinks, we stopped at Delarosa’s for dinner. Day 2 was spent exploring San Fran from sun up till sun down.
The third day we rose early, stopped at Outerland’s for a delicious breakfast, and made a pit stop at the airport to pick up our friends from college (This was a surprise trip for Brad, so he had no idea that I invited his friends to come on the trip!) We drove 3.5 hours from San Fran to South Lake Tahoe, picked up some delicious cupcakes from Sugar Pine Bakery along the way, and arrived at our AirBnB around 1:00pm. When we arrived, 2 more of our friends surprised Brad and greeted us at the door! Our AirBnB was perfect for our trip, could accommodate up to 12 guests, had two separate homes on the property, and had a backyard and lake front views! I would highly suggest booking this house if you have a large group! After we unpacked, we went to Beachcomber’s for dinner, stopped at Heavenly Village for drinks, and spent the rest of the evening catching up at our house! The last surprise of the trip for Brad happened around Midnight on Day 3! Two more of our friends surprised him at our AirBnB to celebrate with us for the weekend!
Day Four was spent exploring Lake Tahoe and hiking/swimming at Emerald Bay. Before our day started, we walked to Revive Coffee, cooked breakfast at our AirBnB and packed for our hiking trip. We drove to the base of Emerald Bay and hiked the Rubicon Trail. We did completed a 4-mile round trip hike (stopping to swim halfway!) The views were breathtaking, and the water was cold, but it didn’t stop us from changing into our suits and jumping in!
Later that afternoon, we grilled out and had dinner in our backyard with lake front views and spent some time relaxing before ending our night on the town. We grabbed drinks at Beacons and Riva’s Grill and quickly fell in love with their rum runners, a Lake Tahoe specialty.
Day five started at the same coffe shop, a new favorite for us, before dirivng to Action Water Sports to check in to our boat rental. We rented a speedboat for 4 hours and it was the perfect amount of time to explore the lake, water ski, drive around Emerald Bay while the men swam to the island and back, and sunbathe on the boat! This was our favorite activity. Brad and I both enjoy being on the water, and could’ve spent another 4 hours easily cruising around on the boat. That afternoon we hung around the house before grabbing dinner at Scusa’s. A nice Italian restaurant in South Lake Tahoe, and ended our evening with ice cream from Coldstone! Such a fun last event celebrating Brad’s birthday with friends.
The sixth day of our trip, two of the three couples headed flew back home in the morning and the rest of us stopped to get coffee at Revive (again!) and drove to Heavenly Village to shop and explore for a bit. Around lunchtime, we drove to North Lake Tahoe and made a quick (or so we thought!) stop at Sand Harbor! We originally were just planning to stop at Sand Harbor to see what the hype was all about… but after seeing it, we decided to change into our suits and explore the rocky waters for about 3 hours before dropping our other friends off near the airport! Our last day in Tahoe was unplanned, which allowed us the freedom to make decisions on the go. Sand Harbor was a must-see. The crystal clear waters tucked into a cove off of North Lake was one of the most beautiful sites.
That evening we drove 3 hours to the last stop on our trip, Napa Valley, and upon arriving had dinner at a local BBQ hangout, Bounty Hunter! (Tip: Get the BBQ Platter, Yum!!!)
We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Napa Valley since Brad had some hotel points through Hilton. It was gorgeous and felt like we were at a resort!
We spent two full days in Napa exploring different vineyards and tasting our fair share of wines.
The first day looked like this: 10:30am tour at Pride Mountain Vineyards followed by tours at Sterling Vineyards, Castillo Di Amorosa, and Mumm. Pride was our favorite because it was family owned, more personal, and we did a tour of the entire grounds. Sterling was our second favorite because it was completely opposite of Pride. We did a self-guided tour, had lunch with a wine pariing overlooking Napa Valley, and relaxed on their modern outodor patio for a while before heading to Castillo De Amoroso.
That evening, we had dinner at Farmstead in St. Helena (This is a must! And please order the ham sandwiches!) and drove back towards our hotel, stopping for a movie along the way!
Our second full day in Napa looked like this: 10:00am tour at Cakebread Cellars, followed by lunch at Oxbow Market, a wine tasting at Artesa and Kuleto Family Estates. I enjoyed Artesa becase of it’s modern architecture, beautufl views, and the chocolate and wine pairing (of course)! Brad enjoyed Kuleto Family Estates best becase it was tucked away miles up the mountain, secluded from the valley floor. It was a private tour and tasting and was enjoyable just the two of us ending our time in Napa! That evening we had dinner at Auberge Du Soleil, as Michelin-star restaurant overlooking Napa Valley and stopped at Sky and Vine Rooftop Bar (BYO, plus there is no corkage fee if your bottle is bought from Napa Valley!) and Allegria for a glass of wine.
We slept in, walked around Napa a bit and drove back to San Franscico to catch our flight home! What a trip!
Like I mentioned previously, this trip was the perfection combination of relaxation and exploration. We experienced many different cultures, landscapes, and hobbies throughout all three cities. If you are looking for California Honeymoon Ideas, I would recommend this 8-day trip!
Additional Tip: If you’re interested in International Travel for your honeymoon, you can find a recap on our London Trip, here!
Alyssa Thomas is a Pittsburgh Wedding Planner and Pittsburgh Event Planner serving clients in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Maryland and Worldwide Destinations. Her work spans from weddings and corporate events, to meetups and intimate gatherings. Contact her today for your consultation and stop by her instagram to see some beautiful events, design work, and a peek into her personal life + traveling adventures. @alyssathomasevents
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