Updated: Dec 8th, 2021
Travel up for snow and down for beaches. That’s California for you in a nutshell. While many people come to the San Francisco Bay Area for tech jobs and a good salary, they stay for the ocean, mountains, food, and good company. After almost a decade of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, seven of which I spent with my partner, I’ve shortlisted 6 Bay Area romantic getaways. Keep reading to find out what they are!
1. Go Wine Tasting in Napa
The first time I heard about Napa was in the movie Parent Trap, a movie I’ve probably watched more than a dozen times. Even if you haven’t seen Parent Trip, I hope you’ve heard of Napa somewhere or from someone. It’s only one of the world’s most famous regions for wine tasting and amazing food. The wine country is also fancy enough that it gives you the excuse to dress up, look good for your partner, and take some pics for the IG.
So how would you go about spending a day with your partner in Napa? You can start your day there by dining at a nice restaurant – here’s a list of Napa restaurants with outdoor seating. Then, you can visit a winery and do a wine tasting together. There are so many good wineries in Napa that you really can’t go wrong. Maybe pick one that has more of a romantic vibe if you want to make it extra special!
Wanderer Tip: For a slightly more affordable wine tasting date, check out Sonoma. Even though it’s the lesser known half of California’s wine scene, it has wineries that are just as high quality as those in Napa if not more. Because it’s not as famous, tastings tend to be cheaper.
2. Shuck Oysters at Tomales Bay
Buy a picnic blanket, a picnic basket, some prosecco, cheese, and you’re set for a romantic picnic in Tomales Bay. Tomales Bay Oyster Company offers oysters for shucking. And you can eat them right by the water. I can hardly think of a cooler hands on experience that also lets you enjoy amazingly fresh seafood. Be sure you and your partner are dressed and mentally prepared for some oyster shucking because it can get messy. However it’ll definitely bring the two of you closer together 😉
If picnicking isn’t your thing and you’d rather sit at a table and get served food on a pretty platter, check out Hog Island Oyster Co in Marshall. It’ll offer a similar experience with a more classic dining environment.
3. Glamp in Mendocino
Ever since I glamped in Maui, I’ve been looking forward to my next glamping experience. The way I see it, glamping is for those who want to need a few days to go off the grid but do so with running water, a place to shower, and a full size mattress.
Mendocino Grove is one of those places that’ll offer you and your SO all of the above and more. Book a stay there, get firewood delivered to you, and soak in all the nature around you. It’s hard for a bay area romantic getaway to get better than that.
4. Picnic by Alameda Beach
If your plans to shuck oysters at Tomales Bay fall through, you can use the picnic set you prepared for a picnic by Alameda Beach instead.
Alameda is a short 25 minutes from San Francisco and it offers an amazing view of the city. Grab a bottle of wine at Rock Wall Wine Company and a few sushi rolls from Sushi House for a slight upgrade from the Trader Joe’s wine and cheese set you typically go for. Of all the bay area romantic getaways, this one is probably the least known and is one of my favorites to this day! If you enjoy it, share it with your best friends only. We don’t want too many people to know about it.
5. Cozy Up at a Cabin in Tahoe
This weekend Kirkwood Mountain Resort is supposed to get 50 inches of snow. That’s not only great for skiing, but it’s also a romantic sight to see. If you or your significant other are skiing or snowboarding for the first time, you can use my Tahoe skiing guide for beginners to figure out which resort to go to. Even if you don’t ski, you can still have a great time marveling at the wintery vibes.
Jones Around the World has a great guide on romantic Airbnbs in Tahoe. Snag one up before they all get booked! You’ll thank me once you’re sitting in front of a floor to ceiling window, hot chocolate in hand, with an uninterrupted view of Lake Tahoe.
6. Tour the Berkeley Campus
I know what you might be thinking. Why would I want to go to the Berkeley Campus with my date? And am I only suggesting this because I went to UC Berkeley for school? To answer your first question, I think college campuses are super cute and romantic! Remember when you had a crush on that guy that would pass out fliers on campus? What about the hot guy you always wish you ran into at the library? College campuses are one of the most romantic places on earth, and Cal is no exception. To answer your second question, yes, I may be slightly biased because I went to school there.
Regardless of why, once you arrive on the Berkeley campus, I think you’ll see what I mean. You can start the day by grabbing a coffee at Caffee Strada (or Yifang if you prefer boba). Then, walk through Sproul Plaza, take a couples’ photo by Sather Gate, and keep going till you reach Memorial Glade. Once you reach Memorial Glade, find a spot to sit down and sip on that drink you just bought! For brunch, head on over to La Note for a French meal in the back patio. Alternatively, grab some sandwiches and potato puffs at Grégoire. It’ll be like you’ve spent your meal at a French cafe but you’re really just on a college campus.
A Final Word on Bay Area Romantic Getaways
For three years, my boyfriend and I went to Napa during our Anniversary. It became a little tradition of ours. The San Francisco Bay Area is not only good for tech jobs, it’s also pretty amazing for nurturing relationships IMHO. You just got to do some research, map your options out on a spreadsheet, and make sure you consider your significant other’s preferences. Once you’ve chosen the place and have a good time, maybe make it into a tradition like we did for Napa. I hope my top SF Bay Area romantic getaways will give you some inspiration to get started.