Southern California is full of beautiful, scenic places to elope – and I’m not just saying that because I’m based here! I’ve traveled all over SoCal and seen what it has to offer, and now I’m sharing those gems with you. Keep reading for my top 5 Southern California elopement ideas, plus a bonus one at the end!
For adventurous couples who crave a wild and nature-focused elopement
Joshua Tree is where I currently call home and I’ve had the privilege of helping countless couples plan their dream elopement here. For couples who want to exchange vows against the epic rock formations in the middle of the desert, Joshua Tree could not be more perfect for you! After your elopement ceremony, you can explore the park together, hike to a hidden oasis, or even enjoy stargazing under the dark night sky. There are tons of stunning Airbnbs to stay at in or near Joshua Tree that would perfectly enhance your elopement experience – in fact, check out Cocoon, a vacation rental agency here in the desert!
Joshua Tree Elopement Tip: If you’re looking for more activities, be sure to visit the iconic Pioneertown!
For artsy couples craving a modern and trendy elopement
Not too far from Joshua Tree is Palm Springs, THE spot for modern and eclectic couples looking for something a little different than the typical Southern California elopement. Palm Springs has a plethora of boutique hotels, grand Airbnbs, and unique elopement photo locations to choose from! If you’re looking to keep things short, simple, and sweet, Palm Springs City Hall is one of the coolest city halls around. Stylish courthouse elopement, anyone??
Many couples choose to honeymoon in Palm Springs (or have their bachelorette party here!) due to the warm weather and collection of adventure and relaxation activities. Here are some of my favorite Palm Springs amenities!:
For couples wanting an art-inspired elopement in a culturally significant location
Calling all my artsy couples! Balboa Park, established in 1868, is one of the largest urban cultural parks in the U.S. and still remains a main attraction in San Diego to this day. There are museums, art galleries, performing arts venues, and gardens – countless locations to choose from for your Southern California elopement! And it just so happens to be home to the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Museum of Photographic Arts, as if you needed anything else to add to your San Diego itinerary. I mean it when I say you could spend days at Balboa Park, making it a perfect SoCal elopement option for couples who don’t want to spend time traveling between locations for an adventure. Everything is all in one place! If you want a more scenic vibe in San Diego, the beautiful sunset cliffs are ALWAYS a good choice!
For couples who want a relaxed yet high-end Southern California elopement
Sitting right on the beautiful coastline of California, we have the small yet vibrant town of Santa Barbara. This location is another popular honeymoon and vacation destination for locals and tourists alike! It’s referred to as the “American Riviera” due to its coastal beauty and Mediterranean-like climate. You get the infamous Central Coast weather here – not too hot, and not too cold! The entire city has Spanish Colonial-Revival-style architecture, creating a romantic and historic ambiance for couples eloping here. Even the courthouse is full of life and character, making Santa Barbara another fantastic city hall elopement location!
If you’re looking for things to do, Downtown Santa Barbara has a lively atmosphere lined with shops, restaurants, and boutiques that you could (pleasantly!) get lost in. Don’t think there isn’t plenty to do adventure-wise, though, as there are tons of hiking opportunities, sailing excursions swimming beaches, and more! And when you’re ready to relax, be sure to visit the infamous wineries and vineyards nearby… while you’re at it, take me with you!
For couples who want an elopement location that highlights the unique beauty of the California Coast
Last on our official list of Southern California elopement ideas is having a destination elopement in Big Sur! If you’re looking for rugged coastline, towering cliffs, and majestic redwood forests (aka all of California’s best features), then this is the location for you. Not only are there plenty of outdoor elopement spots in Big Sur, but there are also several nature-focused wedding venues* that have panoramic ocean views, beautiful gardens, ocean vistas, and more. Big Sur is also famous for its gorgeous sunsets, creating a magical and romantic vibe for your elopement.
*Check out these Big Sur wedding/elopement venues:
When looking for things to do, there are miles of scenic trails, countless camping sites, ocean activities, and even helicopter rides you can take to capture aerial views of the coastline! If you’re wanting to make a trip out of your Big Sur elopement, you’ve got to start at the PCH to being your adventure! Arguably one of the most scenic drives in California, you absolutely won’t regret embarking on this highway with your newlywed.
Big Sur Elopement Tip: Prefer to honeymoon somewhere near Big Sur? Monterey, California is a serene, relaxing honeymoon destination just a couple of hours away!
I know, I know, San Francisco isn’t technically in Southern California, but that’s why it’s a bonus option! Lauren and Patrick planned an eclectic City Hall elopement in SF and had the best time exploring and celebrating with their loved ones. If you’re craving a metropolitan city feel for your elopement location but still want the scenic benefits of California, I highly recommend considering San Fran!
No matter where you choose to elope in Southern California, I’m ready to go with you! You can get in touch with me via my contact form and I’ll get back to you so soon with details. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Instagram so we can connect there!