California Honeymooning: Keep It Local

By: Bob Brichmann

The honeymoon is usually the culminating event to the wedding experience. It’s also the fun part – the time to let down your hair and let loose or chill and disappear for a few days. Everyone should take a honeymoon, even if it’s for only one night!

Our beautiful state of California has so many honeymoon opportunities. There are warm and relaxing bed and breakfasts. There are lavish resorts with spas. There are urban resorts with multiple entertainment offerings within a short driving distance. There are relaxing, outdoorsy, golf and hiking getaways.

California has the sea, the sun, the desert, the mountains and the forests. Why expense that far away trip or cruise when some hidden gems are hiding right here in your own backyard?
Eisenhower Photography

Catalina Island – The Island of Romance

Take a short ferry ride from San Pedro, just north of Long Beach, and you’ll arrive in beautiful Two Harbors, Catalina Island. Located on the Isthmus of Catalina and about twenty-six miles from Avalon, Two Harbors is home to the perfect “get away” honeymoon location – the Banning House Lodge. “It’s a romantic place. It’s a step out of reality and so private. There’s peace and quiet. It’s cozy, warm and homey. You can’t pass up the views and beautiful courtyard,” states Kate Panzer, Manager for the Banning House Lodge.

This Craftsman-styled bed and breakfast was built in 1910 as the summer home for the pioneering Banning brothers, who once owned Catalina Island. Over the years, it has changed ownership hands a few times, but became a B&B in roughly 1991. The Wrigley family currently owns it. High on a hill, the Banning Lodge offers sweeping views of both the Isthmus and Catalina Harbor. There’s no TV or radio. It’s limited to handling thirty-eight guests with only twelve rooms. While other places in Avalon might tend to be more contemporary, the Banning Lodge offers that small town feel, but with class.

“Off season (Oct-April) might be the best time to visit. There are fewer crowds, less hustle and bustle. Outdoor activities abound – hiking, biking, diving, kayaking and even resting and doing nothing. You can even rent a Humvee to tour the island,” adds Panzer. Romance? Privacy? A beautiful island? This looks like a good call for a honeymoon.

Disneyland Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons

Disneyland is not just for kids. It’s for the kid in all of us. Now…Disneyland is a prime honeymoon destination, as well. A visit to Disneyland is, of course, filled with roller coasters and rides, shops and restaurants, cotton candy and mouse ears. However, Disneyland has seriously dialed it up a notch to include a very adult-friendly and enticing honeymoon vacation experience.

They offer three beautiful hotels on site: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Each offers differing styles and amenities. “The jewel of the resorts is the Grand Californian. Its redwood décor and 1st class amenities…its stunning lobby and outdoor fireplaces…it’s beautiful,” shares Korri McFann, Manager of Marketing for Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons.

The dining experience is as fantastic and it is varied. Their signature fine dining restaurant is Napa Rose, featuring classic California cuisine and top-notch wine pairings. Their old-school Hollywood Steakhouse 55 offers a cool, retro vibe. Yamabuki is their Japanese dining experience featuring sushi, tempura and much more. Nearby is the ESPN Club Bar for sports and the “guy” getaway. There’s a House of Blues, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and much more to choose from.

Of course, stepping into the true Disney world, there’s Downtown Disney with its walkway, shops, bakeries and eateries. There’s Disneyland and California Adventure – both incredible entertainment and amusement parks, too. For honeymooners, there’s a full, relaxing spa. You can get a massage or facial while your new husband takes in a ballgame at the bar or naps poolside. They offer outstanding concierge service to help you experience the entire LA basin – from the beaches to Hollywood.

“It’s a magical experience. You might feel like a child again, but there’s the adult side, too. You are both taking in a new life together and Disneyland sweeps you away from reality,” offers McFann.
Eisenhower Photography

Gold Mountain Manor – Big Bear

Nestled in the scenic mountain region of Big Bear lies the historic and beautiful Gold Mountain Manor. “For an intimate, romantic and old-fashioned feel, step back into another era…another time. We offer a warm ambiance with the smell of fresh-baked cookies in the air. It’s luxurious and down to earth,” exclaims Cathy Weil, owner of Gold Mountain Manor.

How romantic does this sound? Private jacuzzi for two in your room. Fireplace. Minimal guests on site (four rooms and three suites). Make your own milk bath. You can even have a masseuse visit you in the privacy of your own suite. For those that love the outdoors, this is an ideal honeymoon. It’s a four-season resort. Gold Mountain Manor is one mile from the lake for all the water sports imaginable (parasailing, water skiing, kayaking, etc.). There is wildflower nature hiking and biking everywhere. It’s ten minutes to the quaint village of Big Bear and its boutique shops. There is winter skiing to your heart’s content.

Built in 1928 as the Maltby Mansion for Alexander and Bessie Barrett, movie moguls and producers of the day, the Manor has exchanged hands a few times. It started as a B&B about twenty-five to thirty years ago. Offering morning breakfasts and special weekend evening wine and hors d’oeurve hours, this B&B offers a truly well rounded experience. They even stay in touch with the real world and offer modern tech conveniences – Wi-Fi, flat screens, DVD players, etc. However, it still maintains its warm, quiet and old school nature.

Pelican Inn – Muir Beach

Just twenty minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, tucked inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, lies the intimate, seven room, countrified and English accented Pelican Inn. Mountainside and woodsy, it’s filled with old English quaintness, including a huge lobby fireplace, antiques throughout and a cozy Tudor bar. Their dining room even serves traditional English fare like bangers and mash along with other traditional American delights.

“One of my brides said it was beautiful. They ate a hearty breakfast and then they were off on a bike ride to Muir Beach. All around $200.00 a night. The price and value was great,” says Susan Ashley-Howell from Romantic Honeymoons. Beautiful sunsets, killer ocean views, a short trip to the heart of vibrant San Francisco, this B&B-like inn offers inner romance and proximity to endless fun. Now that’s a honeymoon.

“Given the economy and peoples’ time and travel restrictions these days, it makes sense to choose a closer and more drivable place for your honeymoon,” adds Ashley-Howell.

Other Great Ideas

There are plenty of other beautiful honeymoon hot spots and secrets dotting the California landscape. Big Sur offers some of the most scenic coastline anywhere. B&B’s are up and down the coast. Be sure and also check out the small luxury hotel Post Ranch Inn. It has incredible views, spa treatments and more and is just a few minutes from Monterey and Carmel.

The California side of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area offers beautiful, lush forest and trails with endless outdoor activities. It’s considered the quieter side of the lake – ideal for that romantic getaway. For those of you into winter sports, look no further. One has to consider the wine country, both Napa Valley north of San Francisco and, what many consider the new Napa, the Temecula Valley region. Many beautiful resorts and B&B’s have sprung up to accommodate honeymooners. The rustic, warm and romantic air within wine country will make you feel like you are in the old countryside of Italy.

Right here in our own backyard of San Diego lies the historic and luxurious Hotel Del Coronado. From its spa to its restaurants to its beautiful gardens and overall grandeur and that million-dollar Pacific Ocean view, the Del has it all for honeymooners. Of course, don’t forget the beach!

Honeymoon getaways in California are plentiful. Do a little homework and seek some expert advice from a professional travel agent when planning that special post-wedding bit of rest and relaxation.


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