The Best Places to Elope in California in 2023

The Best Places to Elope in California // 2023 California Elopement Guide

From the rocky coastal cliffs with a cool ocean breeze all the way to the desert – there’s ENDLESS possibilities when it comes to choosing a location for your elopement in California!! One of the hardest parts of planning your elopement is choosing where to have your ceremony and where to have your badass portraits taken, so I’ve put together my own list with some of the BEST places to elope in California!!

Please keep in mind that when visiting these beautiful gems in California, to respect the lands!! Pick up any and all garbage and take it out with you (leaving no trace), staying on designated trails, respecting the wildlife, and all the things!!

The BEST time to elope is at SUNRISE!! Many of the locations listed here will be EXTREMELY busy on weekends AND at sunset!! So keep that in mind while you’re planning your elopement in these locations as well.


Where to Elope in California

Down below, I have put together a whole list of ALL my favorite spots in the beautiful state of California!! All of these locations are absolutely phenomenal and you can’t go wrong with choosing to elope in California!! (People really aren’t kidding when they say Cali has it all!)

Keep scrolling to learn about some of the most beautiful locations in California, and let your imagination run wild when it comes to planning your dream wedding day in Cali!!!


The Best Places to Elope in California

  1. Joshua Tree National Park
  2. Yosemite National Park
  3. Glamis/Imperial Sand Dunes
  4. Laguna Beach
  5. Santa Monica Mountains
  6. Lake Tahoe
  7. Big Sur
  8. Black Sands Beach // The Lost Coast
  9. Catalina Island
  10. Santa Barbara
  11. Lassen Volcanic National Park
  12. El Matador State Beach
  13. Point Reyes National Seashore
  14. Sunset Cliffs
  15. San Clemente State Beach

Joshua Tree National Park

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Between March and May or October

Where to Stay: Check out this list of Airbnbs in the area to find the perfect spot for you and your partner!

No list of places to elope in California would be complete without Joshua Tree! With its stunning desert landscape, it’s the perfect location for your elopement. I always recommend sunrise or sunset ceremonies if possible, as you’ll find the temperatures to be much more pleasant at this time of day!! (It can get chilly during sunrise though as the elevation is pretty high!)

I would also HIGHLY consider renting a super fun and badass Airbnb and just eloping at there too!

Pro Tip: Learn more on How to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park HERE!

Yosemite National Park

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: April or October to November for the fall colors! (Sunset can be VERY busy year round!! I would HIGHLY recommend eloping at sunrise!!)

Where to Stay: Yosemite Valley Lodge is right in the center of all of the action!

Yosemite is one of my all-time favorite National Parks on this coast, and it makes the ideal backdrop for your wedding ceremony. There are so many great accommodation options in the area, and you can stick around for a few days after to explore the local area on your honeymoon.

There are LIMITLESS options when it comes to Yosemite!

Pro Tip: Learn more about Yosemite Wedding Permits + More Here!

Glamis/Imperial Sand Dunes

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Winter!!

Where to Stay: There are no hotels right near the Glamis Sand Dunes, so search on Airbnb for a nearby property!

Glamis Sand Dunes offers a breath-taking location for your elopement photos, and you’ll feel like you are in the middle of an Arabian desert! I recommend avoiding the summer months here unless you are willing to get married at sunrise, as it can get H.O.T here! The early morning is a great time for a ceremony as you’ll enjoy a romantic and intimate ceremony without anyone else around too!

PRO TIP: For all my Star Wars fans…. you can just pretend like you’re getting married on Tatooine! Bring out your lightsabers and I promise we can have a lightsaber dual!

Laguna Beach

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: All Year Round!!

Where to Stay: Consider staying at Hotel Joaquin, a beautiful boutique hotel nestled on the beach!

Laguna Beach is a lovely quiet location for an elopement at almost any time of the year. If you love spending time by the ocean, you can’t go wrong with a ceremony here! I recommend planning your ceremony for sunset, as you’ll capture the most incredible photos of you and your partner in front of the ocean.

Santa Monica Mountains

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Spring!!

Where to Stay: Airbnb will be your best bet here for a romantic accommodation option!!

The Santa Monica Mountains are known for their warm, dry summers, but during the winter, it can get quite wet in this area. If you fancy heading off into the unknown and escaping the crowds, this is one of my favorite spots for an elopement in California!!

Lake Tahoe

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: ALL YEAR BABY!!

Where to Stay: Splash out on the beautiful Edgewood Tahoe Resort for a stay you’ll remember forever!!

Enjoy the backdrop of the mountains and lake for your elopement ceremony in Lake Tahoe!! There are endless places you could go for your ceremony, and couples often opt to stay alongside the shores of Lake Tahoe or head into the forest for a private ceremony. 

Big Sur

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Spring!!

Where to Stay: Immerse yourself in nature at Glen Oaks Big Sur!!

You knew this one was coming! Big Sur is no doubt one of the most popular locations in California to elope, and between April and November each year, many couples travel here to enjoy the incredible scenery. It can get a little foggy here in the summer months, which is why spring is the best time of year for an elopement. (Unless you’re totally wanting that moody fog then summer is PERFECT!)

Black Sands Beach // Lost Coast

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: May to October!!

Where to Stay: Check out this stunning home on Airbnb for inspiration for your getaway!!

People will think you’ve jetted off to Iceland when they see your photos, but in fact, Black Sands Beach is located in Northern California. It’s the perfect spot for moody wedding photos or alternative dresses, and the dramatic backdrop will be something that you’ll both remember forever. 

Catalina Island

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: All year round!!

Where to Stay: The Bellanca Hotel offers European charm right here on Catalina Island!!

If you are looking for a private spot for your elopement, head to Lovers Cove on Catalina Island. You’ll find this area has many modern and luxurious accommodation options, so it’s ideal for a romantic getaway with just the two of you!

On a sailboat in Santa Barbara

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Summer FO’ SHO!

Where to Stay: Head back to shore to stay in El Encanto following your big day!!

If you’ve decided to elope, it’s pretty obvious that you just want to enjoy some quality time together. Why not head out to sea and forget about the world around you?!? This will certainly make for a day to remember, and all you’ll have to focus on is each other and the ocean and Santa Barbara behind you! 😍

PRO TIP: Consider booking a private charter through Santa Barbara Sailing Center and make sure you’ll still be out in the water DURING sunset!

Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: July to October!

Where to Stay: Highlands Ranch Resort to immerse yourself in nature away from the busy world!!

For couples who are hunting for an off-the-beaten-path elopement location, head to Lassen Volcano National Park. You’ll love exploring the crystalline lakes, flower meadows, and the incredible volcanoes which the park is named after. It’s an often-overlooked spot, but I highly recommend you consider it for your upcoming elopement!

El Matador State Beach

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: All year round (avoid the weekends!)

Where to Stay: There’s nowhere better to stay in Malibu then the Malibu Surfrider Hotel! The relaxing atmosphere, the tip-top cleanliness, the restaurant – it’s all so perfect! (Airbnb has some GREAT options too!)

El Matador State Beach is incredibly popular with visitors in the summer months, so if you are planning an elopement here, make sure you avoid the middle of the day and the weekends!!! The dramatic cliffs here will look absolutely incredible behind you, which is why it’s such a popular spot with couples in California. The sunsets here are MAGICAL!

Don’t forget to head to Nobu Malibu for some DELICIOUS sushi!!

PRO TIP: Check on the tide before you go!! It’s ideal to shoot during low tide, so there’s more beach area to utilize!

Point Reyes National Seashore

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: April and May!

Where to Stay: Enjoy the laid back atmosphere of Olema House!

For clear skies and beautiful meadows, I totally freaking recommend an elopement along the Point Reyes National Seashore in April and May. Many people say this is almost like visiting Ireland, and you’ll love wandering around the charming small towns here during your getaway!!

Sunset Cliffs in San Diego

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Spring and Summer!

Where to Stay: If you’re looking for a romantic place to stay with DRAMATIC views – The Inn at Sunset Cliffs offers the perfect location for you!!

Our final location to elope in California is Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. You could travel here almost all year round, but summer is the perfect time for a ceremony. The dramatic backdrop here is ideal for your ceremony and photos, and you aren’t too far away from the other popular attractions in San Diego for after your ceremony.

As you can see, there are so many fantastic locations to visit in California for your elopement ceremony! Wherever you choose to elope, you are sure to enjoy an unforgettable day focusing on the love between you and your partner!

San Clemente State Beach

The Best Time of the Year to Elope Here: Spring and Summer!

Where to Stay: The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Club is a 5-Star Hotel located near San Clemente, and is the perfect hotel to spend your night at after your special day!

San Clemente State Park isn’t too far away from Laguna Beach but offers a little more privacy for your elopement! As you can tell by now, you can’t go wrong with a coastal location in California, and you’ll enjoy exploring the local area following your ceremony. California has ENDLESS beaches to choose from!! You cannot go wrong! 😍


WHEW!!! There are SOO many jaw-droppingly beautiful spots in California and this list doesn’t even begin to cover them all! But I hope this list of the absolute best places to elope in California gave you some ideas and got those wheels turning in your head for your dream day!!


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Samantha Burke Photographer | MN Elopement Photographer

Samantha Burke is a traveling adventurous elopement photographer for the wild and goofy soulmates that’s based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota! She’s also an educator for fellow photographers that are wanting to grow their business! Samantha is also a traveling addict that’s always looking for somewhere to travel too! Sam is also obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, and Chai Tea! Please contact Sam if you would like to have her be your elopement photographer or if you have any questions!! She is always here to answer any questions you may have!

If you're ready to go on a wild adventure with me and get freaking married in a way that calls to your heart - let's start planning! Use the contact form here to start the process of making your dream elopement come to life! 

P.S. I cannot WAIT to hear from you!!!

are you ready to say yes to the elopement you deserve?

  1. Yes, you were right. It`s too easy to love more than one elopement locations from your post. I learned a lot about various locations in US from your very informative and easy to read post. Thank you.

  2. Dezerae Jobe says:

    What great information about California and the best places to Elope. You shared such great information.

  3. Justyna says:

    Ah!!!!! yaaaas….Big Sur alll the way…California has so many incredible places to adventure! Beautiful state!

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