Cosy up at these unconventional romantic California getaways – no rose petals and no cliches needed.

Spot sea otters, spend time surrounded by glorious desert wildflowers and even catch the illusion of the Yosemite Firefall at these romantic California getaways.

Spot The Sea Otters

Swap the ‘cute’ cuddly toy for the real thing and take a trip to Monterey County, one of the best destinations to spot sea otters in California. The climate and rocky shores along Monterey County’s coastline are ideal for the otters and the bountiful kelp forests are full of all of their favourite snacks. Kayak out to sea for the best place to encounter a sea otter, in its natural habitat.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program has been studying the threatened southern sea otter since 1984 with the aim of understanding threats to the population and promoting its recovery. They also rescue, treat and release injured otters; raise and release stranded pups through their surrogate program and seek homes for sea otters that can’t return to the wild.

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Sea otters

See the Spectacular Desert Wildflower

In Anza- Borrego State Park you can visit the wealth of wildflowers that brighten the desert sand. The park’s more than 200 flowering plant species put on a brilliant display each spring. Typically the bloom occurs between late February and April, with early March being the safest bet. Once the bloom starts, it lasts only for a few weeks.

Borrego Palm Canyon Trail usually has good displays of spiky ocotillo, saffron-yellow brittlebrush and desert lavender. For a longer trek, hike about three miles into Hellhole Canyon and reap rewards of flowering barrel cactus and sweet-smelling lupine, plus cascading water at Maidenhair Falls. If you have a 4WD, scope out the sand verbena and dune evening primrose along what’s commonly called Coyote Canyon Jeep Trail, a dirt road at the north end of DiGiorgio Road.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park california wildflowers

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Visit the Yosemite Firefall

Yosemite Falls holds the undisputed title of the tallest waterfall in North America. It’s a challenging hike to the top of the 2,425 ft falls, but fortunately it’s an impressive view from the base to an easy and scenic 1-mile loop that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The Firefall phenomenon, which tends to happen over the course of about three weeks in mid to late February, reflects the convergence of clear skies and the right amount of snowmelt. As sunset nears, the mist catches the sun rays and creates an optical illusion that lasts up to 10 minutes, making for some stunning photographs. Get the best views from the El Capitan Picnic Area.

yosemite firefall california

Horsetail waterfall in Yosemite National Park. Photo: Jay Huang via Flickr

Dine with a Difference

Bored of the sit down and dine deals? Try the Serengeti Private Twilight Safari and Dinner at Safari West in Sonoma,  an experience  that includes an early evening safari in your very own privately reserved truck. During the safari, one of the knowledgeable guides will explore the property with you, seeking out wildebeest and rhinos.

As the day draws to a close, you pull up near scenic Watusi Lake where the table is ready with five-star service and scenic views of wildest wine country. The private twilight safari experience concludes with a sunset stroll through the Amani Oasis aviary where birds of every colour soar overhead. You can then go up to the Treetops where they watch beautiful violet turacos and trumpeter hornbills fly above while enjoying a dinner.

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Photo: Safari West

Luxury Glamping at Treebones – Big Sur

Trade in the five star four walled hotel room for the ultimate luxury ‘Glamping’ experience at Treebones Resort. Catering for the coastal dwellers and the keen outdoors, these Yurts and Twig hut offer spectacular views of the ocean combined with luxury camping and amenities. Try a night in the cocoon named ‘The Autonomous Tent’ secluded on the edge of the resort with your own private deck and outdoor fire pit, you’ll experience some of the greatest sunsets in Big Sur.

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Twighut. Photo: Treebones

The Barrel Blending Experience – Napa Valley

Why have a bottle from the shelves when you can make your own blend that matches your palette perfectly.  The Barrel Blending Experience at Conn Creek is the perfect setting for wine lovers of all levels to enjoy a one-of-a-kind Napa Valley wine tasting experience, providing guests a rare opportunity to learn about, taste and blend wines from the many distinctive regions that make up Napa Valley. Play winemaker for a day and take home the ideal blend for you and your partner to enjoy.

Exceptional Northern California Wine Country

Silver Oak

These romantic California getaways offer some off-beat options for a memorable trip for two!

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Orange County, California: Here’s What You Need to Do & See

12 Most Photogenic California Travel Spots You Can’t Miss