Are you dreaming of an intimate and picturesque elopement in Southern California, without venturing too far from the bustling city of Los Angeles? Look no further! I’ve curated a list of five destinations, each just a short drive away, perfect for your intimate celebration of love. These locations offer not only stunning backdrops but also unique California experiences.

Joshua Tree

Driving Distance from LA: Approximately 2.5 hours

Where to Stay: Consider renting a cozy desert Airbnb. Here is my personal wishlist.

Paperwork: Obtain your marriage license at the San Bernardino County Clerk’s office.

Activities: Explore the landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, stargaze at night, and capture iconic photos among the Joshua Trees.

Dine: Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace offers a unique desert vibe with live music, delicious barbecue, and an outdoor setting perfect for a post-wedding celebration.

elopement in southern california - palm springs bar lounge

Palm Springs

Driving Distance from LA: Approximately 2 hours

Where to Stay: Choose from trendy boutique hotels like Korakia, mid-century modern rentals, or luxurious resorts like the Parker Palm Springs.

Paperwork: Visit the Riverside County Clerk’s office for your marriage license.

Activities: Relax by the pool, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for stunning views, and explore the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

Dine: Workshop Kitchen + Bar combines a modern, industrial aesthetic with farm-to-table cuisine, an ideal setting for a romantic dinner.

elopement in southern california - couple's portrait session in idyllwild, CA

Idyllwild

Driving Distance from LA: Approximately 2 hours

Where to Stay: Opt for a charming cabin rental or a bed and breakfast in the heart of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Paperwork: Obtain your marriage license at the Riverside County Clerk’s office.

Activities: Hike through the picturesque trails of Mount San Jacinto State Park, visit local art galleries, and savor a romantic dinner in this cozy mountain town.

Dine: I personally don’t love the dining out options in Idyllwild, but you could always go for something cozy and casual at Cafe Aroma, hire a private chef, or cook something up in your Airbnb.

elopement in southern california - couple at the santa barbara courthouse

Santa Barbara

Driving Distance from LA: Approximately 2 hours

Where to Stay: Enjoy coastal luxury at a beachfront resort like the Ritz or experience the charm of a historic bed and breakfast. There is also the new Drift Hotel and the Canary Hotel downtown.

Paperwork: Head to the Santa Barbara County Clerk’s office for your marriage license. The courthouse is a gorgeous building where your ceremony can take place.

Activities: Take a leisurely stroll through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, relax on the beaches, and explore the happening Funk Zone with its art galleries and wine-tasting rooms.

Dine: The Lark, located in the heart of the Funk Zone, offers a trendy and artfully designed space along with a delectable menu featuring locally sourced ingredients.

elopement in southern california - santa barbara

San Diego

Driving Distance from LA: Approximately 2.5 hours

Where to Stay: Situated in the center of Del Mar and lovingly recognized as the heartbeat of the community, L’Auberge is a luxury resort that embodies your seaside dream home. For a cozier boutique hotel, check out the sustainable Twelve Senses Retreat in Encinitas.

Paperwork: Obtain your marriage license at the San Diego County Clerk’s office.

Activities: Visit Balboa Park and its museums, relax on the beach, and explore the historic Gaslamp Quarter for vibrant nightlife.

Dine: Indulge in a 4-course menu at Jeune et Jolie, where they have reinvented French cuisine, infusing it with the dynamic flavors of our Southern California surroundings.


Though I call Los Angeles home, I will drive near and far to photograph a love story. Travel to anywhere in Southern California is included in the 8-hour photography package. If you’re considering an elopement in Southern California, inquire today to get the conversation rolling!

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Katie photographs elopements for modern, discerning couples. Based in Los Angeles and available worldwide.