Wedding Road Trip Ideas: Northern California

Wedding Road Trips.

I’ve worked with two couples so far who planned a big road trip to celebrate their wedding. They both stopped along the way. in a special place on the planned route, to say their vows and seal the deal.
One couple included some family and friends in the celebration, and the other couple just brought their pups along. These couples have really inspired me to encourage others like you to make your wedding a longer celebration, full of memories and experiences that last more than just one day.
The wedding road trip is a honeymoon and wedding, all in one.


Northern California

This state is full of so many different things to see, and therefore is an awesome option for a wedding road trip. California is a VERY big state, so splitting it up into sections for future road trips is a great way to get to experience more of each place rather than just rushing through. We knew we really wanted to visit places that were further north, and therefore picked that as our destination for the summer.
One of the main reasons we booked a trip to California was to visit Yosemite National Park, but unfortunately our campsite reservations (that were very difficult to get) were cancelled at the beginning of our trip due to the wildfires that shut down the entire park this past summer. Therefore, we didn’t get to Yosemite at all, but we made the best of it and explored even more of the coast.

Tip #1- Know that California has a lot of wildfires in the summer and they drastically effect things.
Tip #2 - To get reservations in Yosemite Valley you have to book months in advance and they sell out within seconds. Be prepared and have backup options.


First Stop: Fly into San Francisco & explore a bit of city life

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San-Francisco-boat-tour-Evergreen-era-films
We had fun, used CityPASS (which I highly suggest), but aren’t city people at heart. So, we were excited to get on the road and head out into nature!

We had fun, used CityPASS (which I highly suggest), but aren’t city people at heart. So, we were excited to get on the road and head out into nature!

Head North on Highway 1 to Mendocino

You’ve got to drive Highway 101 while in California. The views are incredible, just know the road is very windy (so if you get car sick, be prepared). You ride along the coast and pop into coastal towns along the way. You also get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge as you leave San Francisco!

(don’t drive this if you get carsick ya’ll - I’m grateful that we don’t but it was a beautiful doozy even for a mountain girl)

(don’t drive this if you get carsick ya’ll - I’m grateful that we don’t but it was a beautiful doozy even for a mountain girl)

Muir Beach

Muir Beach

Muir Beach
lots of picnics

lots of picnics

a very rare for us luxury camping experience

a very rare for us luxury camping experience

Mendocino would be an incredible place for an elopement or small wedding. There are tons of beautiful outdoor locations nearby: hiking trails, beaches, kayaking on the river, etc. Mendocino Grove is lovely and is such a cute little spot with all the right amenities to make a super comfy camping experience for you and any family or friends you want to invite.

one of my favorite photos of us!

one of my favorite photos of us!

Glass Beach

Glass Beach

Glass Beach is made up mainly of seaglass pebbles

Glass Beach is made up mainly of seaglass pebbles

searching for the rare blue ones!

searching for the rare blue ones!

weather on the coast varies so much! One day it’s freezing and the next it’s warm enough to be in a bathing suit.

weather on the coast varies so much! One day it’s freezing and the next it’s warm enough to be in a bathing suit.

The Redwoods

Wow, what to say about the redwoods? There is nowhere like this place. It is an absolute must to stop and walk through the trees with no rush. The space demands quiet, as you pass under these giants, filling the space amidst massive green ferns. If you are looking for a place for your wedding ceremony, the Redwoods are a magical place.

On a short walk from our Campground - Prairie Creek Campground

On a short walk from our Campground - Prairie Creek Campground

forever looking up in this place

forever looking up in this place

Camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (loved this campground so much! This little tent was home for most of the trip.

Camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (loved this campground so much! This little tent was home for most of the trip.

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Fern canyon is insane! One of my favorite places to have visited. We hiked 16 miles roundtrip to get to this spot even though you can drive there. I wanted to earn the beauty!

Fern canyon is insane! One of my favorite places to have visited. We hiked 16 miles roundtrip to get to this spot even though you can drive there. I wanted to earn the beauty!

Downieville

If you like Mountain Biking, Downieville is the place to go next. If you aren’t that into mountain biking, it’s also a cute, tiny town right by a river, secluded in the mountains. It’s a great place to stop in and enjoy the camping in the area and get some river swimming in.

Downieville is a tiny little historical town, but it is known for it’s mountain biking trail - and that’s why we went!

Downieville is a tiny little historical town, but it is known for it’s mountain biking trail - and that’s why we went!

16 miles of very technical downhill terrain. I was exhausted but so glad I attempted it and made it down unscathed.

16 miles of very technical downhill terrain. I was exhausted but so glad I attempted it and made it down unscathed.

spent the evening at the clearest river I’ve ever seen!

spent the evening at the clearest river I’ve ever seen!

Downieville-river-wedding-locations

Truckee + Lake Tahoe

Truckee is one of my favorite towns we saw along the way. The downtown area has lots to see and and places to eat. The lake nearby is beautiful and has public docks all around one edge of the lake that allows for public usage and access to the lake. It would be a great spot to swim, bring floats and tubes, and kayak around.
Lake Tahoe was massive, and a bit more touristy feeling. There were SO MANY people there in the summer, so I would suggest going sometime in the spring or fall to enjoy it more. Lots of beautiful areas around there to hike and bike and explore.

Scored ourselves a private dock around the lake near Truckee - we really loved this spot.

Scored ourselves a private dock around the lake near Truckee - we really loved this spot.

Camping at a campground around Lake Tahoe’s perimeter.

Camping at a campground around Lake Tahoe’s perimeter.

All the trails and beaches in Tahoe are busy in the summer, but I’m glad we did at least one hike - these are from Cascade Falls Trail

All the trails and beaches in Tahoe are busy in the summer, but I’m glad we did at least one hike - these are from Cascade Falls Trail

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VERY HOT! Therefore always dunking our heads in water to cool off.

VERY HOT! Therefore always dunking our heads in water to cool off.

Carmel & Big Sur

Carmel is fancy! But it has adorable little hotels that are right downtown and everything is walkable to the beach. If you want a more upscale place to stay while explore around Big Sur, this is the place to do it.

Because we couldn’t go to Yosemite, we headed to Carmel and Big Sur instead and enjoyed some luxury

Because we couldn’t go to Yosemite, we headed to Carmel and Big Sur instead and enjoyed some luxury

kicked Ian’s booty at a new game

kicked Ian’s booty at a new game

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saw the most colorful landscape I’ve ever seen at a low-trafficked hiking spot right off Highway 101

saw the most colorful landscape I’ve ever seen at a low-trafficked hiking spot right off Highway 101

BigSur-wedding-locations
BigSur-wedding-locations

Northern California is an incredible place to road trip for a wedding. We had a blast, saw lots of very different but all incredibly beautiful sights, and would go back in a heartbeat.
If you get a chance to add Yosemite in the loop of this trip, I would definitely do it.
Renting a camper van, little RV, or just good old fashioned tent camping is the way to go, making sure you are amidst as much natural beauty as possible, for a majority of the trip.

If you have any more questions about eloping in Northern California, reach out and I can help you plan the perfect place, as well as create a film to help you remember the experience by.