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Inspiration » Proposal Ideas » The Top 10 Best Places to Propose in California

The Top 10 Best Places to Propose in California

by Joy Editors
The Top 10 Best Places to Propose in California

As one of the most geographically, ecologically, and culturally diverse regions in the world, California offers up an impressive array of proposal locations. From sparkling cityscapes, iconic bridges, and coastal beauty to clearings beneath the largest trees in the world, dazzling waterfalls that disappear into vast meadows, and rugged swaths of wilderness, California has something special for every couple. To help you discover the perfect location to drop to one knee, we’ve pulled together the 10 best places to propose in California.

1. Griffith Observatory

griffith observatory with the los angeles, california skyline in the background

A Los Angeles landmark that was home to one of the most swoon-worthy music montages in La La Land, and many other epic moments in big-screen love stories, Griffith Observatory is an easy choice for your marriage proposal location.

It’s not hard to figure out why the observatory has garnered so much attention and is one of the best places to propose in California. It provides some of the most stunning, unobstructed views of the LA basin and the Pacific Ocean, features awe-inspiring architecture, and is like a gateway to the cosmos. Prime spots to ask the question include the rooftop deck after sunset, the front lawn (especially if you’re there on a clear night), the planetarium, or the Hollywood Sign Terrace.

2. Balboa Park

lily pond at balboa park in san diego california

This famous, 1,200-acre park in San Diego has become one of the best places to propose in California, offering a wide array of spots to pop the question—and all of them equally spectacular. Whether you and your soon-to-be-fiancé have a passion for culture, science, nature, or all of the above, Balboa Park is an ideal proposal location with its 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lush gardens, and numerous trails.

While almost every corner of the park would be a prime place to propose, the areas with the most romantic vibes include the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Zoro Garden that was crafted to support the lifecycles of butterflies, and the Botanical Building and Lily Pond, which features more than 2,100 plants such as cycads, ferns, orchids, tropical plants, and palms. Plus, as almost every day in Southern California features perfect weather, there’s no “bad” time to visit this outdoor haven.

Tip: If you feel a bit overwhelmed while researching Balboa Park, look out for helpful itinerary ideas on the homepage of its website.

3. Torrey Pines State Park

aerial view of torrey pines state park in la jolla, california

A favorite place for outdoor proposals, the 1,500-acre Torrey Pines State Park in La Jolla is set on the coast, making you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a wild, alien planet composed of plunging cliffs, fossils, marine terraces, faults, and an impressive assortment of flora and fauna. This is the place to take a significant other who enjoys a trek through the unfettered wilderness. But if you want to keep the adventure more focused on the proposal than the hiking, head to Guy Fleming Trail which is a simple, 2/3-mile loop that takes you past two scenic outlooks and a variety of wildflowers, ferns, and cacti.

Another easy option is the Razor Point Trail that winds through coastal sage scrub until the path ends at an outlook featuring views of a sculptured sandstone gorge and gnarled trees. If you’re set on a beach proposal, take the rustic Beach Trail that descends 300 feet to the beach and is made all the more dramatic by soaring cliffs and massive boulders.

4. Baker Beach

baker beach in san francisco, california with the golden gate bridge in the background at sunset

While many before you have proposed with the grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge as their backdrop, there’s a good reason to add this landmark to your list of potential proposal sites. After all, Golden Gate was built with the dual intent of bringing usefulness and beauty to the city, which resembles what you’re proposing when you pop the question. You’re offering the hope of enhancing your life and that of your fiancé’s in pragmatic ways but also in a beautiful, romantic manner that promises adventure, devotion, and the mutual pursuit of dreams. And having this symbolism in all of your proposal pictures serves as a regular reminder of this poignant commitment.

So where do you go to accomplish this? Baker Beach. This small stretch of sand is typically free of throngs of tourists during the weekdays, allowing your photographer to snap pictures of your monumental moment, free of passersby and filled with the striking orange body of the bridge.

5. Point Lobos State Park

tide pools at california's weston beach in point lobos state park at sunset

The rugged Point Lobos State Park is one of the most otherworldly expanses on the California coast, providing a picturesque proposal setting for couples who crave adventure. This is one of those proposal spots you’ll want to spend all day exploring, as it’s a wonderland of rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and spectacular flora and fauna in both the land and sea. It’s appropriately received the nickname “the crown jewel of the State Park System.”

For a truly unforgettable proposal, plan to explore the park by day, making your way to Weston Beach by sunset. This area of the park is known for its tide pools and mesmerizing sunsets. And if you’re lucky, one of the seals, sea lions, sea otters, or migrating gray whales (from December to May) that frequent the area may just photobomb you. When “The Yes” has been spoken, head to one of the many charming B&Bs in Carmel-by-the-Sea and toast to your future fireside.

6. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

mcway falls on an overcast day at pfeiffer big sur state park in california

Many believe the pinnacle of natural beauty lives in the redwood forests of Big Sur, specifically those that fill Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. This world-renowned park rests on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains and offers a rich tapestry of woodlands, wildlife, trails, and camping opportunities. While you can certainly pop over to the park for a stroll that ends in a proposal, we recommend a full immersion in this nature-made oasis by camping in one of the many sites tucked into the trees. If you’re into the redwoods, but not so much the camping, book a room at Big Sur Lodge which is located in the park.

If you’re staying for a few days, scope out your ideal proposal spot as you explore the area. But to get you started on this reconnaissance mission, we suggest checking out McWay Falls, one of the most popular sights in the park, and Buzzards Roost Trail, a 2.6-mile loop path that provides gorgeous views of the ocean and forest from the top. Additionally, the banks of the Big Sur River and the Nature Trail are popular proposal destinations.

7. Santa Monica Pier

santa monica pier ferris wheel lit up during a purple, pink, and orange sunset in california

Fans of those classic, lovey-dovey scenes in rom-coms will be good candidates for a proposal on the acclaimed Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. All you need to do is bring the ring and your honey to the pier, buy some cotton candy (because when in Rome), and hop on the wheel as the sun begins to drop below the horizon. And make sure your phone is charged, as you’ll be creating an Insta-image for the ages.

After your epic proposal, continue the surprises with a meal at the nearby Fia or Via Veneto and a stay at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel or Shutters on the Beach.

8. Disneyland

cinderella castle at disneyland in anaheim, california

Allow your love to live out the childhood fantasy of being proposed to by their real-life prince or princess by pulling out the ring in front of Disneyland‘s Cinderella Castle. But if they’re more into thrills than romantic whimsy, ask the question right before you hop on Space Mountain or as the boulder is rolling toward you on Indiana Jones Adventure.

To celebrate, share a churro in the style of Lady and the Tramp, or say “yes” to a must-try Dole Whip. You can really do up the festivities by booking a night at the Disneyland Hotel.

9. Yosemite National Park

tunnel view in california's yosemite national park in february

It’s not just one of the best places to propose in California — this is of the most romantic places in the world for those with an affinity for the outdoors. Yosemite National Park is a 1,200-square mile, organic playground of waterfalls, yawning valleys and meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and vast swaths of wilderness. It’s extraordinary, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to decide on the perfect place to propose.

Because Yosemite’s waterfalls are awe-inspiring, consider hiking up Mist Trail and dropping to one knee above Vernal Fall where Merced River cascades down a 300-foot drop. You can also bundle up and head to Glacier Point after sunset. Then, prepare yourself for the most extraordinary stargazing you’ll ever experience (fingers crossed for a clear night!). If you’re more interested in the giant sequoias scattered throughout the park, bring the ring on a visit to Mariposa Grove where trails wind through a thick expanse of these mammoth trees.

Tip: As Yosemite lodging and campsites book up months (and sometimes even a year) in advance, start your accommodations search as soon as you select this as your proposal spot.

10. Hotel del Coronado

the beach and exterior of san diego california's hotel del coronado

For the ultimate in California old-world luxury, treat your honey to a stay at this seaside hotel that opens to a sprawling, golden beach. The famed Hotel del Coronado was built in 1888 and is a fusion of Victorian architecture, all the coastal amenities California is known for, and contemporary luxuries like plush furniture, finely-appointed accommodations, and ocean-inspired treatments at a wellness spa. Additionally, guests of this 757-room hotel enjoy a massive pool, seven gourmet restaurants, and cutting-edge fitness classes like Beach Spin, Sunrise Yoga, or Mermaid Fitness.

The hotel is an unforgettable place to propose in California, with numerous areas for popping the question. Our favorite settings include a stand-up board at sunset (Just don’t bring the ring on the water!), the Babcock and Story Bar lounge, or a Sunrise Yoga session on the beach.

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