December 17, 2021

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Annie Louise is a photographer and storyteller of life, love, and adventures. She specializes in elopements and micro-weddings. She resides in San Diego County, but can be found adventuring all around the USA searching for stories destined to be told.

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ANNIE LOUISE

The Best Places to Elope in Southern California

As the third-largest state in the country, California has so much to offer! Though it is the largest state as far as population, there are still so many places where you can get away from the hustle-bustle and get out in nature.

That’s why Southern California is one of my favorite places for adventure elopements! Couples who want to plan a wedding day that is intentional and unique to them can choose from so many amazing locations! I’ve created this blog post to show you some of the best places to elope in Southern California. So let’s dive in!

Joshua Tree National Park

Sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
Photo Credit: CN Traveler

If you’re dreaming of a boho desert elopement, what better place to get married than Joshua Tree National Park? This park is filled with giant rock formations, picturesque desert views, and, of course, the iconic Joshua trees which gave the park its name. 

Best Places to Elope in Joshua Tree

  • Hidden Valley Picnic Area (not permitted March-May)
  • Quail Springs Picnic Area (not permitted March-May)
  • Cap Rock
  • Rattlesnake Picnic Area
  • Live Oak
  • Split Rock

Closest Airport to Joshua Tree

Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Permits and Fees

In order to get married within Joshua Tree National Park, you will need to obtain a special use permit which costs around $120 as well as pay the park entrance fee of $30. For more information on permits and fees, visit the national park website for the most up-to-date information and pricing. 

Catalina Island

Boats in the harbor at Catalina Island in Southern California
Photo Credit: CN Traveler

According to Love Catalina, the Catalina Islands are rated as one of the most romantic islands in the world! This island is actually one of the Channel Islands located just off the coast of southern California. Whether you’re looking for a remote getaway or want to experience a different side of southern California, Catalina Island is the perfect place to plan an island wedding in Southern California. 

Best Places to Elope in Catalina Island

  • Lover’s Cove
  • Little Harbor & Shark Harbor Trail
  • Garden to Sky Trail
  • Cottonwood Beach
  • Wrigley Botanical Garden

Closest Airport to Catalina Island

There are no direct flights to Catalina Island, so the closest mainland airport is Long Beach Airport (LGB.) From there you can catch a boat or helicopter ride to the island.

Catalina Island Elopement Permits and Fees

Depending on the location you choose, you may need a location permit to get married outdoors on Catalina Island. As your elopement photographer, I can help you throughout the planning process to ensure you have everything you need to plan your Catalina Island elopement. 

Channel Islands National Park

Hiking overlook elopement location on Channel Islands in California
Photo Credit: Outside

Channel Islands National Park is the perfect elopement location for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path elopement adventure. This national park is spread over five islands – Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel – and is similar to Catalina Island in that these California islands are only accessible via ferry. The islands are relatively small and easy to get around, however, it’s important to note that cars are not allowed on the islands so the only way to get around is by foot, private boat, or kayak. 

Best Places to Elope in Channel Islands National Park

  • Lobo Canyon Trail (Santa Rosa Island)
  • East Anacapa Island Trail (Anacapa Island)
  • Potato Harbor Trail (Santa Cruz Island)

Closest Airport to Channel Islands National Park

Like Catalina Island, there are no direct flights to the Channel Islands, so the closest mainland airport is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX.) From there you can catch a ferry boat from Ventura Harbor.

Channel Islands National Park Elopement Permits and Fees

In order to get married within Channel Islands National Park, you will need to obtain a special use permit which costs around $250. For more information on permits and fees, visit the national park website for the most up-to-date information and pricing. 

Glamis Sand Dunes

Glamis Sand Dunes in Southern California elopement location
Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

Want to look like you’re in an exotic desert without traveling halfway around the world? Well, then the Glamis Sand Dunes have got you covered! These dunes consist of miles and miles of sandy hills and dunes as far as the eye can see. Imagine running around the dunes with your new spouse feeling the warm sand between your toes! Ahhh, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Best Places to Elope in Glamis Sand Dunes

  • Algodones Dunes
  • Imperial Sand Dunes

Closest Airport to Glamis Sand Dunes

Imperial County Airport (IPL)

Glamis Sand Dunes Elopement Permits and Fees

For more information on planning your Glamis Sand Dunes elopement, check out the BLM website for the most up-to-date information.

Orange County

Orange County Beach Elopement Location
Photo Credit: The Outbound

If you are dreaming of a beach wedding or elopement in Southern California, there is no better place than Orange County. Filled with miles and miles of coastline, this area of California has so many pristine beaches to choose from for your elopement. To learn more about the best elopement locations in Orange County, check out my blog post here.

Best Places to Elope in Orange County

  • Crystal Cove State Park
  • Three Arch Bay Beach
  • Thousand Steps Beach
  • …and more! 

Closest Airport to Orange County

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

Orange County Elopement Permits and Fees

Depending on where you are eloping in Orange County will determine whether or not you will need to obtain a permit. As your elopement photographer, I can help you throughout the planning process to ensure you have everything you need to plan your Orange County elopement. 

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park in Southern California
Photo Credit: My Perfect Itinerary

If you want to experience some of the best stargazing views of the Milky Way in California, then you will definitely want to consider planning your elopement in Death Valley National Park. Aside from the beautiful night skies, this national park is home to the lowest point in North American and the hottest recorded temperature in the world!

Best Places to Elope in Death Valley National Park

  • Badwater (lowest point in North America)
  • Telescope Peak 
  • Rainbow Rocks via Artist’s Drive

Closest Airport to Death Valley National Park

McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Nevada

Death Valley National Park Elopement Permits and Fees

In order to get married within Death Valley National Park, you will need to obtain a special use permit as well as pay the park entrance fee of $30. For more information on permits and fees, visit the national park website for the most up-to-date information and pricing.

Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore hiking trails in southern California
Photo Credit: The Crazy Tourist

What’s better than rolling hills and lake views? Rolling hills and lake views during a California super bloom! Located in Riverside County, Lake Elsinore is the largest freshwater lake in southern California. This area is also surrounded by multiple hiking trails and canyons which come to life with thousands of California poppy flowers in the springtime. 

Best Places to Elope in Lake Elsinore

  • Walker Canyon
  • Ortega Falls

Closest Airport to Lake Elsinore

John Wayne Airport (SNA.) Other nearby airports are Ontario (ONT), Los Angeles (LAX), Burbank (BUR), and San Diego (SAN.) 

Lake Elsinore Elopement Permits and Fees

For most locations around Lake Elsinore, all you need to get married is a California marriage license. As your elopement photographer, I can help you throughout the planning process to ensure you have everything you need to plan your Lake Elsinore elopement. 

Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest hiking trails overlooking the mountains
Photo Credit: Angeles National Forest

Los Angeles is by far the largest metropolitan hub in California but, located just a few miles outside the city in the San Gabriel Valley is the Angeles National Forest. This area offers stunning views overlooking the city below while still having plenty of nearby trails for you to explore for your Los Angeles elopement.

Best Places to Elope in Angeles National Forest

  • Millard Canyon Falls
  • Big Horn Mine Trail
  • Switzer Falls
  • Potato Mountain

Closest Airport to Angeles National Forest

Burbank Airport (BUR) Another nearby airport is Los Angeles (LAX.) 

Angeles National Forest Elopement Permits and Fees

If you want to reserve a public site for your elopement in the Angeles National Forest, you will need to obtain a special use permit. For more information on permits and fees, visit the national forest website for the most up-to-date information and pricing. 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at sunset
Photo Credit: Visit California

The Anza-Borrego Desert is the largest state park in California so needless to say there is lots to explore in this vast park. Known as California’s Badlands, this area is home to incredible rock formations and, there have even been many wild and extinct animal fossils found here! If you’re looking to go off-the-grid for your elopement, this Southern California desert is the perfect place! 

Best Places to Elope in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  • Borrego Palm Canyon
  • Erosion Road Scenic Areas
  • Font’s Point

Closest Airport to the Borrego Springs

Thermal Airport (TRM) Other nearby airports include Indio/Palm Springs (PSP), San Diego (SAN), and Santa Ana (SNA.)

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Elopement Permits and Fees

To inquire about wedding permits and fees for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park it’s best to contact the park directly. Visit the park’s website for the most up-to-date information and pricing. 

Lake Arrowhead

Autumn time at Lake Arrowhead in California
Photo Credit: Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa

Lake Arrowhead is a charming mountain town near San Bernardino that is commonly referred to as the Alps of Southern California. This southern California mountain town offers plenty of outdoor activities for any season so, whether you want to go hiking, fishing, paddle boarding, or skiing, there is something for you to do any season you decide to elope!

Best Places to Elope in Lake Arrowhead

  • Nature Loop
  • Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout
  • Seeley Creek Trail
  • Deep Creek / Splinter’s Cabin

Closest Airport to Lake Arrowhead

Ontario Airport (ONT) 

Lake Arrowhead Elopement Permits and Fees

For most locations around Lake Arrowhead, all you need to get married is a California marriage license. As your elopement photographer, I can help you throughout the planning process to ensure you have everything you need to plan your Lake Arrowhead elopement. 

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs elopement location in San Diego.
Photo Credit: Ocean Beach

Located near San Diego, Sunset Cliffs is a popular 68 acre stretch of rugged coastline with panoramic views along California’s southern coast. True to its name, this place is perfect for watching the evening sunset making it an ideal location for a southern California beach elopement.

Best Places to Elope in Sunset Cliffs

  • Luscomb’s Point
  • Point Loma
  • Pappy’s Point

Closest Airport to Sunset Cliffs

San Diego International Airport (SAN) 

Sunset Cliffs Elopement Permits and Fees

When planning your Sunset Cliffs elopement all you need to get married is a California marriage license. Please note that this information is subject to change at any time, so it’s best to contact the state park directly to inquire what is needed.

Adventuring Responsibly with Leave No Trace

It’s important to note that all of these beautiful areas in nature are ours to enjoy so long as we do our part to take care of them which is why I do my best to practice Leave No Trace whenever I elope with my couples. Leave No Trace is a set of guidelines created to help us understand and minimize our impact on the environment. To learn more about the Leave No Trace Principles and see how you can do your part to protect the natural environment, click here

Well, there you have it! Eleven of the best places to elope in Southern California! If you’re ready to start planning your Southern California adventure elopement, head on over to my contact page to learn more!

December 17, 2021

Written By:

Annie Louise is a photographer and storyteller of life, love, and adventures. She specializes in elopements and micro-weddings. She resides in San Diego County, but can be found adventuring all around the USA searching for stories destined to be told.

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ANNIE LOUISE

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