Where to Elope in Southern California

Hi, I'm Alisha!

I’m Alisha, Leesh, and lovingly known as Loco Leesh (she/her). I wear many hats as your elopement photographer. I’m also here to be your guide, planner, resource, best friend and hype woman. I'm here to laugh, cry, and occasionally dance alongside you. I'm also a barefoot hippie veteran. Betcha never saw that coming! What really sets my soul on fire is connecting with people on a deeply personal level *My Pisces is showing*. I’m here to tell you that you have permission to DREAM BIG on what you think your wedding day should look like. Because your crazy love deserves to be captured in an authentic way. 


with me

October 9, 2021

The Best Places to Elope In Southern California

California has it all, the ocean, mountains, deserts, and forests. It’s a large state with so much to offer. It’s exactly why I decided to write this blog on where to elope in southern California. The places are endless, but I tried my best to keep this short and sweet 🙂 With multiple airports to fly into: LAX, Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco, you’re able to go anywhere you want for an adventure session or elopement.

For the sake of this blog, let’s break up California into a northern and southern region. From San Francisco and up is considered the north. Anything below San Francisco all the way down to the border is considered the south. I’m going to focus on the southern region. California is an ideal place to elope because of all it has to offer! I’m going to highlight the best places to elope in Southern California and why. Buckle up! We’re about to get into the nitty-gritty beauty of southern Cali.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Prefer the desert over the beach? Anza Borrego Desert State Park will make your western dreams come true. There are numerous rock formations and incredible desert wildflowers in the spring.

Notable spots: Borrego Palm Canyon, Calcite Mines, Borrego Badlands, and Font’s Point.
Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Time from San Diego: 3 hours

Channel Islands National Park

I feel like this gorgeous national park is overlooked when to comes to other national parks in California. Ahem, Yosemite I’m looking at you. The best part? Multiple islands to choose from for your elopement. I’ve got my eye on you, Anacapa. Not only can you camp on these islands but we can kayak around them. This might be at the top of my list for where you should elope in Southern California.

Notable spots: Anacapa Island and lighthouse, Potato Harbor, and Scorpion Anchorage.
Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Death Valley National Park

Wanna elope on another planet? This might be the closest you get to that dream. Death Valley National Park truly feels out of this world. What’s great is that it’s a 2-hour drive west to LA and a 2-hour drive east to Las Vegas. Easily accessible and mind-boggling. The best time to go is in late fall and winter when temperatures aren’t unbearable.

Notable spots: Artists Palette, Zabriskie Point, and Father Crowley Point.
Time from Los Angeles: 3.5 hours

Glamis/Imperial Sand Dunes

Who would have thought you’d get Morocco vibes in the middle of California? There’s just something about sand dunes that make you feel so small, in the best way possible. They’re a dramatic backdrop for your elopement that you get to adventure around on, barefoot of course.

Time from Los Angeles: 4 hours
Time from San Diego: 2.5 hours


A quick drive along the PCH takes us up to Malibu. I find that Malibu has the creme de la creme of beaches near LA. There are plenty of secluded coves to find and avoid the crowds that you might find on beaches in Los Angeles.

Notable Spots: El Matador State Beach! This beach is one of the 3 that make up Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach in Northern Malibu, Point Dume, and Zuma Beach.
Time from Los Angeles: 45 minutes

Palm Springs

Vintage, retro, and FUNKY. Windmills in the middle of the desert? Check. Eclectic, brightly colored hotels? Check. Mountains? Check! Palm trees? Duh!

Notable spots: The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, Palm Canyon, and The Saguaro hotel.
Time from Los Angeles: 2.5 hours

Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua trees are what make Joshua tree Joshua tree. Am I wrong? These adorable trees speckle the landscape and offer the perfect colors for golden hour. On top of that, the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain are close by and epic locations.

Time from Los Angeles: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Time from San Diego: 3 hours

Notable spots: Hidden Valley, Skull Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden, The Salton Sea, and Salvation Mountain.

San Diego

San Diego is one of the largest cities in southern California. My favorite thing about it is the gorgeous cliffs that decorate the coast. Let’s head to the Sunset Cliffs to elope and then eat best damn tacos you’ll ever have.

Notable spots: Sunset Cliffs, Coronado Island, La Jolla, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and anywhere in La Jolla. The Ho Chi Minh Trail To Black’s Beach.
Time from Los Angeles: 2.5 hours

Santa Barbara

If there were two things I could say about Santa Barbara, I would say quaint and nostalgic.
I usually trying to smash that stereotype of hurried courthouse elopements but whoever built the Santa Barbara Courthouse needs more credit. It’s a place you can go to get amazing photos and knock out all the legalities of tying the knot. Nearby are the Santa Barbara mountains that overlook the ocean. You can’t get much better than that.

Time from Los Angeles: 2.5 hours
Notable spots: Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara mountains, Slovang (A Danish village 45 minutes from Santa Barbara).

Sequoia National Park

There’s something magical about being surrounded by trees that are thousands of years old. Imagine exchanging vows underneath these massive giants. It’s equally humbling and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, fires have caused extensive damage in Sequoia National Park, but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get back to these beauties someday soon.

Notable spots: Giant Forest, Crescent Meadows, and Topokah Falls.
Time from Los Angeles: 3 hours 45 minutes

Walker Canyon Poppy Fields

I’m sure we’ve all seen the Super Bloom grace our Instagram feeds from #influencers. But Walker Canyon is a unique phenomenon that will leave flower lovers in awe. How dazzling would it be to say “I do” amongst thousands of poppies?

Time from Los Angeles: 1 hour and 45 minutes



I know, I know, not exactly southern California. But definitely worth the drive. The view from Taft Point is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it. If you’re an adventurous, nature-loving, outdoorsy couple, it only feels right to venture into this park to say “I do.”

Notable spots: Taft Point, Half Dome, and El Capitan Meadow.
Time from Los Angeles: 5 hours

Big Sur

I just couldn’t NOT add this one. Even though this technically isn’t southern California by most standards, I’m making this fit in for my own selfish but necessary reasons. Because COME ON. The drive alone down the Pacific Coast Highway is enough to make you cry. I’m pretty sure it’s the reason I loved watching Big Little Lies so much (I’m only half kidding).

Notable spots: Bixby Bridge, Sand Dollar Beach, and Painters Point (Basically anywhere along Highway 1 is incredible).
Time from Los Angeles: 6 hours

Consider Permits

With some of these locations in National Parks or other hot spots in the state, you might need a permit to elope there. Lucky for you, my elopement packages cover this expense and I take care of the application process for you!

California Elopement Packages

My California packages start at $4,300 and include:

  • Options of 4-Hour, 6-Hour, and 8-Hour Packages
  • 100+ Page Elopement Planning Guide
  • Unlimited Guidance & Consultation Calls
  • Custom Timeline
  • All Travel Fees and Expenses-Minus something extra like a helicopter ride 😉
  • Vendor Recommendations
  • Permits Assistance and Location Scouting of The Best Locations in California
  • Upgrade to 1:1 Vow Writing Consulting (pst did I mention I have a background in copywriting?)
  • Discounted Photo Album Design Services (with creative and romantic storytelling of your gorgeous elopement)
  • Gallery Slideshow
  • 500+ Culled and Edited High-Resolution Photos
  • Digital Gallery with Printing Rights
  • Surprise Gift From Me


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    “Hire her. You
    won't regret it.”

    Our first experience working with Alisha was on an elopement styled shoot. I knew from that day on she was going to be the photographer to capture our wedding day. Alisha said "yes" to absolutely every crazy idea and vision I had for our wedding day. She literally hiked miles and woke up before the sun to make it happen. Alisha is completely in her element when photographing, she knows how direct a shoot without being bossy, she captures every angle without being in the way and doesn't make you feel like you're even behind the camera. Alisha pours her entire self into every shoot she does, she doesn't stop until everything is perfect. It put me at ease knowing Alisha was paying such close attention to detail when it came to the location scouting and capturing every single photo imaginable. Working with Alisha was a breeze, she's communicative, fast and detail oriented. Not to mention, an incredible photographer. We were blown away when we got our wedding gallery within a month of our wedding, with over 700 beautiful photos. Our families cried happy tears all over again reliving those memories. If you're wondering, "is it worth it?" The answer is 100% ABSOLUTELY yes, hire Alisha, you won't regret it.

    — Katie & Kevin

    “She really puts her heart and soul into this.”

    My husband and I decided to elope after feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of planning a wedding. , Alisha pitched a lot of ideas based on what we were imagining and they were so killer so it was so hard to pick. She can really zero in on what a couple is all about and plan from there. And all her ideas were incredibly creative and original. On the day of our elopement we were so relaxed. Alisha picked out all the locations including our vow ceremony spot which was beautiful, private and romantic. We literally laughed the whole time and kept repeating "I'm so happy we did this." After the desert ceremony in Death Valley she drove to Vegas with us, waited for us to change into our cool Vegas attire, and carted us all over the strip and downtown to take more fun photos. The photography is beyond remarkable. I mean COME ON. I've never seen more beautiful photos in my entire life. We're so happy to have them to enjoy forever, so so SO worth it. She really puts her heart and soul into this. It actually makes me tear up...We love you Alisha.


    “I do not think any other photographer would have been able to do that for us.”

    Choosing Alisha for our elopement photographer was the absolute best decision we could have made. Bryan and I had a pretty short timeline of only a few weeks until our wedding day so I was not sure if Alisha could make it work, but she went out of her way to travel and make all of the behind the scenes arrangements in advance. She made everything so easy for us leading up to the day helping with park permits, scouting out photo locations, making vendor recommendations, and suggesting fun ideas for the day. As two people who do not feel natural in front of a camera, she made us laugh, have fun, and get out of our shells in a way we could not have expected. From start to finish, our experience with Alisha was so genuine and natural. She is just a joy and a light to be around. On top of that, we were truly blown away when we received our wedding photo gallery. You can feel the emotion, beauty, and love in every single image. Because she took the time to get to know us on a personal level and really understand us as a couple leading up to the wedding, the photos showcase who we are in a real and honest way, and I do not think any other photographer would have been able to do that for us.


    “She gave us the best photos EVER!”

    We absolutely love Alisha! She gave us the best photos EVER! She planned everything to the smallest detail. It was so easy and she made sure we had everything we were looking for. My husband and I even flew back to get wedding photos done! Alisha braved the cold winter for us. We are so thankful to have memories in the best photos ever. I can’t say enough about her. Not only is she an AMAZING photographer but such a good person! We will definitely be having plenty more sessions in our lifetime :)

    — danielle & Xavier

    “Incredibly talented, creative, caring, and personable.”

    My fiancé and I could not feel more fortunate to have crossed paths with Alisha while searching for a photographer for our engagement shoot. Let me tell you, this girl is a GEM. I talked to at least 50 photographers during my search and Alisha is the only one that I felt truly cared about what we wanted. We met up at sunrise on the day of our shoot and I can truly say that it was a flawless experience! My fiancé and I were exhausted and nervous, but immediately upon meeting Alisha, we felt comfortable and excited. Her positive energy is contagious. I tend to be awkward and never know what to do with my hands, but she was so patient and guided us every step of the way, giving us prompts and making us laugh the entire time. It felt like we were leaving the shoot with a new friend. WE ARE OBSESSED WITH OUR PHOTOS. In short, Alisha 10000000% exceeded my very high expectations. She’s incredibly talented, creative, caring and personable. You can tell she has a huge heart and is passionate about what she does. 

    — LAUREN & NIK

    “Book her now.”

    Alisha is the consummate photographer that you want capturing your special day. We used her (twice!) for engagement photos and she was the first we asked to be our wedding photographer. From the moment we engaged her for the big day, she was all about us. From a welcome care package that frankly knew us almost better than we knew us, to her wedding guides, assistance in finding other vendors, and of course her amazing skill behind the camera Alisha was the perfect choice for our wedding photography. On the day of the big event she took great photos and had creative ideas for shoots in and around the venue. She’s given us keepsakes that we are thrilled to treasure forever and proud to frame and hang on the wall. Book her now.


    “Alisha is easily one of the best humans I’ve ever met”

    Where do I even start!? Alisha was an absolute dream to work with!!! She was so flexible with us and our last-minute cancellation due to covid. We had originally planned to meet her in Vegas for our anniversary shoot in March and we ended up canceling our trip a week out due to the virus. She was so understanding and even offered to refund our deposit. We knew we still absolutely wanted to shoot with her so we scheduled another trip to Colorado this time and she met us there for an amazing sunrise shoot at Great Sand Dunes Natl Park. The whole experience was incredible and Alisha was so amazing and personable, we felt like we had left and made a new friend! She sent us sooo many sneak peeks just a few days after the shoot and Then probably 100 more photos a few weeks later. They were absolutely stunning. She is easily one of the best humans I’ve ever met and not to mention an extremely talented photographer with a clear passion for her clients and her work! We can’t wait to shoot with her again!

    — MIA & FERMIN

    “I cannot wait to
    book her again”

    I have never done a couples shoot but I fell in love with Alisha's work on social media. I was beyond ecstatic when I found out she was traveling to Minnesota. Where do I begin? From the moment I spoke with Alisha, she easily made me feel comfortable and confident. She responded back to my questions and concerns within a timely manner and was easily accessible. Her talent and passion for photography is truly admirable! It’s so evident that she genuinely cares about each and every couple that she works with. Alisha has a gift for detail and seeing things differently than everyone else. She took some breathtaking pictures that will always have a special place in my heart! Alisha doesn't just take photographs, she creates beautiful works of art that don’t just capture smiles but our souls, and to be a part of her art is an absolute honor. Not only is her work stunning, but she is a great person to be around. She is professional, patient and outgoing and I cannot wait to book with her again! Thanks for the memories, laughs and for creating such an enjoyable experience.

    — Miriam & Jaime

    “She made everything perfect! 10/10 recommend”

    Alisha was super professional and friendly throughout the entire process of our engagement shoot. I was super indecisive on where to have our shoot and she gave me multiple choices. She even went to the spot before hand to scope it out for us. My fiancé hates getting pictures taken but he loved natural and fun our experience was. Alisha made us our own playlist to listen to throughout the shoot which made both of us feel super comfortable. We ended having our shoot in Breckenridge and made a weekend out of it. Honestly, one of the most rememberable and amazing weekends we could ask for. Alisha communicated with us throughout everything and was SO fast getting our sneak peak photos and album to us. She even sent us a little gift that we appreciated SO SO much. I would highly recommend Alisha for any photography session whether its an adventure shoot or a wedding. She made everything perfect! 10/10 recommend :)

    — GRACE & JAKE