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. 

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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

Malibu

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

BONUS LOCATIONS

Yosemite

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!

About Me

Hi! I’m Alisha. I’m addicted to travel but am a homebody who loves a good routine. I’m a hippie but a veteran of the army. I’m Italian but I’m gluten intolerant. I’m a photographer but I’m also a copywriter. I’m from Minnesota but would rather be on a beach. Yeah, I’m sort of filled with contradictions but I love sticking to my convictions. I’m a big believer in meaningful human connection. I’m ready to help plan and capture your awesome day! Let’s get started!

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“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