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  • Writer's pictureLydia Mattern

What is a Mini-Moon and Should I Have One?

NorCal Mini Moon Locations

Mini-Moon, NorCal Mini-Moon, California Mini-Moon, Mini-Moon Locations

There is a new trend in town, and it’s here to stay: going on a mini-moon after your wedding. A mini-moon is a “micro” honeymoon that keeps you close to town while still offering a romantic, dreamy getaway for you and your new husband or wife.

Mini-moons first gained popularity because they offer a similar experience as a traditional honeymoon at a much lower cost. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mini-moon is an ideal option for couples for many reasons.

With ever-changing travel restrictions and safety guidelines, couples aren’t sure if they can or should leave the country for a destination honeymoon right now. Also, because of work or other commitments, spending two uninterrupted weeks on a tropical island simply isn’t feasible for many newlyweds. The solution to all of these scenarios is a mini-moon.

What is a Mini-Moon?

Just as a “micro-wedding” has all the traditional elements of a wedding just on a smaller scale, a mini-moon includes many of the same elements as a traditional honeymoon--escaping somewhere secluded, adventuring together, and enjoying your first days as a married couple without any distractions. Choosing to have a mini-moon right after your wedding rather than a honeymoon doesn’t mean it has to be a second-rate experience.

Mini Moon vs Honeymoon: What’s the Difference?

If you are trying to decide if a mini-moon is right for you, consider the main differences between a “micro” honeymoon and a traditional one.

Time: Whereas a traditional honeymoon often consists of leaving town for two consecutive weeks, a mini-moon typically happens over a long weekend (up to five days). This shorter timespan allows for a less expensive trip that doesn’t require asking for too much time off of work.

Location: When you think “honeymoon,” you probably picture a remote, bungalow over the water or a hidden mountain cabin. Honeymoons often take couples out of the country somewhere exotic. A mini-moon, on the other hand, is typically within driving distance of your wedding location. (But don’t fret, you can still make it to the ocean and sleep in a cozy cabin nearby!)

Frequency: For most, a honeymoon happens one time. It’s the big “hurrah” to start your new life together as a married couple. A mini-moon is often used as a precursor to a traditional honeymoon. That’s right, with a mini-moon, you get two romantic getaways–a smaller one that works within your budget and schedule right after your wedding and a more traditional one at a later date.

Best Northern California Mini Moon Locations

After you have your breathtaking Lake Tahoe wedding, it’s time to take off and head to your mini-moon location. From Tahoe, there are so many gorgeous yet easy locations to have a mini getaway. Whether you are looking for the ocean, hoping to scale a mountain, or want to stay close to the scene of the crime (your wedding), the options are fun, unique, and ever so dreamy.

The Northern California Coast

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The Northern California coast is home to a plethora of quaint coastal towns. From fresh seafood restaurants to breathtaking ocean views to scenic drives, the Northern California coastline offers some of the most picturesque beaches in the world. Three popular mini-moon coastal locations are Santa Cruz, Mendocino, and Monterey.

Santa Cruz

A 4.5-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz not only offers miles of shoreline, but the city also has a fun beach boardwalk and multiple state and local parts. You can enjoy the quirky downtown, eat good food, and even catch a local show.

Mendocino, CA

A 5.5-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe, Mendocino’s downtown is a hidden gem offering some of the best local food and drink selections to enjoy when you’re not gazing at the ocean views or hiking and biking the surrounding trails. To get the most out of your Mendocino mini-moon, be sure to visit the Russian Gulch State Park and Jug Handle State Natural Reserve. And stay at the Glendeven Inn and Lodge–an intimate, farm-style inn with fresh breakfast served daily.

Monterey, CA

A 5-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe, Monterey is a coastal dream, offering a variety of fun mini-moon adventures. You can go on a whale-watching tour, enjoy a coastal biking excursion, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and dine and shop at Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Whether you want to relax on the beaches or be right in the middle of the action, Monterey Bay has everything you need for a spectacular mini-moon.

San Francisco

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If you’re looking for a city-escape, San Francisco is a 3.5-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe. With many famous attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Park, Pier 39, Union Square, and more, a mini-moon in San Francisco is the perfect option for couples who want a concrete adventure with the ocean and nature close-by. Plus, the city of Sausalito is located just across the Golden Gate Bridge and offers luxurious accommodations, such as Inn Above Tide, Waters Edge Hotel, and Cavallo Point Lodge.

Wine Country

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The Napa Valley, otherwise known as Wine Country, offers over 400 wineries, ideal weather year-round, and countryside views. It is the perfect escape for a romantic mini-moon. Napa Valley is just under a 3-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe. And while Napa is the most popular city in Wine Country, there are also surrounding towns that deserve your mini-moon.

Healdsburg, CA

Located in Sonoma County, Healdsburg is known for its farm-to-table dining experience. And when you aren’t trying a new cuisine or sipping on local wine, you can browse the town’s quaint antique shops, outdoor markets, and rustic downtown. To fully submerge yourself in the local scene, consider staying at one of Healdsburg’s intimate accommodations: Hotel Healdsburg, H2Hotel, Harmon Guest House, Hotel Les Mars, or Grape Leaf Inn.

Guerneville, CA

Another Sonoma County town that is worth your mini-moon is Guerneville. While still offering close-by wineries, you also have access to the Russian River, the Armstrong Redwoods State National Preserve, and the ocean. If you want a romantic yet adventurous getaway, Guerneville is ideal. Consider staying on the Russian River in a cozy cabin or find your perfect hideaway on Airbnb.


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Adventure lovers, this one is for you. Yosemite National Park is just a 4-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe. From rock climbing to hiking to chasing waterfalls, you will not fall short of something to do outdoors. For a truly adventurous mini-moon, you can camp in the park at one of Yosemite’s numerous campgrounds. Or, considering lodging at Yosemite’s only luxury hotel–The Ahwahnee–which offers fine dining, stunning architecture, and a central location to enjoy all the park has to offer.

Lake Tahoe

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Lake Tahoe is not only the perfect place for a wedding, but it also makes a tremendous mini-moon destination. Imagine this: you have just gotten married at one of Tahoe’s breathtaking indoor or outdoor wedding venue locations. You dance the night away with your closest friends and share memories with your beloved family. After a weekend of festivities, you say goodbye to your loved ones and begin the rest of your life with your husband or wife in place you wed.

All of the reasons that make Lake Tahoe an ideal wedding destination also make it the perfect place for a mini-moon. In the summer you can be on the lake all day long, boating, paddling boarding, or jet skiing in crystal blue water. In the winter, you can hit the slopes and cuddle up to a fire for a truly magical experience. And with multiple conventional and unique lodging accommodations, you can choose to hideout in a remote cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains or stay right in the middle of the action at the Resort at Squaw Creek, The Landing Resort and Spa, Edgewood Tahoe, Granlibakken Tahoe, or Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort.

Wedding Experiences Are Going “Mini” This Year

From micro weddings to mini-moons, tiny celebrations are showing up big during this season of COVID-19. If a traditional honeymoon simply isn’t in the cards for you this year, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on celebrating your marriage. Go on a Northern California mini-moon, filled with stolen glances, intimate moments, and adventures of a lifetime as a newly married couple!


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