Best Time to Visit California: A Local's Guide [2022] (2023)

When is the best time to visit California?

Before I moved to live in California a couple of years ago, I remembered asking that question to my local friends for their opinions, and all of them gave me one answer that I’d never forget – “Any time!”

Doesn’t sound very helpful, does it? But it’s true. The Golden State has some of America’s most stunning beaches, vineyards, mountain ranges, desert areas, lively cities, and charming coastal towns. No matter what type of vacation you’re looking for at any time of the year, there is a place in California that will satisfy your needs. Whether you’re interested in a summer vacation by the beach or a winter getaway in the mountains, California has something to offer.

Since the best time to visit California really depends on what you want to do and see while you’re there, I’ve put together a guide that will help make your decision a little easier. Let’s take a look at when to visit California based on your interests.

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1. Best Time to Visit California – Popular Cities Guide

Want to visit some of the most popular cities in the state of California? You might think of familiar names like San Francisco (SF), Los Angeles (LA), San Diego, Santa Barbara (SB), and Palm Springs (PS). Each of these cities offers its own unique charms and beauty that will certainly leave you mesmerized.

When to Visit San Francisco

San Francisco is a city with an incredible history and culture. It’s home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and famous attractions such as Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Union Square, San Francisco’s Chinatown – the largest outside of Asia, and much more. The city also offers great shopping opportunities with its numerous boutiques, art galleries, and specialty stores.

If you’re planning a visit to San Francisco, September or early October is a great time to travel. Temperatures are pleasant and there will be fewer crowds than during the peak season (May through August). It’s also before the rainy season during the winter months (November through February), so you most likely won’t get rained out during your stay.

San Francisco is also a great place to visit during the fall because it’s one of the best times to see the leaves change color. The weather can be unpredictable so make sure to pack a light jacket just in case. It can be warm during the day and turn a little chilly at night. Both September and early October in San Francisco are ideal for sightseeing and you could take advantage of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing.

Tip: Grab the San Francisco Pass to skip the line and save $$ on the best attractions and activities in San Francisco!

If you’re after a nature break from San Francisco, Lake Tahoe is a great vacation destination in Northern California, only a 4-hour drive from the city. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is one of the world‘s deepest and bluest lakes with alpines coolness and sparkling blue waters. During the summer, it’s perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. During the winter, the area in Lake Tahoe becomes a world-class powdery playground for skiers and snowboarders.

The cost of a trip to Lake Tahoe during the peak tourism season from June to August and from December to February will be high, especially if you plan on staying at a hotel close to the lake or a ski resort. For the best hotel rates in Lake Tahoe, it’s best to visit during November, April, and May.

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When to Visit Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the mecca for entertainment and the cultural epicenter of Southern California. It is home to Hollywood, Universal Studios, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Long Beach, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Pasadena, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica, and the Getty Center.

The weather in Los Angeles is influenced by several factors, including the Pacific Ocean, the Mojave Desert, the coastal mountains, and the inland valleys. Because Los Angeles is a very big and geographically diverse city, the temperature can vary greatly from one part of the city to another.

Along the coast of Los Angeles from Malibu to Long Beach, the temperature is relatively stable and cool throughout the year because of the proximity to the ocean. As you go more inland, you will experience more heat because of the winds from the desserts. One minute you could enjoy the breeze at Hermosa Beach and the next you could literally be melted by the heat of downtown Los Angeles!

With that said, the best time to visit Los Angeles is between March and May or between September and December. June can be quite crowded, as many families take advantage of the break from school to travel. July and August are often hot and dry, with temperatures in certain areas almost unbearable. From September to December, the weather is cooler and the crowds have thinned out. Whether you’re looking to escape the cold or enjoy some sunny California weather, Los Angeles is an ideal destination during these months.

Tip: Grab the3-Day Los Angeles Pass for free tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood ad popular Celebrity Home Tours!

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When to Visit San Diego

San Diego is a popular year-round destination located in Southern California, only 17 miles from the border with Mexico. It offers visitors amazing attractions including SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, San Diego Little Italy, Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, Coronado Beach, and the USS Midway Museum.

Having over 300 sunny days in a calendar year, San Diego is a beautiful place to visit any time of year with a very low chance of rain, but September through November offer some especially great weather with an average temperature in the 70s Fahrenheit. The days are still warm enough to enjoy the city’s beaches and popular tourist attractions, but the temperatures are starting to cool off just enough to make everything feel more comfortable.

Plus, the crowds start to thin out after the summer rush, so you’ll have an easier time getting around. And of course, this time of the year is also when you’ll find some of the best travel rates and deals on hotels and flights.

Tip: Enjoy 60% Off for Seaworld, San Diego Zoo, and Legoland California with the Go City San Diego Pass!

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When to Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a beautiful coastal city in Southern California, known for stunning beaches and high-end hotel spas along the edge of the sea. Nestled in the Montecito foothills, you can findSan Ysidro Ranchwhich has a celeb-filled history with A-list names like Vivien Leigh and John F. Kennedy.

Similar to San Diego, Santa Barbara has the signature of Southern California’s sunny and warm weather. The average temperature in Santa Barbara remains stable throughout the year, which is perfect for hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor activities. If you’re looking for something more relaxing, there are plenty of museums, art galleries, and theaters that offer performances throughout the year.

When to Visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, and for good reason. The desert city boasts year-round sunshine, beautiful scenery, and a wide variety of activities to keep visitors entertained.

The summer months in Palm Springs can be very hot, with temperatures occasionally edging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The spring (between February and April) in Palm Springs is the busiest time of year thanks to mild temperatures and blooming flowers.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and get a bargain on your trip to Palm Springs, September to November is the best time to visit. Temperatures are still pleasant during these months, but hotel prices are slightly lower. Even though the daytime temperatures are warm, make sure to bring a jacket with you as the temperatures can drop drastically at night.

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2. Best Time to Visit California – Season Guide

California in the Spring– March through May – Some areas in California may still be chilly but it is great for hiking and watching snow-cappped mountain tops. You will also find hillsides covered in wildflowers such as California poppies and Douglas Iris.

California in the Summer– June through August – Summertime means beaches, surfing, and swimming throughout the state from Northern California to Southern California. You can go camping, surfing, and fishing along the coast. With students getting out of school, the summer months are peak season. It will be a busy time to visit, and with the biggest crowds of the year, you can expect that to drive up the hotel rates. If you want to visit California during the summer, consider the hidden gems in the Central Coast (San Luis Obispo country, Monterrey County, and Big Sur).

California in the Fall– October and November – The weather cools down a bit from summer temperatures, and fall brings out the spectacular foliage, especially in the High Sierra. There are also several special wine tasting events, festivals, and concerts during these months.

California in the Winter– Millions of people flock to California in the winter, some to avoid the cold while others are here for the winter activities. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing or ice skating, Northern California would be your best bet. There are numerous mountain ski resorts that are open as early as November to as late as April, with Lake Tahoe being one of the most popular destinations. If you want to enjoy the sun during the winter, Southern California beaches await. Also, don’t miss out on the chance to seemigrating whales along the California coast in the winter!

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3. Best Time to Visit California by Vacation Types

There is no one best time to visit California, but there are certain times of year that are better than others depending on what you’re looking for in your vacation. With this guide, you will find more information about the best time to visit California for every occasion!

Best time to visit California Beaches

The best time to go to California beaches is usually from May to October, during which the weather is warm and sunny. However, July and August are typically the busiest months for travel, so if you’re trying to avoid the crowds, it would be better to visit earlier or later.

Whatever time of year you visit, there’s always something to do at California’s beautiful beaches. Whether you want to surf, swim, bask in the sun, or just enjoy the view, you’ll find everything and anything you’re looking for along the state’s coastline!

Best time to visit California National Parks

California has several national parks, each with its unique characteristics and provides visitors with opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature while learning about American history.

Best time to visit Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States, attracting millions of visitors each year. It is known for its huge granite cliffs, scenic vistas, and ancient groves of giant sequoias. The best time to visit Yosemite National Park is in March and April when the temperature is mild, and before the major crowd of tourists hit the park from May to October.

Best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is in the desert, so the best time to visit is between March and May or between September and November when the temperatures are most comfortable. Star gazing is best at Joshua Tree National Park in the summer, but visiting the park during the day may not be desirable due to the intense heat.

Best time to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are connected to each other and located high up in the mountain where the weather tends to be a bit colder than in the valleys. As a result, the best time to visit Sequoia & Kings National Park is between May and August.

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Best Time to visit California Theme Parks

California has many popular theme parks, such as Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Sea World, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland, and more.

Grab Discounted Tickets to California Amusement Parks Here: Include Universal Studios, Seaworld, and More!

If you’re looking for the best time to visit California amusement theme parks, you should aim for weekdays in January, February, November, or early December. That’s when crowd levels are typically at their lowest, and you’ll be able to enjoy shorter wait times for rides and attractions. You can also take advantage of lower hotel rates during these periods, but keep in mind that some popular rides may be closed for maintenance during the quieter months.

It’s always a good idea to check the park’s calendar in advance and plan your trip accordingly. With a little planning and flexibility, you’re sure to have a magical time at these California theme parks!

Best Time to Visit California Hot Springs

California is a hotspot for hot springs, with over 1,000 locations scattered throughout the state. While most hot springs are open year-round, the best time to visit them is in the spring or fall. During these seasons, the weather is mild and the water temperatures are comfortable. In contrast, summer can be quite crowded and winter can be cold.

Best Time to visit California Wineries & Vineyards

Most people think of Napa and Sonoma wine regions as summer destinations, but the truth is that the best time to visit is actually in the shoulder seasons of September to November and March to May. During these months, the weather is still relatively mild, but there are fewer crowds and better deals on lodging, making it a more affordable time to visit.

September and October are also prime time for harvest, so visitors can often catch winemakers in action and learn about the winemaking process firsthand. And of course, the wine itself is at its peak during these months. So if you’re looking for the perfect time to visit Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, consider planning your trip for the shoulder season.

Check out the best Winery Tours in Napa Valley here!

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The Wrap-Up: Best time to Visit California

Living in California, I’d have to agree with my local friends that any time can be the perfect time to visit California. Generally, if you’re looking for a beach getaway, the best time to visit is in the summer when the weather is warm and sunny. For sightseeing and exploring big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, fall is a great time to visit with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. If you’re interested in spending time outdoors, then spring is a beautiful time to visit. The weather is warm and sunny, and the flowers are in bloom.

And if you’re looking for a festive vacation, then winter is the best time to visit. California is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. Although visiting during the holiday season may be a bit pricy, you can also enjoy special events and holiday festivities like ice skating and Christmas markets.

No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a perfect time to visit California, and I hope you’ve found helpful information in this post to make your decision!

Travel to California Resources

  1. 11 Best Hot Springs in and near Mammoth Lakes, California
  2. 15 Best Things to Do in Little Italy San Diego: A Local’s Guide!
  3. 7 Best Snorkeling Spots to Explore in San Diego!
  4. 15 Best Downtown Los Angeles Attractions


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