A sunset on Arroyo Burry Beach
Damian Gadal/Flickr

Weather & Timing Your Visit

Weather & Timing Your Visit
Learn more about California's renowned climate

California is a year-round destination, with weather that has something for everyone, from sun worshippers to snow bunnies. The best time to visit really comes down to what you want to see and do. Here’s some general information to help you know what to expect statewide.

Weather & Seasons

Much of California has a Mediterranean-like climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. On the coast, the average daily high temperature hovers around 70°F and up, but can occasionally spike to 80°F or more on hottest summer days; freezing temperatures are rare, even in winter. The state’s legendary fog often hugs the coast from roughly Monterey north, usually during summer months; it often burns off by midday before rolling in again at dusk. Farther inland, summers are hot and dry, winters cool and wet, with occasional brilliant blue days and temperatures cold enough to freeze puddles on the ground, but not much more than that. At higher altitudes, the weather reflects more of a four-season cycle, with beautiful summers, striking fall color, and cold, snowy winters followed by snowmelt springs (waterfall season!).

As you cruise this site, check out the average temperature by season for the regions and destinations you are considering.

Timing Your Visit

Most vacationers head to California during the peak summer months (June through August); that’s when you can expect the biggest crowds at top attractions, and high-season rates at lodgings and resorts. But even in the midst of summer it’s possible to hop off the beaten path and have forests, fields, and even beaches almost to yourself.

If you love the high country, you might need to wait until summer to access the highest roads and trails through the Sierra Nevada, as well routes into wilderness areas around Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak, the state’s tallest volcanoes.

Springtime (typically March through early May) is one of California’s most beautiful times of year. Although it can still be cold at higher elevations, temperatures are comfortable and fresh throughout much of the state. Hillsides are blanketed with lush green grass and wildflowers. California’s deserts, awash with poppies, paintbrush, and other desert blooms, are much more pleasant during the spring than during the scorching heat of summer. During these months, you’ll also encounter shorter lines and better deals: Many of the state’s top tourist attractions are still operating at a slower pace, and hotels often charge low-season rates until June.

Autumn (September through November) brings mild weather and, in some parts of the state, spectacular foliage (especially the High Sierra). This is a great time to visit California’s beautiful wine regions during grape harvest time, known as “the crush” (generally August to October). The San Francisco and North Coast regions, often shrouded in fog during summer, typically see some of their sunniest days during “Indian summer,” (September through October).

If you plan to ski, snow usually coats the mountains November to March, with some resorts staying open into April or beyond. (If Mother Nature is fickle, snow-making equipment often supplements with amazingly good manmade snow.) Look for downhill runs for skiers and boarders, terrain parks, cross-country and snowshoe trails, and ice-skating rinks.

 

 

Weather & Timing Your Visit Pillars_RoadTrips_OR_RD_11220565_1280x640

Time to hit the road and explore the Golden State

Road Trips

Weather & Timing Your Visit vca_maps_no-region
61
November
Average (°F)
Sept - Nov
76°
High
54°
Low
Dec - Feb
65°
High
48°
Low
Mar - May
69°
High
53°
Low
June - Aug
76°
High
62°
Low

Endless sunshine, amazing cities, best-in-class theme parks, incredible natural treasures—no matter what you want to do and see on your next vacation, California has it. But here's the best part: California has all the iconic destinations you've dreamed of visiting, plus a countless number of incredible off-the-beaten-track experiences. With our exclusive trip itineraries, you can visit bucket-list landmarks like Yosemite, then follow a wine road or visit a craft brewery. Top theme parks, secret beaches, city finds—they’re all here in easy-to-follow road trips that visit every corner of the state. So start dreaming about your next California vacation—and dream big.

San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point

San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point
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Stay at the Ragged Point Inn & Resort were you can see what’s blooming as you stroll through the gardens, or work your way down the short but steep 1.2-mile round-trip Ragged Point Cliffside Trail to reach a secluded black-sand beach.

10 Super-Scenic California Road Trips
Jeffrey Murray/Getty Images

10 Super-Scenic California Road Trips

Follow these classic routes for magical scenery and worthy stops

The Highway 1 road trip that passes through Big Sur on California’s Central Coast is perhaps the most famous scenic drive in the...

Wild North Coast

Volcanoes to the Sea

Volcanoes to the Sea
Weather & Timing Your Visit VolcanoesToTheSea_Stop1_Sacramento_RF_495383577

California’s state capital is undergoing an energetic renaissance. Young adults looking for an urban vibe are moving into this low-key city, with microbreweries, gastropubs, and trendy boutiques popping up to serve them. Award-winning chefs are gaining attention for their focus on hyper-local...

Weather & Timing Your Visit VolcanoesToTheSea_Stop8_Eureka_RF_160808903

Eureka is an inviting North Coast town—the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland. Start your visit along the waterfront, where a pretty esplanade provides nice views of the harbor and adjacent Humboldt Bay. Explore the...

Golden Chain Highway

Weather & Timing Your Visit SanFranciscoToTruckee_Stop4_NevadaCity_RDVisitCAAug17-779

This forest-wrapped hamlet of handsome Victorian-era homes and tree-lined streets 60 miles/98 kilometers northeast of Sacramento is one of the Gold Country’s prettiest towns. Originally settled in 1849 as a mining camp, Nevada City...

Sierra Adventure

Weather & Timing Your Visit SierraAdventure_Stop1_LakeTahoe_RF_136930569

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list staple, a place where the air is “very pure and fine...it is the same the angels breathe,” according to author Mark Twain. Lakefront towns dot the shoreline, each with...

San Francisco Bay Loop

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Highway One Classic

Highway One Classic
Weather & Timing Your Visit HighwayOneClassic_Stop1_SanDiego_RF_1061869034

San Diego is one of California’s sunniest destinations. This waterfront city is overflowing with exceptional dining and craft beer experiences, outdoor adventures, family fun, and great shopping. Explore diverse neighborhoods like Little Italy, the ...

California's Heartland

California's Heartland
Weather & Timing Your Visit CaliforniasHeartland_Stop1_TehamaTrail_RF_170882174

The Tehama Trail is a surprisingly fertile area—a prime place for farms and ranches. Many invite visitors to stop in and buy fresh produce, artisanal olive oils, and other local food products.

The trail links together nearly two dozen vineyards, orchards, and grass-fed beef ranchers and...

Weather & Timing Your Visit Highway99_Stop1_Bakersfield_BuckOwens_TF7N8A1694

Bakersfield is full of surprises. Once known for oil and agriculture, this Central Valley town is morphing into an arts, culture, and sports hub, while still offering a glimpse of the past. Visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic...

Pacific Coast Highway South

Route 66

Route 66
Weather & Timing Your Visit MagicalMajesticHighway1_Stop8_SantaMonica_RM_533298501

This idyllic oceanfront city, bounded by a 3.5-mi/5.6-km-long beach, feels more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just a few minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Hang out on the city’s broad beach or lively Pacific...

Weather & Timing Your Visit roadtovegas_stop6_mojavenatpreserve_rf_483625245resized

Protecting an astounding 1.6 million acres/647,497 hectares of pristine desert wilderness, the Mojave National Preserve lets you hear singing sand dunes, explore weirdly contorted Joshua trees, and hike up volcanic cinder cones. Take time to explore, and let the desert’s magic unfold.

Don...