The Best Time to Visit California

California Coast

If the bright lights and laid-back lux of the Golden State are calling your name, you might be wondering when is the best time to visit California? Our handy guide will give you the low-down on when to visit California to get the most out of your trip. 

Looking for a California vacation home? Check out our fantastic range of villas, condos, and cabins across the state, in gorgeous destinations including Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, and Palm Springs.

Rediscover that vacation feeling in California

When to visit California for great weather

California is a predominantly sunny destination, with warm temperatures all year round and little in the way of snow or cold conditions. This is a great thing for visitors because you’re guaranteed at least some great weather during your stay. One thing California does have to contend with is fog. Many cities, particularly San Francisco, are blanketed in a thick layer of fog for many months of the year. Very atmospheric to be sure, but not particularly helpful for sightseeing. To avoid the worst of the fog, and take advantage of cooler, more comfortable temperatures, September and October are great times to visit.

When is the best time to visit California cheaply?

California has some of the best attractions in the USA, but entry to all those fabulous theme parks, museums, and national parks can really add up. If you want to stretch your dollars further, consider visiting California in the quieter months. The state is a tourist destination all year round, so you’ll be unlikely to have places entirely to yourself, but rates and lines generally drop after the schools return in September. Late November and early December, before the run-up to the Christmas holiday, can also be good for smaller crowds and lower prices.

When to visit California for a family vacation

California is a fabulous place to take a family vacation. Thrill-seekers will be drawn to the world-class theme parks in the regions, including Disney, Universal Studios, and Balboa Park. There are also fantastic zoos, museums, and aquariums, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium for budding David Attenboroughs to enjoy. Many families will be limited to taking their California vacation during school holidays in the high season. Visitors during this period can expect longer lines and higher rates, but don’t despair! Booking in advance and taking advantage of fast-track tickets can save you time and money. If you are able to take your family vacation at other times of the year, January and February see much shorter lines at parks and attractions.

A man and boy look through the glass at fish in an aquarium

The best time for a California city break

Los Angeles. San Francisco. San Diego. These are just a few of the magnificent California cities which attract countless visitors each year. The months of September and October are generally best for a California city break. Expect mild weather and less fog, along with lower prices and smaller crowds. 

When to explore California’s great outdoors

California is home to more than its fair share of spectacular outdoor attractions. Magnificent national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree national parks draw in the crowds every year for good reason, and each season has its unique charms. Spring and Fall are perhaps the most beautiful seasons, with colorful blankets of wildflowers blooming in the former and curtains of red and gold leaves covering the parks in the latter.

It’s not just national parks that tempt outdoor enthusiasts to California. Napa Valley is the state’s world-famous wine region. March to May and September to November are considered ‘vine time’, so visitors hoping to drink in some spectacular views alongside a glass or two of wine should head to the region at these times.

As if all that wasn’t enough, California has another unique outdoor attraction. Brave visitors can pay a visit to the terrifyingly named Death Valley. It’s recorded as having the hottest temperature on Earth, a whopping 130F (54C)! For this reason, you’re best off visiting in the winter, when temperatures are a much more manageable 77F (25C).

If you’re in California during the winter, head to the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains for a spot of skiing.

Yosemite National Park

When to visit California for a beach vacation

Between May and October is the time to visit California’s numerous beach destinations. Glitzy Malibu Beach is the place to see and be seen. Surfer guys and girls will want to stop off at Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. For something a little different, head to Piedras Blancas Beach. Near to the pretty coastal village of Cambria, this unique destination is a must for wildlife lovers. From December through May, up to 17000 massive elephant seals pile onto the sand to nurse their pups. Visiting the seal rookery is free, but, for safety reasons (yours and the seals’) access to the beach itself is prohibited.

Huntington Beach pier

Festivals in California

When you think of California festivals, one word probably springs to mind; Coachella. The sprawling music festival takes place every April in the Colorado Desert and attracts millions of people from all over the world. Spring is also the time of another festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, San Francisco. It’s worth checking out to celebrate the delicate pink blooms adorning trees in parks and sidewalks.

Ready to book?

Enjoy California’s many wonders from the comfort of your very own luxury California vacation home. Here at Top Villas, we have a great range of beautiful rentals in California hotspots. Booking couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is choose your villa and check the availability for your travel dates. If you’re ready to go, click the green button to book. If you’re not ready to go just yet, you can hold the villa while you finalize plans, or contact our friendly team for more information. We can also help you book any of our range of awesome Travel Extras