When to Go: California

The Sheep Mountain Wilderness
Rennette Stowe-Flickr
California draws visitors year round. But it’s a big state with many climates so some areas are best in certain seasons. Off-season is also less crowded.

Plan your trip according to the region and season

While weather is generally mild, California does have many climates and temperature zones. Be sure to check the average temperatures and rain/snowfall of the area you plan to visit.

  • Summers - The desert can be dangerously hot, yet rare Sierra snowstorms might surprise you.
  • Winters - Sierra snowstorms may close roads, but the desert is often perfect at this time of year.
  • Coastal areas are typically balmy. You might swim in the sea while gazing at snowy peaks.

Planning your trip can help you avoid bad weather or a missed festival. It may also get you a better room.

California is popular, consider the off-season

  • Visitors flock here from around the world, so expect traffic and people at the most popular destinations.
  • To avoid crowds, skip summers, popular holidays and spring break.
  • Many destinations offer off-season discounts.

Time your trip to events and festivals

  • Check tourism websites and travel bureaus to find special events and festivals.
  • The most popular festivals and events may require you to book early for a ticket – or even a room.

Depending on the season, drivers may need extra equipment

  • Winter mountains may require chains for snow/ice.
  • Summer deserts require extra drinking water and an air conditioner.

See also:

  • Visit California Weather: 


  • Trip Advisor - California weather and when to go:


  • California Department of Transportation:


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