The Best Time to Visit California

SD › Best Time to Visit
Updated: June 3, 2021
By Santorini Dave

See Also

My favorite places to stay in Los Angeles
My favorite places to stay in Santa Barbara
My favorite places to stay in San Francisco
My favorite places to stay in San Diego
My favorite places to stay in Palm Springs

Best Time for California – My Recommendations

  • Best Time for California Beaches: May to October, August and September are the best (mainly southern California)
  • Best Time to Save Money and Avoid the Crowds: The 2 or 3 weeks in late November/early December following Thanksgiving
  • Best Time to Visit San Diego: September and October
  • Best Time to Visit Los Angeles: May, June, late August, September, and October
  • Best Time to Visit Santa Barbara: May, June, September, and October
  • Best Time to Visit San Francisco: September and October
  • Best Time to Visit Palm Springs: February to April, and September to November
  • Best Time to Visit Napa and Sonoma Wine Country: September to November, and March to May
  • Best Time to Visit Disneyland: Weekdays in January, February, November, and early December
  • – the best website for booking hotels in California

When is the best time to go to California

I’ve lived in a handful of cities in California and have been all over the state in every month. In my opinion, the months of September and October are ideal to visit California as they avoid the fog and the summer crowds, and the temperature is ideal for spending time on the beach, sight-seeing, or attending festivals.

Good Beach Weather in California

My wife and my two boys strolling along Venice Beach.

One of the many appeals of California is that it’s a great destination any time of year. Of course, it still depends what you’re looking for. If you want sun, swimming, and the classic California beach scene then you’ll be disappointed from November through April – even in Southern California.

The weather in Southern California can still be sunny and warm (mid-70s) in the winter months but the water will be cold. Think of it more as an opportunity to run in the sand and fly a kite than to go swimming and sun tanning. If hitting the beach is part of your vacation plans then May through October is your best bet.

Northern California is at its best from late April to early November.

For skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing the months of December, January, and February are the best.

There are also regional factors to consider. San Diego can be doused in fog for much of May and June making the beaches a sometimes chilly destination.

San Francisco gets consistent fog from early July until late August. Though nearby Marin, Berkeley, Oakland, and the Sonoma and Napa wine counties will be sunny and hot.

Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe are cooler than the rest of the state in summer and colder in winter. Freezing temperatures having been recorded in every month of the year in Yosemite.

Having said all that, if I had to pick one month as the best month to visit it would be September. The crowds have thinned from the summer peak season, the weather is warm, and the fog has cleared from both San Francisco and San Diego.

The insanely popular amusement parks Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are packed between Memorial Day and Labor Day but the crowds subside dramatically in September and still more in October.

September also has several great festivals and fairs such as the Los Angeles County Fair, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Sausalito Art Festival, and (my favorite) the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at