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Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California

When is the best time to visit California?

There isn’t one best time to visit California — it’s a year-round destination. Much of the state attracting a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny summers and cooler wet winters.

Given the size of the region there are variations, with some areas attracting more extreme weather changes than others. Along the coast, the temperature rarely dips below 20°C (68°F), though even the hottest summer days are cooled by sea breezes.

Inland, the weather follows a more typical seasonal cycle, with dry summers, a colourful autumn, cold (and, on higher ground, snowy) winters, and bright, temperate spring months ideal for exploring the outdoors.

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Audley Travel specialist Steph

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May is a lovely time of the year to visit California with spring temperatures, pleasant warm days and blue skies. The crowds of summer are yet to arrive and it can be a more affordable time to travel. In Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks the hiking trails can be blissfully quiet while the beaches of Southern California offer a chance to relax in the sunshine.

David, USA Specialist

California Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Los Angeles 20°C 88mm 21°C 92mm 21°C 77mm 23°C 24mm 24°C 6mm 26°C 1mm 29°C 0mm 30°C 4mm 29°C 9mm 26°C 8mm 23°C 37mm 20°C 53mm
Monterey 15°C 110mm 16°C 75mm 16°C 60mm 17°C 39mm 18°C 10mm 19°C 3mm 19°C 1mm 19°C 1mm 21°C 6mm 20°C 10mm 18°C 52mm 16°C 76mm
Napa Valley 14°C 153mm 17°C 116mm 18°C 94mm 21°C 42mm 24°C 14mm 28°C 4mm 30°C 1mm 30°C 3mm 29°C 8mm 25°C 39mm 18°C 98mm 14°C 117mm
Palm Springs 21°C 25mm 24°C 20mm 25°C 15mm 29°C 5mm 34°C 1mm 38°C 1mm 42°C 5mm 41°C 8mm 38°C 10mm 32°C 4mm 25°C 14mm 21°C 17mm
Sacramento 12°C 97mm 15°C 74mm 18°C 66mm 22°C 32mm 27°C 8mm 31°C 3mm 34°C 1mm 33°C 2mm 31°C 8mm 25°C 25mm 17°C 67mm 12°C 67mm
San Diego 19°C 58mm 19°C 48mm 19°C 56mm 20°C 21mm 21°C 5mm 23°C 2mm 25°C 1mm 26°C 1mm 26°C 5mm 24°C 9mm 21°C 31mm 19°C 36mm
San Francisco 14°C 127mm 15°C 96mm 16°C 91mm 17°C 40mm 18°C 9mm 20°C 5mm 20°C 1mm 20°C 2mm 22°C 7mm 21°C 39mm 17°C 93mm 14°C 98mm
Santa Barbara 17°C 105mm 18°C 106mm 19°C 79mm 20°C 34mm 21°C 6mm 23°C 1mm 26°C 0mm 26°C 1mm 25°C 5mm 24°C 11mm 21°C 54mm 18°C 68mm

Month-by-month guide to travelling in California

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Visiting California in January - March

The Californian winter months do vary from cooler coastal temperatures in San Francisco and the Bay Area to fine sunny days in the south of the state in Los Angeles and San Diego. This is a more affordable time of year to travel and many of the regional highlights are quiet with fewer visitors, though certain attractions do close. At higher altitude the snowfall creates ideal conditions for winter sports.

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Why travel with Audley?

Trip ideas and travel guides to exploring California