California has a varied landscape and climate that attracts visitors year-round. The most popular time to travel to California tends to be in the summer, but winter also attracts visitors to ski areas and warmer destinations. Spring and fall offer temperate weather and are generally less expensive, especially for mid-week travel.
high season: April to SeptemberSeveral places such as Palm Springs have a winter high season when people come to escape the cold temperatures at home. Lake Tahoe also experiences a skiing high season during the winter.
high season: April to September
low season: November to February
shoulder season: March, October
Weather InformationCalifornia has a Mediterranean-type climate composed of five climatic zones. The coastal climate receives the most visitors and has the highest population. The desert climate is characterized by slight variations in temperature and very little rainfall. The valley climates such as Sacramento and Joaquin valleys experience high temperatures and low humidity in the summer, and low temperatures and high humidity in the winter. The foothill climate is similar to the valleys, but typically occurs at an elevation of 1,000 to 3,000 feet. The heaviest amount of snow accumulates in the mountain climates in the north. This region also experiences fairly cold winters, with warm summers
Crowd InformationThe most popular time to visit is during the summer, when festivals and events draw crowds and schools are on break. Holidays such as Independence Day, Christmas, and New Year's Eve also attract visitors. The weekends can be a busy time to travel as well.
Closure InformationHotels, restaurants, and attractions remain open year-round. Some establishments such as those in coastal towns may close for renovations during the low season.
When to SaveThe most economical time to visit is during the shoulder and low seasons. However, winter can be more expensive in ski and recreational areas. Traveling on weekdays tends to be cheaper all over the state throughout the year.
When to BookBook at least one month in advance for high season travel, and at least three months in advance for popular destinations such as Disneyland. Six months to one year should allow sufficient time to ensure lodging and the best deals when visiting during a holiday period. It's best to book a few weeks in advance when traveling during low and shoulder seasons, although some last-minute deals may be available.
Information provided by the California Travel & Tourism Commission