Southern California is one of America’s most dynamic regions, attracting all types of personalities from around the world. From star-studded Los Angeles to the eclectic neighborhoods of Orange County, every day in “SoCal” is a chance for a unique discovery.
There’s lots to do in sunny SoCal that will keep you entertained no matter what time of year you visit. Whether you’re looking for spring wildflowers, exciting festivals, foodie heaven, or intense surfing, you can check off every box on your vacation.
Here are the best times to travel to Southern California and plan a trip tailored to your interests!
Spring is when Southern California truly blossoms and residents flock to the outdoors as the weather perks up. Daytime averages in many areas hover around the high 60s to mid-70s. As the dreary, rainy days of winter fade away, the calendar becomes jam-packed with eclectic events.
This is an excellent time to plan a trip to Palm Springs before temperatures skyrocket closer to the summer. Situated in the Sonoran Desert just over 100 miles outside of Los Angeles, the elegant town is known for its boutique shops and soothing hot springs.
While you’re in the California desert, make a detour to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see wildflowers in bloom. This kaleidoscope of colors only lasts a few months and is best seen hiking through the park’s canyons.
There’s plenty of outdoor festivities in Los Angeles and San Diego to keep you busy.
Some of the most anticipated events of the season include:
- Los Angeles Marathon (March)
- Fiesta Broadway (April)
- San Diego Earth Fair (April)
- Mission Federal Artwalk (April)
- Coachella (April)
- Stagecoach Festival (April)
You’ll avoid peak season by visiting Southern California in spring and hotels will have lower rates than summer. Escape the heat and unbearable crowds by scheduling your trip before kids are on summer break.
Miles of wide, sandy beaches with distinct personalities define summers in Southern California. Daytime temperatures can be blazing hot, and this is when sunbathers lounge for a tan and swimmers jump in the Pacific to cool down.
Surfers congregate at Huntington Beach, Venice Beach is full of eccentric characters, and Laguna Beach has an artsy vibe. Watch boats docked in the harbor at Newport Beach, hang out at the famous Santa Monica Pier, or dive into the refreshing waters of Santa Catalina Island.
Festival season is booming throughout the summer, and many of Los Angeles and San Diego’s largest events of the year take place.
Some of the most notable include:
July and August are peak season months, and Southern California sees an influx of tourists during the summer holidays. Visiting these months may be unfavorable due to increased accommodation prices and overcrowded beaches and amusement parks.
The kids return to school and this diminishes the peak season crowds to create a more relaxed vacation. Sweltering temperatures subside further into the season, making outdoor recreation more attainable.
Nature enthusiasts can find more peaceful camping excursions once the summer crowds return home. Whether you’re craving time at the beach or in the mountains, there are several parks within an easy drive of Los Angeles. If you’re only up for a day trip out of the city, just toss the outdoor essentials in your backpack and store your extra bags in LA before you hit the road.
Fall is also for foodies in Southern California and it’s best to arrive with an empty stomach. There are all sorts of culinary events that showcase the multicultural heritage of the region. Feast on gastronomic delights like lobster and avocado dishes while sipping on refreshing glasses of wine and beer.
Some events to include in your fall itinerary include:
- Goleta Lemon Festival (September)
- San Diego Restaurant Week (September)
- California Avocado Festival (October)
- Oktoberfest Events (October)
Peak season crowds still linger in Southern California in September, but you can usually find travel deals later in the season.
Southern California is an ideal winter destination if the thought of icy roads and snowstorms makes you shiver. Although rainy, winter weather is mild – temperatures rarely dip below the 50s.
Beach crowds plummet, giving you more space for a relaxing stroll on the sandy shores. Northerly swells dominate the coastal waters during the winter producing consistent waves for surfers.
The San Diego area has some of the best breaks for seasoned veterans at iconic surf spots such as Black’s Beach and Windansea. Malibu and Venice Beach have easier swells more suitable for beginning surfers.
There might not be snow in sunny Southern California, but the area knows how to get into the holiday spirit. Mild weather here makes being outside during winter more enjoyable than other parts of America, and crowds gather for festive parades during the season.
Some of the biggest include:
- Hollywood Christmas Parade (December)
- Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (December)
- Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade (December)
- Rose Parade (January)
Winter also marks award season in Hollywood and the stars grace the red carpet for several famous ceremonies to celebrate the year’s standout films and recording artists. The Grammys, Golden Globes and Academy Awards are all hosted in Los Angeles.
Outside of Christmas and New Year’s, hotel prices are at their lowest this time of year. Browse online for travel deals and you might score an unbeatable rate for a winter vacation.
Best Months to Travel to Southern California
With pleasant weather, thinning crowds, and lots of outdoor activities, spring and fall are the best times to visit Southern California. Summer can be too hot and crowded for some, while winter sees its fair share of rain.
Whether you’re in SoCal for a raging festival or wish to delve into its natural wonders, there’s something for every interest.
So, the Best Months to Visit are March-May & September-November