Best time to visit California

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Best time of year to visit California

Best time to visit California depends on what activities you would like to experience. The quiet and uncrowded period from January to March can be perfect for a trip, particularly if you are into winter sports and whale watching. Movie addicted will be happy to catch Academy Awards in wintertime. April and May invite you to California's fantastic national parks to discover powerful waterfalls, winding hiking trails, and hypnotizing poppy blooming. The packed period between June and August is perfect for a beach holiday, rafting or kayaking on crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe or watching Perseid Meteor Shower. Moro Rock and Mount Shasta are here for you during hot and sunny summer. Balmy weather in September–October and spectacular foliage create a perfect backdrop for the grape harvest. November and December are all about Christmas spirit and changeable weather. New Year's Eve Fireworks, Boat Parades and SnowGlobe Festival will impress you to the moon and back.

46 THINGS TO DO IN CALIFORNIA (MAY 21 - MAY 30)

Giant Sequoias of Yosemite National Park

May–October • nature

Feel the scale of the largest living trees on the planet

Glaciers

all year round • nature

Yosemite Glaciers, symbols of the changing world, may disappear completely within just a few decades

Yosemite Falls

May–June • nature

The tallest waterfall in the park, Yosemite Falls is one of its iconic landmarks

Moonbows

April–June • nature

Waterfall droplets and the full moon create gorgeous lunar rainbow displays

Sequoia National Park

May–October • nature

Visit the home of giant sequoias and discover the biggest among the biggest by sheer volume

Glacier Point Overlook

late May–October • nature

Check out the grandest view in all the West

Roaring Spring Waterfalls

May–June • nature

Visit iconic falls when they show their full power, fed by melting snow and ice

Cycling in Yosemite Valley

March–November • activity

The absolutely best way to get around Yosemite Valley is by bike

Сlam Chowder

all year round • food

The finest way to warm oneself up on a chilly summer day is to eat a portion of American clam chowder

Big Sur

March–May | September–March • activity

Beautiful coastline, amazing forests, and gorgeous mountains—Big Sur has it all

Point Reyes National Seashore

January–May • nature

If you are looking for a stunning coastal scenery, you are on the right path

Burney Falls

March–May | September–November • nature

Enjoy watching the beauty and hearing the roar of this jaw-dropping, massive and powerful falls

Mist Trail

late May–mid-October • nature

One of the most spectacular, adventurous, and popular hiking trails in Yosemite draws crowds of visitors every day during the high season

BottleRock Napa Valley

May 24–26, 2019 • event

This music festival in Napa Valley combines amazing performances with culinary shows

Painted Dunes in Lassen Volcanic National Park

May–October • nature

The striking colours of volcanic ash dunes are especially spectacular during glow hour

Moro Rock Hike

April–October • activity

Take a deep breath and start one of the most beautiful hikes to the top of this bald granite rock formation with stunning views of Sequoia National Park

Wildflowers

March–August • nature

Yosemite is a paradise for wildflower enthusiasts

Fire Rainbows

late March–September • nature

A curious optical phenomenon occurs quite rarely and only in special locations. If you are in the right time and in the right place, just look up to the sky

Beach Season

May–September • activity

A huge number of varied beaches with white sands and clear waters give you the chance to choose a perfect spot within the coastline of the Golden State

Kinetic Grand Championship

May 25–27, 2019 • event

See the weirdest vehicles along the varied track or join the race and have fun

Scenic Road Trips

all year round • activity

Driving along a large number of picturesque roads with stops near the highlights and most unique spots can be a perfect vacation plan

Ice Plant Bloom

May • nature

One of Pacific Grove's most prominent sights

Forestiere Underground Gardens

March–November • nature

This unique manmade underground world features fruit gardens and amazing stonework

Heart Rock Falls

March–November  • nature

The power of water carved a heart in a solid stone. Such natural sites inspire and give hopes

Alcatraz

all year round • activity

Visit the most sinister attraction in San Francisco Bay

Cactus Pear

May–June • food

The spiky peel of the cactus pear covers surpeisingly tasty melon-like juicy pulp

Subway Cave

May–October • nature

A unique chance to explore a large lava tube formed thousands of years ago

Hummingbirds

mid-February–early September (best in May–July) • nature

One has to try hard to take a picture of a hummingbird—it moves so fast that sometimes it's better just to sit back and enjoy

Salton Sea

October–May • nature

Visit the largest lake in California located in the desert. The Salton Sea was created due to extreme natural forces and has been changing from year to year, and may disappear in the nearest future

Eureka Dunes

March–May | September–November • nature

You'd never think sand dunes can have so many unique secrets kept inside

Carnaval

May 25–26, 2019 • event

Carnival introduces Latin-American and Caribbean cultures which constitute a part of multicultural California

Bristlecone Pines

mid-May–November • nature

One of the longest living organisms on our planet can be found in the high mountainous regions of California

Kayaking and Canoeing

May–October • activity

A perfect way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature

Surfing

October–March (all year round) • activity

Amazing swells, great weather conditions, and various opportunities on dozens of ideal surfing beaches are waiting for you in the Golden State

Pacific Crest Trail

May–September • activity

From Mexico to Canada or reverse, a crest of mountains follows along the western states of the USA, washed by the Pacific waters—it's one of the world's most scenic natural corridors

Bubblegum Alley

all year roud • activity

Art can have various forms, and the residents of San Luis Obisco have found a new one

California Roots Festival

May 24–26, 2019 • event

Discover what the best California’s fest can bring

Brown Pelicans

January–October • nature

Come and see unique brown pelicans in their natural habitat

Kiteboarding

April–August • activity

Just choose the right season and the right spot to enjoy your favourite water activity in the Sunny State

Paddleboarding (SUP)

May–September • activity

One of the most enjoyable and fun water activities is popular all along the California coastline

Rafting

March–September • activity

California's rivers are strong, fast, and full of water flow

Cycling

April–October • activity

Picturesque scenery, varied terrain, and gentle weather conditions attract cyclists to the Golden State

Pioneertown

all year round • activity

An elaborate film set built in the 1940s in the desert as a Wild West facade for several Western films

Bowling Ball Beach

all year round (low tide) • activity

Huge spherical stones lining the beach make it unique and beautiful

Carson Mansion

all year round • activity

The most famous Victorian home on the West Coast

Black Star Canyon Hike

November–May • activity

This remote canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains is popular with hikers and black magic followers

85 THINGS TO DO OUT OF SELECTED DATE RANGE

Fleet Week

October 05–07, 2018 • event

You have never been so close to the formidable American armed forces

Horsetail Fall or Firefall

mid-February • nature

For just a few days each year, this waterfall is illuminated by the sun and becomes one of Yosemite’s most amazing spectacles

SantaCon

December 08, 2018 • event

Streets and pubs of San Francisco are taken by joyful drunken Santas

Stinko Ginkgo

October–December • nature

Yellow fruit of ancient ginkgo trees: aromatic or stinky – you are to decide

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

mid-March–mid-April • nature

After winter rains dry hills burst with new life striking with billions of technicolor orange poppies

Coachella

April 12–14, 2019 | April 19–21, 2019 • event

One of the biggest and most popular music festivals is a chance to meet all stars in one place

Cinco de Mayo

May 05, 2019 • event

Cinco de Mayo introduces the best of Mexican culture preserved in San Francisco

Anza-Borrego Desert Super Bloom

March (every few years) • nature

One of the few deserts in the world that comes to life in spring

The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire

April 06–19, 2019 • event

Stroll the village lanes brimming with people and handicrafts demonstrating Renaissance times

Death Valley Super Bloom

late February–March (once in about ten years) • nature

One of the dryest places on the planet occasionally gets covered with colour

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

May 31–June 02, 2019 • event

This three-day event can be the most romantic escape filled with the taste of good wine, spectacular flights, and pleasant time

Mustard Bloom in Vineyards

January–February • nature

The vineyard beds decorated with mustard blooms form a huge bright yellow spot among the dull winter colours

Glass Beach

June–August • nature

Ocean is an artist able to turn rubbish into treasure—check out smooth rubies, sapphires and other jewels that used to be pieces of broken glass

Perseid Meteor Shower

late July–late August (best in mid-August) • nature

Stars begin to fall in the middle of summer—get ready to make some wishes

Sailing Rocks

December–February • nature

An old travelling stones mystery still keeps people puzzled

World's Ugliest Dog Contest

June 22, 2018 • event

Beauty varies. Even the ugliest living being can make someone happy

San Francisco Marathon

July 29, 2018 • event

A great energetic way to explore the city

Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach

July 05–September 01, 2018 • event

One of the most unique art events in the world with plenty of art treasures to observe

Oyster Season

September–April • food

Oysters are consumed in San Francisco in accordance with “R” myth that determines the oyster season

Monarch Butterflies

mid-November–mid-March • nature

Tens of thousands of North American monarchs head to California for their honeymoon, and wedding night falls on Valentine's Day

California State Fair

July 13–29, 2018 • event

The Fair has been attracting people for over 150 years. Come and join this spectacular celebration

Tufa Towers of Mono Lake

June–mid-September • nature

Weird limestone creations that emerge from the lake surface attract naturalists and curious tourists. Are they natural, or is it another art installation?

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes

October–February • nature

These coastal dunes are a site of interest for several unique reasons. Find out why!

Surf Dog Competition

September 29, 2018 • event

Dog surfers from all over the country gather along the Imperial Beach and Huntington Beach shoreline to take part in surfing competitions and win the first prize. You should witness it in order to believe it

Point Reyes Whale Watching

late December–January (south) | mid-March–April (north) • activity

Those who venture along the rocky trails will be rewarded with the sight of rare gray whales

Ladybugs

November • nature

Everybody loves when a cute ladybug lands on one's palm. What about hundreds of thousands at once? This can happen near San Francisco in California

Amgen Tour of California

May 12–19, 2019 • event

The world's top cyclists cover hundreds of kilometres of spectacular roads and gruelling passes; you'll see fascinating sprints and dramatic finishes

Disneyland

mid-January–early March | August–mid-November • activity

Try avoiding busy weekends and school holidays to enjoy shorter queues in the day full of rides and fun

Cherry Blossom Festival

April 13–14, 2019 | April 20–21, 2019 • event

People come to Japantown to celebrate spring’s arrival and the joys of life in Japanese way

Bring Your Own Big Wheel

April 21, 2019 • event

If you think that tricycle bikes are designed for 3-year-old kids only, you are wrong. Even an adult can have fun riding it if one knows where and when to try it. Annual tricycle races down the curviest street in the world welcome enthusiasts to San Francisco

Devil’s Golf Course

October–April • nature

The hottest place on Earth features lots of unique spots and this is one of the most bizarre places to visit

Comic-Con International

July 18–21, 2019 • event

If you are a true comic fan this event should be number one on your list! Step into the world of fiction, act like your favourite hero, and meet your idols

Skiing at Lake Tahoe

December–mid-April • activity

Magical sparkling white scenery and a wide range of activities attract people to Lake Tahoe each winter

San Francisco Pride

June 23–24, 2018 • event

Huge and spectacular LGBT weekend with over 40 years of history

Badwater Basin

mid-Octorber–mid-May • nature

Take in the unique surroundings of the unusual spot of Death Valley National Park

Poppy Bloom at Chino Hills State Park

March • nature

Photographers spend here for days trying to catch all this fragrant tenderness with their cameras

Emmy Awards

September 17, 2018 • event

The biggest television event of the year

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade

December 08, 2018 • event

This spectacular boat show is a great Christmas time family event

Monticello Dam Morning Glory Spillway

November–March  • nature

An enormous drain hole which looks a portal into another world is especially impressive during the rainy season

Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks at La Jolla

August–September • activity

These species of shark are peaceful and calm creatures that love summer and enjoy warm waters

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

June 21–23, 2019 • event

Groove to the sweet vibes of roots reggae and world music

Walt Disney Family Museum Free Day

December 05 • event

Visit one of the best museums in San Francisco for free

San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM)

April 04–17, 2018 • event

The longest-running film festival in America

Ice Skating

mid-November–mid-January • activity

The absence of snow is not a reason to give up this Christmas fun—skating outdoors

Surfing Santa Competition

November 17–18, 2018 • event

Dressed like Santa, surfers raise money for people living with autism

Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival

February 15–24, 2019 • event

From monster trucks to camel races and stunning music performances to remarkable food, there's so much more to do at the fairground

Academy Awards (Oscars)

February 24, 2019 • event

One of the most awaited events in the whole world. It's always exciting to watch the ceremony online, but being a part of it and seeing all your favourite stars passing by right in front of you is a unique experience

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

December 31–January 01 • event

Witness breathtaking New Year's celebration with free waterfront fireworks at midnight

Corgi Con

October 13, 2018 • event

A fun day on the beach with hundreds of cute short-legged dogs

Sunset at Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach

mid-December to mid-January • nature

Winter in California can reveal some real magic of light

SnowGlobe Music Festival

December 29–31, 2018 • event

Celebrate New Year's Eve with a cold, fresh mountain view, perfect powder, your favorite snow activities, and the world's best musicians—all in one place

Los Angeles Marathon

March 24, 2019 • event

Thousands dream to participate in this prestigious marathon in Los Angeles

Badwater 135 Ultramarathon

July 23–25, 2018 • event

Examine your stamina during one of the hardest races in the world

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

December 19–23, 2018 • event

Enjoy the sparkling lights of hundreds of beautifully decorated vessels. There's always the chance to participate in a parade with your own boat or as a passenger too

Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival

April 19–22, 2018 • event

Feel some Western charm at Santa Clarita valley recreating the atmosphere of its cowboy past

Elephant Seals

December–March • nature

These seals with elephant noses roam the ocean searching for food, and go ashore to breed and molt

Wine Season

July–November • activity

Grape harvest season in SF comes along with beautiful yellow foliage​ and pleasant temperatures

Palm Springs International Film Festival

January 03–14, 2019 • event

Meet some A-list stars and attend exciting presentations and special events followed by glamourous night parties

4th of July Block Party Fireworks

July 04 • event

Celebrate Uncle Sam at the 4th of July Block Party with live music, greetings, and fireworks

Bald Eagles

November–March • nature

It is believed that the Bald Eagle symbolizes strength, courage, freedom, and immortality

Mount Shasta

June–late October • nature

This majestic mountain draws lots of hikers, climbers, and mystics

Joshua Tree Rock Climbing

mid-October–early May • activity

This favourite place for rock climber training offers over 8,000 routes

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

February 04–10, 2019 • event

One of the most popular golf events in the world annually takes place in Northern California. The perfect green fields with a stunning ocean overview welcome top pros, as well as amateurs and a large number of celebrities

Sierra Madre Wistaria Festival

March 17, 2019 • nature

Every spring over a million purple blossoms drape from the tangled branches, and you can visit the place only during the annual Wistaria Festival

Big Horn Sheep

December–February • nature

Large animals, dense, and stocky with low and strong limbs, live in the mountains in the vicinity of Los Angeles

Skiing and Snowboarding

December–March • activity

It is possible to go skiing and surfing in Los Angeles on the same day

Sutter Buttes

late October–mid-May • nature

Some enthusiasts try to reach the summit of the highest mountains in the world, but how about the smallest?

Naples Boat Parade

December 08, 2018 • event

One of the most beautiful holiday traditions in California

Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF)

January 30–February 09, 2019 • event

The red carpet is rolled out, and movie stars are ready to pose in front of the cameras

Monterey Jazz Festival

September 21–23, 2018 • event

Top names of jazz gather together in one place to share their talent among real fans. Don't miss one of the greatest jazz events in the world!

Hoes Down Festival

October 06–07, 2018 • event

A great place to celebrate the harvest season is Full Belly Farm where the fun never ends, especially for kids

BNP Paribas Open

March 04–17, 2019 • event

If you are a tennis fan, this is your chance to see favorite players up close

Sea Otter Classic

April 11–14, 2019 • event

Check out these fascinating racing competitions and one of the largest bike expos in the US—this event is a real celebration of cycling

Vans US Open of Surfing

July 28–August 05, 2018 • event

If you are looking for some amazing moves on waves, this event is definitely for you

Grammy Awards

January 28, 2018 • event

Everyone who loves music is waiting for this glamorous event to see the best shows and performances, best singers, and great bands

Devils Postpile National Monument

mid-June–October • nature

These unique symmetrical columns created by the forces of nature attract people from all over the world

dineLA Restaurant Week

January 11–25, 2019 • event

The tastiest time of the year in Los Angeles

California Strawberry Festival

May 18–19, 2019 • event

Strawberry pizza anyone?

Birdwatching in Ernest E. Debs Park

late April | September–February • nature

This kingdom of birds is a delight to any nature fan

Diving around Santa Catalina Island

July–December • activity

Crystal clear waters near the island of Santa Catalina with its rich underwater world are perfect for diving

California International Marathon

December 02, 2018 • event

With spectacular State Capitol Finish this marathon features an easy downhill course and can help you to qualify for Boston Marathon

Bubble Run

September 29, 2018 • event

A fun 5K race that will wake up your inner child

Alameda County Fair

June 14–July 07, 2019 • event

A summer celebration full of carnival rides, lawn concerts, adorable animals, and funnel cakes

Oakland Restaurant Week

January (TBA) • event

Ten days to get the best of Oakland's restaurant scene

420 Hippie Hill

April 20 • event

Every year, on April 20, thousands flock to Sharon Meadows to celebrate cannabis culture