Upgrade your browser - Unfortunately, this site has updated features that cannot run on this version of Internet Explorer. Download a free upgrade of Internet Explorer.
Napa Valley During "Cabernet Season"
Discover Story Ideas Details Back to story ideas

Discover the Best and Most Unique Times to Visit California

No matter where you go in the Golden State, there will always be something exciting to do, magical to see and delicious to eat. Here is a helpful roundup of California destinations by season with attractions, offerings and experiences perfect for every time of the year.


The Great Whale Migration Across California
Winter is the ideal time to visit California for the annual great whale migration. View these beautiful creatures with Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching or along the peninsula in Monterey. In Oceanside, stay at Seabird Hotel and play at Oceanside Adventures Whale Watching to see whales traveling from the Bering Sea to Baja California. Farther up the coast, visitors can also take a seasonal cruise within the waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in Ventura to view the whales. 

Newport Dunes Getaway
From the beginning of the year, through February 28, Newport Dunes is offering a 20 percent discount on midweek stays in single-family, one-bedroom Beach Cottages and RV campsites. Lined with serene ocean views in the heart of Newport Beach, amenities include a heated pool and spas with private cabanas, an onsite market, beach cruisers and portable firepits. 

Beer Season in California
One of the best times to experience beer in California is February. Visit Santa Rosa for the sixth annual FeBREWary, a celebration of its brewing heritage, local breweries and more. On February 25, Beer City Santa Rosa 2023 includes a Beer City Half, a half marathon, 10k or 5k run along Santa Rosa Creek. From March 24-April 6, try Pliny the Younger, a limited release Triple IPA that’s only available once a year. In the Bay Area, SF Beer week is annual celebration of brewing taking place February 10-19, where hundreds of local craft breweries, restaurants, beer specialty bars and other community gathering places showcase the many facets of traditional, experimental and contemporary brewing

Wine Tasting in Santa Maria Valley Wine Country
Take a winter vacation to Santa Maria Valley to catch local winemakers in their off season. The harvest is complete and new wines are aging, allowing winemakers more time in their tasting rooms to chat with guests. Book tastings in advance at one of more than 30 tasting rooms in and around the wine country. 

Yosemite in the Off Season
When the temperatures drop, so do the crowds, leaving Yosemite a great place to experience the great outdoors. Activities include winter hiking, ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing and cross-country skiing. Badger Pass Ski Area - the oldest resort in California - is officially open for the season with plenty of fresh snow from recent record snowfall. Visitors also have a greater chance of viewing wildlife during the quieter winter months. 

Winter Adventures in Shasta Cascade
The cold months transform Redding and its surroundings into a veritable winter wonderland. For an authentic skiing and snowboarding experience, visit Mt Shasta Ski Park for more than 31 trails for snow-seekers of all abilities. Snowshoe trails at Lassen Volcanic National Park, ice skate at Siskiyou Ice Rink, try sledding at Eskimo Hill, ice fish at Castle Lake or scuba diving at Whiskeytown Lake.

Wildlife Viewing in Morro Bay
Morro Bay is known for its coastlines, charm and extraordinary wildlife viewing. The city has an active year-round otter population, but peak pupping season falls between November and January. Grey and humpback whales can also be spotted swimming along the coast. The winter months are perfect for birding where the greatest bird specifics can be spotted, including the annual Morro Bay Bird Festival


Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival 
Temecula Valley is beautiful year-round, but for a unique experience touring the city’s panoramic views and awe-inspiring scenery, enjoy a hot air balloon ride with a sunrise flight. This May 19-21, enjoy the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival that offers hot air balloon flights, an evening Balloon Glow, wine tastings, craft beers and delicious food.  

Spring 2023 Experiences in Los Angeles
This spring is the perfect season to visit Los Angeles as the city celebrates major milestones and openings. The highly anticipated Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood opens February 17. Warner Bros. Studios celebrates its centennial in April with commemorative experiences and a special exhibit at the Studio Tour. Dine LA Restaurant Week celebrates its 15th anniversary in May showcasing LA as a premier dining destination. The Hammer Museum will unveil its transformed campus. The Broad presents the first LA museum exhibition of Keith Haring’s work and the Muhammad Ali: The Experience. Recharge at The Moxy and AC Hotel DTLA, a new hotel featuring 13 dining and entertainment options and sweeping skyline views.

Spring Wildflower Super Bloom
Enjoy nature’s painting of expansive green hillsides and spring wildflowers at Benicia State Recreation Area and along San Luis Obispo’s 60+ miles of trails. Hike Monterey’s Pinnacles National Park, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, where 80 percent of the park’s plants are in bloom, including the illustrious California poppy. At Mori Point Peak Loop in Pacifica, walk or hike through wildflower fields, see endangered species, and take in views of the Pacific Ocean. Throughout Paso Robles, find pops of colorful wildflowers but for the most awe-inspiring display look no further than east of Shell Creek Road to take in the springtime phenomenon. 

Floral Gardens and Parks in San Francisco
Spring is a wonderful time for garden enthusiasts to stroll San Francisco’s various public gardens including Queen Wilhelmina Tulip GardenHagiwara Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. From April 8-16, view the magnificent cherry tree blossoms while attending the 56th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. Experience culinary treats, authentic performances, and an appreciation for the beauty of Japanese culture. Stay at the newly opened, first-ever hotel in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, LUMA Hotel, or stop by the rooftop bar and lounge offering elevated South American street food and beverage pairings influenced by the city's craft cocktail scene.

Outdoor Adventures and Winetasting in Cambria
At the first sign of spring, venture to Cambria’s Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, 437 acres of protected land along California’s Central Coast, that has over 150 different native plants and 430 different species of birds. Go horseback riding at Covell Ranch, the only place in the world to see 100 Clydesdale horses grazing beside the Pacific Ocean. Watch Monarch butterflies take flight after winter hibernation. Rest at one the city’s many vineyards and wineries storefronts to enjoy a glass of unique varietals at Black Hand CellarsCayucos CellarsCutruzzola Vineyards, or take in a tour at Stolo Family Winery

Fantastical Flowers Spring Festival at Gilroy Gardens
“Fantastical Flowers” is an all-new spring festival at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Come celebrate the start of the new season on opening day (March 25) as the entire park is transformed with colorful blooms, larger-than-life flower sculptures and fun floral-themed food and family activities. 

Cabernet Season in Napa Valley
Known as “Cabernet Season,” this period takes place from mid-fall to spring and offers a relaxed, slower pace atmosphere in Napa Valley. Complete with unique experiences, special offers on accommodations, exclusive deals via winery “passports” and more, it’s a great time to visit the valley. Not to mention it’s the time of year when Cabernets are fermenting brilliantly in barrels. 

Spring Break Attractions in San Diego
Launching this spring, Arctic Rescue at SeaWorld San Diego will be the fastest and longest straddle coaster on the West Coast. Last year, several new attractions opened such as the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, a 3.2-acre exploration zone which hosts more than 100 species in four distinct environments. Sesame Place San Diego is the only theme park on the West Coast based entirely on TV's beloved "Sesame Street.” LEGOLAND California’s Legoland Ferrari Build and Race gives kids of all ages a shot at designing a model car and testing it on the track — plus an opportunity to sit in a life-size LEGO Ferrari F40 for a keepsake photo. 


Ride the Last Waves of Summer in Surf City USA®
Late summer in Huntington Beach is unlike any other part of the year. The Independence Day celebration, from June 30 – July 4, includes a 5K run, family-friendly activities and the largest Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi. Returning July 29 – August 6, U.S. Open of Surfing will include world-class surfing, skate and BMX competitions, sponsor activations, retail stores, movie premieres, autograph sessions and more. Stay close by at one of Huntington Beach’s oceanfront hotels the Kimpton Shorebreak ResortPaséa Hotel & SpaThe Waterfront Beach Resort or the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa.

Summer Music Season in Morgan Hill
Morgan Hill is jammin’ with more than 90 monthly live music events on the Santa Clara Valley wine trail during the summer. Clos LaChance Vineyards hosts the KRTY Songwriter Series, Guglielmo Winery has its Vines & Vibes Concert Series and Friday Night Music Series with free Friday night concerts at its outdoor amphitheater, and Lightpost Winery serves up more live tunes and vino. 

The Camp at Carmel Valley Glamping Season
The Camp at Carmel Valley is the getaway everyone has been looking for. Deluxe Glamping packages are now available Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, with Basic Glamping packages available March through April. Spectacular views, unique programming and thoughtful amenities elevate the time-honored and authentic tradition of camping.

Family Summer Getaway to Concord
In the heart of California’s East Bay is a city that’s ideal for a family vacation destination: Concord. The city has amusement parks, outdoor fun, and family-friendly restaurants, with affordable hotels – pools included. The Concord Pavilion has a rocking summer concert series for 2023. At Mount Diablo State Park, kids can explore the wild cave geology of Rock City and learn a little history at the Summit Museum. Other attractions include Matteo’s Dream Playground, an accessible playground for kids of all abilities, and the old-school Solano Drive-In movie theater. 

The Solano Yolo Lavender Trail 
The Solano Yolo Lavender Trail is a heartfelt collaboration among the women lavender farmers of Solano and Yolo Counties. At Vacaville's Soul Food Farm, the entire month of June is devoted to lavender. With inspired events happening every weekend, visitors can indulge in an immersive experience unlike any other. Each of the participating farms, including several Vacaville growers, has a unique landscape planted with thousands of different varieties of lavender. 

Kinetic Sculpture Race in Eureka 
This summer, thousands will gather in Eureka May 26-29 for the Kinetic Grand Championship. A mix of eccentric art and triathlon, the grand championship is a three-day race of human-propelled artwork “For The Glory” over land, water, sand and mud. All sculptures must be able to ride through water, which has led to creative solutions such as looking like an inflatable rubber ducky or a robot octopus.

Summer Fishing on the Pacifica Pier
The last week of June into the first week of August is one of the best times to fish on Pacifica's Municipal Pier, arguably one of the best fishing piers in the state with year-round fishing. No admission is charged, and no fishing license is required. Salmon, striped bass, and Dungeness crab are some fish that can be caught. 


Santa Monica's "Endless Summer"
During the fall and winter season as temperatures drop, Santa Monica continues to have bright blue skies and stunning sunsets, as the city sees over 280 days of sunshine per year. The crowds are minimal, making for a great time to visit one of the four local Farmers Markets for produce and goods. Enjoy dinner with sunset views at The LobsterElephante and 1 Pico. Bike along the beach on the Marvin Braude Trail, visit the Santa Monica Pier and Original Muscle Beach, or take an early morning beachside yoga class. 

Kids Come Free to San Diego
During the month of October, the 12th annual Kids Free San Diego will offer families the opportunity to unwind while saving big with a variety of unique deals for kids across San Diego. Deals range from complimentary admission at local attractions to free meals at restaurants to welcome amenities and experiences at area hotels and more. 

Fall Visits to Solvang’s Dutch Village
There is never a bad time to explore Solvang but the fall season offers benefits worth exploring. In celebration of California Wine Month in September, Solvang hosts events and promotions for visitors to enjoy more than 120 wineries and 20 tasting rooms. The annual Danish Heritage Festival, also observed in September, is filled with parades, Danish folk dancers, musicians performing, ax throwing, and an Æbleskiver Breakfast. The festival is an authentic experience that will make a visitor's time in Solvang that much more enjoyable. 

A Fall Full of Fun in Sacramento
In September, Visit Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork celebration features a month of events centered around the flavors of the greater Sacramento region and beyond. The Legends of Wine tasting event celebrates local wines, the famed locally prepared Tower Bridge Dinner, and the two-day Farm-to-Fork Festival which combines fresh food, local beers and wines, cooking demonstrations and more. In October, California’s biggest rock festival, Aftershock, and the GoldenSky Country Music Festival head to Discovery Park for back-to-back weekends of music and food. The season concludes with thousands of athletes returning for IRONMAN California

Pismo Beach for Monarch Butterfly Season
Vespera Resort on Pismo BeachPismo Lighthouse Suites and Shore Cliff Hotel are great home base destinations to view the thrilling monarch butterfly migration at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Grove. Monarch season is from late October through February and entrance to the Grove is free to the public. 

Fall for the Shasta Cascade
Fall is one of the truly magical times in Redding. It's still warm enough to swim while the season's vibrant colors show off Redding's breathtaking landscapes. Walk or bike Redding's 225 miles of trails or enjoy its many waterfalls including Kings Creek FallsPotem FallsMcCloud Falls and Crystal Creek Falls. Take a spellbinding drive on California Highway 89 through Lassen Volcanic National Park to behold a treasure chest full of crimson and gold flashes.

Autumn Scarecrow Contest in Benicia
Visitors to Benicia during the month of October will be greeted by scarecrows during the city’s annual scarecrow contest. These are not your average scarecrows; the creativity of Benicia business owners is out of this world. One House Bakery’s 2022 creation, “Pan Solo,” went viral and was featured in the New York Times. 


San Francisco’s Dungeness Crab Season
Indulge in the sweet tasting, world-famous Dungeness crab that has a long history in San Francisco. Crab in San Francisco is the perfect holiday indulgence, with the season typically coinciding with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years and lasting until around June. Many restaurants around the city, specifically on PIER 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, have full menus dedicated to the local delicacy.

‘Tis Always the Season in Camarillo
As summer approaches, get ready for long, sunny days full of family-friendly events like Wings Over Camarillo. The two-day event is considered one of the best air shows in California, featuring epic aerobatics and hands-on activities for kids. Enjoy other attractions in and around town with a short drive to the coast soaking up the sun and sand. Find great deals at Camarillo Premium Outlets for year-round holiday shopping needs. 

Dual Days and Fall Travel in North Lake Tahoe
During the spring and fall seasons, it is typically less crowded, allowing visitors to have more of North Lake Tahoe to experience for themselves. In spring, experience both summer and winter with “dual days” where travelers can take advantage of both snow and lakeside activities in one day. From December through August, North Lake Tahoe is typically dominated by greens, blues and whites with its evergreen pine trees, deep blue lake hues and the white of the snow-covered mountains. 

Lompoc Flower Fields
In the “Valley of Arts and Flowers,” visitors can see spectacular patches of colors from April through September in the farm fields of Lompoc Valley including the Santa Rita Hills Lavender Farm. Stock, Larkspur, Delphinium, Sweet Pea, Bells of Ireland, and other varieties are grown by local commercial flower growers.

Get Cozy in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Though Carmel-By-The-Sea is an ideal destination year-round, late winter and early spring highlight what makes Carmel-by-the-Sea famously filled with the world’s finest views, art, history, dining and shops. Walk on the soft white sand beaches, sip on fine wines and enjoy  Carmel-by-the-Sea’s culture at a relaxed pace. Enjoy lower rates for hotels and inns, while keeping the highest level of experience.