The best season to visit California

California is a fantastic destination for a holiday at any time of year, from soaking up the sun on the beaches during the summer months to hitting the ski slopes in winter...

But it’s widely agreed that the best time to visit California is during September and October, when the summer crowds have dispersed, the notorious fog clears, and glorious Indian Summer shines down on the Golden State.

California tours from the UK are competitively priced in the months following the summer holidays, meaning you’ll get more for your money as well as escaping the onset of winter back home. There are plenty of reasons why September and October are the best for California holidays – here are just a few.

The Weather

The climate in California varies widely, from scorching desert to temperate Mediterranean climes depending on your location and the time of year. The coastal cities of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco can all be affected by coastal fog during the summer months. 

The aptly named “May Grey” or “June Gloom” is a spectacular phenomenon, shrouding the cities in a mysterious thick fog. Certainly for photographers, capturing the top of the Golden Gate Bridge emerging from the fog is a huge attraction. But for those who prefer sunny holidays, September and October are your best bet, when the fog clears, and you can enjoy sunshine for most of the day. 

Grape Harvest Time in Wine Country

For wine lovers, there’s no better time to visit California than in September and October. The grape harvest beings in September, which is California Wine Month. Across California, wineries host a range of exciting events, including exclusive tastings, festivals, live music, grape stomps, vineyard hikes and many more.

San Francisco

Fall in San Francisco offers some of the warmest temperatures year-round, as well as the benefit of fewer crowds than in the peak of summer. The weather is perfect for exploring the city on foot, or even heading to the beach to catch some rays. But be sure to pack some extra layers, as the bayside breeze could leave you feeling chilly.

California North Coast

September and October are the warmest months on average for the northern coast of California. This stunning and varied landscape is perfect for lovers of the great outdoors, with pristine beaches, rugged coastlines, towering giant redwood forests, and a wealth of outdoor activities to choose from. 

You’ll find some of the best beaches in California along this stretch of Highway 1, including the mile-long Montara State Beach, Caspar State Beach, and the enchanting Glass Beach, awash with colourful sea glass.

Yosemite National Park

September is arguably one of the best months for hiking and rock climbing in Yosemite Valley. The summer crowds have thinned out, meaning the hiking trails are quieter and the overall atmosphere in the park is more relaxed. Even into October the park remains open to the public, although temperatures do begin to drop. Usually by mid-November the park shuts for the winter as the snow sets in.

Festivals and Fairs in September and October

The summer holidays might be over, but the party hasn’t ended yet! Some of the biggest events in California’s cultural calendar take place in September and October – perfect for California holidays.

Los Angeles County Fair
This annual county fair has been running every September for almost 100 years. It’s one of the largest county fairs in the US, with over a million attendees. The fair is an opportunity to learn about California’s heritage and traditions. Expect petting zoos, fairground rides, a garden railroad, exhibitions, and plenty of music and entertainment. 

Monterey Jazz Festival
One of the world’s longest running jazz festivals takes place in Monterey, California. Founded by jazz legend Jimmy Lyons in 1958, it takes place on Monterey County Fairgrounds during the third weekend in September.

Over five hundred jazz artists perform across nine stages, with additional panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and of course a range of delicious food and drinks to keep festivalgoers entertained. 

Sausalito Art Festival
Held annually on Labor Day weekend, Sausalito Art Festival is one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the US, where fine art, music, food and wine come together on the waterfront of Richardson Bay in Sausalito.

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