10 Beautiful Destinations to Visit in California This Winter

California in Winter

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California in winter is the right choice for a great vacation. In contrast to the rest of the country, which is hurrying to put on down coats and consider snowplows, December weather in California is typically lovely, including soothing sunshine, periodic showers of rainfall, and somewhat chilly temps.

With a wide range of spectacular mountain scenery, desert landscape, nice weather and attractions, Golden State truly has something for everyone, whether you want a warm winter vacation in the sun, a city break, or snow adventures in the hills.

If you are one of those who intend to visit California this winter, do not miss reading this article. You will learn the most important facts about the places you should visit, and you will also get a lot of other information related to traveling to this country.

Winter in California: Temperature and Typical Weather

Every part of California has a different climate in December.

Despite the fact that this is one of the state's coldest months, Southern California may expect daytime highs in the mid to high 60s and overnight lows in the low 50s.

The days are usually sunny, with sporadic rain showers. The weather in North California is similar, although it can be a little cooler.

The warmest places are Palm Springs and Death Valley, while Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Mammoth Lakes are the coldest.

Top 10 Places to Visit in California During the Winter

There are so many places to visit in California, but we’ve picked the top 10 winter destinations that will satisfy every traveller.

1. Palm Springs

Palm Springs is one of the best places to visit in California, and is only two hours (about 100 miles) from Los Angeles. Anyone looking for a sunny holiday will enjoy the stunning surroundings and relaxing ambiance.

This is the hottest place in December in all of California (daily highs are usually around 70 degrees Fahrenheit). The sun shines almost every day of the year because of the desert climate (the average is 350 days of sunshine).

The greatest resorts in Palm Springs typically have swimming pools and sundecks, as well as golf courses, tennis courts, and luxury spas. Hiking, gourmet dining, and shopping are also popular activities in Palm Springs.

2. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a lovely California travel destination to visit in any season, but it is especially beautiful in the winter months. When the beaches of the lake and the Sierra Redwoods that surround it are covered in fresh snow, this lake turns into a winter wonderland.

Here, one of the very popular California winter vacation ideas for tourists is to watch the snow fall and enjoy hot chocolate from a cozy cabin (conveniently located by the lake) that can be rented. Tourists may take a winter road trip around the lake or spend time discovering more of what South Lake Tahoe has to offer, such as hiking trails and great nightlife.

North Lake Tahoe is much quieter and is great for family trips.

Despite receiving an average of 400 inches of snow per year, Lake Tahoe nevertheless experiences more than 300 sunny days.

3. San Diego

San Diego makes a really great California vacation in winter. This southernmost city in California has year-round sunshine. Warm days with average highs of 66 degrees Fahrenheit are brought on by the mild winters. While winter is not warm enough for sunbathing, it is perfect for beach walks.

Numerous Christmas activities are available, including the December Nights Holiday Market in Balboa Park, the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay, and Surfin' Santa photos in Seaport Village.

San Diego has rich roots in history and culture, which can be seen in attractions like as the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park architecture, and the Cabrillo National Monument.
In this city, the winter months are also great for whale watching.

4. San Francisco

San Francisco (also very popular in the summer months) has fantastic cultural attractions and activities to do, including museums, theaters, gourmet restaurants, and luxury shopping centers. Tourists can visit the art galleries of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, or the SFMOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in downtown San Francisco on cold Northern California winter days.

The Palace of the Legion of Honor offers a collection of great arts together with changing exhibits in a beautiful setting with views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco experiences a variety of winter weather, from breezy days to heavy storms. The typical high temperature in December and January is in the high 50s Fahrenheit, and on average, it rains eight days every month.

The weather begins to warm up a little in February, and cherry blossoms, the first sign of spring, are beginning to bloom. Sun lovers may organize a road journey along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

5. Yosemite National Park

One of the most popular national parks, Yosemite, is the least congested during the winter, making it one of the best times to visit. Its location is in the center of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California.

Famous rock structures like Half Dome and El Capitan may be found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, both of which are covered in snow throughout the winter. Glacier Point Road leads to Yosemite's old ski area. Badger Pass Ski Area, which opened in 1935, was the first ski resort in California and is now one of the state's largest ski resorts.

Snow tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and downhill (alpine) skiing are all available at Badger Pass Ski Area. Visitors to Yosemite National Park can frequently see bears, deer, and sheep.

6. Napa Valley

The Napa Valley, which is located north of San Francisco, is famous for its numerous hillside vineyards, beautiful countryside, historic charm, and tourist attractions. The average daytime temperature in Napa Valley in the winter is 50°F, and there are frequently a large number of sunny days.

With smaller crowds, winter is a fantastic time to visit wineries. As a result of the area's seasonal celebrations and plenty of holiday cheer, Napa Valley is among the greatest places to visit in California during the holiday season. For instance, tourists can go to the Christmas parade in Napa's downtown or the new ice skating rink in Vista Collina.

In mid-January, this place hosts two festivals: the Napa Truffle Festival and the Illuminated Art Festival.

7. Mammoth Mountain

With 150 alpine ski trails spread across over 3,500 acres of terrain, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is one of the top ski resorts in California. This place has some of the most amazing views of the snow-capped mountains (the town receives over 300 inches of snow annually).

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and other family-friendly winter activities are available for tourists. Also, there is a small airport here - Mammoth Yosemite Airport.

A great thing for all visitors is the large selection of accommodation at different prices, as well as the big number of restaurants that can be found in the Mammoth Lakes area. Visitors also can visit Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs (Travertine Hot Springs are especially recommended).

In Mammoth, the ski season lasts the longest in the country, starting in November and lasting until March.

8. Los Angeles

Visitors to Los Angeles have a chance to enjoy the sun in the middle of winter. What could spoil that enjoyment for tourists is the rain (California's rainy season is between November and April) which occurs very often during the fall and winter, as well as in the greater part of Southern California (during the winter, it usually rains 6 - 7 days a month).

However, compared to Northern California, there is less rainfall here. The average daily maximum temperature from December through February ranges from the high 60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit.

This city attracts visitors with its top-notch cultural activities. Along with the famed Hollywood sights, visitors may expect to find amazing art museums, fantastic restaurants, and fabulous shopping.

Beach lovers can also visit Santa Monica, a beautiful beach town located west of downtown Los Angeles.

9. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is only a three-hour trip from Los Angeles, but it's worth the detour to see its majesty desert scenery. Winter is a great season to visit because the weather is great for hiking and climbing.

The park has several types of desert vegetation, such as palm trees, cacti, cotyledons, and the famous Joshua tree.

The park's numerous cultural and geological attractions, such as Native American history, petroglyphs, views of the San Andreas fault line, and historical mining sites, are popular with visitors.

10. Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is well known for having the hottest air temperature ever measured, which was a scorching 134°. Wintertime is a much better time to visit this vast desert region.
In fact, the area's winter temperatures, which range from the mid-60s to the low-70s, are kind of ideal for enjoying outdoor activities.

Visitors to this site can enjoy the sunrise at Zabriskie Point, a unique desert point that rises 823 feet above the surrounding bentonite clay hills, or they can start the 12.8 mile Golden Canyon Loop Trail.

Death Valley is definitely an excellent choice for all hiking enthusiasts.

Packing List for Winter in California

For sunny destinations and beach winter getaways

With its breathtaking views and amazing cities, California's coast is one of the best places to visit during the winter days. The daytime temperature is pleasant, but the nighttime temperature frequently falls, especially in desert areas.

The best thing to deal with unpredictable temperatures is layers. Anyone visiting California in the winter should bring a pack of layers that they can put on and take off depending on the current temperature. Sturdy, comfortable shoes are also necessary.

Since wet weather is always a possibility, a decent waterproof coat is also a good option.

Visitors also should bring sunscreen and costume swimsuits because the California winter sea temps are ideal for swimming.

For vacations in the snow

In order to enjoy a nice, secure winter vacation in California's mountainous areas, tourists must dress warmly. Those who want to participate in snow activities in California should bring thick, waterproof leggings, sturdy footwear, and puffy jackets.

It's also advisable to wear gloves, a scarf, and a wool cap.

And if you need a bit more help to organise your trip, we’ve prepared a perfect California road trip itinerary for 7 days.

What Type of Visa Do You Need for California?

As part of its border security strategy, the US operates a visa system for foreign nationals. There's an agreement in place called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which currently includes 40 nations. Citizens of those nations can come to California using an ESTA and they won't need a California visa.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, can be requested online and takes no longer than ten minutes to complete. When visitors use ESTA, their stay must not exceed 90 days. The authorisation stays valid for 2 years.

All those who intend to travel beyond this time-limited period of 90 days must apply for a California visa.

The visa application process is much more complicated and takes longer compared to the ESTA and it is necessary for the applicant to go to the US embassy for an interview.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


In California, winter temperatures often range from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wonderful! California is one of the best places for a winter vacation because it has a large number of places for tourists to enjoy, and besides, the weather is nice.
Yes, California is a great location for the best winter vacations.
California's coldest month is December, followed by January and February.
The winter season in California begins on December 3rd and ends on March 7th.

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