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It’s all about timing. To avoid crowds and inflated prices, we recommend the period between high and low seasons when the weather is fine, places are still open and happy to welcome travelers, and you can explore a destination at your own pace. ShermansTravel experts call this magical time and space continuum the Sweet Spot.

When to go to California

Peak Season: May to August (plus winter in ski areas)

The summer holidays keep California crowded, especially in the national parks and theme parks. But mosquitos and hot weather (plus high prices) keep those visitors from seeing California at its best.

Off Season: November to April

California is never empty – one out of every eight Americans lives there. And skiers are drawn to the mountain resorts in winter. But along the coast, the weather is cool and comfortable; in the wine country, there’s generally less traffic (but check in advance for crowd-drawing festivals), though the vines are dormant. The adventurous can catch California Dungeness crabs just south of San Francisco in Pacifica, or snorkel leisurely through shipwrecks at La Jolla Cove.

Sweet Spot: September to October

The summer crowds disappear, but the sunshine stays on in September and October throughout the Golden State. Even San Francisco’s famous fog clears. Rates are slashed for hotels, airfare, and even the big Southern California theme parks. An extra bonus: Talk and game shows are back from summer hiatus and travelers may be able to score tickets.

Compare Rates to California

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