The Best Time to Visit Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles

Brian Hawkins/Flickr

It's hard to say when is the best time ​to visit Los Angeles. Like every place, it has good and bad points for every season, but there's always something you can do in L.A. Generally, the best time to visit Los Angeles is March through May when there are fewer crowds, pleasant temperatures, and generally good air quality.

The Weather in Los Angeles

Many people think Los Angeles is warm and sunny 365 days a year, but in fact:

  • Los Angeles weather varies a lot, sometimes just across town. Summer may be unbearably hot inland and just right at the beach, on the same day.
  • In early summer it can be foggy all day long near the beach.
  • Smog levels are improving, with ozone levels far lower than they were in the mid-1970s, according to the Air Quality Management District. The air tends to be worse in summer than in winter, and any time of the year, it's better at the beach.
  • In autumn and early spring, wind patterns sometimes reverse, blowing toward the ocean instead of away from it. It creates very dry (and occasionally hot) "Santa Ana" conditions which are especially uncomfortable for people with allergies.
  • The ocean is colder than you might imagine all year long, reaching its warmest (68 degrees F) in August, cooling down to 58 degrees F to 60 degrees F in winter.
  • Most of the rain falls in the winter. That doesn't mean it's going to rain every day, but you may encounter as much as a week of rain without much of a break.
  • April and October have the clearest skies and moderate temperatures.
  • Skies are often crystal-clear right after a winter rain, especially if it's cool the next day.

Peak Season in Los Angeles

A large city like L.A. always feels like it's full of people, but the most popular Los Angeles sights are overrun with tourists during the summer months, whereas crowds taper off in the fall. Winter brings more visitors who want to escape the cold weather where they live, but January through April are the least-busy months, tourist-wise. Meanwhile, Disneyland and other theme parks are busy any time kids are out of school, at Thanksgiving in late November, and especially around the end of the year.

Key Events & Festivals

A few big annual events in L.A. draws so many people that they can disrupt your plans. Pasadena gets busy for the annual Rose Bowl Parade, held on January 1, whereas the LA Marathon in late March also closes a lot of streets.

How Long to Stay

It could take weeks to see everything in Add a few fun tours, spend a day at the beach and go on a couple of day trips and it could take well more than a month to do it all. Sadly, the average visitor stays less than a week. You may have even less time than that, so some prioritizing is essential. These are the highlights:

  • If you have five to six days, Take another side trip—or two. Take a day off. Go shopping in the downtown Fashion District. Take in a baseball game or a basketball match. Enjoy a night at the theater, or just hang out on an exciting street corner and watch all the goings-on.

January

January brings pleasantly mild weather to L.A. with tons of fun events to check out as well. You'll have about 10 hours of daylight in January.

Events to Check Out

  • Normally, the massive Rose Bowl Parade takes place in Pasadena is on January 1, with one exception: When January 1 is a Sunday, the parade happens on January 2 instead.
  • Chinese and Vietnamese New Year often kicks off in January, bringing tons of colorful and festive events to L.A.

February

The weather can be rainier than usual in February, but it's still quite pleasant, temperature-wise. If you get caught in the rain, it's a great time to enjoy some of the city's best indoor attractions, like world-class museums.

Events to Check Out

  • The Academy Awards are held each year in February, but they're not just for the stars: You can register online for bleacher seat access.

March

Flowers start blooming in March in L.A., and while spring break weeks can be crowded, it's generally a great time to visit. Most years, March brings along dry and sunny weather, although occasionally winter's rains will carry over.

Events to Check Out

  • The Los Angeles Marathon course runs 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier. Even if you're not running, the race brings crowds to town, so beware of street closures and booked hotel rooms.
  • March is California poppy season. It's worth the drive out to Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve to see the incredible blooms in action.

April

April's average high temperature is a pleasant 71 degrees, and it's typically dry and sunny. Bring a jacket if you'll be near the ocean, as it can be much cooler.

Events to Check Out

  • Fiesta Broadway is the country's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration, a street fair that takes over blocks of downtown L.A. Despite Cinco de Mayo's May 5 date, Fiesta Broadway is always held in April.
  • Baseball season kicks off in April, making it a great time to catch a Dodgers or Angels game.

May

May in L.A. is dry, with loads of sunshine and minimal rain. It's a great time to visit before summer's tourist crowds peak.

Events to Check Out

  • The Amgen Tour of California, a multi-day bike race like the Tour de France, usually ends near Los Angeles in May.
  • Blue whales begin migration in early summer.

June

"June gloom" means gray fog overtakes the city, especially during the early mornings. Despite the coastal fog, there are still plenty of warm and sunny days, and tons of tourists as kids are out of school for the summer.

Events to Check Out

  • The biggest gay pride celebrations take place each June. West Hollywood is perhaps the best-known, with a whole roster of festivities that include a parade.
  • The L.A. Conservancy hosts a series of classic film screening in downtown L.A.'s historic theaters. Many aren't open to the public at other times.

July

July's weather is balmy and sunny, making it a great month to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The city has plenty of popular outdoor events, like film screenings and concerts.

Events to Check Out

  • Both Disneyland and the Hollywood Bowl host impressive fireworks displays on July 4.

August

August in L.A. is warm and clear—a significant departure from June's gloomy days. If you visit then, you're likely to have cloud-free, sunny skies with little chance of rain or fog, but it can be hot further inland.

Events to Check Out

  • The International Surf Festival is held in four cities along the coast: Torrance, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

September

Like August, September is still warm and dry with the added benefit of smaller crowds, since kids have gone back to school.

Events to Check Out

  • The Los Angeles County Fair is among the largest in the state. It runs all month.
  • The L.A. Street Food Fest takes place in Santa Anita Park, bringing the city's best gourmet food trucks to one place.

October

While Los Angeles' traffic never subsides, luckily the summer heat does. October is much cooler than the preceding months, with fewer crowds.

Events to Check Out

  • Halloween is a big deal in Los Angeles, with multiple events and celebrations taking place everywhere from Disneyworld to Universal Studios.

November

November kicks off L.A.'s rainy season, but don't expect stormy days until January. Temperatures are still enjoyable, hovering around 75 degrees most days.

Events to Check Out

  • Gray whales migrate in November and are usually visible from L.A.'s coastlines.
  • Pasadena hosts the Doo Dah Parade, a quirky event that feels like a small town's street parade.

December

All of the L.A.'s major tourist attractions are packed with people in December, but it shouldn't stop you from visiting, as Christmas time is filled with plenty of fun things to do.

Events to Check Out

  • Los Angeles Zoo hosts an evening attraction called Zoo Lights, illuminating the zoo's lanes and trees with tons of colorful lights.