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California in January: 10 Things You'll Be Delighted to Do
Top Picks for January in California
This is our select list of things we have enjoyed and ones that we regularly recommend that our friends do, too.
Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena: It's held on January 1 (except when 1/1 is a Sunday, then it's 1/2) and it's an over-the-top parade that you won't soon forget. With events and activities before it starts and a float viewing afterward, it's worth planning ahead for a several-day experience.
Monarch Butterflies, Pacific Grove: The orange-and-black butterflies spend their winters in the trees around town, sleeping in big clumps to keep warm. When they wake up and start flying, it's a sight you might think happens only in the movies.
A Taste of Yosemite: The chefs don't go on holiday, but they do give foodies a fun-filled holiday from their everyday life. Some big names have shown up at this event in the past, and the grand finale dinner is well worth planning ahead for.
Elephant Seals, Año Nuevo State Reserve: Males fight for dominance... while newborns grow at an astounding rate, making the elephant seal birthing and breeding season an unforgettable spectacle. You can also see the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas near Hearst Castle.
Chinese New Year Parade, San Francisco: Chinese New Year is a lunar holiday that occurs in late January thru February. San Francisco holds the most extravagant celebration of it in the state, maybe in the entire U.S. - and the big parade is always on the weekend (and occasionally doesn't happen until early March).
Edwardian Ball, San Francisco: The Edwardian Ball happens in San Francisco in mid-January. It's a two-evening event with an Edward Gorey theme and worth going to just to see all the great costumes everyone else comes up with.
Things That Look Like Fun To Do in January
These events look like fun, but we haven't had time to try them yet.
Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena: Plan ahead or you'll be stuck watching this one on television
Mavericks Invitational: It attracts the world's top surfers, and it can happen at any time, between November and March, as soon as the waves are big enough. This guide has all the details and information about how to find out when it's happening.
Quadrantid Meteor Showers: This burst of astronomical fireworks happens in early January. The best places to see them are far away from city lights and where there are few trees: Joshua Tree or Lake Shasta are great choices.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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Things to Do in California in January That You Must Plan Ahead For
Grandstand tickets for next year's Rose Parade go on sale in January at Sharp Seating, and the best seats will go fast. If you want to park your RV near the parade route, you'd better get busy making reservations in January before they're all filled up, too.
You may be able to get grandstand seats for the Rose Parade in Pasadena through November. Use this guide to find out how to get them.
Rose Bowl Game football game tickets also go on sale January 1 for the following year. If you want to go, you'll need to be ready that day and no later. All the ins and out and strategies are in the Rose Bowl Game Guide
As soon as restaurants are announced for Los Angeles Restaurant Week, start choosing your them and making reservations. Use the guide to Los Angeles Restaurant Week to get oriented.
On July 1 at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time, California State Parks releases campground reservations for the entire month of January at once. Everything you need to know is here.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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More About California in January
It Might Rain... It might put a damper on your travel plans, but we can't control what Mother Nature does. Just in case your vacation plans are sinking faster than the Titanic, here are some ideas for things to do on a rainy day in California:
- Things to Do on a Rainy Day in LA
- Things to Do on a Rainy Day in San Diego
- Things to Do on a Rainy Day in San Francisco
Or It Might Snow... Tioga Pass between Yosemite and the Eastern Sierras has been closed for a while now and it won't re-open until well after the spring thaw.
If you plan to travel anywhere above sea level, you should know the requirements for snow chains. They apply to personal and rented vehicles - and we have some ideas if you need them for your rental.
More California by Month
If you're just starting to plan your California trip and want to know what it's like year round and not just in January, you can get a look at every month of the year using these guides: California in the Winter is great for skiing and snow play and... all the events you'll find in the guide to California in December and February. It's also a great time for a winter weekend getaway.
Spring gets going in March and April, and clear skies will continue at the coast into May. Get an overview of Things to Do in California in the Spring and try some of these California Spring Getaway Ideas.
Summer holiday season starts in June and continues through July and August. It's the busiest tourist season and some parts of the state get almost unbearably hot, but it's a great time for mountain hiking. Start exploring Things to Do in the Summer and get busy planning your Summer California Getaway.