January in Los Angeles: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

USA - El Niño Winter in LA Area

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While January has a reputation for wreaking havoc on much of the country, Southern California is the exception. Los Angeles' climate is deliciously mild during this notoriously cold time of year and with the Christmas crowd having gone home, visitors are treated to easier traffic, shorter lines, cheaper rates, and more.

The Rose Bowl Parade that takes place in Pasadena on New Year's Day is the city's final holiday hoorah. After that, it's quiet beaches, half-empty hotels, and available reservations at all the trendy restaurants. Visiting during January is highly advantageous, seeing as it's one of Los Angeles' least busy months.

Now, you can visit the beach without being shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger. Just don't expect to be wearing your bikini because while it might seem warm when you compare it to the rest of the country, it's not what you would call bikini-warm, per se.

Los Angeles Weather in January

So, how cold does LA get, anyway? Not very. Certainly not as cold as it gets in the Midwest or those bone-chilling northern states. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit might feel like t-shirt weather if you've come from cold climates, yet the locals take this opportunity to bundle up in hats and gloves.

January is one of the only months of the year when LA might see a shower or two. When it does rain, the entire month's precipitation can fall in a single day, but it probably won't be more than a few inches, in any case. If the weather tries to dampen your vacation fun, there are plenty of things to do on a rainy day.

  • Average High Temperature: 67 F (19 C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 46 F (8 C)
  • Water Temperature: 58 F (14.5 C)
  • Rain: 2.60 in (7.8 cm)
  • Sunshine: 72 percent
  • Hours of Daylight: You'll have about 10 hours of daylight per day to explore Los Angeles in January.

What to Pack

Now, Los Angeles is no Pacific Northwest even during its wettest season, but you can be extra prepared by keeping an umbrella or rain jacket with you at all times.

Heavy winter coats won't be necessary and neither will wooly hats and gloves if you're coming from colder parts of the country. A mid-weight jacket will likely suffice. And while you might be tempted to bare some skin at the beach, keep in mind that the wind makes it colder on the coast. The closer you get to the beach, the more layers you'll need.

January Events in Los Angeles

  • Rose ParadeThe big parade in Pasadena takes place on January 1, unless January 1 falls on a Sunday (in which case it's held the following day). The parade travels about 5 miles down Colorado Boulevard and features floats, equestrian troupes, bands, and the works.
  • Rose Bowl Game: Following the Rose Parade is the Rose Bowl Game, an annual New Year's Day college football classic. It's tough to score tickets to this popular event, but you could always watch it at one of LA's many sports bars.
  • DineL.A. Restaurant WeekJust because the holidays are over doesn't mean you should stop eating, especially because Los Angeles holds its beloved DineL.A. Restaurant Week during the month of January. This event will get you special tasting menus and great deals at tons of trendy eateries around the city.
  • Photo L.A.: Near the end of January, one of the premier photography events in the country comes to town. Even if you're not a photographer, yourself, the fair is a fun place to look around.
  • Lunar New YearHead to Chinatown (Downtown) to ring in the Lunar New Year with a centuries-old parade and authentic dumplings. Sometimes this holiday falls in February.
  • Golden Globe Awards: January is synonymous with awards season in LA. The Golden Globe Awards are one of the most major, taking place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Those who haven't been invited may not attend (sorry), but it's worth noting that Beverly Hills area traffic will be extremely busy.

Things to Do in January

January is the perfect time to spot gray whales migrating south from the Arctic to Mexico. The local whale watching tours will take you out to sea by boat, enhancing your chance of seeing them up close.

Additionally, Huntington Gardens is home to more than 1,000 cultivars of camellias which flower between January and March. Anyone with a green thumb will swoon over this botanical display.

Finally, if it's Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood you're after, this could be the best time to go. Park hours will be shorter than they are in the summer, but so are the lines. You're guaranteed to squeeze in more attractions during a January visit than you would in July. Try to avoid Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, which is the third Monday of the month.

January Travel Tips

  • The hours after a winter rain are especially great times for photography. Drive down the iconic Pacific Coast Highway and Palos Verdes Drive to Roessler Point, where you can get a good view of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Continue south from there along the coast to San Pedro for offshore views that include Catalina Island. End your scenic drive by going north on Interstate 110 to Griffith Observatory.
  • The ocean will likely be too cold to swim in without wearing a full neoprene wetsuit, but walking along the beach (in plenty of layers) is still a fun thing to do.
  • Beware of hotels filling up and road closures—especially around Beverly Hills—during the weekend of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony.
  • Any time of year. you can use these tips to be a smarter Los Angeles visitor who has more fun and puts up with fewer annoyances.