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

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at sunset with snowcapped Mt Baldy and San Gabriel Mountains behind

 chrisp0 / Getty Images

September has historically symbolized the official end of summer, but in Los Angeles, the weather remains warm and sunny enough for frequent beach days throughout the month. The end of the tourist season means fewer crowds and cheaper hotel prices in this West Coast city, not to mention such fun events as a dog surfing competition and the largest county fair in the state. With California being such a hub for agriculture, the beginning of fall brings a bounty of fresh and local produce to LA farmers markets and restaurant menus, too.

Los Angeles Weather in September

September welcomes some of LA's best weather. The low-lying fog that plagues early summer (known by the locals as "June gloom") finally lifts to reveal sunshiny skies and better air quality to boot. With little chance of rain or sweltering heat waves, September is perfect for hiking in the nearby hills and mountains, too.

  • Average high: 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)
  • Average water temperature: 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius)
  • Rain: 0.28 in (0.1 cm)
  • Daylight: 13 hours per day

Visitors should note that the LA metro area covers a lot of ground and several different microclimates, so averages can be deceiving. Near the coast (Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and Long Beach), the average September high is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), but at Universal Studios just 18 miles away, the average high is 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). 

What to Pack

Even though the average temperature for Los Angeles in September may seem warm, a jacket is always useful for beach visits and cool evenings. Short-sleeved shirts and lightweight pants will become your everyday uniform while visiting. Shorts and heavier layers are good to bring for unexpectedly hot or chilly days. With an unlikely chance of rain, you'll likely stay dry without umbrellas and ponchos.

If you want to fit in fashion-wise, expect to see the latest street styles Downtown and on the east side of the city. Near the beach, flip-flops, board shorts, and surfer casual is always in style. Bring along a bit of baby powder or cornstarch for quick mid-day trips to the beach. This makes it easier to quickly rub the sand off your feet and get back to exploring.

September Events in Los Angeles

September kicks off with one of the most beach-friendly American holidays of the year: Labor Day. The first weekend of the month draws droves of locals and tourists alike to the coast for barbecues, beach volleyball, and a final swim before the water gets too cold.

  • Surf City SurfDog Competition: Huntington Beach is a surfer's paradise, but on the day of this special "comPETition," all eyes are on the dogs. Pups from all over the world set out with their people in tow to catch the best wave. In 2020, the event will be held virtually.
  • Los Angeles County Fair: The LA County Fair is one of the biggest in the state. It would normally feature classic carnival rides, fried food stands, farm animals, and live music by legendary bands starting Labor Day weekend, but in 2020, the event has been canceled.
  • Maritime Festival: Dana Point in Orange County welcomes a fleet of majestic, tall-masted sailing ships every September for the annual Maritime Festival, which features expert talks, demonstrations, live music, "mermaid encounters," and tours. In 2020, the event will be held virtually.
  • The Taste: Every year, the Los Angeles Times showcases the city's vibrant food scene with The Taste, a weekend-long soirée featuring the trendiest chefs and restaurants in LA, all congregating in one place for the culinary event of the year. The Taste is canceled in 2020.

September Travel Tips

  • After the Labor Day weekend, many of the top attractions will cut back on their hours. Reduced crowds will make them easier to enjoy and give you plenty of time.
  • September is at the heart of Los Angeles' outdoor concert season, with plenty of shows playing at the famous Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre through October. The summer lineup was canceled at both venues in 2020, but is slated to return in 2021.
  • In terms of lodging, September hotel occupancy is somewhat lower than it is in the summer, meaning cheaper rates and fewer neighbors.
  • LA rush hour traffic gets worse after school starts, so keep this in mind if you plan to rent a car or Uber around town.
  • At the coast, you'll see an especially high number of surfers in the water as September through November has been called the best time to catch waves in Southern California.
  • September is also one of the best times to spot a whale. With the krill being abundant off the coast from mid-June to October, blue whale sightings are frequent. Try climbing to the top of Point Dume in Malibu for a bird's eye view.
  • The Emmy Awards take place at the Microsoft Theater Downtown in September. Expect full hotels, expensive rates, and heavy traffic in the area during that time.
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