Content Produced in Partnership with Visit California
The sheer size of the state of California is enough to explain how it has so much to offer. Even so, it's mind-boggling to see the numbers: 840 miles of coast, 280 state parks, 28 national parks, and a lot to explore in between. However, one of the most attractive features of this region can't be quantified: the weather. Winters in California provide opportunities for skiing, surfing, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, and so much more. Warm and wet activities and cold and snowy slopes let locals and visitors have the best of both worlds — even in the heart of winter.
Discover Secret Streams & Waterfalls
In California, most of the region’s rainfall comes during the winter months. This means creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers are at their fullest, and seasonal waterfalls, which only spout up in winter and early spring, provide beautiful hiking adventures. Like wildflowers and street art, the magic of these hidden cataracts is ephemeral and fleeting so enjoy it while it lasts. Cedar Creek Falls in Julian, California is one of our favorites and includes an impressive 80-to-90 foot plunge that only runs seasonally.
While many tourists tend to think California is synonymous with the beach, there are plenty of places to get your turns in as well. If you're craving a powder day, there is Mount Shasta in the north, Big Bear in the south, and Lake Tahoe Resorts, Kirkwood, Dodge Ridge, June Mountain, China Peak, and Heavenly sprinkled throughout. For the ultimate adventure experience, you can surf in the morning and shred in the afternoon, a must for adventure enthusiasts.
Discover Winter Plants and Animals
With winter comes a special brand of life in California that flavors the wild with strange vegetation and odd animals. Have you ever heard of an elephant seal? They are rare creatures with an elephant-like snout and black eyes that are at their most active in the cold months. But that's not the only uniquely wintertime experience. You can also take an edible fungi foraging course to learn to spot and take home ingredients for delicious recipes!
Wander Death Valley
The desert has a serene beauty in the winter months, making way for an atmosphere of quiet wonder and reflection. Famously the hottest place on Earth, Death Valley can reach upwards of 120-degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime, but in the winter it's actually quite pleasant during the daytime. Visiting in winter also means that you'll have the trails all to yourself.
If it’s music, lights and excitement you're after, look no further than Santa Clara’s Winterfest. This holiday-themed event is a wonderland of lights, shows, rides, and the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas tree. It is a family-friendly gathering that's perfect for making memories and creating holiday traditions.
Holiday Boat Parades
Boat parades are another way to get festive in California. Spread up and down the coast, chains of vessels sail together, decked out in lights to the spectators’ delight. If you want to get in on the action, some of the best are in Newport Beach, Long Beach, and Marina del Rey. The mesmerizing twinkle of these boats is a special way to commemorate a California vacation.