Due to the weather, the wildflowers, the wildlife, the animals, a meteor shower, or unique events, some areas in California are just wonderful to visit in the summer.
You may note that several of California’s most well-known locations are missing from the list below; this is because some of them can actually lose some of their allure during the summer.
For instance, summertime fog can affect the coast between San Diego and San Francisco. It can get congested in theme parks. Additionally, it can get quite hot in Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and other well-known California locales throughout the summer.
Best Places to Visit in California in Summer
If you have an entire week or just a weekend to spare, check out the list of the top summer vacations in the Golden State below.
1. California’s Sequoia National Park
In particular, Yosemite, which is overrun with visitors throughout the summer, is far more congested than Sequoia, making it a fantastic alternative for a retreat to a National Park.
The only time you can drive all the way down into Kings Canyon, which is by some estimates the deepest canyon in North America, is during the summer when you can visit Sequoia.
2. Tahoe Lake
Lake Tahoe may be a summer haven, a location to escape the heat of the Central Valley or the summertime fog along the coast, thanks to its temperate daytime temperatures and pleasant evenings.
When it’s warm, there are many things to do at the lake and nearby. There are many hiking routes, and ski resorts convert their spaces for summertime pursuits like mountain biking and picturesque tram rides.
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You won’t have to be concerned about snow chains or whiteouts because all of the roads will be open.
3. Coast of Mendocino
Wildflower season arrives on the Mendocino Coast later than it does elsewhere in California. The spectacular rhododendron plants in particular, which are in bloom in the early summer, add to the allure of a coastline that is already beautiful.
The summer months are also when Mendocino in northern California receives its most agreeable temperatures.
4. California’s high desert in Mono County
Any time of year, the region of California east of the Sierras along US Highway 395 is picturesque and uncrowded. However, in the summer, when the mountain passes are open, it is simpler to travel there from NorCal regions.
When you see all Highway 395 has to offer, you’ll be itching to start organizing your weekend getaway right now.
The most frequent route between San Francisco and other Northern California cities and the Sierras passes through Yosemite’s Tioga Pass, which is typically available to automobiles from late May or early June until mid-November.
5. Country of Paso Robles Wine
Try a lesser-known wine region in the state to avoid the summer crowds in Napa and Sonoma. Visit Paso Robles, the hub of a fascinating, expanding, and undiscovered wine area.
6. Mount Lassen
Although you may be familiar with the devastating Mount St. Helens explosion in 1980, it wasn’t the only volcano on the West Coast to erupt in the 20th century.
In actuality, Mount Lassen in northern California experienced its first eruption in 1915, which resulted in an explosion that dispersed volcanic ash up to 200 miles away.
Today, lava flows, hot fumaroles, and a strange topography, including a terrifying location dubbed Bumpass Hell, can all be seen at Lassen Volcanic National Park. The summer, when the lodges are open and the roads are free of snow, is the best time to visit the park.
7. Pismo, Beach
Pismo Beach, located on the coast between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, is one of the best beach communities for a taste of the classic California summer.
Pismo has all the necessary components, including a charming downtown area with a bustling mix of local eateries and gift shops, a picturesque pier nearby, and even a beach where you can drive and set up camp on the sand.
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It never feels crowded, but it does get popular in the summer, making it one of the locations in this guide where you need to start planning your summer vacation as soon as possible, or you’ll be disappointed to find that everything is full up.
8. Russian River
In Sonoma County, the Russian River flows west until it reaches the Pacific Ocean close to Jenner. Along its route, you’ll come across wineries and a ton of leisure options.
You can swim in the Russian River, canoe or kayak along it, go hiking and horseback riding in Armstrong Woods, and ride a bicycle on the backroads close to the river. Planning a delightful break to the Russian River will allow you to take it all in.
9. Los Angeles
Summertime in Los Angeles is not the best time to visit. Theme parks are overcrowded and it is sweltering indoors. June Gloom, a weather phenomenon that may convert your thoughts of a brilliant summer into gloomy day nightmares, may be affecting the beaches along the coast. The summer nights in Los Angeles, though, are warm and ideal for a night out.
10. San Diego
San Diego seems to be the ideal summer vacation spot, and it would be if it weren’t for out-of-state tourists and Arizonans looking to escape the heat.
When there are still rooms available and hotel rates are lower, start making travel plans for the summer to San Diego. Check out all the exciting things to do in San Diego on a summer night instead of going to the most popular attractions during the day.
California has all it needs to be the ideal summer vacation destination, with its stunning coastline, clear skies, and warm weather. Many people even refer to California as the state of the “endless summer.”
While that’s true for many locations around the state, traveling to California in the summer still requires some advance planning because there are some places that are not recommended for summer travel owing to the intense heat (ahem, Death Valley), or even pleasantly foggy weather like in San Francisco.
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