In the timeless words of Katy Perry, we say, "greetings loved ones. Let's take a journey." Because the Golden State sure knows how to show off, and it puts on its best display between winter and summer. We guarantee that you can have a vacation to rival any long-haul destination holiday on the West Coast. The only question is, what kind of vacation do you want? If you follow your bliss and plan early, you'll get the best deals, and Cali will do the rest.
A perennial favorite, Lake Tahoe can get busy in spring, but you'll want to go anyways if you're in the mood for parties, beach barbeques, waterfalls, golfing, paddle-boarding, skiing, or snowshoeing. Enjoy long soaks in hot tubs with lake views when the day is done. Your aching but satisfied muscles will thank you.
Disneyland is the main attraction in Anaheim, but there's a lot to see and do beyond the OG theme park. For starters, northwest Orange County will delight your taste buds. Anaheim's Packing District is home to a gourmet food hall, and the local farmer's market sells fresh organic produce and delicious artisanal products. You can also go whale-watching around these parts to make your trip even more memorable.
It's wildflower season in Redwoods National Park, and boy do the flowers come out to play. In between craning your neck up to see the giant sequoia and redwood trees—which, by the way, are ancient and extraordinary—savor the sight of pink and purple rhododendrons a little closer to eye level. You can also look forward to seeing migratory birds as well as ferns, stream violets, trilliums, lupines, and mariposa lilies. It's a floral fiesta to charm the young and old and the perfect complement to a camping trip or hours of happy hiking in the forest.
If you're looking to avoid droves of college kids during spring break, head to Ojai for a more chilled-out vacay. Take a nice deep breath, and you'll catch the citrusy scent of Ojai Pixie Tangerines. Go on olive oil tastings, stroll through meadows, and sign up for crafting classes to get those creative juices flowing. You might also want to go camping or to take a dip in the Willet or Sespe Hot Springs.
Off-season in Yosemite is relatively quiet and affordable, especially if you take advantage of National Parks Week. The park is a photographer's dream. Keep an eye out for crimson Snow Plants and mountain dogwood blossoms, and prioritize seeing Horsetail Falls and Ribbon Falls. You can only see these cascades in spring, and Ribbon Falls is spectacularly tall. Bridalveil Fall is also rather awe-inspiring between March and May. Whitewater rafting will get the adrenaline pumping, and so will a black bear sighting, but take necessary precautions around these magnificent animals.
PS, don't forget to carry tire chains this time of year in the Sierra Nevada.
What's lovely about California is the variety of natural landscapes. And if you're ever going to be in a desert, you can't beat the Sonoran and the resort city of Palm Springs in, well, spring. Home to one of the Kardashians' holiday homes, Palm Springs is a playground for rich and not-so-famous. Loads of water parks crank up the fun factor and lower the temperature, and when you're dry, the aerial tramway will give you an eyeful of alpine wilderness. Catch some Masters 1000 tennis in Indian Wells or venture to Joshua Tree National Park to play some U2 and contemplate the universe as you look up at the stars.
A chain of five islands makes up this incredible national park, known as North America's Galapagos, for its biodiversity. Anacapa is the most visited island here, but it never gets crazy busy. If you don't like the idea of seeing western gull carcasses, smelling guano, or hearing loud squawks, pop over to Santa Cruz instead. On the itinerary: sea cliff hikes, marine mammal spotting, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and caving. Bear in mind that there aren't lifeguards or services, and you need to take your own supplies. Picnic at Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz and look for island fox pups or trek the Pelican Bay Trail. It's awash with wildflowers like giant coreopsis and Pacific peas.
Made famous by an early 2000s MTV reality series, Laguna Beach has always been a notable star in California's constellation. Laguna Beach has everything from canyons and coves to luxury shopping, spas, and a great art scene. You'll get all the vitamin sea you'll ever need at the city's beaches while you swim, build sandcastles, observe surfers or hang ten. And there's no shortage of nightlife if you're keen on some post-sunset clubbing or dining out.
Ever find yourself craving a break in a cabin with a toasty fireplace? Big Bear Lake ticks all the boxes for unwinding solo or going on a romantic retreat. The town's ski resorts close in spring, which means fewer people and more breathing room. And if you enjoy fishing, you'll fall hook, line, and sinker for this place.
There's a good chance you'll bypass both the winter rains and the San Fran fog in March or April, so spring is perfect timing for this world-renowned city. The list of things to do beyond the regular tourist checklists is endless. Think Carnaval floats, boat parades, food trucks, flower shows, ballet, aquatic baseball, toy bike races, and film festivals. Fancy a super fun run? Enter the Bay to Breakers 12k.
The greater Bay Area is inviting too. Napa Valley promises a sea of yellow mustard flowers and fruit trees along with gorgeous vineyards.