California is the most populated and diverse state in America and a true vacation wonderland if you can just get around all the people. Southern California offers San Diego beaches and the pop-culture mecca of Los Angeles along with more romantic getaways than you could imagine. Northern California has San Francisco, Napa Valley, and redwood forests. In between, you’ll find towering mountain peaks, crashing surf, and desert skies that stretch on forever.

Price point levels scaled for a 7-day visit for a couple and anchored on research and personal experiences.

$ - up to $1500
$$ - $1500 - $3000
$$$ - $3000 -$5000
$$$$ - $5000+
Price Point



US Dollar

Reported for the US traveler with foreign countries rankings based on the US State Department's travel advisories.
Exercise Normal Precautions

Reported for three representative cities within the destination via Weather Spark.

Climate (°F)
Summer (°F) Winter (°F)
San Francisco 72 45
Palm Springs 106 45
Los Angeles 85 48

Best Time to Visit

California is the longest state south of Alaska, with radically different environmental regions. Each region has its own best time to visit:

SoCal Beaches – Beach season starts late in Southern California because May Gray and June Gloom are things. July has perfect Mediterranean weather, and August occasionally gets downright hot if the Santa Ana winds kick up. September and early October are the best time to come because the water is warm (relatively), the weather is perfect, and the summer crowds are gone. Springtime is also pleasant with spring flowers (especially a ‘super bloom’) and all kinds of baby animals, but the water will be shockingly cold, but you can escape the gray by heading inland.

NorCal Coast – It takes a hearty soul (or a thick wetsuit) to brave NorCal beaches, especially north of Santa Cruz, but they are visually exquisite. Also, the rainy season begins shortly after Labor Day. The Northern California coast is more a natural playground than a beach vacation, and in that, it excels. You will not be disappointed with mountains coming down to reach the sea, towering redwood forests, and picture-perfect beaches.

Mountains – The summer and winter are the best times to head to the mountains, but it’s two completely different trips. In the summer, you’ll find camping, hiking, and mountain sports with towering waterfalls and massive sequoias. Fall is short-lived, with many campgrounds closed after Labor Day, and the mountain roads are snowed-in come November. This sets the stage for a winter wonderland of skiing and Nordic adventures. Springtime is mud season as the snow melts, and the cycle begins anew.

Deserts – Summer in the desert is oppressively hot, but mornings and evenings are more than pleasant in the spring and fall, especially during the spring flower season. Winter is the high season for desert activities, from Palm Spring resorts to tramping around Joshua Tree.

Fun Facts

  • Fallbrook is the Avocado Capital of the World.
  • UCLA is the birthplace of the internet. The first message was supposed to say “Login”, but the system crashed at “Lo”.
  • The state motto is ‘Eureka’, in honor of the California Gold Rush.
  • It’s illegal for men with mustaches to kiss women in Eureka (the city).
  • California experiences over 100 earthquakes a day, but only one big one a year (on average 😉).
  • California has the world’s largest tree (General Sherman), the world’s tallest tree (Hyperion), and the world’s oldest tree (Methuselah).
  • Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest National Park.
  • Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the Continental United States (14,494′)
  • California would be tied with Russia for the third most billionaires if it was its own country.
  • The anarchist community at Slab City is known as the ‘Last Free Place in America’.
  • San Diego has more than 1,715 miles of bikeways.
  • UC Santa Cruz’s mascot is the Banana Slug.

Bucket-List Activities

  • PCH road trip on the Big Sur Coast (between Carmel and San Simeon)
  • Hiking the John Muir Trail (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks)
  • Scuba diving with baby sea lions (Channel Islands National Park)
  • Seeing the Super Bloom (Southern California)
  • Watch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (San Diego)
  • Climbing Mt Whitney (Bishop)
  • Big wave surfing at Mavericks (Half Moon Bay)
  • Wine tasting bicycle tour in Napa Valley (Napa)
  • Cage diving with great white sharks (San Diego)
  • Kayaking with otters in Monterey Bay (Monterey)

Natural Wonders

  • Yosemite Falls (Sierra Nevada)
  • Joshua Tree National Park (Twenty-nine Palms)
  • Sequoia National Forest (Kernville)
  • Channel Islands National Park & National Marine Sanctuary (Ventura)
  • Big Sur Coastline (between Carmel and San Simeon)
  • Lake Tahoe (South Lake Tahoe)
  • Death Valley (Lone Pine)
  • Redwood National Forest (NorCal)

Major Attractions

  • Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco)
  • Disneyland (Anaheim)
  • Hearst Castle (San Simeon)
  • Balboa Park / San Diego Zoo (San Diego)
  • Hollywood (Los Angeles)
  • La Jolla Cove (La Jolla)
  • Southern California Beaches (SoCal)
  • Redwood Forests (NorCal)
  • Santa Cruz Boardwalk (Santa Cruz)
  • Alcatraz (San Francisco)
  • Monterey Aquarium (Monterey)
  • Mission Beach Boardwalk (San Diego)

Native Foods

  • California Pizza (featuring non-traditional pizza ingredients, such as fresh produce and barbecued meats)
  • Cobb Salad (created by Bob Cobb in 1937 at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, California)
  • French Dip Sandwich (Created in Los Angeles in 1908)
  • Street Tacos (bonus points if they’re from a taco truck)
  • Sea Urchins (a delicate blend of sweet and briny)
  • Sourdough Bread (a staple in San Francisco since the Gold Rush)
  • Avocado Toast (bonus points you use SF sourdough bread and Fallbrook avocados)
  • Craft IPA (if you have to ask, you’re not worthy)

General Travel Tips

Common Phrases

  • The 10 (or any other road) – Californians love to identify their web of highways by the road number.
  • It takes xxx minutes, depending on traffic – Every driving estimate has to be prefaced with a traffic report.
  • June Gloom – It follows May Gray and means you shouldn’t expect sunny beaches until the 4th of July.
  • It’s pretty gnarly out, bro – master the nuance between bro and brah, and you’ll be shredding surf culture in no time.
  • Hella – It’s how to say “very” with an Oakland accent
  • Double – Double, animal style – The perfect order from In-N-Out’s secret menu.
  • 420 – A not-so-secret code word for pot and an official holiday on April 20th.
  • Dank – The opposite of bomb, unless it’s 420 friendly.
  • SoCal / NorCal – Southern and Northern California, with a specific emphasis on the coastal regions. Big Sur is the commonly accepted split between SoCal and NorCal.

Major Cities / Airports

  • Los Angeles / Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – SoCal’s biggest metroplex home to Hollywood, Venice Beach, and 18-million people.
  • San Francisco / San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – The City By the Bay is filled with iconic architecture and a working public transit system.
  • San Diego / San Diego International Airport (SAN) – America’s Finest City is also California’s beach getaway.
  • San Jose / Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) – Home to Silicon Valley and an alternate gateway to San Francisco.
  • Oakland / Oakland International Airport (OAK) – A multicultural city across the bay from San Francisco.
  • Sacramento / Sacramento International Airport (SMF) – California’s capital city
  • Orange County / John Wayne Airport (SNA) – A kinder and gentler gateway to the LA metroplex.
  • Ontario / Ontario International Airport (ONT) – The air-hub to the Inland Empire in East LA.
  • Palm Springs / Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) – A desert resort town and gateway to Joshua Tree.
  • Fresno / Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) – The shortcut to Yosemite / Kings Canyon / Sequoia without going through the Bay Area.
  • Monterey / Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) – The best way to Monterey without going through the Bay.
  • Santa Barbara / Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) – Where the LA rich and famous go for their spa day
  • Sonoma / Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS) – Land in the heart of wine country
  • San Luis Obispo / San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) – The southern gateway to Big Sur
  • Eureka / Arcata-Eureka Airport (ACV) – Deep in the heart of Norcal
Concierge Review of The Collector Luxury Inn and Gardens

Concierge Review of The Collector Luxury Inn and Gardens

St. Augustine is a city steeped in history and luxury, art and architecture, and the birthplace of the first luxury hotel in Florida. The Collector Inn is a quiet retreat…
Our 2021 Year in Animals

Our 2021 Year in Animals

Welcome to our 2021 year-in-review article, where we go through a rundown on the great adventures we had last year. Instead of your average, ordinary recap, we're doing the 2021…
The Coastal Mississippi Coffee Trail

The Coastal Mississippi Coffee Trail

How about an espresso escapade along the Coastal Mississippi coffee trail? The Gulf Coast is the birthplace of coffee in America, and its 62-miles of shoreline are the perfect escape…
Best 15 Romantic Spots in Disneyland California

Best 15 Romantic Spots in Disneyland California

Disneyland can make you feel like a kid again, but as an adult Disneyland can be just the right spot to keep the spice alive. With an abundance of rides…
The 25 Most Romantic Things To Do in St Augustine Florida

The 25 Most Romantic Things To Do in St Augustine Florida

Looking to plan a romantic getaway to St Augustine, Florida, or just to add a special date night into your vacation to America's oldest city? We will give you the…
2021 Gift Guide for Every Traveler and Wanderer on Your List

2021 Gift Guide for Every Traveler and Wanderer on Your List

The holidays are here! For 2021 we have compiled our gift guide to appeal to a broad range of your favorite peeps, whether they are avid travelers or just aspiring…
Ultimate Liveaboard Packing List - What to Pack for Your Best Scuba Diving Trip Ever

Ultimate Liveaboard Packing List - What to Pack for Your Best Scuba Diving Trip Ever

Whether planning your first liveaboard dive trip or you’re a seasoned pro, you should check out our liveaboard packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. The last thing…
Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants - A Taste of the Coastal Mississippi's Culinary Delights

Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants - A Taste of the Coastal Mississippi's Culinary Delights

The Mississippi Gulf Coast restaurant scene is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Coastal Mississippi's cuisine is French Creole, local seafood, deep southern fare, and farm-to-table delights…
How Safari Photography Can Help Save Wildlife

How Safari Photography Can Help Save Wildlife

Pictures are worth a thousand words and give voices to those who cannot speak. Safari photography has a significant influence in creating protected areas, documenting species, and educating people about…
TAG Fall Foliage Road Trip

TAG Fall Foliage Road Trip

Tucked in the corner where Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (TAG) connect are some of America's most beautiful deciduous forests. They offer beautiful waterfalls, hikes, and caves. During the height of…
Concierge Review of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club

Concierge Review of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club

Since 1928, Ponte Vedra Inn and Club has held itself as the epitome of luxury and sophistication. We recently visited this five-star / five-diamond property to see if they live…
Mississippi Gulf Coast Road Trip - A Journey of Discovery Along the Secret Coast

Mississippi Gulf Coast Road Trip - A Journey of Discovery Along the Secret Coast

What makes the Gulf Coast one of the best Mississippi road trips? You'll experience 26 miles of beaches and delightful towns steeped in history and up-and-coming artists. Coastal Mississippi has…



Newsletter Signup

Table of Contents

Travel Responsibly

Here at Coleman Concierge, we encourage everyone to travel responsibly and believe there is potential for tremendous good for the world following that ethos. There is also the potential for horrific consequences from irresponsible travel.

Before you go, please check out the latest CDC recommendations for travelers.

Even if you can’t physically explore the world, we hope that you enjoy the escape our site provides. Keep your spirits up and your hands clean. There will be a time to travel soon enough.

Meet Ed & Jenn

Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

We advocate for sustainable and ethical travel and truly believe in the power of travel to transform both ourselves as well as the world around us.


Get our latest travel tips and posts straight to your inbox and start planning your next adventure.

Newsletter Signup

Proud Media Members of:

North American Travel Journalists Association

Adventure Travel Trade Association

International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association

Society of American Travel Writers

Impact Travel Alliance

Your Journey Begins Today

Get our latest travel tips and posts straight to your inbox and start planning your next adventure.

Newsletter Signup