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Best Time to Visit Los Angeles - How Long to Stay

Planning a Los Angeles Vacation


Los Angeles has good and bad points for every season, but there's always something you can do there. The best time to visit really depends on what you like to do. We can't figure that out for you, but we can give you some information that may help.


Many people think Los Angeles is warm and sunny 365 days a year, but in fact:
  • Los Angeles is a big place, with lots of variations. Summer may be unbearably hot inland and just right at the beach, on the same day
  • In summer it can be foggy all day long near the beach
  • Smog levels are improving, with 2010 ozone levels less than half of what they were in 1976, according to the Air Quality Management District. It tends to be worse in summer than in winter and any time of the year, better at the beach
  • In autumn and early spring, wind patterns sometimes reverse, blowing toward the ocean instead of away from it, creating very dry (and sometimes hot) "Santa Ana" conditions which are especially uncomfortable for people with allergies
  • The water is colder than you might imagine all the time, reaching its warmest (68°F) in August, cooling down to 58°F to 60°F in winter
  • Most of the rain falls in the winter
  • April and October generally have the clearest skies and moderate temperatures
  • Skies are often crystal-clear right after a winter rain, especially if it's cool the next day

Check the averages in the LA weather guide for the time you plan to visit to get an idea of what it's like in every season.


A large city like LA always feels like it's full of people, but here's how the tourist load
  • In summer, the most popular Los Angeles sights are overrun with tourists
  • Crowds taper off in fall
  • Winter brings more visitors who want to escape the cold weather where they live
  • January through April are least busy, tourist-wise
  • Disneyland and other theme parks are busy any time kids are out of school, at Thanksgiving1 and during the Christmas holidays

Annual Events

A few events can disrupt your plans. Pasadena gets really busy for the annual Rose Bowl Parade, held on January 1. The LA Marathon also closes a lot of city streets.

Whether you're looking for a special event to attend or just trying to avoid the crowds that gather for some of the other popular ones, this Annual Event Guide will give you a month-by-month summary of events that happen every year.

How Long to Stay

Our list of Los Angeles sights A to Z contains almost 60 items. It could take weeks to see them all. Take a few fun tours, spend a day at the beach and go on a couple of day trips and it could take well more than a month. The average visit lasts less than a week. You may have even less time than that, so some prioritizing is essential. These are the highlights:

If you have just one day, use this guide to make the most if it. You won't believe how much you can visit if you know how to tackle it, starting in Hollywood and ending in Venice Beach in time to watch the sunset.

If you have a weekend, you can visit just one area or a have a theme. On one of these weekend getaways, you can play at the beach, relax on Catalina Island, OD on culture or indulge your starstruck side.

If you have 3 to 4 days, add a side trip. You'll find lots of ideas for places to visit in the Day Trips Around Los Angeles guide. You'll also have time to visit a museum or get in some quality people-watching in Venice Beach.

If you have 5 to 6 days, Take another side trip - or two. Take a day off. Go shopping in the downtown Fashion District. Take in a baseball game or a basketball match. Enjoy a night at the theatre, or just hang out on an interesting street corner and watch all the goings-on.

1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

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