The best times to visit Los Angeles

Aug 16, 2020

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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

It’s not unusual for Los Angeles to host 50 million visitors per year and those numbers are growing. It may seem daunting to become one of those travelers, but the crowds are spread out over a sprawling metropolis and there are plenty of times you can avoid crowds. We here at TPG have these tips for experiencing the City of Angels, whether you want to catch a baseball game or lounge on the beach.

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Photo by Spencer Spellman.
On the beach in Santa Monica. (Photo by Spencer Spellman.)

When to find the best weather in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is famous for its mild weather. The city has moderate temperatures year-round, though if you’re sensitive to heat you’ll want to avoid July to September, when average highs reach 30° Celsius. And there is winter in December and January, when the average low is 9°C. Neither of those numbers is extreme, but you’ll be the most comfortable the rest of the year, when temperatures hang in the mid-20s.

Best time to avoid the crowds

To avoid as many of those 50 million annual visitors as possible, visit during the shoulder seasons, March-May and September-November. Skip summer, and winter and spring breaks, when school is out. The same goes for other holidays, like U.S. Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc. You’ll never completely avoid fellow tourists but by visiting during spring and fall you’ll face the shortest lines and fewest crowds.

Best time for the beach

You can spend weeks in LA without visiting a single beach (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, downtown LA, Burbank), but you’d be making a serious mistake. Some of the best beaches in Southern California, like Santa Monica (and its famous Pier), Malibu and Redondo Beach, are just outside the city center.

Many visitors are surprised to find out that the Pacific Ocean is darn cold in Southern California, warming only to about 20°C in the middle of summer. If you’re going to visit the beaches, go in July and August when the ocean is as warm as it will ever be and the air temperature will thaw you while you lie on the beach.

When to visit Disneyland (and other theme parks)

If you’re going to Disneyland, stay in Anaheim, lest you find yourself gridlocked for up to three hours each way. And whether you’re headed for the House of Mouse or to Universal Studios Hollywood to visit Harry Potter, you’ll want to avoid summer which can be a massive pain, with long lines and intolerable temperatures. Come in the winter (when the park is decorated) or early spring, before everyone else does.

Disneyland (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

When to visit for festivals and events

There’s always something going on in Los Angeles. Whether it’s movie premieres or marathons, you’ll find a major event to see. Here are the best of each season.

Spring

Spring is one of the nicest times to visit LA. The winter — brief and mild — is ending and the summer crowds have not yet descended. March is when the Los Angeles marathon takes place, drawing tens of thousands of runners. Spring is also the time for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and the Jazz Reggae Festival.

Summer

Crowds and temperatures soar in summer, but the season also brings a host of festivals, including LA Pride, the Orange County Fair and even the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. Another don’t-miss event is the 4th of July fireworks spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl.

Fall

If you’re lucky enough to snag a ticket to the Emmys, one of LA’s biggest events, you’ll be visiting in the fall. Other reasons to visit this time of year include the LA County fair, one of the biggest in the nation with more than a million visitors annually, or to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

Winter

Winter is one of the most magical times to visit LA. It offers over-the-top holiday events, such as the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the Rose Parade, not to mention the Grammys and the Oscars.

Affordable airfare

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of the largest airports in the country, so you’re spoiled for choices of flights. Every major airline flies into LAX and for many it’s a premium transcontinental route (like United’s Newark–Los Angeles Polaris service). If you’re searching for cheaper options, Southwest, Frontier and Spirit all have flights. You’re best off booking at least six weeks in advance. In the offseason you can find transcontinental fares for as low as £150 round-trip.

Affordable hotels

Although there are hotels with sky-high prices throughout LA (for example, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills), there are also many places to redeem points even during peak season. Every major hotel chain has multiple properties, from Marriott to Hyatt, and even American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts has offerings. However, if you’re paying out of pocket, maximize your stay by visiting during the shoulder season, when hotel occupancy rates are at their lowest.

Feature photo courtesy of David Mark/Pixabay

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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