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Why California Travel in Winter Can Be Cool, But Not Cold


The way people talk about California, you might think the place never got cold. But it does, as the ill-fated Donner Party would probably attest. That having been said, even sun seekers will find plenty of very good reasons to pencil in some California travel during the heart of winter.

Good reason number one: whale watching. Admittedly, this is one of the chillier options on our list because it can get a little breezy out on the Pacific. However, properly bundled up, between December and April you can hop a San Diego based sight-seeing cruise out to sea in search of California gray whales and their calves, with dolphin sightings also a real possibility.

Good reason number two: California travel in the desert. As you might have heard, things can get mighty hot in places like Death Valley during the summer, a national park along the state’s southeastern edge. Which is why winter (and early spring) can be such a fine time to visit. With average temperatures in the mid-60’s to low 70’s, December, January and February are perfect for would-be hikers and campers. Another fine national park worth considering is Joshua Tree, which similarly boasts downright reasonable weather during the winter months. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is also (no surprise) desert, as the name implies. While you’ll usually be blessed with sunny skies and balmy days during the winter, the best time to visit is the end of February, when the wildflowers start to bloom. Detour to the east for a closer look at the Salton Sea before heading back to civilization.

Thus in tune with mother nature at her arid best, consider communion of another sort, like a few rounds of golf at one of the courses around Palm Springs. Time it right, and you can even catch some PGA action at Torrey Pines in San Diego, if you have the drive.

So really, though there’s snow for a white Christmas if you want it, there’s no reason to shiver if you plan your winter trip strategically. Just don’t forget the golf shirt.

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