Vacation in California – plan your trip through the Golden State
When you think of California, you often think of Hollywood, beaches, surfing and an America where every dream can really come true. A country where it is still possible to go from rags to riches. Well, that’s all true to a certain extent, of course. However, the ” Golden State ” of California has so much more to offer! The land of unlimited possibilities. Also for vacationers. Find out more about vacations in the USA here.
Practical information for your California trip
Cheap flights to California
As always, you can find cheap flights if you are flexible about the departure airport. Your flight to California, for example, could start cheaply from Oslo or London. We have already found many flight offers with a morning start in Oslo or almost the same price with the evening flight, where you then have an overnight stay in London. In such a case: Just do the math to see if you’ll get cheaper if you spend the night in Oslo or London.
You can fly to Oslo quite cheaply from many German airports with Norwegian Airlines, SAS or Germanwings, in the best case for 32€. With Ryanair, Easyjet, Norwegian, Germanwings and many other airlines returning from London, you have plenty of options, some of which are less than €10.
It is best to compare the prices using the flight search, where you will also find the low-cost airlines. As always, make sure to plan enough reserve time for any delays.
Car rental in California
From San Francisco to Santa Ana – you shouldn’t miss this trip. Of course you can fly the route. Much nicer, however, is a drive on the famous Highway #1 along the Pacific Ocean. Of course, it also makes sense to integrate the flights into a classic round trip through the Southwest of the USA from the outset.
In our rental car price comparison you will find all the important providers for a rental car. Make sure all insurance policies are selected with no excess and that you have extended liability insurance (minimum $1 million) with you. There is no one-way rental fee within California with any of the providers known to us. However, as always, pay attention to the fine print.
Domestic flights California – between cities
Depending on what you intend to do, you can look around for a suitable vehicle in our rental car price comparison.
Of course, it is much more comfortable to travel by plane between the cities, since relatively large distances are covered here. Just in our flight look for something suitable search. As soon as there are special offers for domestic flights in the USA, we will of course inform you about them. It is best to subscribe to our newsletter.
More USA and California info
permit to enter the USA By now, word has probably gotten around that you need an ESTA, which you can easily apply for online.
without a credit card You should not travel to the USA. You definitely need it for the rental car, many hotels also require a card as a deposit at check-in. And you can even withdraw US dollars from ATMs for free with some cards. If you don’t have one yet, take a look at our comparison of the best free credit cards.
Climate & best travel time for California
California is generally regarded as the sun state of the USA. However, California is also huge and not all regions are warm and sunny all year round., Winter snows in some parts of California but not in others. We have summarized the most important climate information by region for you.
1. Climate in northern California (e.g. Sacramento)
- Warmest month : July, August (both 34°C)
- Coldest month : December, January (each 3°C)
- Sunniest month : June, July (both 2 p.m.)
- Rainiest month : July, August (each 0)
2. Climate in southern California (e.g. San Diego)
- Warmest month : July, August, September (both 25°C)
- Coldest month : December, January (both 9°C)
- Sunniest month : July, August (each 10h)
- Rainiest month : June, July, August, September (each 0)
3. Climate in Death Valley
- Warmest month : July, August (up to 46°C)
- Coldest month : December, January (each 1°C)
- Sunniest month : June, July, August (each 1 p.m.)
- Rainiest month : May, June (each 1)
4. Climate in the Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada, the tallest and longest mountain range in the United States, is a special case. The climate here is very different. In the high altitudes, there is heavy snowfall in the cold winter, while summer and winter are quite mild in the west of the mountains. In the east, on the other hand, it gets very warm in summer and cool in winter. In general, there is less precipitation in the south than in the north.
Despite the temperature differences, we can state that the summer months are the warmest and the winter months are the coolest in all regions. Especially on a trip to Death Valley, you should avoid the extremely high temperatures in July and August and switch to spring or autumn instead.
Best travel time for California
The best time to travel to California is generally from May to September. Then it is nice and sunny and warm in California, but please keep in mind that July and August is the peak travel season for California and it can be correspondingly more expensive and the sights overcrowded. for your vacation We therefore particularly recommend May or September. Then there are pleasant temperatures and there are good opportunities for travel bargains. Rain is not to be expected during this time either.
In the following we will show you when is the best travel time for which type of vacation or activity in California – depending on the region, of course.
- Visiting Death Valley: October/November and March/April
- Yosemite National Park: May to July
- Beach Holiday: June to September
- Winter holidays and winter sports: October to April
- City break: March, April, May and October
Best travel time for whale watching
You can also watch whales very well in California. However, the best travel time for whale watching depends entirely on the region. Therefore, we have listed for you where you can best see gray whales, humpback whales, fin whales or blue whales.
- Santa Barbara: Gray whales (January to mid-April), humpback and blue whales (June to November (especially June to September))
- Monterey: Humpback Whales (March to November), Gray Whales December to April), Blue Whales (May to September)
- San Diego: Gray Whales (December to March), Blue and Fin Whales (May to November)
- Mendocino: Grauwale (November bis April)
- San Francisco: Gray Whales (December to May)
Highlights & Sights in California
Which cities should you definitely visit in California?
Interesting places in California always feel like they’re just a stone’s throw away. The two most famous and popular travel destinations in California are definitely Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, there are so many other cities worth visiting. The beauty of California is that no matter where you are, the sun is not only in your heart but is always shining on your body. That’s why this corner of the USA is so popular for round trips. In addition, most of the cities in the sunny state are close to the best surfing spots in California, so you can experience the perfect “California feeling” on your round trip.
The City of Angels. No other city in the world pulsates so much with show business. The density of stars and starlets is unbelievable and anyone who is interested can choose from one of umpteen tours that drive past the villas of the stars through Beverly Hills or Malibu. And that brings us to the next topic. If you are vacationing in Los Angeles, you should definitely book a rental car. The city is incredibly spacious and without really good bus and train connections. It’s also not easy to explore the area on foot, unless you stay within a few blocks. So better get in the car and drive down the dead straight road from LA.
Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. Ride up and down the mountains with the famous cable cars everywhere, and the trip through San Francisco is complete. Or? You definitely didn’t experience everything that this pearl of the west coast has to offer so quickly. Of course you shouldn’t miss these highlights, but in San Francisco there really is something to discover around every corner. The former ” capital of the hippies ” and alternative scene still has a very special character and an attitude to life that makes it one of the most unique cities in the USA and the whole world. Read more about vacations in San Francisco here.
Other cities worth visiting
- San Diego
- South Lake Tahoe
The main attractions in California
- Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
- Hollywood in Los Angeles
- Die Big Sur Coast
- The prison island of Alcatraz
- Cable Cars in San Francisco
- Painted Ladies in San Francisco
National Parks in California
The US has a huge number of national parks across the country. California parks inspire with their untouched nature, size and diversity. With a total of nine national parks, California is the state with the most of these important and beautiful facilities. Visit for example:
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Vacation in Hollywood
Sure, what would a trip to California be without a detour to glamorous Hollywood. Here you can find out what you absolutely must not miss during your vacation in Hollywood.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Hollywood Sign (best seen from Canyon Lake Drive, beautiful Insta photos guaranteed)
- Grauman’s Chinese Theater (also full of hand and footprints)
- Kodak Theater or Dolby Theater, where the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are presented
- Be there live while shooting a series (tickets for an audience seat are often free)
Surfing in California: The best surf spots along the west coast of the USA
spread over 321 kilometers of coast There are dozens of great spots, which you can best discover on a tour of California. The relaxed surf vibes from the 70s can still be felt here. The locals are friendly and will welcome you with open arms as long as you follow surfer netiquette. Because if you steal waves here, you won’t be seen with pleasure, which is understandable. Otherwise nothing stands in your way. So off to the California adventure !
Arrival to California
Almost 9,300 kilometers as the crow flies between Germany and California. From Frankfurt you can fly there and back to Los Angeles from an average of €340. yourself to a direct flight to Los Angeles, the price is just under €550. If you want to treat
Of course, the prices can vary and become more expensive or cheaper – depending on how high the demand is and how many remaining places are still available. It is best to organize a rental car on site in order to be able to explore the west coast.
Surfen in Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach – the surf city of the USA – has to be mentioned when it comes to the best surf spots in California. The city has a certain reputation as a party center, since the US Open of Surfing has been held here annually since 1959, which is also part of the World Surfing Championship and at that time the city is really crowded with party surfing tourists, but you should still Give Huntington Beach a shot on your California surf tour. It’s hard to find a city that values and celebrates surfing more than Huntington.
Getting to Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is almost 58 kilometers north of Los Angeles and with a rental car you can get from Los Angeles Airport to Surf City right on the Pacific Ocean in just under 45 minutes.
The connection is not too difficult, since the airport leads directly onto Interstate 405, which takes you almost all the way to Huntington Beach.
The surf spot
in Huntington Beach You can find great waves all year round. Although the line-up can get crowded, there are still enough waves for every surfer as the beach and surf spot are very spacious. It does n’t matter whether you are a beginner or an advanced surfer, everyone will find the right wave class on sandy bottom here.
- For beginners & advanced
- Wave height: 1 – 3 meters
- Surf season: all year round
Surfing in Mavericks
The world-famous surf spot Mavericks can be found in Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco. The surf spot is not for beginners break here, because XXL waves, as they are in the book. The Hollywood blockbuster “Chasing Mavericks” with Gerard Butler even focuses on the spot and the young surfer Jay Moriarity, who became world famous through the giant wave. Nevertheless, you have to be lucky to watch this spectacle, because the waves rarely break and even in winter. But when it does, it delivers a show better than any Hollywood movie.
Getting to Mavericks
from San Francisco Half Moon Bay is 30 miles. It takes about 40 minutes – depending on the traffic – to travel south on the peninsula. From the airport it is only a half hour drive and 33 kilometers to Mavericks.
The surf spot
With waves up to 25 meters high, Mavericks is only for real big wave surfing pros. From the cliff in front of the surf spot you can watch the spectacle from a safe distance and although you are not in the cold water, your heart will beat faster with these waves piling up in the sea.
- Only for real professionals
- Ground: Rocky
- Wave height: 3.60 – 25 meters
- Surfsaison: Winter
Surfing in Santa Barbara
Our final stop on our California surf road trip is Santa Barbara. Here you will find one of the best surf spots in California. Namely Rincon. Rincon not only produces world-class shafts, but is also beautiful to look at. Uneven rocks meet a crescent-shaped bay kissed by a river mouth. Oh yes, there is something special about nature in California.
Getting to Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is approximately 152 kilometers west of Los Angeles. Depending on the traffic, it will take you almost two hours to get from the City of Angels to surfing in Rincon by rental car.
The surf spot
Rincon is the classic California point break, which is spread over three spots, which are more suitable for the advanced surfers among you. The three surf spots are Indicator, River Mouth and the Cove. Waves here can reach nearly four meters when the right swell hits Rincon.
- For advanced
- Drei Spots: Indicator, River Mouth & the Cove
- Wave height: 1 – 3.65 meters