Sun-kissed Los Angeles is famous for its summer vibes, which may suggest summer is the best time to go there. In fact when to visit depends on what kind of trip you want. Awards season, for example, has a very different feel to the endless street festivals of the summer months.

If you wondering when to score the best deals, beat the crowds, or take part in bucket-list events, we've broken it all down season by season, and month by month. Start dreaming and then get planning that LA trip now.  

Shoulder Season: September to January

Grab your camera and head for the hills

Fall is another favorable period in Los Angeles. The summer crowds have thinned, though temperatures remain warm. Average rainfall remains low, especially in September. The last month of summer is marked with plenty of street festivals. Meanwhile, fall is an ideal time to see Los Angeles' many outdoor destinations like El Matador State Beach in Malibu, the Huntington Botanical Gardens, or even further afield to Big Bear Lake while you'll have a little more elbow room.

October 10, 2019: High-angle view of the Hollywood Boulevard walk of fame, as seen from the Hollywood & Highland entertainment center Dolby Theatre rooftop terrace.
Hollywood fills up during Awards Season, but you'll find other parts of the city remaining relaxed © Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock

Awards Season: January to March

Lunar New Year, the Academy Awards, and whale watching

Depending on who you ask, it's either part of Southern California's charm that it doesn't have the usual four seasons, with their distinct colors, temperatures, and wardrobe changes, or a bit of a bummer. But LA does have a fourth season most cities don't – awards season, right smack in the part of winter that often has any city's denizens feeling restless. Celebrities are out and about, fans pack into certain bars for televised ceremony viewings, and Beverley Hills and Hollywood get hopping.

But the Emmys and Oscars aren't the only draw this time of year. The Rose Bowl gets sports fans aflutter, the Lunar New Year is full of noise and excitement, and grey whales cruise by LA on their journey from Alaska to Baja. It's just another excitement filled season in Los Angeles, a city that knows how to get down year round.

Low Season: March to May

Time to take in some culture and eat out

Los Angeles' rainy season may not actually seem that wet depending on where you're from, but it does put a bit of a damper on outdoor pursuits. That gives visitors and locals alike the perfect excuse to soak up Los Angeles' cultural offerings, from world-class museums like the Getty Center and Los Angeles County Museum of Art to literati bashes like the Festival of Books.

When you aren't rubbing elbows with authors and artists, this is also a great time dive into the Los Angeles metro's robust, sprawling food scene. From classic neon-spangled burger joints to hip Mexican joints like Guisados to Korean treats like Ma Dang Gook Soo to buzzy haunts like Catch LA and haut cuisine at Hamasaku, there's eats for everyone. 

Runyon Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills is a popular place for hiking, and celebrity spotting year-round © Alex Millauer / Shutterstock

High Season: May to September

School, and the sun, are out for summer

Visitors and Angelenos alike are out and about in force during the summer months, once K-12 schools have let out, not to mention colleges like University of CaliforniaPepperdine University, and University of Southern California. That's all the more folks flocking to Los Angeles' famous beaches, theme parks, outdoor movie screenings, festivals, and live sports events.

Expect higher prices at hotels, more people to see and be seen by at popular destinations like Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park, and pitch-perfect weather with little chance of rain. Later in the summer, the perpetually chilly Pacific will be at its warmest, too, whether you're hoping to soak up the perpetual carnival of Venice Beach or hang ten at Surfrider Beach.  

The Rose Bowl has been on Los Angeles's annual calendar since 1922 © Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock


The month kicks off with the Rose Bowl. This New Year’s Day parade of flower-festooned floats, marching bands and the crowning of the Rose Queen and her court draws around one million spectators to Pasadena. But that's not all January has in store, including festivals celebrating art and cuisine. Though one of the wettest months of the year, there's usually still plenty of sunshine. The days following rain see LA at its clearest, which means perfect views of the skyline and snowcapped mountains on hikes.
Key events: Rose Bowl & Parade, DineLA, Night on Broadway, SAG Awards 


It might be the wettest month of the year, but clear days are not uncommon. Chinatown explodes in a festive fury of firecrackers with traditional bites like dumplings and noodles, lantern processions, fashion shows and other special events – though the main draw is the cacophonous Golden Dragon Parade, which snakes its way through Chinatown. Meanwhile Hollywood, rolls out the red carpet for the Oscars, when Hollywood's heavyweights strut their stuff at the Dolby Theatre. 
Key events: Lunar New Year, the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards

The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles at twilight.
Hitting museums, bookstores, and top-notch restaurants is a great way to dodge LA's "rainy" season © BondRocketImages / Shutterstock


The rain eases and the heady perfume of jasmine heralds the arrival of spring. Angelenos tie up their sneakers for the LA Marathon, while city pets receive a blessing on Downtown's oldest street. More than 25,000 athletes race along a 26.2-mile course from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Pier. Even if you’re not a runner, come cheer ‘em on and enjoy the live entertainment on stages through the city. Or head to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in Orange County late in the month –  when thousands of swallows return to the area after wintering in South America.
Key events: LA Marathon, Festival of the Swallows, Blessing of the Animals


The literati head to USC to discuss characters and plotlines at the country's busiest book festival, while speed demons hit Long Beach for its annual Grand Prix. The Festival of Books draws about 150,000 book worms to the USC campus, while in Long Beach around 200,000 motor heads roar in for the city's annual open-wheel, street-circuit race. 
Key events: The LA Times Festival of Books, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach 

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is home to some famous celebrities as well as movie screenings on the lawn © Mark Read / Lonely Planet


The last month before holidaying school kids swarm attractions. Margaritas, music, piñatas and Latino-flavored merriment fill the the city, including on colonial-era Olvera St., for Cinco De Mayo. Warmer weather means that from mid-May to early July, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts a hugely popular season of outdoor movie screenings on the Fairview Lawn. And kicking off summer is the Memorial Day holiday weekend, one of the year’s busiest travel times. 
Key events: Cinco De Mayo, Films at Hollywood Forever Cemetery 


Once school lets out for the summer, everything from beaches to theme parks get busy. Some coastal fog lingers (‘June gloom’), though Pride, music fests and chalk art in Pasadena provides riotous color.
Key events: LA Pride, Playboy Jazz Festival, LA Film Festival, Los Angeles River Ride, Pasadena Chalk Street Painting Festival, Arroyo Seco Weekend 


Beach season gets into full swing and top surfers compete on Huntington Beach. Theme parks are mobbed and foodies restaurant hop at DineLA. The July 4th holiday is summer’s peak travel weekend. Fests dedicated to music, art, and queer film, plus the Orange County Fair, put the cherry on this big deluxe sundae of summer fun.
Key events: Independence Day, Festival of Arts, Orange County Fair, Outfest, Vans US Open of Surfing, FYF, DineLA 


Warm weather and water temperatures keep beaches busy. School summer vacations come to an end, but everywhere stays packed. Travel slows slightly before Labor Day weekend. Downtown's Little Tokyo fills up with tea ceremonies, martial arts displays and the crowning of the Nisei Week Queen. Meanwhile, LA chefs and diners recover from DineLA for a four-day, multi-location celebration of the city's booming food scene.
Key events: Nissei Week Japanese Festival, Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, Long Beach Jazz Festival

Dancing in the street on Abbot Kinney Road
The Abbot Kinney Street Fair has been going on for 35 years, and captures the unique spirit of Venice Beach © Alamy Stock Photo


Summer’s last hurrah is the super-busy Labor Day holiday weekend. School kicks in and LA attractions get fewer visitors. Venice keeps the party going with a street fair, while cinephiles flock to more film fests.
Key events: LA Shorts Fest, Abbot Kinney Festival, DTLA Film Festival, Mexican Independence Festival


Shoulder season means things quieten down just about everywhere in SoCal, despite the sunny, balmy weather. Travel deals abound and Angelenos get their costumes, pumpkins and candy ready for Halloween. WeHo serves up LA's wildest Halloween street party on October 31, when around 500,000 revelers squeeze onto Santa Monica Boulevard in a mass of risque costumes, polished flesh, live music and DJ sets. Leave the kids with the babysitter.
Key events: West Hollywood Halloween Carnival 

Fall is the perfect time to get outside and beat the crowds at spots like the Huntington Botanical Library in San Marino © Anup Chauhan / 500px


Temperatures drop, with scattered winter rainstorms starting. Beach areas and theme parks are less busy, except around the Thanksgiving holiday. Mexican culture comes to the fore on the Day of the Dead. Costumed parades, graveyard picnics, candlelight processions and sugar skull-strewn altars pop up across the city, including on Olvera Street and at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Key events: Día de los Muertos, AFI Fest, Hollywood Christmas Parade, Mariachi Festival 


Winter rains usually begin, and Newport Beach harbor lights up in spectacular Yuletide fashion. Festooned with spectacular lights and Yuletide decorations, up to 150 boats float through Newport Beach's harbor the week before Christmas in what is one of the city's oldest and best-loved traditions. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are extremely crowded travel times, though there’s usually a short-lived lull between them. 
Key events: Christmas Boat Parade

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This article was first published February 2021 and updated September 2021

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