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Are you visiting California in Winter and not sure what to pack?
Here are the items I packed for our recent trip to California. For this trip, I was on the hunt for a stylish, yet functional winter coat. However as I live in a city where we don’t have cold weather often, I wanted to choose something simple that I could use on multiple trips and with multiple outfits. I’ve added something similar in the packing list.
California is a fashion forward state so I wanted to stay stylish, but casual, and I prefer neutral tones. So that’s how I planned my packing list. Feel free to add something a bit more ‘zazzy’ in there (do people still say zazzy? Did they ever say zazzy?)
Whether you’re going to California to sight-see or you just need to know what to pack to look stylish while traveling light, this packing list will show you how. It’ll tell you what to pack in California in fall, the best sights to see, and how to pack stylishly so you don’t feel like a tourist.
When to visit California: Weather and Seasons
What to Pack for Spring in California (March, April, May): No matter where you are in the world, spring is the prettiest time of the year. California is especially beautiful during springtime. Tempuratures are around 15-19 degrees C/ low – mid 60’s F. As temperatures warm it can be a great time to go hiking and sightseeing.
What to Pack for Summer in California (June, July, August): Temperatures are around 20-28 degrees C/ high 70’s – mid 80’s F in summer. While the smog in Los Angeles is not as bad as it used to be, it can still be annoying in the downtown area. If you enjoy the beach, you’ll be happy to know that California has over 400 miles of coastline. You’ll love the beach during summer so bring some cute swimsuits, dresses, and sandals. Obviously, don’t forget your sunscreen.
What to pack for Fall in California (September, October, November): Fall in California is nice and warm with daytime temperatures ranging from an average of 17-degrees Celsius (62-degrees Fahrenheit) to an average of 23-degrees Celsius (73-degrees Fahrenheit). Rain usually comes later in the season. Nights can get cooler though, so make sure you take a jacket. See the California fall packing list here.
What to pack for Winter in California (December, January, February): It doesn’t snow that often in California, but during the winter rain definitely happens. That’s why umbrellas are a handy item to have in your packing list during winter (or buy one once you arrive if rain is forecasted). Temperatures are around 15C/59F in winter, but it depends on the year.
You should always pack clothing that is appropriate for the weather in California. While it doesn’t get too cold here, you definitely want a jacket and some jeans in your luggage.
What to Wear in California in Fall?
How to dress for California in Fall:
This list is aimed at 1 week trip but could easily be used for a longer trip by adding a few extra outfits or washing your clothes while on holiday.
- 5-7 pairs of underwear: these can easily be hand washed if you want to pack less
- 3-4 bras
- flipflops: for the showers
- 1-2 long length coats: (one preferably should be waterproof, and insulated)
- 3-4 pairs of pants
- 1-2 pairs of leggings
- 1 pair of warm stockings: to go with your dresses below
- 4-7 tops: a mix of long and short sleeves
- 2-3 dresses: if you plan to go out at night add something dressier in here
- 1-2 cute jackets: pack something for the evenings
- 1-2 pairs of shoes: enclosed shoes. Perhaps a pair of sneakers and a pair of flats
- 1 nice pair of boots: for day wear and nights out
- 3-4 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of pajamas
- 1 hat: I don’t know why but California gives me cap vibes, but anything will do. Caps are less likely to flap around in the wind
- 1 scarf
- 1 beanie for colder days / nights
- 1 swimsuit if your hotel has a pool and you don’t mind braving the cooler temperatures
- 1 umbrella
What to Pack for California in Fall: Other Items
- If you are bringing any type of prescription or over-the-counter medication with you, it is important to carry that prescription with you incase they ask at customs.
- A basic first aid kit should include rehydration sachets, as well as headache and stomach medication. However, you shouldn’t have a problem purchasing these items if you need them while in California
- Phone + charger
- Camera + lenses. I normally take my Sony a6500 and 19mm 2.8 lens when traveling.
- Camera batteries + charger
- International adapter
- Portable battery incase you run out of battery when you really need it.
- 2-3 8GB memory cards. If one memory card fails for any reason, it’s better to have multiple copies stored in different places.
Makeup & Toiletries
- Travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, cleanser or wipes
- Your makeup kit. Take note of the USA’s strict carry on rules if you’re going in your carry on baggage, you may not be able to take all the liquids / gels you want to.
- Solid shampoo / conditioner or travel sized versions of your normal shampoo and conditioner.
- 2 bank cards – Bring one Visa and one MasterCard. As a personal rule I travel with atleast 3 as I’ve been burned more than once. Also try to have some cash.
- A photocopy or photo of your passport and other identity documents and bank card.
- For your luggage in transit or for the lockers in dorm rooms, bring a lock.
Travel insurance is important for any trip, and it’s especially vital when you are traveling overseas. It protects you from a myriad of potential problems, including those with your hotel reservation and transportation. Most importantly, it gives you the option of getting back home easily if something bad happens.
What I like best about World Nomads is their ease of use. You can purchase coverage even if you’ve already begun your trip, and it’s one of the more affordable insurance providers for the coverage it offers.
Packing list for California: Safety and Health
California is not a bad state, but as with any place there can be less safe areas to visit. The people are very friendly and helpful, and safety-wise you should generally be fine. I find Americans to be quite chatty, so was always able to ask for help if I got lost. It’s also relatively straightforward to buy medicine, although I haven’t had to use the medical system beyond that.
Even in the United States, your financial dealings should be conducted with the same caution as if you were doing them in your home country. Stay in well-lit areas, avoid going out alone at night and don’t leave your valuables unattended. Inquire about the general safety of the area surrounding your hotel and don’t make overly visible displays of wealth in bad areas.
Popular day tours for Fall in California
- Get early access to Universal Studios in Hollywood before the main gate is opened. Go on exciting theme park rides, see shows and tours of a working movie studio. After that, go to the best restaurants and shops in Los Angeles. See the latest prices here.
- If you want to get away from it all, and visit a pretty desert area, you should visit Palm Springs. As soon as you arrive, you will understand why celebrities go there to escape the hustle of L.A. Take the gondola to the top of Mt. San Jacinto and see the incredible 360 degree view of the desert and Los Angeles. Find more information here.
- Take in the spectacular cityscape of San Francisco as you cruise along the picturesque waterfront under the famous Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz Island. You’ll learn the story of San Francisco as you sail. Get more details and see prices here.
- There are many things to do and see in and around the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, but one of the best ways to get to know this area is to spend time exploring wine country. You’ll discover fine wines and great scenery, all of it within an easy day trip or short drive from San Francisco. See prices here.
- You’ll see the pretty scenery at Yosemite National Park and be taken on a walking tour among the Giant Sequoia trees, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. It’s easy to see why this is one of the top ten national parks in the entire country.
See more information here.
- If you visit San Diego, you should explore its natural scenic beauty. From the peak of Mount Soledad, take in the views of the surrounding areas, and also visit the coastal La Jolla region. Then, experience the fun (and free) California sunshine by walking along its surfer-friendly beaches. Find more details on this tour here.