by Trina Hendry

The trickiest thing about California is the weather, and how surprisingly unpredictable it can be. In SoCal, for example, the days are generally sunny and warm regardless of the time of year, but the nights can more often than not feel chilly and autumn-like. In Northern California, the temps are much more temperate and cooler year-round, requiring more layers than you might expect. And, depending on where you are - whether inland or near the water - you will have to plan your outfits for what can sometimes be double-digit temperature changes.

Feeling more confused than ever about what to pack? Fear not, we've got your packing list covered season by season (because there are actually seasons in California, despite popular belief). Regardless of the time of year, the dress code is always "California Casual."


Fall is likely the best time to visit Northern California if you're looking for that quintessential California sun, as the days are warm and sunny, with very little of that cold fog it is known for in the Bay Area. Sleeveless tops and skinny jeans or shorts are appropriate for the warmer days, which can reach the low-to-mid 70's, while light layering is still required for those cooler afternoons and evenings. Break out your favorite cashmere sweater, ankle boots and moto jacket and you're good to go!

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Autumn is a sweet spot in SoCal. Long gone are the inferno-like days and smog, which have been replaced with pleasant summer-like temps in the high 70's and low 80's, and much cooler evenings. While you can, and should, still wear your light summer clothes during the day, you can actually don your sweaters, skinny jeans and maybe even a wool shawl at night. 

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Up and down the coast, sun, rain, and cooler temperatures make up the forecast for winter.

Winter in San Francisco features highs between 57 and 61 degrees with lows between 45 and 48 degrees.  December is the cloudiest month of the year, when the sun shines only 45 per cent of the days.  To be comfortable during the overcast, cool days, and crisp nights, visitors should bring sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toed shoes. 

While certainly much warmer down south with an average day temperature hovering aroun 68 to 72 degrees, we suggest you pack pants and a lightweight winter jacket for morning and night. During the day, short sleeved tops and denim, or long-sleeved dresses are perfect. 

Regardless of where you are visiting, don't forget your umbrella!

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Spring is mild, with days in the 60's in San Francisco, and in the mid-70's in Los Angeles and San Diego. Break out the pretty dresses and floral skirts, lightweight long and short-sleeved tops, jeans, sneakers, sandals and a light jacket, just in case. If you're traveling to Bay Area, add a layer or two to the above, perhaps wrap a scarf around your neck, and you're set. As with all of the other seasons, temps dip at night, so make sure you have a warm sweater for exploring the area after sunset. 

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San Francisco's summers are cool, with highs ranging from 68 to 70 degrees and lows dropping to between 53 and 56 degrees.  This is due to the cold ocean marine layer that rolls in from the the coast every morning, covering the city in a blanket of fog that usually clears up by afternoon.  While it may warm up during the day, evenings remain cool and layering is the key to staying warm June through August. 

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Further down the coast, however, it is the complete opposite. In LA and San Diego, with the exception of "June Gloom", summer is dry and hot, hot, hot, with temps ranging between low 80's and high 90's, depending on where you are in the city.  Evenings can cool down substantially, offering a nice reprieve from the day's sweltering heat. Think sun dresses, shorts and tees, sneakers and sandals, a denim jacket, lightweight denim or leggings, and, of course, a bathing suit and flip flops (because you're definitely going to want to hit the beach, obviously!). If heading to the beach, consider packing a hoodie, and don't forget your sunnies and sunblock!

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