Heading to California in April? Spring is one of the very best times of year to visit California (although I love California winter vacations, too). It’s a beautiful way to fully embrace the magic of the season and enjoy a lovely road trip. Expect clear, sunny skies for California weather in April and wildflowers sweeping through the deserts and tumbling down coastal Pacific cliffs. Best of all? Fewer visitors to share it all with. Here’s where to go!
- Spring in California
- 1. Joshua Tree National Park in April
- 2. Anza Borrego in April
- 3. San Diego in April
- 4. Lake Tahoe in April
- 5. Santa Clara County in April
- 6. Catalina Island in April
- 7. Palm Springs in April
- 8. Napa Valley in April
- 9. La Jolla in April
- 10. San Francisco in April
- 11. Sonoma in April
- 12. Los Angeles in April
Spring in California
1. Joshua Tree National Park in April
Joshua Tree National Park is known for the odd-looking Joshua Tree, seemingly taken from a Dr. Seuss book. But what draws visitors every spring on a road trip here are the desert blooms that peak in April.
Because Joshua Tree National Park stretches between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts, there is variation in the elevation and therefore the vegetation found throughout the park.
Depending on the previous fall and winter precipitation, the flowers begin blooming at lower elevations as early as February and at higher elevations as late as June. April is a great time to find the desert scattered with colors as it comes alive for a short season.
During this popular time, you can access incredible views from the main road that runs through the park. Simply pull over anywhere you want to enjoy the colors. Or head out for short hikes through the desert landscape.
While we visited Joshua Tree on our way to hike the slot canyons of Utah, we camped just outside the national park. But the town of Twenty Nine Palms, near the north entrance, is the most popular place to find accommodation. There are plenty of hotels and Airbnb options.
Where to Stay near Joshua Tree
Are you up for a bucket list stargazing experience? Stay in this architect-designed off-the-grid oasis. It’s basically a tiny house made from a simple steel structure that is open to the starry night and mountain desert views. This place is MAGICAL. Check prices and availability here.
Chris | Called to Wander
2. Anza Borrego in April
As winter makes way for spring, we start to come to the end of the ideal months to explore the California deserts. (Death Valley National Park is another great choice.)
That’s because the summer heat can make visiting during the daytime anywhere from unpleasant to lethal. However, in April, Anza Borrego northeast of San Diego is just perfect.
There can sometimes be some traces of wildflowers if there has been a super bloom, and there’s almost nothing as wonderful as the sunrise at Anza Borrego, one of the best sunrise spots in an otherwise sunset-famous state.
The best place to see this is from Font’s Point, which does require a 4×4 to get to due to the sandy road, but if you have the wheels, it’s worth the early wake up to see as the sun illuminates the badlands with views all the way to the Salton Sea.
In the spring, it will still be possible to hike, with waterfall options like the maiden’s tail, or the incredible wind caves, with human-sized holes in the orange rock. Alternatively, go 4 x 4 ing, and enjoy camping, but perhaps most enjoyable is the opportunity for stargazing without the freezing temperatures of winter.
As an added bonus, the milky way core will be visible in April, for even better star viewing.
Where to Stay in Anza Borrego
If you’re not camping, consider the Borrego Springs Resort and Spa for a serene vibe with a pool close to the park. You can check prices and availability here.
Or stay in a lovely renovated desert oasis in Borrego Springs. You can check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Kristin | Be My Travel Muse
3. San Diego in April
Winter rains are over so visitors can count on temperatures in the mid-sixties and clear, sunny skies daily. As a local, I love to walk the miles of empty beaches in spring before summer crowds arrive.
Plus, San Diego comes alive in April with a host of special events including the San Diego Wine Festival, Little Italy Art Walk, and a free two-day musical festival with 150+ musical performers in bars, galleries, restaurants, and coffee houses on Adams Avenue.
April in San Diego is particularly notable for coastal wildflowers as well. Head north of the city for unbeatable views of wildflower carpeted hills at Torrey Pines State Park and spectacular coastal trails in La Jolla and Del Mar.
Where to Stay in San Diego
For an unforgettable experience, stay at the historic Hotel Del in Coronado. Check prices and availability here.
Chris | Explore Now or Never
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4. Lake Tahoe in April
Straddling both California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe in April is terrific because spring offers a choice of both winter and summer activities. It’s the in-between time of year when this stunning region transforms from a skiing to a beach destination. Tahoe also makes a great Bay Area weekend getaway.
If you go in April, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to ski without the crowds as some slopes stay open through to the end of May. Spring skiing is fantastic because it’s not as cold as visiting Lake Tahoe in winter, the snow is softer and prices are lower.
While most Lake Tahoe ski resorts are open for skiing in April, it depends on the season, so check first before making plans to go.
Visiting Lake Tahoe in spring also offers the novelty of skiing one day followed by a day of hiking, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding the next. As the trails start to thaw, you’ll also be able to enjoy mountain biking, too.
Other things to do in Lake Tahoe in spring include yoga, spa treatments and dining out at fabulous restaurants.
Where to Stay in Lake Tahoe
Make Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly your base for boutique accommodation and a luxurious home away from home. Check prices and availability here.
Or, for something more intimate, stay in this 1930’s cabin on the North Shore. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Christina | Travel2Next.com
5. Santa Clara County in April
April is early wildflower bloom season in the San Francisco Bay Area. The winter rains turn the entire Santa Clara country into lush green rolling hills from November and December through April and May.
With heavy rain showers in recent years, Santa Clara County has enjoyed some massive wildflower blooms where entire hills have turned yellow, purple, orange or red.
April is a great time to visit the dozens of state, county, and city parks when the weather and sights are at their best. Beautiful open space preserves are also filled with wildflowers and bountiful streams and offer both sunny and shaded hikes for every level.
Locals love hiking Henry Coe State Park in April, but other excellent choices in Santa Clara County include Castle Rock State Park, Uvas Canyon waterfalls, Russian Ridge, Sanborn County Park, Coyote Creek Trail, Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, Almaden Quicksilver County Park, and Santa Teresa County Park.
Where to Stay in Santa Clara County
La Quinta Inn, Morgan Hills is just a 30-minute drive from Henry Coe State Park. Check prices and availability here.
Or, retreat to your own private, quiet cottage in Santa Clara. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Jyoti | Story at Every Corner
6. Catalina Island in April
Catalina Island is the perfect California destination for the spring!
Catalina, officially known as Santa Catalina Island, is one of California’s Channel Islands, located just off the coast of Los Angeles in the Pacific Ocean. The main city of Avalon is a popular getaway destination for visitors looking to escape the crazy city life of Southern California.
Visiting Catalina Island during the spring, and most particularly during the month of April, is ideal. The weather on Catalina Island in April is still on the cooler side, but bright and sunny. Southern California is known for being warm, but the lovely island breezes keep the temperature on Catalina Island moderate during the springtime.
Looking for things to do in Catalina during spring? Book a submarine or glass-bottomed boat tour to check out the local underwater wildlife, parasail through Avalon Cove, golf at the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi, enjoy a spa day, or take a Hummer or Jeep tour.
Rent a bicycle to pedal around Avalon and boardwalk along the water.
Where to Stay on Catalina Island
The Avalon Hotel, of course! This local boutique inn is not only centrally located, but also offers a shuttle to and from the ferry docks. Check prices and availability here.
Or, stay in your own private studio condo right by the beach. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Rachelle | Adventure Is Never Far Away
7. Palm Springs in April
Palm Springs generally conjures up an image of either retirees playing golf or millennials at music festivals. While both of these reputations are deserved, the desert cities also offer up so much more. Palm Springs also makes a great weekend from San Diego!
Even as Coachella and Stagecoach draw in hundreds of thousands of April concert-goers, Palm Springs attractions, venues, and hiking spots will likely be empty and accessible.
A spring visit is a great time to enjoy the beautiful desert blooms. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Hike Painted Canyon near Mecca to see Ocotillo blooms or just wander the neighborhoods for beautiful cactus blooms.
Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park while you’re here. It’s a gorgeous 10-minute ride up in the world’s largest rotating tram car that takes you from the searing desert heat to crisp cool mountain air (and maybe even snow) in no time.
The Mountain Station has two restaurants, a theater, a gift shop, and a state park visitor center. There are 50 miles of hiking trails to explore here, but it’s not necessary to walk far in order to take in the extraordinary views and scenery.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
Or, relax poolside at your own private colorful oasis with a desert vibe. Comes with bikes. Check prices and availability here.
Lizzie | LizzieLau.com
8. Napa Valley in April
April is a great time to visit Napa as it’s not as hot as in the summer and not as busy as the harvest season in the fall (although fall in Napa Valley is also gorgeous!) Look for mustard blooming between the neatly planted rows of grapes.
The beautiful yellow colors make a rich contrast to the vines. In fact, the mustard is eventually turned into the soil to provide rich compost for the coming of the new year.
There is still plenty to do after wine tasting during this slow season in the valley. Admire art at the Napa Valley Museum and check out Napa Valley Arts in April which showcases more than 40 arts and cultural events throughout the valley.
Where to Stay in Napa
While most Napa accommodations are geared to couples, the gorgeous Silverado Resort and Spa—with tennis courts, pools, 2 championship golf courses and a lovely spa—is also family-friendly and just a short drive to cute little Yountville, home to the Michelin starred French Laundry restaurant. Check prices and availability here.
Or stay in your own private wine country cabin in the woods in Glen Ellen. Check prices and availability here.
Priya | Outside Suburbia
9. La Jolla in April
La Jolla is beautiful year-round, but April is a great time to visit. The weather is warm, but not hot, and there are not too many tourists out and about.
April offers quite a few cool activities in La Jolla. Runners can participate in the La Jolla 5k or Half-marathon. Classic car lovers will want to put the La Jolla Concourse d’Elegance on their list.
Foodies and craft beer lovers will enjoy the Quintessential Craft Beer & Wine Festival. Plus, April is also the tail end of whale watching season in Southern California, so April is the last chance to see some grey whales for the season. La Jolla in April is always a good idea!
Where to Stay in La Jolla
Shoulder season can offer some great deals on La Jolla beach resorts. For five star luxury, try the Pantai Inn. For a more intimate and cozy getaway, head to the Bed and Breakfast Inn. Check prices and availability here.
Maria | San Diego Explorer
10. San Francisco in April
Dry weather makes April one of the most ideal times to visit San Francisco. It’s a great time to visit the city’s most celebrated lookout points with fewer tourists.
Visit Twin Peaks where you can see the whole cityscape and Battery Park, which offers the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, without the fear of rolling fog obstructing your pictures.
You can also safely explore SF’s most beloved districts without an umbrella. See the world’s largest Chinatown, and The Castro, home to San Francisco’s gay community. San Francisco city guides offers 80 unique walking tours and they’re all donation-based.
There are also some great recreational events come April. Every second and third weekend in April, San Francisco hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown. This free festival has been running for over 50 years and is the largest Asian celebration of its kind on the west coast.
And starting in April, the bustling Union Square opens its lineup of free performances in the plaza, known as Union Square Live. You can catch these shows every Wednesday at 6 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.
Where to stay in San Francisco
Stay in the heart of the city. Those looking to save on costs should check out the historic Herbert Hotel, conveniently located along the Powell-Hyde cable car line and only a 4-minute walk from the heart of San Francisco, Union Square.
Or stay in this lovely, quiet guest suite nestled into Bernal Hill, not far from the Mission. It’s got panoramic views galore. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Millette | The Next Somewhere
11. Sonoma in April
Sonoma is one of the best places to go in Northern California in April due to its beautiful landscapes, mild temperatures, and delicious farm to table restaurants and wineries. The hills and vineyards are vibrant with gorgeous green and multi-colored wildflowers.
The sun is warm, though the breeze may still be cool. Bodega Bay will be beautiful on a clear day. Stop by Wild Flour Bread on the way to the coast for some freshly baked scones or warm up with clam chowder from Spud Point after taking a walk on the beach.
Near the coast, admire the sunlight streaming through the majestic old-growth trees of the Armstrong Redwood Nature Preserve. Adventurers can swing through those redwoods on a zip line with Sonoma Canopy Tours.
Of course, no visit to Sonoma is complete without a winery tour, either guided or on one’s own. The Sonoma Valley on Highway 12 offers up picture-perfect views for both wine tasting and picnics.
For dinner, Head to The Girl and The Fig. Arrive early to take a tour of the Mission San Francisco Solano on the plaza or General Vallejo’s home down the street. Whether you are looking for nature, history, or a weekend filled with delicious food, you are sure to find plenty to do in Sonoma County.
Where to Stay in Sonoma
If you’re in search of a boutique experience with beautiful grounds, stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Check prices and availability here.
Or stay in an architect-designed loft cabin in the redwoods near Guerneville. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Sierra | Free to Travel Mama
12. Los Angeles in April
Visiting Los Angeles for a weekend in April is one of the best places to vacation during the spring. For many areas of the United States, “April showers bring May flowers.” But in LA, spring weather is ideal. It’s not too hot nor too cold and you’ll most likely be treated to sunny weather.
Be sure to visit Griffith Observatory in April. The skies will be clear and visitors may even be treated to an opportunity to view the stars through the powerful telescopes!
Visit on a Saturday to attend one of Griffith’s public sky parties. Astro-fanatics can bring their telescopes and point them towards the heavens. It’s a great way to learn about astronomy and of course, see stars and planets.
Don’t miss out on seeing the Griffith Observatory during the day though, the view of Los Angeles from there is absolutely amazing!
Foodies will love Smorgasburg LA. Located at ROW DTLA in the Arts District of Downtown. It’s similar to the Brooklyn, NY event where foodies can taste delectable specialties from different vendors and shop arts & crafts stalls.
In short, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Los Angeles feeding your hunger for both food and art. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, here’s a run down of the best ice cream shops in LA for the perfect finale to your day.
Where to stay in LA
The Standard in Downtown Los Angeles offers incredible amenities, a 24-hour restaurant and a fabulous rooftop bar. Check prices and availability here.
Or, Stay in a dreamy, beach home just four blocks from the beach and a short walk to the popular 3rd street promenade. Check prices and availability on Airbnb here.
Constance | The Adventures of Panda Bear
California Weather in April
California weather depends on whether you’re headed to Northern or Southern California. You’ll still find snow near Tioga Pass near Yosemite National Park. Otherwise, you’ll find snow-covered areas like Lake Tahoe in transition.
Expect spring weather in the high 50’s and low 60’s in San Francisco. If you are in search of sunny beaches, the best weather will always be found in Southern California. In San Diego, for example, expect temps in the low 60s and 70s.
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