California in December: Discover 3 Fun Outdoor Activities

california in December

California in December offers a wonderful combination of sunny escapes and festive events. Whether you’re looking for a winter vacation, Christmas celebrations, or outdoor activities, California has it all. With mild temperatures and stunning landscapes, it’s the perfect destination to explore in December.

From the snowy peaks of Lake Tahoe to the sunny beaches of Santa Monica, California invites you to experience the best of both worlds. Enjoy the crisp winter air as you ski down the slopes or take a leisurely stroll along the coast. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit as you attend vibrant festivals and admire the dazzling lights.

Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, California has something for everyone. Let’s discover the wonders of California in December.

Key Takeaways:

  • California in December offers a wide range of experiences including winter outdoor activities and festive events.
  • The average temperature in California City in December for a typical day ranges from a high of 56°F to a low of 35°F.
  • The weather in California in December is mild, making it ideal for outdoor adventures.
  • From Christmas celebrations to winter festivals, California hosts a variety of vibrant events during the holiday season.
  • California offers warm winter escapes, with destinations like Palm Springs and Santa Monica.
  • Experience unique winter traditions and celebrations in cities like San Francisco and Mendocino.

Weather in California in December

In December, California experiences beautiful weather with temperatures varying depending on the region. Southern California sees daytime temperatures in the mid to high 60s, while overnight lows can drop to around 50 degrees. Northern California is slightly cooler, with daytime temperatures in the low 60s and overnight temps averaging around 48 degrees.

Higher elevations, such as Lake Tahoe and Mammoth, offer clear sunny days in the mid 30s to 40s with overnight temperatures in the teens. Overall, California’s weather in December is ideal for outdoor activities and winter adventures.

RegionDaytime Temperature (°F)Overnight Temperature (°F)
Southern CaliforniaMid to high 60sAround 50
Northern CaliforniaLow 60sAround 48
Higher ElevationsMid 30s to 40sTeens

Festive Events in California in December

California is home to a variety of festive events and celebrations in December. Embrace the holiday spirit by attending some of the most exciting Christmas events and holiday festivals California has to offer. From enchanting light displays to lively parades and winter celebrations, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Parade of Lights, San Diego

Experience the magic of the Parade of Lights in San Diego, where over 80 boats adorned with colorful holiday lights cruise through the sparkling bay. This dazzling spectacle is a beloved tradition that brings joy to visitors of all ages.

Festival of Lights, San Francisco

Indulge in the winter wonderland of San Francisco during the Festival of Lights. Marvel at the stunning light sculptures that illuminate the city streets, and be captivated by enchanting holiday shows like The Nutcracker. This festival is a true celebration of the season.

Ice-Skating and Christmas Events, Santa Monica

Enjoy the festive ambiance in Santa Monica, where you can glide across the ice at an outdoor ice-skating rink or soak up the holiday cheer during special Christmas events. Breathe in the salty ocean air as you listen to carols on the beach and immerse yourself in the joy of the season.

Festival of Lights, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Embark on a magical journey through the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, adorned with sparkling lights and vibrant displays. The Festival of Lights offers a mesmerizing experience surrounded by nature’s beauty, creating cherished memories for all.

Julefest, Napa Valley

Indulge in the festive atmosphere of Napa Valley during Julefest, a holiday celebration honoring Scandinavian traditions. Immerse yourself in the charm of the season with wine tastings, parades, and cultural events that pay homage to Napa Valley’s rich heritage.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Witness the enchantment of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, a dazzling display of decorated boats gliding through the harbor. This annual tradition boasts a breathtaking spectacle of lights, music, and holiday spirit that will leave you in awe.

These are just a few examples of the myriad of Christmas events, holiday festivals, and winter celebrations California has to offer in December. Whether you choose to marvel at the Parade of Lights in San Diego, delight in the Festival of Lights in San Francisco, or immerse yourself in the magic of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, California is a destination that truly comes alive during the holiday season.

Christmas events California
Parade of LightsSan DiegoDecember 10-19
Festival of LightsSan FranciscoDecember 4 – January 2
Ice-Skating and Christmas EventsSanta MonicaDecember 1-31
Festival of LightsMendocino Coast Botanical GardensDecember 3-18
JulefestNapa ValleyDecember 1-31
Newport Beach Christmas Boat ParadeNewport BeachDecember 15-19

Outdoor Activities in California in December

California’s diverse landscape provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities in December. Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or prefer leisurely hikes, California has something for every outdoor lover. With mild temperatures and stunning winter landscapes, it’s the perfect time to explore the great outdoors.

Skiing and Snowboarding

If you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, California’s snow-covered mountains offer fantastic options. Some popular destinations include:

  • Mount Shasta
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • Lake Tahoe

These mountain resorts boast well-maintained slopes and a variety of terrain suitable for all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll find plenty of skiing and snowboarding opportunities to enjoy.

Winter Hikes and Scenic Views

If you prefer warmer adventures, California’s national parks are a great choice. Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park offer stunning winter landscapes and hiking opportunities. Explore the trails, witness breathtaking views, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of these iconic parks.

Coastal Exploration

California’s coastline provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. From beach walks to whale watching, there’s something for everyone. Explore the scenic coastline, soak up the sun, and enjoy the calming sounds of the ocean. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.

So whether you’re hitting the slopes, hiking in national parks, or exploring the coast, California offers a wide range of outdoor activities for all interests and skill levels.

SkiingMount Shasta
Skiing/SnowboardingMammoth Lakes
Skiing/SnowboardingLake Tahoe
HikingJoshua Tree National Park
HikingSequoia National Park
HikingYosemite National Park

Winter Escapes in California

For those seeking warm winter getaways in California, there are several destinations that offer pleasant temperatures and beautiful landscapes. Whether you’re looking for a vacation spot with warm weather, desert scenery, or coastal charm, California has it all.

One popular winter escape in California is Palm Springs. Known for its warm climate and stunning desert landscapes, Palm Springs is a top choice for vacationers in December. You can soak up the sun, explore the hiking trails, or relax by the pool in this idyllic desert oasis.

If you’re looking for a beach town experience with milder temperatures, Santa Monica is a great option. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches, go for a bike ride along the boardwalk, and indulge in holiday festivities while still enjoying the warmth of Southern California winter.

For those who prefer a unique desert experience, Death Valley is worth considering. Despite its name, Death Valley boasts mild temperatures in December and offers fascinating geological formations, breathtaking sunsets, and opportunities for stargazing.

Another warm destination in California is San Diego. With its year-round pleasant weather, San Diego is a great place to escape the cold and enjoy outdoor activities. From visiting the famous San Diego Zoo to exploring the vibrant neighborhoods, there’s no shortage of things to do in this sunny city.

These winter escapes provide the perfect opportunity to relax, explore, and enjoy the natural beauty that California has to offer. Whether you’re seeking warm desert landscapes or coastal charm, there’s a winter getaway in California that will suit your preferences.

California Desert in December

Warm Winter Escapes in California

Palm Springs– Warm weather
– Desert landscapes
– Outdoor activities
Santa Monica– Mild temperatures
– Beaches
– Holiday festivities
Death Valley– Mild temperatures
– Unique desert experience
– Geological formations
San Diego– Year-round pleasant weather
– Outdoor activities
– Attractions and neighborhoods

These warm places in California offer an escape from the winter cold and provide plenty of opportunities for relaxation and adventure. Whether you choose to explore the desert, enjoy the beach, or immerse yourself in the vibrant city vibes, a winter vacation in California will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Winter Celebrations in California

California is known for its rich traditions and vibrant celebrations during the winter season. From charming Victorian-style Christmas events to festive winter festivals, the state offers a variety of experiences that showcase the unique charm and holiday spirit of California.

Victorian Christmas in Nevada City and Grass Valley

Immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of a Victorian-style Christmas celebration in Nevada City and Grass Valley. With carolers filling the air with melodious holiday tunes, brass bands playing festive music, and horse-drawn carriage rides, these towns transport you back in time to experience the magic of Christmases past.

A Charming Christmas in Mendocino

Escape to the charming village of Mendocino, where simplicity meets holiday magic. Adorned with twinkling lights, the historic buildings offer a cozy and picturesque backdrop for strolling through the village. Explore local crafts and art, and embrace the warmth and joy of a simple Christmas celebration.

Festival of Lights in San Francisco

San Francisco transforms into a festive wonderland during the Festival of Lights. Marvel at the dazzling light sculptures, enjoy holiday shows like The Nutcracker, and soak in the magical atmosphere that fills the city’s streets. This annual event is a must-visit for those seeking a memorable Christmas experience.

Old World Traditions in Solvang

Experience Old World traditions in the charming Danish village of Solvang. The town comes alive with holiday events, showcasing Scandinavian customs and delights. From festive wine tasting to enchanting Christmas displays, Solvang offers a unique and immersive winter celebration.

“California’s winter celebrations are a testament to the state’s diverse cultural heritage and the joyous spirit that fills the air during the holiday season.”

These winter celebrations reflect the vibrant and diverse traditions of California. Whether you prefer a Victorian-style Christmas, a charming village experience, or a festive city atmosphere, California offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by exploring these winter celebrations and create cherished memories in the heart of California.


California in December is the ultimate destination for a winter vacation. With its mild weather, stunning landscapes, and vibrant holiday events, the Golden State offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, or a holiday enthusiast, California has it all.

For outdoor adventurers, the snow-covered mountains of Mount Shasta and Lake Tahoe provide excellent opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. If you prefer warmer escapades, Palm Springs and Santa Monica offer sunny beaches and a laid-back atmosphere.

California’s festive celebrations in December are not to be missed. From the Parade of Lights in San Diego to the Festival of Lights in San Francisco, the state is alive with the holiday spirit. Immerse yourself in Victorian-style Christmas traditions in Nevada City, or enjoy a wine tasting and old-world charm in Solvang.

Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, California in December has it all. Plan your holiday travel to the Golden State and create unforgettable memories in this sunny and festive destination. Don’t miss out on the winter vacation of a lifetime!


What is the weather like in California in December?

In December, California experiences beautiful weather with mild temperatures. Southern California sees daytime temperatures in the mid to high 60s, while Northern California is slightly cooler with daytime temperatures in the low 60s. Higher elevations have clear sunny days in the mid 30s to 40s.

What festive events are happening in California in December?

California is home to a variety of festive events and celebrations in December. Some notable events include the Parade of Lights in San Diego, the Festival of Lights in San Francisco, ice-skating and Christmas events in Santa Monica, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’ Festival of Lights, and the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

What outdoor activities can I do in California in December?

California’s diverse landscape provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities in December. You can go skiing and snowboarding in Mount Shasta, Mammoth Lakes, or Lake Tahoe, explore national parks like Joshua Tree, Sequoia, and Yosemite, or enjoy beach walks and whale watching along the coastline.

Where can I find warm winter escapes in California?

California offers several destinations for warm winter escapes. Palm Springs is known for its warm weather and desert landscapes, Santa Monica provides a beautiful beach town experience, and Death Valley and San Diego offer sunny getaways without the cold temperatures.

What winter celebrations can I experience in California?

California is rich in winter traditions and celebrations. You can experience Victorian-style Christmas celebrations in Nevada City and Grass Valley, enjoy holiday events and wine tasting in Solvang, and immerse yourself in festive shows like The Nutcracker in San Francisco.

Why visit California in December?

California in December offers beautiful weather, a variety of outdoor activities, and festive events. It is the perfect destination for a winter vacation, Christmas celebrations, or simply enjoying the sunny escapes and holiday traditions.