What to Pack for California
While California is known as the Sunshine State, savvy travelers recognize that it’s important to pack a well-rounded wardrobe that accounts for the varied weather patterns. The sun may be the main star of the show, but it’s not unusual to encounter cooler nights and heavy winds, especially near the beach.
One thing most visitors to California can agree on is that layers are a necessity. The idea is to be prepared for different types of weather situations—some even comment on the feeling of experiencing summer in the morning and fall in the evening. If you’re anywhere near the water, you’re almost guaranteed to experience a chill at some point. Suggested items include lightweight jackets, cardigans, pullovers, and scarves. The scarf can double as a light wrap on balmy evenings with just a slight wind.
Visitors to San Francisco absolutely insist on packing as if you’re headed to a colder climate. The City By the Bay can indeed be very cold, particularly at night. Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes (even flat boots are suitable), and ensure that the jacket you bring is lined for additional warmth. It can even be chilly in San Diego and Hollywood at night, and because many shopping centers and restaurants feature prominent outdoor spaces, it’s worth it to dress with comfort in mind.
Don’t neglect to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Death Valley National Park, for example, can reach upwards of 120 degrees, and dressing appropriately is the key to your skin’s survival. Lightweight attire is a must, and all the better if it’s infused with sun protection. A hat with a wide brim provides excellent coverage for the face and neck. If you plan to spend the majority of your time on the beach, a baseball cap or a visor is a practical choice, along with a pair of shorts and plenty of sunscreen.
California also provides excellent hiking opportunities. If you plan to visit Yosemite National Park for a bit of backpacking, be sure to bring along outdoor-appropriate clothes. Think in terms of warmth and comfort, say enthusiasts who spend ample time in the mountains. A pair of hiking boots is imperative for safe trekking along rough terrains. If you plan to hike near a waterfall or suspect the possibility of rainfall, you’d be smart to pack some rain gear. A packable jacket, that crumples into a tight ball in your suitcase, is one of the best options—they’re extremely versatile in different conditions. It does get colder as you climb those precipitous peaks, so consider a sweater or a thick hiking jacket.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about what to wear in California.