When Does Spring Start In California? A Local’S Guide

After winter rains, California erupts in blooms and greenery as spring arrives. But when exactly does spring start in the Golden State?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Spring in California generally begins in late February and lasts through May, though the exact start date can vary year to year.

Spring Start Dates in California

When it comes to determining the start of spring in California, there are a few different perspectives to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the three main ways to define the beginning of this vibrant season in the Golden State.

Spring Equinox: March 19-20

The most widely recognized marker for the start of spring is the spring equinox, which usually falls on March 19th or 20th. This is the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator, resulting in an equal amount of daylight and darkness.

It symbolizes the return of longer, sunnier days and the rejuvenation of nature after the winter months.

Meteorological Spring: March 1

From a meteorological perspective, spring in California officially begins on March 1st. Meteorologists divide the year into four equal quarters, with each season lasting three months. This approach allows for easier tracking and comparison of weather patterns.

While the weather may not always align perfectly with the calendar, meteorological spring is a useful guideline for understanding the typical changes in temperature, precipitation, and other weather conditions during this time of year.

Astronomical Spring: Late February

For those who closely follow astronomical events, the transition to spring in California can actually occur in late February. This is because astronomers define the beginning of spring based on the Earth’s position in relation to the sun.

The exact date can vary slightly from year to year, but it typically falls between February 19th and 23rd. Keep in mind that this definition is based on celestial mechanics and may not align precisely with the weather or natural phenomena on the ground.

Ultimately, the start of spring in California can be seen from different perspectives, each offering its own unique insight. Whether you celebrate the spring equinox, follow the meteorological calendar, or observe astronomical events, the arrival of spring brings a sense of renewal and anticipation for the warmer days ahead.

Weather Patterns and Temperatures

When it comes to spring in California, the weather patterns and temperatures can vary greatly depending on the region. From the coastal areas to the inland valleys and mountainous regions, each location experiences its own unique climate during this season.

Warming Trends

In general, spring in California is characterized by warming trends. As the winter chill fades away, temperatures gradually start to rise, bringing a welcome relief to those who have been bundled up for months.

Coastal regions, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, see average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18-24 degrees Celsius) during this time of year.

However, it’s important to note that California’s larger cities can have microclimates, meaning that temperature variations can occur even within the same city. For example, San Francisco’s famous fog can create cooler conditions near the coast, while inland areas like Sacramento may experience higher temperatures.

Increased Rainfall

Spring in California also brings with it increased rainfall, which helps to nourish the state’s vegetation and agricultural industry. The rainy season typically begins in late fall and continues through spring, with the peak of precipitation occurring in the winter months.

This influx of rain not only replenishes water supplies but also contributes to the blooming of wildflowers and the lush green landscapes that California is known for.

Coastal regions tend to receive more rainfall compared to inland areas. For instance, cities like San Francisco and Santa Barbara can expect an average of 10-15 inches of rainfall during the spring months, while cities in the Central Valley, such as Fresno, receive around 3-6 inches.

Temperature Differences Across the State

One of the fascinating aspects of California’s weather during spring is the significant temperature differences across the state. Due to its diverse geography, California experiences a wide range of climates, from Mediterranean along the coast to arid desert in the southern region.

In Northern California, cities like San Francisco and Sacramento have cooler temperatures compared to Southern California. In the southern region, cities like Los Angeles and San Diego enjoy warmer temperatures, often reaching the 80s Fahrenheit (around 27-32 degrees Celsius) during springtime.

If you’re planning a trip to California during spring, it’s essential to research the specific weather conditions of the area you’ll be visiting. Checking reliable weather forecast websites like The Weather Channel or AccuWeather can provide you with up-to-date information on temperatures, rainfall, and any potential weather patterns to expect during your stay.

Natural Signs of Spring in California

Wildflower Blooms

One of the most beautiful and iconic signs of spring in California is the vibrant display of wildflower blooms. As the temperatures rise and the days get longer, the state’s diverse landscapes come alive with a riot of colors.

From the golden poppies in Antelope Valley to the purple lupines in Carrizo Plain, California offers a breathtaking show of wildflowers that attracts visitors from all over the world. The peak bloom times vary depending on the region and weather conditions, but generally, you can expect to see wildflowers in full splendor from March to May.

Migrating Birds Return

Another sure sign that spring has arrived in California is the return of migrating birds. As the weather warms up, thousands of species of birds make their way back to the state to breed and nest. From majestic raptors like the bald eagle to tiny hummingbirds, California’s diverse habitats provide a haven for these winged creatures.

Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts flock to places like the Salton Sea and the Point Reyes National Seashore to witness the annual avian migration spectacle. So, keep your binoculars handy and get ready to marvel at the colorful plumage and melodic songs of California’s returning feathered friends.

Snow Melts in the Mountains

While southern California may not experience the same harsh winters as other parts of the country, the state’s mountain ranges are a different story. During the winter months, the Sierra Nevada and the San Gabriel Mountains are blanketed in snow, creating a winter wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts.

However, as spring approaches, the warmer temperatures and longer days begin to melt the snow, revealing lush green meadows, rushing waterfalls, and crystal-clear alpine lakes. This signals the start of the hiking, camping, and fishing season in the mountains.

So, whether you’re an avid skier or prefer to explore nature on foot, spring in California means it’s time to pack away your winter gear and embrace the great outdoors.

For more information on the signs of spring in California, you can visit the Visit California website, which provides detailed information about wildflower blooms, birdwatching hotspots, and outdoor activities in the state.

Spring Festivals and Events

Cherry Blossom Festivals

One of the most anticipated events in California during spring is the Cherry Blossom Festival. These festivals celebrate the blooming of cherry blossom trees, which is a sign of the arrival of spring. Visitors can immerse themselves in a sea of delicate pink and white blossoms while enjoying a variety of cultural performances, traditional food, and live music.

Some popular cherry blossom festivals in California include the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Los Angeles. These festivals not only showcase the beauty of cherry blossoms but also celebrate Japanese culture and heritage.

Flower Shows

Spring is a time when flowers bloom in abundance, and flower shows are the perfect way to appreciate nature’s beauty. California hosts several flower shows during this season, where visitors can explore stunning displays of colorful blooms and learn about different types of flowers and plants.

The San Francisco Flower & Garden Show and the Pasadena Showcase House of Design are two notable events that attract flower enthusiasts from all over the state. These shows often feature expert gardeners, landscape designs, and interactive workshops, providing valuable knowledge and inspiration for both beginners and experienced gardeners.

Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets

Spring is also a great time to explore craft fairs and farmers markets in California. These events offer a unique opportunity to support local artisans, farmers, and small businesses while enjoying a wide range of handmade crafts, fresh produce, and delicious food.

Craft fairs feature a variety of handmade goods such as jewelry, pottery, textiles, and artwork, allowing visitors to find one-of-a-kind treasures. Farmers markets, on the other hand, offer an abundance of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other farm products.

Not only can visitors shop for fresh ingredients, but they can also learn more about sustainable farming practices and connect with the local community.

Attending these spring festivals and events is a fantastic way to celebrate the arrival of spring in California. Whether you’re mesmerized by the beauty of cherry blossoms, inspired by the vibrant colors of flower shows, or eager to support local artisans and farmers, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

So mark your calendars, gather your loved ones, and embrace the joy and charm of spring in the Golden State!

Spring Activities in California

Hiking and Backpacking

Spring in California is the perfect time to explore the state’s stunning natural landscapes through hiking and backpacking. With milder temperatures and blooming wildflowers, outdoor enthusiasts flock to popular trails like the Pacific Crest Trail and Yosemite National Park.

Hiking in the spring allows you to witness the beauty of nature awakening from its winter slumber. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture the breathtaking views along the way!


For those who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, camping in California during spring offers an incredible experience. From coastal campgrounds with stunning ocean views to mountainous regions surrounded by towering trees, the state offers a wide range of camping options.

Pitch your tent, build a campfire, and relax under the starry night sky. Some popular camping destinations include Joshua Tree National Park and Big Sur.

Flower Tourism

Springtime in California is synonymous with vibrant blooms and colorful landscapes. Flower tourism is a popular activity during this season, attracting visitors from near and far. The state is home to several flower-filled destinations, such as the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve and the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

Marvel at the sea of golden poppies or stroll through fields of tulips in full bloom. Don’t forget to check the bloom forecast before planning your visit!

Hitting the Beach

With its mild climate, California is a year-round beach destination. However, spring brings warmer temperatures and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to hit the beach. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim, or try your hand at surfing, California’s diverse coastline has something for everyone.

From the iconic beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica to the hidden gems of Big Sur and Pismo Beach, there’s no shortage of sandy shores to explore.


While the official start date varies, spring in California generally begins in late February and brings blooming wildflowers, warmer weather, and plenty of ways to enjoy the season. The spring months are a beautiful time to explore the diversity of the state.

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