Many visitors don't realize that Los Angeles -- despite its blue ocean, swaying palm trees, green lawns, and forested foothills -- is actually the high desert. But with the desert climes tempered by sea breezes and the landscape kept green with water carried by aqueducts from all around the West, L.A. might be the most accommodating desert you've ever visited. No matter how hot it gets, low humidity usually keeps things dry and comfortable.

Tourism peaks during summer, when coastal hotels fill to capacity, restaurant reservations can be hard to get, and top attractions are packed with visitors and locals off from work or school. Summer can be miserable in the inland valleys, where daytime temperatures -- and that famous L.A. smog -- can be stifling, but the beach communities almost always remain comfortable. Moderate temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates make travel to L.A. most pleasurable during the winter. The city is at its best from early autumn to late spring, when the skies are less smoggy. Rain is rare in Los Angeles -- about 34 days a year, on average -- but it can cause flooding when it does sneak up on the unsuspecting city; precipitation is most likely from February to April and is virtually unheard of between May and November. Even in January, daytime temperatures reach into the 60s (high teens Celsius) and higher -- sometimes up to the 80s (high 20s Celsius).

Pundits claim L.A. has no seasons; it might be more accurate to say the city has its own unique seasons. Two of them are "June Gloom" and "the Santa Anas." The first refers to the ocean fog that keeps the beach cities (and often all of L.A.) overcast into early afternoon; it's most common in June but can occur any time between March and mid-August. The middle of autumn (Oct-Nov) often brings the "Santa Anas," strong, hot winds from across the desert that increase brush-fire danger (surfers love the offshore conditions they usually create).

Winds and coastal fog aside, Los Angeles remains relatively temperate year-round, with an average of 320 sunny days per year and an average mean temperature of 66°F (19°C). It's possible to sunbathe throughout the year, but only die-hard enthusiasts and wet-suited surfers venture into the ocean in winter, when water temps hover around 50° to 55°F (10°-13°C). The water is warmest in summer and fall, usually about 65° to 70°F (18°-21°C), but even then the Pacific can be too chilly for many.

Holidays -- Banks, government offices, post offices, and many stores, restaurants, and museums are closed on the following legal national holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day), the third Monday in January (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day), the third Monday in February (Presidents' Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), the first Monday in September (Labor Day), the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans Day/Armistice Day), the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day), and December 25 (Christmas). The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day, a federal government holiday in presidential election years.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.