Know this before booking California flights – if America is the land of opportunity, California is the state of chance. California showed great prospect as far as back as the 1800’s, when a settler struck gold at Sutter’s Mill and California quickly became the land of wealth. The effects of the California Gold Rush were monumental and today, the coastal state continues to welcome visitors booking airline tickets to California for a greater opportunity, or for just plain fun.
The third-largest state in the United States is a place of enormous diversity. From the Redwood forests in the north to the sunny beaches of the Pacific Coast, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Central Valley, visitors will be spoiled for choice. The question travelers should ask themselves before booking a cheap flight to California is not what to do, but where to start? The four biggest cities in California are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco. Each of these cities have more than enough to occupy visitors, between museums, galleries, shopping, world-class dining and exciting nightlife.
In LA, travelers have the chance to experience some of the West Coasts’ most famous streets. The rich and luxurious charter their own California flights to Beverly Hills and to shop the swank stores along Rodeo Drive. In Hollywood, see the Mann Chinese Theater and be on the lookout for celebrity A-listers. Gold stars grace the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard, marking the achievements of Hollywood’s greatest artists. Just outside of Los Angeles, visitors would be remiss if they didn’t visit one of California’s beautiful beaches in Malibu or Santa Monica before boarding the California flight home. In San Fran, people will be awed by the hilly streets and views of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge which spans the Golden Gate strait, a channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Fisherman’s Wharf and the former prison on Alcatraz Island also are big reasons why many take flights to California. San Diego is famous for its beaches, parks like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, and warm weather. You can also catch a Padres game if you’re a sports fan, or grab some food and drinks in the famous Gaslight district. Lastly, San Jose is known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley” and is major technology hub, home to many high tech and electronics companies. Many business conferences are held in the area as well each year.
Outside these bustling metropolises, natural wonders are in abundance. For the outdoor traveler going to California, open parks and hiking trails at Big Sur, Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park contrast with the beaches of Orange County and are a nature-lover’s dream come true. One of the best-kept secrets in California is the Shasta Cascade region in the far north of the state. Covering 20 percent of California, this uncrowded region of national forests, parks, lakes, rivers and waterfalls offers the chance to refresh and recharge before heading back to the work-a-day world. For the wine connoisseur, be sure to visit the Sonoma and Napa Valley regions which reaches into the Redwood forests and trails of the North Coast. Wine country draws large crowds of tourists each and every year, and there are numerous vineyards to visit where you can sample a glass if you desire.
People traveling to California are bound to be busy during their visit and the options for activities are endless. However, in the land of opportunity, what better state to take a chance in?
Due to its topographical extremes California’s weather depends on where you are. Along the coast, the climate is mostly mild. Los Angeles is high desert, and the low humidity keeps the city comfortable year-round. About 28 miles south of LA, Anaheim can go up into the 80s or 90s in the summer, with cool evenings. Anaheim winters are mild with little rain. San Francisco is foggy with cool winds. Summer temperatures occasionally go above 70; fall tends to have clear skies and temperatures in the 80s. Winter rarely goes below freezing. Sacramento’s summer days can reach 100 degrees, but then drop as much as 40 degrees at night. The rainy season runs from late fall into spring, and winters are cold and foggy.
California is blessed with pleasant weather most of the year, meaning the peak season is year-round. Flights to California can be expensive because of this, so make sure to book in advance to get the best savings on your flight tickets. If you’re a movie fan, you should book your flights to California around February, more specifically to Los Angeles, as it is home to the Academy Awards. You’ll find cheap flights to California are extremely difficult to find around this time of year, as well and in June and August.
The cheapest flights to California are best found around January. Parts of California class this as the rainy season so expect the best discounts on your flight tickets here. That said, cheap flights to California aren’t overly common, so plan in advance and book early to get the best savings.
To find the cheapest flights to California, it’s recommended to book your flight tickets as early as 6 months in advance. If you’re not flexible enough to plan that far ahead, aim for a minimum of 7 weeks before booking your flights to California. Take into consideration events like the Academy Awards when looking into flights to California as this will increase the price a lot. If you’re flying into Los Angeles try to sit on the right hand side of the plane to get spectacular views of the Hollywood sign, the L.A River and the San Gabriel mountains. Being flexible is the best way to secure the cheapest flights to California.
Los Angeles International Airport, also referred to as LAX, offers both domestic and international flights to multiple destinations around the world. Within the US, non-stop flights to California are approximately five and a half hours from New York, three and a half hours from Minneapolis, six hours from Boston and five and a half hours from Miami. If you’re flying internationally, flights from both London and Japan are approximately 11 hours. It’s important to keep in mind that flight times can vary due to delays such as weather conditions and unforeseen issues, so it’s always best to get to the airport a few hours early to ensure you’re properly informed of any changes to your flight.
Once you arrive in Los Angeles, head to the baggage claim area and out the automatic airport doors to access transportation to your lodging destination. If you’ve booked a ride in advance, there are shuttle guides along the walkway to ensure you catch your ride on time. Taxis and ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are also waiting at LAX for travelers without pre-booked transportation.
California is an extremely popular travel destination thanks to its beautiful weather and world-famous attractions, and Los Angeles International Airport accommodates over 50 airlines for arrivals from all over the globe. Major U.S. carriers that fly into LAX include American Airlines, Jet Blue, Delta and Virgin America. Sun Country Airlines offers charter flights from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, while International carriers include British Airways, Scandanavian Airlines, Air Canada and Virgin Australia.
While its well-known that California offers nice weather pretty much year-round, there are dips in temperature during the winter months, so you’ll want to be sure to pack accordingly. A good way to gauge the upcoming California temperatures is to go online and check the weather forecasts for your travel dates. During the spring and summer months, you’ll want to pack sunscreen, light clothing and beachwear if you’re planning to spend a lot of time on the beach or lounging poolside by your hotel.
Los Angeles International:
Downtown LA is located around 18 miles from LAX airport. The easiest and cheapest option is to get a free shuttle bus from the airport. Outside of arrivals you should take either shuttle G or C. C takes you to the Metro bus center and from there you can either continue on your way to downtown LA or if you’re staying in Hollywood or Santa Monica, you can find means of transport from here. You can also jump in a taxi if you want convenient and fast travel from the airport, however the price won’t be cheap and it is expected that you tip your driver. This is a good option if there are a few of you to split the fare.
San Francisco International:
The easiest and most convenient way to travel from the airport to the city is from the BART station. It’s located in the International Terminal, and you can take a free AirTran from all terminals to the BART station. You will need to buy a ticket from the BAET station before you travel, or you can book in advance and exchange your voucher for the correct ticket, which is kind of like a debit card which you keep for your time in San Francisco. Another option is to get a taxi from outside of the airport, although this can be costly if you’re travelling alone. You can also take a shuttle or shared van from the airport, simply tell the driver where you want to go and he’ll add you to his route and tell you the price.
In general, driving is the best way to cover short distances in California, or if you enjoy long drives, for covering the entire state. If you’re booking flights to California and then planning on driving the state, make sure to carry a map as not all road signs indicate a direction, just town or city names. If you’re headed into the mountains, make sure to get antifreeze and tire chains
Many freeways have carpool lanes called “diamond” lanes or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations regarding the use of these lanes as some of them are monitored even during non-rush hour and fines can be quite high.
From visiting national landmarks to spending the day with Mickey and the gang at Disneyland, California offers visitors something for everyone. If you’re staying in the Los Angeles area or the San Fernando Valley, a variety of attractions are just a 20-minute drive away. Take in a Laker game or a music concert at the Staples Center, or visit Universal City Walk in Universal City, where you can take a tram tour of Universal Studios or enjoy a meal at one of several restaurants in the City Walk promenade.
If you’re visiting Santa Monica or Venice, head over to the Venice Beach boardwalk to check out the wares from local merchants, or take a leisurely boat ride through the Venice canals. The Santa Monica Pier is also a can’t-miss national landmark in this area, complete with restaurants, carnival rides and paddle boats for rent.
For a fun-filled day of sports and food, visit the world-famous Dodger Stadium during baseball season, where you can cheer for the boys in blue during baseball season and sample a tasty “dodger dog.” If you’re hoping to learn about Hollywood history and maybe even snap a few celebrity photos, head over to Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and visit Mann’s Chinese Theater, where you’ll find hundreds of celebrity handprints immortalized in cement.
Disneyland is one of California’s most popular tourist attractions for “kids” of all ages. Located in Anaheim, Disneyland is approximately 25 miles from Los Angeles and definitely worth the 45-minute drive. Spend the day walking through the park and riding some of the old classics such as “It’s a Small World” and the “Space Mountain,” then visit Disneyland’s partner park California Adventure and hop on “California Screamin” for the ultimate roller-coaster ride.
If you’re looking to extend your trip outside of California, let Cheapflights help you get there in a convenient and affordable fashion. LAX accommodates all of the major U.S. carriers including American Airlines, Jet Blue, Delta and Virgin America, and Sun Country offers charter flights within the U.S and to Mexico, so booking your outbound flight should be a breeze. LAX also serves several international carriers for outbound flights, including Air Canada, Scandanavian Airlines and British Airways.
Check out these popular U.S. flight routes from California, along with some great flight deals:
If you need transportation to the airport, there are several options available ranging from public transportation to shuttle services such as Super Shuttle, Airport Shuttle and Prime Time Shuttle. United Taxi offers flat rates to the airport, and ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber are authorized to both drop off and pick up at LAX.
The LA Flyaway located in Van Nuys provides regular shuttle services for passengers heading to the airport from the San Fernando Valley, and Metro Red Line city buses pick up passengers at multiple locations throughout the state. If you plan to take public transportation, it’s always a good idea to catch a bus at least four hours before your flight, as traffic in Los Angeles can lead to delays, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour. LAX requires passengers to arrive at least two hours before departure for security purposes, so you’ll also want to make sure to incorporate this into your overall travel time.
When booking a shuttle van, taxi or shared transportation service such as Uber, scheduling your ride at least 24 hours prior will help to ensure a timely arrival at the airport. However, most taxis and ride-sharing services can also pick you up with a 15 minute notice if you’re strapped for time.
For additional information about navigating the Los Angeles International Airport, take a look at our detailed airport guide.
Top Destinations in California