Cooler cities in California provide plenty of opportunities for warm weather activities away from the scorching sun during the summer period.
The Golden State is a year-round attraction since it has all four seasons.
Residents and visitors enjoy the summer warmth and the 450 inches of snowfall that falls each year.
However, 10 California cities provide ideal weather conditions for both inhabitants and visitors.
The entire month of June is ideal for relaxing at the beach or for skateboarding at the skatepark.
It is not uncommon for guests to spend the morning surfing on the beach before flying to Snow Summit for an afternoon of skiing.
If you live in California but are tired of the state’s high average temperatures, hang on and learn about the top ten coolest cities in California.
Some of them you may be familiar with, while others may be unfamiliar to you.
In any case, you’re about to discover some new destinations with nicer weather all year.
So, let’s get started.
10 Cooler Cities in California
The 10 cooler cities in California include Watsonville, San Bruno, San Francisco, Napa, San Ramon, Petaluma, Palo Alto, Vallejo and Berkeley among others.
Before going into the finer details of each city, let’s briefly look at California’s climate.
The Climate of California
California’s climate is distinguished by two seasons: wet and dry.
Except along the shore, the dryness of the air and the resulting quick evaporation reduce the harshness of summer heat.
Rainfall fluctuates between 170 inches (4,300 mm) in the northwest to traces in the southeastern desert, while the coast experiences moderate temperatures and rainfall.
The climate additionally transforms quickly in response to elevational extremes.
Death Valley is the hottest and driest location in North America, having a lowest point of 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level.
Summer temperatures easily reach the 100s F (approximately 48 °C), while the average yearly rainfall is only about 2 inches (50 mm).
Temperatures in the low-lying Colorado Desert can exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), with annual precipitation averaging only 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm).
Summer temperatures in California’s upper eastern deserts are more temperate.
Temperatures in the Sierra Nevada can drop below freezing in the winter.
Los Angeles has an annual temperature in the mid-60s F (approximately 18 °C) with an annual precipitation of roughly 14 inches (350 mm).
Having reviewed the climate of the sunshine state briefly, let’s now look at the cooler cities of California in detail.
10 Cooler Cities of California
While the Golden State is most known for its warm, sunny cities like Los Angeles and San Diego in Southern California, there are still places with milder temperatures.
Some of them you may be familiar with, while others may be unfamiliar to you.
In any case, you’re going to learn about some new destinations with nicer weather all year.
Watsonville in the Monterey Bay Area is the coolest city in California among communities with at least 40,000 residents.
It has warm weather all year.
Winter temperatures range from 60-63 °F during the day to 38-41°F at night.
Temperatures in the summer remain quite warm, reaching 72-73°F during the day and holding around 50-52°F at night.
There will be no need for air conditioning when you visit this city.
San Bruno (57.35°F)
San Bruno features in the second position among the cooler cities in California.
The city of San Bruno is the first of several in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Bruno has slightly milder winters and slightly warmer summers than downtown San Francisco.
Temperatures range between 57-60°F during the day and 46-47°F at night between December and February.
Average highs in the hottest months reach 71-72°F, with lows dropping to 55-56°F.
Summers in San Bruno are long, comfortable, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are brief, cold, wet and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 45°F to 71°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 38°F or rising over 81°F.
San Francisco (57.7°F)
Favored by technology businesses and youthful professionals, San Francisco takes the third position among the coolest cities in California.
This list is dominated by San Francisco and the adjacent Silicon Valley communities.
San Francisco has a year-round moderate climate.
Temperatures in the coldest months range from 58°F to 60°F during the day (47-48°F at night) to 70°F in the hottest months (56°F at night).
Summers in San Francisco are long, comfortable, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, cold, damp, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 45°F to 72°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 39°F or rising over 83°F.
Napa is the fourth coolest city in California.
Summers in Napa, in the wine country north of San Francisco, are substantially warmer than in cities closer to the city.
Average temperatures during the day can exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the city remains exceptionally cool because nighttime temperatures drop further than in other places on this list.
Winter temperatures range from 57 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drop to a very cold 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Summers in Napa are long, warm, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, chilly, damp, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 39°F to 83°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 30°F or rising over 92°F.
The key factor regulating the climate in Salinas, which is about ten miles inland from the coast, is ocean air and fog from Monterey Bay.
It is the fifth on the list of the coolest cities in California.
Winters in the city are comfortable, with daytime temperatures ranging from 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures ranging from 40 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit.
Summers in Salinas are brief, comfortable, dry, and mainly clear, while winters are brief, cold, damp, and partially cloudy.
Summer temperatures feature highs of 74°F and lows of 54°F.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 42°F to 72°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 34°F or rising over 84°F.
San Ramon (58°F)
The city of San Ramon is the sixth coolest city in California.
San Ramon is approximately 36 miles east of San Francisco.
Its inland location allows for milder summer days, with temperatures reaching 80-82°F.
Throughout the year, nights are crisp to chilly, reaching 55°F in the hottest months.
San Ramon has daytime temperatures of 58-61°F and overnight temperatures of 39-43°F during the colder season.
Summers in San Ramon are long, warm, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, chilly, wet, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 40°F to 82°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 31°F or rising over 92°F.
Petaluma is the seventh on the list of the cooler cities in California.
The climate in Petaluma, Sonoma County, is similar to that of Napa.
Summers in Petaluma are long, warm, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, chilly, damp, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 39°F to 83°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 30°F or rising over 93°F.
Winter temperatures range from 58-61°F during the day to 38-40°F at night.
Temperatures in the warmest months range from 81-82°F during the day (some of the highest in this list) to 52-53°F at night.
Palo Alto (58.05°F)
Throughout the year, Palo Alto enjoys cold nights making it eighth on the list of cooler cities in California.
Temperatures in the coldest months can plummet to 38-41°F, while in the summer they can reach 53-55°F.
Winter daytime temperatures are mild, ranging from 58 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit, like in the previous cities in the area.
Summers in Palo Alto are long, warm, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, chilly, wet, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 44°F to 77°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 36°F or rising over 87°F.
Vallejo is ninth on the list of cooler cities in California.
Temperatures in Vallejo are nearly identical to those in San Ramon.
Winter days are 57-62°F and nights are 38-41°F.
Summers in Vallejo are long, warm, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, chilly, damp, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 40°F to 81°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 32°F or rising over 90°F.
Last but not least on the list of cooler cities in California is Berkeley.
Berkeley, on the eastside of San Francisco Bay, has slightly warmer winters than other cities in the region while still having cool summers.
In the winter, average highs reach 59-62°F, dropping to 43-45°F at night.
Summers in Berkeley are long, comfortable, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, cold, damp, and partially cloudy.
Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 43°F to 76°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 35°F or rising over 86°F.
Other Cooler Cities in California
Apart from the large cities listed above, most of which are located in the same San Francisco Bay Area region (or adjacent to it), there are other smaller communities with pleasant weather.
Many of these are even cooler than the previous cities, but they didn’t make my first list because they were too little.
In the far north of California, villages and towns like Eureka and Crescent City on the Pacific Ocean coast have very warm year-round climates.
Such a mild temperature extends further south as well, becoming warmer as you get closer to San Francisco.
The seaside wind continues to keep these places cooler than the temperatures would imply.
If you travel to the far northeast corner of California, you’ll come across small villages like Alturas, which have four distinct seasons (and very cold winters).
Mount Shasta, as well as surrounding cities like Weed, has a frigid four-season climate.
Some people prefer heading over Idaho, so check out my article on warmest cities in Idaho.
Final Thoughts on Cooler Cities in California
Despite having a reputation for hot summers, there are numerous cooler cities in California.
Cities such as Watsonville and San Bruno offer an alternative to those who love escaping from the scorching sun during the summer season.
Personally, I prefer San Francisco because it features mild weather and rarely experiences extreme temperatures.
So, if you’re looking for a cooler city within the sunshine state, peruse through my list and select one that pleases you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the coldest city in California?
While the ghost town of Bodie is the coldest town in California, Truckee is the coldest populated city. At an elevation of 5,817 feet, this little settlement is located in Nevada County, not far from Lake Tahoe. All but four months of the year, Truckee experiences cold temperatures at night. Summer temperatures can reach 84°F during the day, but drop to 40°F at night.
What is the coldest city in California in the summer?
Crescent City has the coldest summers. The average daytime temperature is only 62-65°F, while the nighttime temperature is 49-53°F.
What states close to California have a cooler but still sunny climate?
One potential location is the southern region of Oregon, which includes communities such as Medford and Grants Pass inland and Brookings on the coast.
Which part of California has the coolest weather?
Summers in coastal northern California are cold, with many overcast and foggy days. The average summer high temperature in San Francisco is 68°F (20°C), making it ideal for individuals who prefer chilly summers yet are still warm enough to enjoy being outside!
Why is San Diego cooler than LA?
Both San Diego and San Francisco were established on the coastline, and their weather stations are located there. However, because LA originated a few miles further inland, it is warmer there. The coast is cooler because of a cold-water current from Alaska that keeps the sea and neighboring air cool.