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January 2022 Events in California | Visit California

January 2022 Events in California

Celebrate winter in the Golden State with epic snow, wildlife viewing, and excellent dining deals

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Posted 7 months agoby Katrina Hunt

January in California offers endless new beginnings, whether you want to extend your holiday season or perhaps just recover from it. Play in the snow, check out the whales along the coast, or make the most of a winter event. January 2022 is indeed a good time to get excellent deals on local cuisine, enjoy wine tasting, or soak up the fresh air at outdoor festivals. (As always, before you travel for any event, make sure to check its web site for the latest updates and safety protocols.) Here are more than 20 ways to start making great memories in 2022:

All Month: Restaurant Weeks

Many California cities and towns are hosting their own Restaurant Weeks this month—it’s an ideal opportunity to enjoy prix-fixe deals for lunch and dinner. In Northern California, for instance, you can enjoy special Farm-to-Fork meals during Sacramento’s Dine Downtown (Jan. 7–17), Elk Grove Restaurant Week (Jan. 14–23), and Butte County Restaurant Week (Jan. 21–30). 

In the Bay Area, choose from Napa Valley Restaurant Week (Jan. 21–30), Alameda Restaurant Week (Jan. 14–23), Vacaville Restaurant Week (Jan. 17–26), and the irresistible Concord Comfort Food Week (Jan. 14–31). Head a little inland for Stockton Restaurant Week (Jan. 14–23), or toward the mountains for Tuolumne County Restaurant Week (Jan. 21­–30).

Indulge in the Central Coast’s food-and-wine scene during Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week (Jan. 14-23), Santa Ynez Valley’s SYV Restaurant Weeks (Jan. 17–Jan. 31), or San Luis Obispo County’s month-long SLO CAL Restaurant Month.

All Month: Whale Watching

It’s prime time to see California gray whales make their annual migration to Baja. See them along the North Coast at Mendocino Headlands State Park and Point Arena Lighthouse, or book a spot on a Mendocino whale-watching charter. Near San Francisco, look for them at the tip of Point Reyes National Seashore. Visit Oxnard for a whale-watching tournear Channel Islands National Park or head south to Dana Point, where you can watch the mammals from an underwater viewing pod.

Jan. 6–8: Toyota U.S. Grand Prix of Snowboard & Freeski, Mammoth

Watch top-tier skiers and snowboarders compete at Mammoth Mountain’s Unbound Main Park for the last qualifying event before the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The competitions are held near the resort’s Main Lodge, so you might easily catch a glimpse of Mammoth regulars such as Chloe Kim, Maddie Mastro, and Judd Henkes. The event culminates Jan. 8 with the U.S. Team Nomination Ceremony.

Jan. 8–9: Alpenglow Demo Day, Palisades Tahoe

If you’ve ever wanted to try backcountry snow sports such as alpine touring, telemarking, or splitboarding, head to this well-known demo day that also includes avalanche education, guided tours, and a huge raffle. Admission is free for anyone who has a lift ticket for that weekend at the North Lake Tahoe resort.

Begins Jan. 8: Snowshoe Eco-Tours, Big Bear

Take this seasonal, naturalist-led snowshoe tour through the San Bernardino National Forest, honing your skills and learning about the local flora and fauna along the way. Beginners are welcome—the only prep you need is to dress in layers and wear waterproof boots or shoes. Runs on Saturdays and Sundays through Mar. 27.

Jan. 8–30: SeaWorld Inside Look

Get an up-close look at conservation efforts at the San Diego theme park and zoological institution. Check out special exhibits around the park to learn about the daily work of the SeaWorld Rescue Team and their colleagues who care for the park’s orcas, dolphins, sharks, and more. Runs on Saturdays and Sundays; included with park admission.

Begins Jan. 9: Sunday Polo Games at Empire Polo Grounds, Indio

During spring, this field in Indio usually hosts big-name artists at Coachella. During the winter months, it’s a legit polo field. Bring your own food for picnics or tailgating, or sit at the clubhouse and order food while watching polo matches; admission is just $20 per person. Runs through March 27.

Begins Jan. 10: Dining For Justice, Oakland

During 2022, many Oakland restaurants will begin adding a 1 percent surcharge to diners' bills to fund meals for the unhoused. The Community Kitchens initiative began during the early days of the pandemic, when mostly-closed Oakland restaurants used their kitchens to make meals for those in need. Plan a dinner at one of these restaurants to support the cause.

Jan. 15-16: Winter Wineland, Sonoma County

Taste limited production wines, new releases, or library wines at this annual event along Northern Sonoma County’s Wine Road. Buy a pass for just one day or the whole weekend and choose from one-hour tasting experiences at 54 participating wineries, including Baldassari Wines, Colagrossi Wines, and Viszlay Vineyards. Some wineries are also offering tastings on Monday, Jan. 17.



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Jan. 15–17: Celebrate Lodi Petite Sirah, Lodi

Experience Central Valley reds for free at this tasting event in the Lodi Wine Country. Pick up a guidebook at one of the 19 participating wineries, then enjoy samples of the unique red at wineries including Mettler Family Vineyards, Estate Crush, and Dancing Coyote Wines.

Begins Jan. 15: Napa Lighted Art Festival

Missing those holiday lights? Come to this free, open-air, illuminated art walk created by local and international artists in Downtown Napa. This year’s installations include “electric dandelions” and an interactive swing hung from a cloud sculpture. Make it an evening by grabbing a bite or drink at “Napa After Dark” locations (including an all-brandies tasting room). Runs through Mar. 13.



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Jan. 20-23: Fog Fair, San Francisco

Contemporary art goes beyond framed works and sculpture at this festival at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. Buy tickets by the day to check out furniture, visual art, and other design pieces affiliated with 45 art galleries in San Francisco as well as New York City, London, and Paris.

Beginning Jan. 21: Lunar New Year Festivities

The Year of the Tiger officially begins Feb. 1, but parties and parades will start early and keep rolling throughout California. Disneyland Resort (Jan. 21–Feb. 13) in Anaheim and Universal Studios Hollywood (dates still TBD) both host celebrations, with seasonal menus, strolling characters, and live performances. On Jan. 30, Los Angeles will hold its Golden Dragon Parade. Save the dates, meanwhile, for the Vietnamese Tet Festival in Costa Mesa (Feb. 5–6) and San Francisco’s huge Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade (Feb. 19).

Begins Jan. 21: Wake Me When I’m Free: Tupac Shakur, Los Angeles

Explore the music and poetry of the late Tupac Shakur at this immersive exhibit at The Canvas, part of downtown Los Angeles’ L.A. Live. The 20,000-square-foot space will highlight the life and work of the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer through artifacts and surround-sound technology. The Estate-sanctioned exhibit runs through May 1.

Jan. 22: Big Sur Foragers Festival

Whether you love mushrooms or the sweeping views along Highway 1, this weekend in Big Sur is a feast for the senses. The festival includes brunches, an online auction, and guided foraging walks, including one led by Todd Spanier, the chef and forager known as the “King of Mushrooms.”

Begins Jan. 22: Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, Buena Park

The Buena Park theme park starts the year off strong with this six-week salute to Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Look for strolling characters, from Lucy to Pig Pen, and live shows such as “Space Beagle.” Runs daily through March 6.

Jan. 23: Snow Leopard Festival, Santa Barbara

The usually balmy city of Santa Barbara is home to a small winter wonderland at this annual family-friendly event. Glide down a sledding hill stocked with 80 tons of snow at the Santa Barbara Zoo, and have fun watching majestic white cats and other critters frolic in their own snow play area.



Jan. 26–29: Farmers Insurance Open, San Diego

Experience this historic PGA tour tournament held at the coastal Torrey Pines Golf Course, known for its feathery-needled pine trees. Check out the still-developing lineup of players and consider getting an up-close view by staying at the neighboring Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Jan. 27–30: Snow Goose Festival of the Pacific Flyway, Chico

During winter, Butte County becomes a serious magnet for snowbirds—waterfowl, raptors, and tens of thousands of snow geese. This four-day festival in Chico offers more than 50 different bird-watching field trips, as well as opportunities to hike the Sutter Buttes and visit local vineyards.

Begins Jan. 29: Winter Blooms at Filoli, Woodside

Winter brings orchids, magnolias, and citrus blossoms to this 1917 country estate in San Mateo County, 30 miles south of San Francisco. From Jan. 29–Feb. 6, see the Orchid Takeover—flowers from the estate’s own greenhouse, as well as regional orchid societies—on display in the historic house and Visitor’s Center. Starting on Jan. 30, come on select Sundays for Stories in Bloom—performances of poetry, short stories, and flower arranging. The first performance features former San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck.

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