Let’s face it, snowy weather is an increasingly rare treat for us in Southern California. Fortunately though, because of our wonderfully varied topography, we are spoiled with choices. Those of us that live here have the option of surfing one day and snowboarding the next. Or if you’re motivated, you can actually do both on the same day. Snow is there to be found, you just have to know where to look. The first question you must pose to yourself is, “what am I looking for”?
For anyone looking for the full winter resort experience, Southern California’s top location is Big Bear Lake. Only about a three-hour drive North-East of Los Angeles, this little mountain town offers winter adventurers for just about anything you could want. You can hit the trails for a day of group snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Skiers and Snowboarders can enjoy the terrain park at Bear Mountain, which has the only half-pipe in Southern California, or cruise the groomed trails at Snow Summit. Both parks will honor the same lift ticket.
Families looking for something fun, but less extreme, should check out the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. For $30 per person you can buy a full day of snow tubing. The best part might be the Magic Carpet uphill lift, which means you don’t have to walk, or carry your kids tube, repeatedly back up the hill.
At the end of a frosty fun-filled day, warm up and decompress at one of the local spas, explore the culinary scene, or relax in front of a crackling fire back in your cabin.
If you aren’t looking for such an active weekend or if Big Bear seems a little crowded to you, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Comfortably nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains is Lake Arrowhead. This quaint little resort town, typically covered in snow from December through March, provides access to countless outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, camping, skiing, ice-skating, and fishing. Or you could just rent a cabin for the family, and enjoy the shopping and fine dining offered at Lake Arrowhead Village.
If you want to go even more low-key and completely avoid the crowds that come with ski resorts, escape the desert heat to Idyllwild. This idyllic town is set in the San Jacinto Mountains, among sweet smelling cedars and tall pines. It has been voted “L.A.’s Best Mountain Getaway” and one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America.” Locally owned shops and restaurants dominate the scene and preserve the “small town” atmosphere. The town is flanked by Taquitz Peak, and Suicide Rock, which are famous in the rock climbing community.
Idyllwild’s biggest draw is probably Mt. San Jacinto State Park, which it borders. At 10,834 San Jacinto Peak is the third highest peak in Southern California. With hundreds of miles of trails to hike, it provides plenty of opportunities to play in a winter wonderland.