Start your day at the beach and end it in the mountains! Southern California is one of the few places where you can surf and ski on the same day, and it’s truly one of the greatest things about living here. Now that winter is upon us, here are a few spots in our sunshine state where you can enjoy the snow without the actual work of living in it. Depending on where you live, and when travel is possible, these fun spots are just far enough to feel like a getaway, yet close enough to make it a weekend trip!
San Gorgonio Mountain (Big Bear)
The tallest peak in southern California is just two hours east of Los Angeles! San Bernardino’s Big Bear resort is the local mountain for skiers and snowboarders. All outdoor activities including, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow tubing, hiking, running, biking and visiting the lakeshore and other parks are possible during the Covid-19 restrictions. The restaurants and shops are currently open with 35% capacity. If you’re looking for an active winter getaway, this place will tick all the boxes.
A little history: On the eastern face of mountain, there is an old C-47 military aircraft that crash landed there in 1952. There have been a few other famous crashes on this mountain, which include Frank Sinatra’s mother Dolly.
Mt. San Jacinto (Idyllwild)
Nestled in the high peaks of San Jacinto is the artistic community of Idyllwild. This town is known for the arts (Idyllwild arts academy), wonderful restaurants and hiking trails that meander through the wilderness. The small-town charm is palpable and there are tons of beautiful and unique Airbnb options that can help you relax and unwind. There is also a tram that takes you up from Palm Springs to the San Jacinto state park at 5873ft! The best thing about the winters here is you’ll get lots of snow and sunshine at the same time.
Fun fact: Mt San Jacinto has the densest tree coverage of all forests in the United states.
San Gabriel Mountains (Mt Baldy)
Just under 50 miles from Los Angeles, Mt Baldy is the closest place to see snow during So-Cal winters. It has a ski resort, scenic lift rides, tubing, lots of varying hiking trails and they are open for the season! Snow is spottier here than in Big Bear, so look up weather conditions before your visit. They are taking Covid-19 precautions seriously by requiring face masks at all times, having people book their lift tickets online and maintaining social distancing throughout. If you’re looking for a fun snow day, Mt Baldy is the perfect place to enjoy it for the day!
Fun fact: They boast the largest and steepest slopes in Southern California. Great for those skiers and snowboarders! Horrible for a novice like me. You’ll find me at the bottom of the hill throwing snowballs at strangers.
Since the regional “stay at home order” has been lifted as of 1/25/2021, the resort is open for the 2021 season! One of the further destinations for snow fun (5 hours or 310 miles from Los Angeles), Mammoth is a favorite amongst boarders and skiers alike. Mammoth is not only the highest ski resort in California, but it also gets more snow than most of the Eastern Sierra peaks. Hitting the slopes then ending the day in a hot tub with CBD sounds like the perfect winter weekend.
Fun fact: Mammoth mountain was an active volcano! The slow flowing lava created this peak over 110,000 years ago. Go conquer that volcano you badass.
Los Padres National Forest (Mount Pinos)
More off the beaten path, Mount Pinos is the highest peak in Ventura County. The scenic drive into the park is breathtaking and it’s just a couple hours north east from Los Angeles. The trail starts from the Los Padres national forest road S349S and the hike will take you up to 8847ft (4 miles round trip)! If you want to enjoy the snow without the crowd, this magical place is worth the visit.
Fun fact: Mt. Pinos is considered one of the best places to stargaze due to low light pollution and clear skies. You can enjoy them from the Chula Vista campground. Come for the hikes, stay for the stars!
Now that you know where to find the snow, go have an adventure!
Please first check the most current and applicable regulations before traveling.
Kyuri Lin is a yoga therapist and content creator based out of Southern California. Her passion for wellness, the great outdoors, travel and cannabis led her to work in the health and fitness industry. Since 2014, Kyuri has worked with clients one-on-one to help them reach their fitness goals, and improve their moods and enhance their lives. As a cancer survivor, Kyuri has a valuable perspective on wellness, and she believes that cannabis and yoga can be an important part of healing journeys.