The Golden State is an obvious choice for people looking to escape the winter chill and bitter blizzards of the Midwest and East Coast. However, people don't often look to California's snow country for refuge but to the more popular sun-soaked regions of SoCal. Instead of touring the city streets, why not go skiing, touring the mountains, and seeing some of the most amazing natural sites in the entire country? California has it all in spades so pack a bag, grab some friends, and lead your group on a tour of California's top winter vacation destinations.
Bordering both Oregon and Nevada, this northeastern region of California quietly boasts all of the enchanted forest, winter wonderland atmosphere you'll be looking for. Home to seven national forests, volcanoes, numerous waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and even more naturally stunning landscapes, Shasta Cascade is among the most beautiful regions in the world. Climb Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta, the area's two major volcanoes, or picnic in their shadowed valleys, by nearby lakes, or hike around Lava Beds National Monument for a full day of touring thermal features. When you get tired and too cold to continue outdoors, head inside one of the area's quaint, cute, and quirky small towns like Redding, Dunsmuir, and Mount Shasta's self-named village. The magnificent scenery and abundance of outdoor activity is sure to keep your senses overwhelmed and your group occupied.
Southeast of Yosemite lies the idyllic mountain town of Mammoth Lakes. While the town is fabulous for the other three seasons, it truly shines bright in winter when outdoor activities multiply tenfold and the surrounding mountains and lakes are draped in a layer of snow as soft as angel wings. The Mammoth Ski Area is a world-class mountain resort with over 3,500 acres, 28 lifts, 150 trails and an average of 400 inches of snow per season. If you enjoy skiing or snowboarding then Mammoth is perhaps the best place for you. For the kids, Woolly's tube park is perfect for sledding and tubing down paved snowy paths saved just for them. Mammoth Lakes is also wonderful for winter snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating, dog sledding, and more!
Lake Tahoe is an obvious choice when it comes to winter in California. With snow-topped pines, a perfectly frozen lake under the bluest sky you'll ever see surrounded by mountains and wildlife, Tahoe is a veritable wonderland. There are many other beautiful destinations in the Sierra Nevada region, including Sierra-at-Tahoe, Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Diamond Peak among others. On the California side you have a full collection of winter activities to enjoy, the most winter-sensational being in the Tahoe South region, like the classic skiing and snowboarding but also new renditions of winter recreation like Human Sled Bowling and others. Some of the best ski resorts are located here alongside idyllic resort villages with delicious restaurants serving hot beverages, relaxing spas, and comfortable and warm inns to stay the night. Simply look at a picture of Tahoe in the winter to see that its absolutely stunning. Go ahead and look.
Yosemite National Park
Officially one of the most visited, most popular national parks in the country, Yosemite does not hibernate. On the contrary, Yosemite makes a fantastic debut wearing winter clothes of white, its waterfalls decorated with icicles, the lakes frosted over and the pine trees striped green and white with layers of snow. Magnificent rocky cliffs rising like the original skyscrapers into the bright blue sky, high above the caribou, bison, and deer that call the park home. The area is absolute heaven on earth and has plenty to keep your group active for days, maybe even weeks. Tour the park by foot and hike the trails or drive through the most popular areas, camp, or road trip with an RV for a full immersive group vacation. Take a backcountry ski tour, snow shoe across the landscape, or ski Badger Pass, one of the top ski destinations in the world.
San Bernardino Range
Southern California may not be known for its snow but believe me, the mountains of the San Bernardino Range make for an excellent snowy getaway in the midst of sunny SoCal. Just outside Los Angeles you can find Mountain High, home to a beautiful ski resort complete with an average of over 130 inches of snow a season, or the Big Bear resorts at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. The range tops out at over 11,000 feet with the highest being the San Gorgonio Mountain. Ski, snowboard, hike, or simply sit and stare at the winter mountains topped with snow. There's never a shortage of fun when it comes to quick snow vacations. Sample winter for the day and head back to the coast for some San Diego or Los Angeles warm weather winter.