Thinking about skiing in Mammoth with kids this winter? Your guide on when to go, what to do, and where to stay in Mammoth is here
Mammoth Lakes, which sits at close to 8,000 feet (if you’re keeping track that’s about 1,600 feet higher than Lake Tahoe), has a long ski season (this year the mountain opens Nov. 11 and typically stays open well into the spring!), thanks to its legendary dumps and awesome base. Whether your family is new to skiing or could use a lesson or two, here are the best places to learn how to ski in Mammoth, what else there is to do off the slopes with toddlers and big kids, which nearby restaurants are kid-friendly, and of course, and which cozy cabins are best for a snow-based adventure everyone will enjoy.
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Mammoth Mountain Activities
Mammoth isn't the sleepy little town you remember (loads of hotel and restaurant options) and a drive you can handle (it's about a two-movie drive, with a break in between for a potty break!), it just might become your new go-to.
Go Skiing in Mammoth
Whether you are a seasoned skier or snowboarder (or have kids that have never stepped in snow), The Mammoth Ski and Snowboard School is a stellar program, with patient pros who help the little ones become future shredders—they also offer adaptive lessons so those that may have a disability can still enjoy the rush and excitement of heading down the mountain.
Spring in Mammoth means mild conditions, a sunny apres scene and the chance to take advantage of the season’s massive snow fall. The mountain itself is huge and spread out, which means even on busy days, the crowds disperse throughout the mountain so you never feel too cramped when on the slopes. Kids group lessons start at three-years old and continue up through adult.
Good to Know: Kids 4 and under ski free at Mammoth Mountain (and after May 28 ALL kids ski or ride for free!), and with dozens of beginner slopes that are wide and groomed, this mountain is great for beginners.
Related: 10 Skiing Hacks to Memorize Before Hitting the Slopes
What to Do with Non Skiers in Mammoth
Go Tubing in Mammoth
Bomb down the slick snow lanes at Woolly’s Tube Park for a thrilling good time. For those 42” and smaller who aren’t yet tall enough to enjoy the ride, Woolly’s has a fun snow park area and heated deck serving up hot cocoa and adult beverages. Access to the snow park is easy—simply take the red bus line here and you’ll be dropped off right at the entrance.
Go Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing in Mammoth
Take the orange line to Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center (it’s only 10 minutes from the Village) for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or hiking. When we visited the snowshoe trail was packed down, so we ended up hiking the trail with kiddos in the Baby Tula front pack and a hiking backpack. There are 19 miles of trails to explore with lessons, rentals and guided tours available. Trails are dog-friendly and fairly flat so if you have a child who can trek it, this is a good spot for a beginner hike or snowshoe.
Where to Eat in Mammoth with Kids
From fine dining to grab-and-go eats, Mammoth’s dining options are much more diverse than you’d expect from such a small town. Most spots have high chairs and kids menu (or dishes pleasing to a kiddo palate) at the ready, lots have table-side crayons and all won’t bat an eyelash if you walk in at prime dinner hour with a gaggle of children. Expect a warm welcome from restaurants eager to serve families. Below are family-friendly places to eat in Mammoth:
On-Mountain Dining, Eats & Treats
1. Eleven53 Cafe
Take the scenic gondola to the top to a take-your-breath-away 11,053 feet. Stunning views coupled with a grab-and-go meal make Eleven53 Cafe worth the trip. Bonus: Kids will love the free interpretive center where they can touch and feel animal pelts and learn about the area’s geography and history.
2. Broadway Marketplace & McCoy Marketplace
When the fun just can’t stop but you need to grab a bite, visit Broadway Marketplace at the Main Lodge or McCoy Marketplace mid-mountain for pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads and more.
3. Yodler Restaurant and Bar
Located at the Main Lodge adjacent to Mammoth Mountain Inn, this old-school European restaurant serving up an authentic Bavarian menu (think brats, schnitzel and pretzels). The festive interior and super welcoming staff make for a memorable meal. 10001 Minaret Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: theyodlermammoth.com
Off-Mountain Dining, Eats & Treats:
4. Old New York Deli
One of our favorite spots in the Village is Old New York Deli—and, judging by the packed house we aren’t the only fans of this classic bagelry. From sandwiches to traditional bagels and cream cheese to baked goods galore, Old New York Deli is a prime spot to fuel up before a day of adventuring. 6201 Minaret Rd. #105, Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: oldnewyork.com
5. Gomez Restaurant
Nosh on burritos, sizzling fajita plates and delicious enchiladas at this welcoming Mexican restaurant in the Village. Portions are incredibly generous and for those 21+ Gomez offers up 600+ different types of tequila. The restaurant sits at the base near the gondola and on a nice day grab a table outside near one of the fire pits. 100 Canyon Blvd., Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: gomezs.com
6. Mammoth Coffee Roasting Company
If you need your coffee (and a baked good or two), head to this newcomer coffee spot. Expect delicious coffee and amazing pastries and donuts at its new storefront in the heart of downtown Mammoth Lakes. 436 Old Mammoth Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: mammothcoffeeroastingco.com
7. Burgers Restaurant
The name of this restaurant sums up its specialty: burgers! Across from the Village, Burgers dishes out generous portions of their comfort food. Not into the traditional burger? You’ll also find a variety of equally filling eats like veggie burgers, buffalo burgers, pork baby back ribs and more. 6118 Minaret Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: burgersrestaurant.com
Delicious food and a laid-back atmosphere makes Toomey’s an ideal spot to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. Located in the Village, you’ll find dishes like their coconut mascarpone pancakes, fish tacos and a kids menu that includes chicken fingers, mini burger and fries and more.
6085 Minaret Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: toomeysmammoth.com
9. Mammoth Rock 'N' Bowl
Take the red line or the town’s trolley to Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl for a laid-back evening of bowling and eats from pizza to salads to poutine and tacos. Sit at a booth or have your food delivered to your bowling lane. You’ll also find a full bar and arcade, as well as a more upscale Brasserie upstairs for a date night-style dining experience. 3029 Chateau Rd. Mammoth Lakes, CA. Online: mammothrocknbowl.com
Where to Stay in Mammoth with Kids
Condos and hotels abound in Mammoth Lakes, and with the town’s free public bus system you really can’t go wrong with your accommodation choice. Still, traveling with kids means convenience—and proximity to shops, dining and activities—can mean the difference between a happy tear-free afternoon and an epic toddler meltdown. Here are family-friendly places to stay in Mammoth:
The Village Lodge Mammoth
Best for: Ultimate convenience to shops and dining
For accommodations that feel more like home book a condo at The Village Lodge Mammoth. Options range from studio condos to three-bedroom deluxe condos. Condos come equipped with kitchens or kitchenettes stocked with coffee, tea, pots, pans, dishware, a full-size fridge, stove and more, which is a huge perk if you want to whip up food for your child or store leftovers. A swimming pool is open daily (even in winter!) with cribs available upon request.
The Village Lodge offers a free shuttle service anywhere within a 5-mile radius in Mammoth and you’re steps from dining, shopping, most of the major bus lines and the Canyon Village gondola. For those kiddos obsessed with things that go, ask for a room that looks out to the gondola—your child will love watching them come and go all day long.
Mammoth Mountain Inn
Best for: Ski in and out
If being slopeside is your jam, stay at Mammoth Mountain Inn. Located just a few steps from the lifts at the Main Lodge, the Inn offers both hotel-style rooms and condos, with the latter featuring kitchenettes. Nearby you’ll find the Yoddler Restaurant and Bar, Sierra General Store and Mountainside Bar and Grill. Because the Inn is slopeside, this area does get a bit quieter once the lifts close and the apres crowds have dispersed.
Westin Monache Resort Mammoth
Best for: Great views
Located in the Village, Westin Monache Resort Mammoth boasts mountain views from every room. Each room is equipped with a kitchenette, small fridge and microwave. Step out of the hotel and walk down the steps to the gondola. The Westin offers a ski valet so you don’t have to schlep your ski equipment back and forth every night. Like The Village Lodge Mammoth, the Westin offers a free shuttle bus service, which is built into the resort fee cost.
This gorgeous condo is right across the street from Eagle Lodge while Mammoth Village is 1.5 miles away and has plenty of family-friendly dining options and a bowling alley. Even better, there’s a hot tub to warm up in after a long day on the slopes.
What to Do with Babies & Toddlers in Mammoth
If your kids are too young for ski school or you have babe you’re not ready to hand over to the slope-side childcare, here are some tips and things to do with young kids in Mammoth:
Ride the Canyon Gondola
Bonus: It’s free and if it’s not crowded, you can easily wheel your stroller on and off it for an easy ride. How long is the scenic gondola ride? It's about 10-15 minutes each way so the adventure can take as little as 30 minutes if you want to just go up and back down again. But we recommend staying at the top and exploring around and take in the stunning views before heading back to the base.
Ride Mammoth's Buses
Mammoth is only four miles across, which means you won’t be lost for hours on the different routes. Bonus: This is also free and we found makes for great white noise if you have a baby who loves naps in the front pack. Download the transit app in advance so you know exactly what time the bus will arrive and where it’s taking you.
Take a walk around the Village
Peruse Mammoth gear, load up on coffee at Vida Coffee or grab a happy hour drink at one of the many kid- and dog-friendly patios (see above on great places to eat). The area is all paved and perfect for a leisurely stroller walk. If you need a place to set up camp slope-side, we found that the level at the Main Lodge behind Broadway Marketplace is emptier than most and is used as a base camp for other families whose parents are trading off hitting the slopes.
Keep an eye out for Woolly in the Village
You might catch him on the slopes or in one of the lodges handing out high-fives and hugs to his pint-sized fans. Also check Mammoth's events calendar for more happenings.
How to Get to Mammoth
Advanced Air offers regional service to and from Burbank (BUR), Hawthorne (HHR) and Carlsbad (CLD) airports beginning Nov. 23 through Apr. 10. With Advanced Air, you'll enjoy the convenience of a private air travel experience at a commercial airline cost with benefits such as private terminals and skipping security lines.
How to Get to Mammoth from Los Angeles
There are daily flights from LAX that operate year-round and will have you to Mammoth from LAX in under an hour. Of course, flying is optional—and you can absolutely drive to Mammoth from Los Angeles. If you opt to drive, it's 5 hours from DTLA (without traffic of course).
How to Get to Mammoth from the Bay Area
Families who flock to Tahoe know the headaches associated with I-80 traffic, especially when chain control is in effect. Flying from SFO to Mammoth? The flight time is a cool 35 minutes. If you decide to drive to Mammoth, it’s about 5-6 hours from the Bay Area.
Unlike some ski towns you might have visited, there isn’t just one central lodge or downtown area. Mammoth is fairly spread out in the sense that there is the Village, Main Lodge, Old Mammoth and Main St. The free buses or your hotel’s shuttle will get you anywhere you need to go. And, the fact that it’s a bit more spread out means areas won’t be jam-packed and overwhelming for the littles.
The Best Time to Go to Mammoth with Kids
There is never a bad time to visit Mammoth but if you want to introduce your kids to skiing, then springtime, according to the experts, is by far the best time to go. The weather is warmer, the sun is shining and it's not as windy as it can be during the winter months—no frozen fingers and toes to slow your brood down.
To Bring (or Not to Bring) the Car Seat
If you’re flying in, you may not need a car or even car seat. Check with the accommodations you booked to see what their shuttle service is like. For instance, The Village Lodge Mammoth offers a courtesy shuttle anywhere within Mammoth Lakes, as well as a courtesy shuttle to and from the airport. If you do drive, park and take advantage of the convenient and free bus transport system.
To learn more about Mammoth and everything this skiing destination has to offer visitmammoth.com.
This trip was paid for by Mammoth Mountain but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.