Hit the Slopes! 7 Snowy Winter Getaways Near San Diego

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The ski week break from school will be here before you know it, so we’ve rounded-up seven nearby winter getaways where you can have snowy adventures with your family. Get ready to head to snow-covered mountains for plenty of family-friendly winter activities from skiing and snowboarding to tubing and snow play! Read on to see where to take your kiddos to have the ‘coolest’ week ever.

photo: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Mammoth Mountain

Hit the slopes to snowboard and ski at the 3,500 acres of Mammoth Mountain. You can tube it at Woolly's Tube Park, or even ride a snowmobile. A good family stay-over is The Village Lodge, where you can walk to the gondola and cook meals in a full kitchen. Your crew will be cozy in a two-bedroom condo which sleeps six. After a day of snow fun, warm up at the heated pool and five hot tubs. Another option is the Mammoth Creek Inn, although you'll need to shuttle to the slopes. Here you'll get a complimentary breakfast and the rooms can sleep six. Notably, there's a spa, steam room, sauna, gym and jacuzzi. Plus, the fam can play board games by the cozy lobby fire.

Travel time: About 6 and a half hours from San Diego.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
10001 Minaret Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Online: mammothmountain.com

The Village Lodge
111 Forest Trail
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Online: thevillagelodgemammoth.com

Mammoth Creek Inn
663 Old Mammoth Rd.
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Online: themammothcreek.com

Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Mountain is a winter wonderland full of activities and sports for your whole family. Whether your crew is full of beginners or advanced snow sports athletes, you'll find something for everyone. For example, beginning pint-sized shredders can take snowboard lessons (from four years old and up!) designed to make learning fun. On the other hand, more avid skiers and snowboarders can take a half or full day lesson at either Bear Mountain or Snow Summit.

Big Bear has a new Visitor's Center that's a great resource for families. Visit the permanent kiosk in the visitor center, where a Big Bear Mountain Resort representative is available daily to assist with lift ticket purchases and equipment fittings making for a seamless check-in process once you hit the slopes.

Also new and noteworthy: Big Bear Mountain Resort's Bear Mountain has expanded its sun deck from 13,000 sq. ft. to 26,000 sq. ft., creating additional space for outdoor seating, dining, special events/concerts and more.

Additionally, a perfect addition of off mountain activities is the new 2-story ropes course at Big Bear Snow Play: The 2-level ropes course, which opened in August, includes an 80-foot zip line and a number of challenges to reward and excite young and old alike. State-of-the-art safety harnesses will keep guests secure as they traverse the course, the first and only one of its kind in  Big Bear.

Don't miss a visit to the Bear Mountain Adventure Academy. It makes it easy on families by having kids' ski rentals, lift tickets and sports school registration in one spot. Further, there are fun things to do while waiting like coloring and a Burton snowboard practice game. Even more, you'll find food and drink including artisan pizzas, a full-service coffee bar and spirits. Also, you'll appreciate the parent viewing area where you can watch your half-pint learn to ski or snowboard.

On the other hand, if your snow angels want to skip the lift lines and go tubing, slide over to the Grizzly Ridge Tube Park at Snow Summit or Big Bear Snow Play (both with Magic Carpet conveyor belts) for easy downhill fun.

Another flurry of activities can be found at the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. First, grab your little one and bobsled together down the 1/4 mile long mountain track. Second, ride the Soaring Eagle where you fly through the sky at up to 28 mph! Then, you can tube down the Alpine Slide and play in the snow. Finally, you can play miniature golf and try the go-karts. Your crew will have a blast!

Plus, two good places to stay as a family are The Lodge at Big Bear Lake with free Wi-Fi and a walk to the village or Big Bear Frontier where we recommend the cabins that sleep up to 12––and furry friends are welcome too.

Travel time: About 3 hours from San Diego.

Big Bear's New Visitor's Center
40824 Big Bear Blvd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: www.bigbear.com/travel-tools/visitor-center
Open Sun.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Bear Mountain
43101 Goldmine Dr.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: bearmountain.com

Big Bear Snow Play
42825 Big Bear Blvd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: bigbearsnowplay.com

Snow Summit
880 Summit Blvd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: snowsummit.com

Grizzly Ridge Tube Park
880 Summit Blvd. Ste 1170
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: grizzlyridgetubepark.com

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
800 Wildrose Lane
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Online: alpineslidebigbear.com

Snow Drift Tubing Park

If you and the crew just want to tube for the day, this is your spot. SoCal's largest and oldest tubing park, you can have 'snow' much fun! It's a no-frills tube park with stairs to get to the top of the slopes. The cost is $20 per person, but kids 36 inches and under are free (with paying adult). Also, good to note that parking is ten dollars.

Travel time: About two and a half hours from San Diego.

Snow Drift Tubing Park
San Bernardino National Forest
4600 California 18
Green Valley Lake, CA 92341
Online: snowdrift.net

photo: Snow Valley

Snow Valley

This smaller mountain is great for snow angels at the beginner or intermediate level. It's also less crowded than big brother mountain (Big Bear) which is 30 minutes further away. For the little ones, there's the Children's Learning Center with full and half-day classes where snow bunnies can learn to ski or snowboard (ages 4-12). Moreover, there's a snow play area where kiddos can sled for a fee. Another perk: kids six and under ski free (with a paid adult). You can do this trip up and back on the same day. However, if you decide to stay overnight, we recommend the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, with a fitness room and restaurant. (It's about a 30-minute drive).

Travel time: About 2 and a half hours from San Diego.

Snow Valley Mountain Resort
35100 State Hwy. 18
Running Springs, CA 92382
Online: snowvalley.com

Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa
27984 Hwy. 189
Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352
Online: lakearrowheadresort.com

SkyPark at Santa's Village

Have you ever wondered where Santa lives year-round? Well, you'll find him at SkyPark at Santa’s Village. Just outside of Lake Arrowhead you’ll find a winter wonderland with plenty to do. From bike ride trails, kiddie rides and shopping to mining for gems, rock climbing and meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, your crew will be active and have tons of fun. Even more, there are restaurants to grab a snack or get a meal. Head North this winter season!

Travel time: About two and a half hours from San Diego.

Open Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lake Arrowhead
SkyPark at Santa's Village
28950 Highway 18
Skyforest, CA 92385
Online: skyparksantasvillage.com

Mountain High Ski Resort

For newbie skiers or shredders (or those just wanting to improve) Mountain High’s Children’s Academy will take snowboarders from four years-old and up and toddlers can try the virtual snow simulator which helps them to balance, stop and turn.  If your crew is looking for a different type of downhill fun, head to Yeti's Snow Park! It's open 7 days a week at both the East and North Resorts. Here you'll have a blast tubing, sledding, enjoying snow play, and scenic sky chair rides. You can also have a snowshoeing adventure or meet the Yeti & friends in the snow play zone. (There's a $20 parking fee for all vehicles).

January Deals at Mountain High: 

Bring a friend in January for midweek beginner lessons for two for the price of one (including lift tickets and rental equipment). Mountain High also offers its “123-Free” lesson package throughout the season: when you complete three lessons–which come with rentals and lower-mountain lift tickets–you'll receive a season pass to take your skills to the next level.

If you plan on spending the night, your best bet is to rent a cabin via Airbnb or Mountain High has a few suggestions for lodging.

Travel time: About 2 and a half hours from San Diego.

Mountain High Ski Resort
24510 State Highway 2
Wrightwood, CA 92397
Online: mthigh.com

Yeti's Snow Park
North Resort (across from Main area)
24510 State Highway 2
Wrightwood, CA 92397
Online: mthigh.com/northpoletubingpark

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Take a quick vacay in Palm Springs and board the tram for a snow day. From snowball fights and snowman building to do-you-own sledding and snow hikes, there's plenty to do at the top of the mountain. Moreover, rent snowshoes at the Adventure Center and maneuver easier. Additionally, it's good to know that there are two restaurants and a cultural museum up top.

Travel time: About two and a half hours from San Diego.

The Winter Adventure Center is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

1 Tramway Rd
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Online: pstramway.com

––Nikki Walsh & Beth Shea


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