8 Cool Spots for Playing in the Snow near San Diego

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Thanks to an earlier-than-normal winter storm, these awesome spots are all ready for some nearby snow play

It may not snow in San Diego, but when the weather gets chilly you don’t have to go far to find it. There’s so much fun for kids (both little and big) to have in the nearby mountains that goes beyond just skiing and snowboarding—see below for a few of our favorite go-to spots that will surely make your winter bucket list. Here you’ll find the best snow tube parks and sledding, magic carpets and gondolas to ride. So get your winter gear in order, grab some chains—now’s the time for an unforgettably fun day in the snow.


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1. Snow N Glow at Del Mar Fairgrounds

This snow experience will delight everyone and you won’t have to travel far. It’s all happening at the Del Mar Fairgrounds where you can snow tube down the giant snow hill and make snow angels in the snow field. Sip on hot cocoa as you stroll through the Winter Wonderland light display, made with over one million twinkling lights. You can even rent a private igloo, complete with your own fire pit for roasting s’mores. 

Dates: Dec. 8–Jan. 1; Weekends only, except Christmas weekend

2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar Fairgrounds
Online: snownglow.com

2. Big Bear

Slide into fun at Grizzly Ridge Tube Park at the top of Snow Summit in Big Bear. The whole family young and old alike will love whizzing down the snowy hills on high-speed tubes. Ride the magic carpet up to the top before sliding down one of three 300-ft tubing lanes. Ride again and again during your 1.5-hour time slot.

880 Summit Blvd.
Big Bear Lake
Online: bigbearmountainresort.com

Related: Why Big Bear Is a Family Favorite Destination

3. Mammoth Mountain

Snowmobile adventures, tubing, and cross country skiing await you on Mammoth Mountain. Cruise through tree-lined meadows on a guided snowmobile excursion or catch a lift to the top for Woolly’s Tube Park and snow tube your way back down. You can click into some Nordic skis or snowshoes to get a workout exploring Lakes Basin on a cross country adventure. 

10001 Minaret Rd.
Mammoth Lakes
Online: mammothmountain.com

Related: See Why Our Editors Love Going to Mammoth with Kids

4. Mountain High

Your little snow angels will squeal with delight at Yeti’s Snow Play. Here you’ll find tubing, sledding, and snow play… as well as a friendly Yeti who’s willing to pose for pics. The snow play area is open only for kids 36” tall and under, while those over 36” tall can go sledding, tubing, and ride the gondola up to the top! Kids between 32” and 36” can snow tube with a paid parent on a separate tube.

24510 State Hwy. 2
Wrightwood
Online: mthigh.com

5. Mount Laguna

You’ll be able to cool down on top of this mountain about an hour due east of San Diego. When you head up, there are plenty of turn-off spots, but it does get crowded. Along with your boots and mittens, you’ll want to bring some snacks, a full tank of gas, and some snow chains.

10678 Sunrise Hwy.
Mt. Laguna
Online: lagunamountain.com

6. Julian

You’ll have to wait for just the right time, but every year a good northern storm can drop snow in Julian. Watch the weather reports, then drive up right after it snows. Your crew can sled on the small snow hills and then warm up with some hot apple pie in town. Remember, the snow melts quickly around Julian.

Good to Know: Please only park in designated lots and not on residents’ yards and sides of the road. Also please pack out what you bring in. Many times the town has to clean up after visitors. This is a problem every year, so please be considerate in this small town.

Jess Martin Park
2955 Hwy. 79
Julian

William Heise Park
4945 Heise Park Rd.
Julian

Lake Cuyamaca
15027 Hwy. 79
Julian

Online: lakecuyamaca.org
Online: visitjulian.com

7. Palomar Mountain

Find the magic of snow on Palomar Mountain just North of San Diego. Bundle up to make snowmen and snow angels or toboggan down a snow hill. Dress warmly and you may want to pack an insulated thermos of hot water and cocoa packets to enjoy on the way home.

9952 State Park Rd.
Palomar
Online: palomarmountian.gov

8. Idyllwild

Whether you take the day or a weekend trip, you’ll be glad you drove (about two hours) up to Idyllwild. Here, you’ll find a cute mountain town where you can take a winter hike, sled, or just walk around the town after fresh snow. There are plenty of cute shops to look at and places to eat too.

Online: idyllwild.com

Related: Discover More Places to Play in the Snow in SoCal

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