10 Amazing Winter Destinations in California (2024)
California in winters is a special treat and a delight for travelers. Though the Golden State, California, is famous for being a popular summer destination of the United States, winters here are equally charming, if not more. Some winter wonderlands in the State of California experience considerable snow where travelers can ditch their swimsuits and sun caps while pick jackets and snow boots and try their feet on some outdoor snow adventures.
Winters in California has an answer for all, whether you are looking for ice-skiing, snowboarding, or just playing your time in the white wonderland. Not just snow, Californian winters are also loved for the Christmas vibes and some magnificently glowing festive decoration.
10 Amazing Winter Destinations in California
For picking up some top-recommendation for your next trip, have a look at the “10 Amazing Winter Destinations in California” below:
1. Mammoth Mountains
Spending winters in Mammoth Mountains is indeed one of the best things to do in California. The Mountains here are home to the highest skiing peak in California and one of the best as well. Mammoth Mountains in itself is a vast ski-resort spread over 3,500 acres of ski terrain. It has a total of 3,100 feet of vertical stretch, rising over an elevation of 11,059 feet. The mountain is served by more than 28 lifts and experiences considerable snow all through the winter season. The season at Mammoth usually opens in the Month of October, when the first snowstorm sweeps across the Sierras and lasts till the month of April or even May. Ice-skiing and snowboarding are some of the very famous winter activities you can try when in Mammoth. White Mountain Lodge and the Lincoln House offer some luxurious stay opportunities and are just a few minutes’ rides away from the skiing locations. Image Source
2. Santa Barbara
Winters in Santa Barbara are cold, snowy, wet, and cloudy, altogether a perfect holiday blend. The city’s Wintery version is spectacular offering exciting wildlife interactions, annual festivals, outdoor adventures, and snow fun. Even though snow here is not heavy and thick, the dramatic winter skies alone create a panoramic view all worth the eyes. The city gets bigger and better waves during winters, thus one ideal stop for surfers who want to try their skills with some exciting experience. Once the weather drops down, the city becomes home to Gray whale migrants. Santa Barbara is one prime whale-watching destination, and the best experience comes through the Condor Express, Double Dolphin, and other sea cruise services. Along with grey whales, the month of November to February is the prime time to view thousands of Monarch Butterflies in their natural habitat. The month of February hosts Santa Barbara International Film Festival every year at downtown, welcoming world-renowned artists and personalities related to the entertainment sector.
3. Horsetail Fall
Flowing over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, the Horsetail Fall is usually a small fall. Still, on rare occasions, it is one of the most impressive waterfalls in California. Also known as “Fire fall,” the Horsetail fall lights up during the end of February, only for a period of two weeks. The sun’s unique angle makes the fall glow orange and makes it visualize as if it is backlit by sunset. The graphic is only created during the evenings when the sky is clear but even the slightest cloud layer can demolish the phenomena. This unique feature has made Horsetail Fall incredibly popular and a famous winter spot in California. If hit during the right time and blesses with the miracle of nature, Fire fall is undoubtedly a dream for photography enthusiasts.
4. Lake Tahoe
No matter which time of the year you visit Lake Tahoe, you would never ever get bored of the beauty, peace, and tranquillity. Thus, winters at Lake Tahoe spreads enough magic to attract the crowd. Snow at Lake Tahoe is plentiful as well the slopes are grand, which altogether develops excellent conditions for skiing. From the North of the lake towards the South end of the lake, the area is enormous and ideal for snowboarding and ice skating. The site also offers hiking opportunities on the snow-coated Sierra Nevadas, which are covered with shimmering white and fluffy snow. The area is also famous for a winter drive around Lake Tahoe where a stop at the Emerald Bay offers one of the most photographed spots in the United States and undoubtedly graceful and alluring. Even though snow around the Lake region is unpredictable and a matter of nature’s consideration, the resort facilities make sure to create human-made snow layers ensuring the best times for the visitors.
5. Alabama Hills
Movie enthusiasts who have seen Iron Man, Gladiator, Django Unchained, and some old day Hollywood magnificence, they might know the charm of Alabama Hills. Springs and winters are the best time of the year to visit Alabama. The peaks here are usually snow-filled, and at times, the entire Alabama Hills is packed with thin snowy layers completely. Even though the location does not offer snow adventures, one can play, relax, and have fun around Alabama’s huge spread. The geological formation of this hill region is incredibly divine on its own that one would love it with or without snow.
6. Big Bear
Home to two alpine resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, the Big Bear is where you should head towards enjoying the Winters in California. The place is full of opportunities, winter adventures, and action tours. For visitors who are interested in snowboarding, downhill skiing, and skiing, the Big Bear snow mountain is a well-maintained site for both beginners and seasoned users. Big Bear is also home to Magic Carpet rides, Alpine Slide, Snow tubing, snow bowling barn, ice skating, and mini snow golf ideal for enjoying with family. The entire location of Big Bear can also be viewed with helicopter rides capturing one of the finest experiences of a lifetime.
7. Winters in the Death Valley
Death Valley, though, experiences the most extreme heat in the entire globe, but it is not where it all ends. When most of the California cities are Shivering with cold, Death Valley park is where one should head. The average temperature during winters here ranges from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and drops in the range of 30s during the night hours. Clear days with the endless sun during winters make it one of the best locations to visit in California. Further, considering the weather, summers at Death Valley can be extremely dangerous; thus, winters are the ideal time to be here. The perfect winter temperature here makes it easier to follow trails into the park’s canyons and view one of the unique geologies found on earth. The season offers optimal shooting conditions for photography lovers, especially the dramatic skylines, which is another way difficult to be experienced around.
8. Orange County Christmas festivals
Winters in California are not only snow but also the magnificent Christmas Celebration. There is speculation that Christmas in South California is dull, but you would indeed deny that thought if you have ever visited Orange County. During the year-end, the entire region is full of activities, events, festive vibes, and all that one can classify as fun and celebration. Either it is the Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, the Capistrano Lights at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, the oceanfront ice skating rink, or the Old World’s Christmas market, there’s an abundance of events going all around Orange County in the month of December. Even though it snows or not, the festive vibe of her is unbeatable and unexceptionally divine. Further, if you want to view one of the world’s tallest Christmas trees, Outlets at San Clemente is the place for you.
9. Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena
The Tournament of Roses Parade, or simply the Rose Parade, is a one-of-a-kind experience if you visit California during winters. The Parade is organized in Pasadena city of Los Angeles County and takes place on New Year’s Day (or on the 2nd of January if the 1st of January falls on Sunday). The Parade starts at 8 a.m. Pacific time and is followed by the Rose bowl game in the afternoon. It begins from the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard and goes through downtown Pasadena. It moves slowly and takes around 2.5 hours to complete the entire show. The Roses Parade in Pasadena has a long history of uninterrupted organization except a few years during World War II and recently in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parade includes flower-covered floats, marching bands, equestrian units viewed by several thousands of visitors live and telecasted all over the internet and television.
10. Slab City
Also known as the Last Free Place in America, Slab city is probably not everyone’s taste, but some unique heart and mind will surely love it. The city is an unincorporated and off-the-grid community that is a residence for snowbirds and is also a haven for lawlessness. No sign leads you towards the Slab city, but if you head deep east into the desert and then south, past the Salton Sea from Los Angeles, you would reach this unique destination. What makes it a fantastic winter destination in California is its snowbirds residence, else during the entire year, this city remains almost empty. The town, though, is not served by electricity, water, or sewer but an ideal location for travelers looking for an off-road isolated and unusual location to spend some days out from the city’s hustle and comfort.