Winter Escapes

Four nearby places to celebrate the season

Whether you’re looking for the perfect destination to hit the mountain, or you simply want to enjoy the snow from a cozy cabin, there are plenty of winter hideaways in both California and Nevada to satisfy your seasonal craving for cold. Learn more about the best cities across the state-and beyond-to get your fill of snow, fireplaces, and all things cozy. All winter long you can find us bundled up in every locale, spending quality time with our loved ones while simultaneously feeding our adventurous spirit. Read on to find the right winter trip for you.

Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

It’s easy to find places to ski and snowboard throughout Mammoth Lakes. The region’s premier ski resort, Mammoth Mountain, a lava dome complex west of Mammoth Lakes within the borders of the Inyo National Forest, boasts 3,500 skiable acres. When you aren’t hitting the slopes, there are plenty of other winter activities that take place in Mammoth.


What to do when you’re not skiing:

For those who want to up the ante on their winter vacation, try out one of these activities made for the adrenaline junkie. Snowmobiling both on and off resort is a favorite among locals, and skijoring is alive and well. Not sure what skijoring is? This type of extreme skiing takes the poles out of your hands, and gives you reigns instead. Traditionally practiced with dogs, horses, or motor vehicles, Mammoth Mountain offers the sport with dogs, attaching humans on skis to the dogs similar to a dog sledding expedition. The expansive trail system within Mammoth Lakes makes this, as well as dog sledding, easily accessible for guests.

If you’ve purchased a lift ticket at Tamarack Lodge, another option is to try both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the resort. Expert Tip: Locals like to take their activities out of the resorts, finding safe downhill areas throughout the rugged mountain ranges to board or snowmobile on. But remember-safety first!

If you’re looking for a more leisurely winter sport, check out the town’s local ice rink. The open-air rink is located in town near the library and is the perfect winter activity for all ages.


Apres Ski:

Whether you’ve been hitting the mountain or trying your hand at a new winter activity in Mammoth, you’ve likely earned yourself a beer. Hit Mammoth Brewing Company for a line-up of delicious post-ski brews. For $25, you can taste all 13 beers (and one root beer) on the menu. 18 Lake Mary Rd.

Where to Stay:

The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth (50 Hillside Dr.), Sierra Nevada Resort (164 Old Mammoth Rd.), and Tamarack Resort (163 Twin Lakes Rd.) all offer easy access to the slopes, while those vacationing in a group may be able to save money by booking a condo at Snowcreek Resort (1254 Old Mammoth Rd.)


Can’t Miss Event:

Those who visit Mammoth in December shouldn’t miss the Night of Lights at Mammoth Mountain. Canyon Lodge hosts the event to kickoff the holiday season with snowmobile rides, live music, a torchlight parade, and activities for kids. The real draw, however, is the spectacular fireworks display that lights up the night sky. 1000 Canyon Blvd.


Winter Camping

This adventure isn’t for the faint of heart. As temperatures dip into the single digits, only those who truly love the outdoors will want to spend a weekend winter camping in Mammoth, an activity often reserved for those training to take on a large Everest-esque climb. But with the right gear, and attitude, winter camping can be a lot of fun.

Book a site at Mammoth Mountain RV Park where trailer and tent camping are offered year round. Kids are often the biggest fans of this cold weather adventure, making snow caves and having snowball fights before curling up with hot cocoa around a campfire. If you’re camping beneath the stars, this is the perfect place to be! Expert Tip: If you’re looking to save dough (and know what you’re doing) this can be the most economical way to visit Mammoth during its peak season. 2667 Main St.

Truckee, Calif.

You don’t have to go all the way to Tahoe to enjoy the snow. Truckee is a closer destination with many appeals of its own. If you want to ski and board this winter, call Truckee your home base. Fifteen minutes away in Soda Springs, Boreal Mountain Resort beckons riders to take to the mountains and enjoy easy bunny slopes, challenging black diamonds, ski lessons, and more before hitting the lodge. Not to mention, the terrain park boasts half pipes, jumps, wave pools, easy riders, and more that help trick riders hone their skills. 19749 Boreal Ridge Rd., Soda Springs


What to do when you’re not skiing:

Truckee River Winery has a reputation for being the coldest, highest, and snowiest winery in California. Despite the cold weather, aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, this winery stays open for guests looking to taste the line-up of wines year round. Stop in noon-7 PM Monday through Friday or 11 AM-7 PM Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the local bounty. 11467 Brockway Rd.

Looking for a family-friendly activity? Go ice skating. Strap on a pair of skates and slide around the ice at the Village at Northstar, where skaters of all skill levels are invited to sip hot cocoa rink-side and listen to live music in between runs. 5001 Northstar Dr., Truckee

Apres Ski:

Truckee’s charming, yet eccentric, downtown is home to many cozy restaurants with views of the towering mountains outside. Enjoy a romantic meal at Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats (10007 Bridge St.) where the lighting is low and the music is phenomenal, or opt for a quick fix at local chains Burger Me (10418 Donner Pass Rd.) and Full Belly Deli (10825 Pioneer Trail #103).


Can’t Miss Event:

Every Friday in Truckee leading into Christmas is Festive Friday, hosted by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association. On Dec. 6, 13, and 20, local stores are open later, offer gift card giveaways, and serve wine, beer, and spirits. Plus, there’s free parking, which can be hard to come by in Downtown Truckee.


Where to Stay:

If you’re looking for a hotel, The Truckee Hotel is a cute, historical building with simple amenities. Many who visit over winter, however, opt to stay in a cozy cabin, rented out by locals through Air BnB and VRBO. 10007 Bridge St.


Hope Valley

For a more chill escape into the cold, book a stay at Sorensen’s Resort in Hope Valley. Avid skiers and boarders will still be able to get their fix at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, less than twenty minutes down the road, where there are 2,000 feet of vertical drops and 2,300 acres of rideable terrain (groomed for both beginners and experts). 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr., Kirkwood


What to do when you’re not skiing:

Sorensen’s Resort offers a laidback winter experience that is anything but dull. Nearby trails are the perfect landscape for snowshoeing as well as areas prime for cross country skiing without leaving for the slopes, all located on the resort’s 165 acres of pine and aspen forests. The best experiences, however, are those that let you truly relax. The small resort features a wood-fired sauna, full-service restaurant, and stargazing. 14255 CA-88


Apres Ski:

The Sierras are known for its many hot springs, and the Hope Valley area is no exception. Less than 20 miles from Sorensen’s, Grover Hot Springs boasts natural hot springs on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. Stop by for a dip in the swimming complex where the naturally heated water is ideal for a mid-winter dip, open 10 AM-7 PM Thursday through Tuesday. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are offered on site, too. 3415 Hot Springs Rd., Markleeville


Where to Stay:

Staying at Sorensen’s grants guests access to all of the amenities listed above, plus welcoming accommodations in mountain lodges, log cabins, and cottages. Other options include booking a room at Kirkwood Mountain Resort to be closer to the ski action, or trying out winter camping at Grover Hot Springs (just make sure you have the right cold-weather gear to camp in the snow).


North Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe pulls visitors from around the world in large part due to its ski resorts. In fact, North Lake has the highest concentration of ski resorts in the nation. Due to early snowfall, the resorts enjoyed early openings, which means the big players are already welcoming guests to the mountain. Whether you’re a beginner or an elite skier or boarder, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is a good choice for a weekend away. In all, there are 12 downhill ski resorts in the region (and that doesn’t include South Lake).

What to do when you’re not skiing:

The country’s largest alpine lake is the ideal backdrop for winter activities. While you’ll want to avoid a dip in the lake-unless you have a polar plunge on your mind-snowshoeing around the lake is a favored activity for both locals and visitors (with plenty of places in town to rent shoes). The Resort at Squaw Creek also offers animal experiences including dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides along Sand Harbor Beach. 400 Squaw Creek Rd., Olympic Valley


Apres Ski:

North Lake is home to two wine bars worth their weight in cabernet. Step into Uncorked Tahoe City to sample wines from around the world, or show up for one of the scheduled wine classes to go deeper into the educational side of winemaking and production, including five to six wines paired with cheese and charcuterie. 475 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City Or, try out Glasses Wine Bar in Incline Village. The self-serve set-up is convenient for trying as many wines as you like at your own pace, using a reloadable wine card. 760 Mays Blvd. #8, Incline Village


Where to Stay:

Call any of the ski resorts home base for a long weekend away. Squaw Valley, the host city for the 1960 Winter Olympics, has The Village at Squaw Valley, which boasts eight outdoor hot tubs as well as suites with private balconies and full kitchens. When weather allows take a tram ride to High Camp and explore the Olympic Museum 2,000 feet in the air. 1750 Village East Rd., Olympic Valley


Can’t Miss Event:

Completely outside of the realm of snow sports is the 5th annual Tahoe Film Fest. From Dec. 5-8, movie buffs can enjoy internationally acclaimed films at various venues. To celebrate the region’s dedication to environmental causes, many of the films have an environmental slant, or are completely focused on environmental issues. All proceeds from Tahoe Film Fest benefit the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC).

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