Trade palm trees and sand for towering pines and snow with a trip to one of California’s best ski resorts.Less
Mammoth Lakes attracts visitors all year round, but the resort town really comes to life in winter, when skiers and snowboarders flock to its surrounding peaks. The town – once a sleepy mountain village – experienced something of a tourism boom in the early 2000s and there are now plenty of restaurants, chalet-style hotels and shops, all fringed by towering mountains and looming pine trees.
Just over a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, but a world away from its tropical palm trees and sandy beaches, Big Bear is a sizable mountain town on the edge of Big Bear Lake. Popular with Angelenos due to its proximity to the city, the town becomes a focus for wintery fun in the cooler months; expect world-class slopes on the mountains above and buzzy streets with twinkling lights in the town.
Sitting on the border of California and Nevada, Heavenly Mountain Resort is a multifaceted town on the edge of Lake Tahoe. The state line runs through an intersection in the town, with the bright lights and blinking casinos of Nevada on one side juxtaposed against the quaint California streets on the other. Up the mountains, you wouldn’t know the difference – both sides come with intermediate slopes, and incredible views of Lake Tahoe below.
Located in a similar area to Heavenly Mountain, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows also sit within the Lake Tahoe region, with Squaw Valley being the second largest ski resort in the area after Heavenly. Operating in conjunction with Alpine Meadows next door, you can’t ski or board between the two resorts, but a shuttle bus will take you to either quickly and tickets are interchangeable.
Technically the first ski resort in California – it was even first to get a ski lift in 1939 – Sugar Bowl’s appeal is still unwavering. Having been set up by Austrian ski racer Hannes Schroll, the resort has a distinct European vibe and benefits from being the first to be hit by storms rolling in off the Pacific. The resort gets its fair share of snow, but being one of the smaller in the Lake Tahoe region it attracts fewer crowds.