December 02, 2020
As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.
Start baking Christmas cookies and hanging your California-inspired holiday decorations—‘tis the season to be jolly. There are so many exciting things to do during the holidays: going on awesome ski tours, checking out gorgeous mountain towns for a change of scenery, getting into the holiday spirit, making memories, and overall, having lots of fun.
It’s hard to pick the best places to visit at Christmas time, especially after coming back from an awesome fall family holiday, but the Golden State has everything you need for a perfect winter vacation. From experiencing winter wonderlands to escaping the cold in sunny California, your options for family holiday activities are plentiful. So, put on your snow boots and pack your swimsuit (just in case); there are numerous things to do around Christmas in California.
1. A Mount Shasta Snow Escape
Snow-dusted mountains, untracked snow, and an abundance of family holiday activities—Mount Shasta is one of the best places to visit at Christmas time. Where do we even begin? First, inhale the crisp mountain air and settle in at the Inn at Mount Shasta, the basecamp for your winter vacation. Then, get everyone ready for a fun day of skiing and snowboarding at Mount Shasta Ski Park.
Avid hikers don’t have to give up their hobby during the winter; one of the best things to do over the holidays is snowshoeing. The hike to Castle Dome offers breathtaking views of Mount Shasta, the second-highest peak of California’s most impressive mountain range: the Cascades.
You can also explore the winter wonderland with your family by renting a snowmobile from Fun Factory Rentals. Don’t forget to treat yourselves to a delicious meal at Tree House Restaurant; the blackened salmon and California chicken burger are to die for.
2. A Family Getaway To Big Bear Lake
We personally wouldn’t mind a getaway to Big Bear Lake every winter—the forests blanketed in white, fluffy snow look like they’re straight out of a fairy tale. This Southern California winter wonderland has more than just skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Here, the list of exciting things to do during the holidays is endless. Winter hiking? Got it. Snow tubing? Yup. Additionally, one of the coolest ski resorts in California is found here: Big Bear Mountain Resort.
The fun and family-friendly destination is the ultimate spot for alpine good times. A visit to San Bernardino National Forest only elevates your holiday. Hike the Alpine Pedal Path or the Woodland Trail for magical views of snow-covered natural wonders. Then, head over to the Aspen Glen Picnic Area with the kids to show off your snowman-building skills.
For a hearty meal, satisfy your craving at Saucy Mama’s Pizzeria to indulge in delicious, hand-tossed pizza. When it’s time to get a good night’s rest, Black Forest Lodge is your go-to hotel; with hot tubs placed in front of gas fireplaces, you won’t regret treating yourselves to a stay in a spa suite.
3. A Mammoth Lakes Ski Vacation
Offering everything from sledding and ice-skating to snowboarding and cross-country skiing, Mammoth Lakes is among the best places to visit at Christmas time. The lava-dome complex of Mammoth Mountain watches over the town as visitors make their way to the winter wonderland. Teach your family how to tackle the snowy slopes at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, one of the most frequented resorts in the U.S.
As exciting as it is engaging in snow sports, indoor activities here are equally as enjoyable. Get everyone on board for a fun night at Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl, and leave no pin standing while you bowl thunder and strike lightning. Indulge in nice, juicy steaks at The Mogul Restaurant; vegetarian options are also available. At the end of the day, make yourselves at home at the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa, where luxurious amenities upgrade your vacation.
4. An Unparalleled Yosemite Holiday
As much as we love visiting Yosemite National Park in the summer, the park's beauty is unparalleled during the colder months. Visiting Yosemite is one of the best things to do during the December holidays. Soak in the wonders of the park as you glide off on the many ski trails offered—over 90 miles of marked pathways and 25 miles of machine-groomed tracks are at your disposal. The ultimate ski and snowboarding spot here is the Badger Pass Ski Area.
Once you've worked up an appetite, indulge in tasty barbecue at the Loft at Degnan’s or feast upon classic grilled sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and vegetarian dishes at the Village Grill. When the moon starts making an appearance, spend the night at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort where you can stay in tent cabins or private rooms.
5. A Sunny Retreat At Palm Springs
You might be thinking: Maybe I don’t want a winter vacation, maybe I want to escape the cold. Thankfully, California has a destination for you. Palm Springs is always a good idea, whether it’s a summer vacation or a winter holiday.
Forget about the snowy weather and pay a visit to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, where you can enjoy interacting with exotic animals. One of the best things to do during the holidays in Palm Springs is to visit Joshua Tree National Park. The park is home to two distinct desert ecosystems and 300 miles of hiking trails begging to be explored. Admire the gorgeous rock formations and catch a glimpse of the starry night sky as the evening sets in.
Visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum is also a must when it comes to family holiday activities. Not only is it an educational experience, but you also get to see the coolest historic airplanes from different eras. In case you do change your mind and decide you want to see snow, ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to transport yourself to a winter wonderland.
When your stomach starts growling, head over to Juniper Table for mouthwatering Mediterranean meals—the avocado flatbread and the apple and brie grilled cheese are life-changing. Relax and unwind at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club when evening rolls around (all the more reason to pack your swimsuit).
6. A Pleasant San Diego Winter Escape
San Diego is yet another warm escape and one of the best places to visit around Christmas. Why? Because A) Hotel Del Coronado offers magical adventures with Santa; B) Balboa Park hosts the marvelous December Nights event; C) It’s the best time to catch gray whales migrating. Plus, you can still hit the city’s most beautiful beaches, work up a sweat on the scenic hiking trails, and explore the attractions of downtown San Diego.
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