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Winter Escapes: Your Guide to Hitting the Slopes This Snowy Season

All the details on the West Coast's top ski destinations

By Ann Wycoff

Winter Escapes - Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain

Open space, fresh powder, alpine vistas—the ski resorts are calling your name! Whether you’re looking to hit the black diamond moguls, schuss the backcountry bowls, or cruise the greens with your family in tow, here are all the details on what’s happening at your favorite winter escapes.

Mammoth Mountain

The scene: With 3,500 skiable acres of terrain, California’s highest lift-served summit (11,053 feet), 400 inches of snowfall on average, and miles of cross-country, snowshoe, and snowmobile terrain, this grand ski area lives up to its name.

What’s new: Advanced Airlines offers direct flights from McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad to Mammoth, a semiprivate experience at commercial costs with perks like no TSA screening and complimentary beverages and snacks.

Where to stay: The Westin Monache Resort anchors the bustling village with its spacious all-suite digs, outdoor pool, and easy access to the gondola. Tamarack Lodge, situated along the shore of Twin Lakes, evokes rustic charm as Mammoth’s most secluded resort—choose from lodge rooms, cabins, or suites.

Great eats: Order a smoothie and a burrito at Stellar Brew, Greek at Jimmy’s Taverna, Scandinavian cuisine at Skadi, and freshly baked organic sweets at Dessert’D.

Winter Escapes - Mammoth Sno-Cat

Sno-Cat Tours at Mammoth Mountain

Don’t miss: Taking a spin on the Mammoth Ice Rink, catching air at Woolly’s Tube Park, or kicking back on an après-ski Sno-Cat tour with charcuterie, wine, and spectacular mountain views.

Big Bear Mountain Resort

Winter Escapes - Big Bear

Big Bear Mountain Resort

The scene: The jewel of San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear is a four-season mountain lake haven, known for snowboarding, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and more. Carve some turns at Snow Summit, home to SoCal’s best snowmaking system, or hit one of 14 rad terrain parks at Bear Mountain.

What’s new: Hop on the free Big Bear Trolley that runs daily and delivers skiers and boarders to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, The Village, Boulder Bay, and Alpine Zoo.

Where to stay: Colorado Lodge offers modern, standalone cabins with forest views, Jacuzzis, and small kitchens. The cozy Noon Lodge sports an old-school camp vibe with lake views and stylish design.

Great eats: There’s diner-style breakfast at Teddy Bear, fresh country Italian at Sweet Basil Bistro, steak and seafood at The Pines Lakefront, pizza and craft brews at Saucy Mama’s, and karaoke, drinks, and affordable eats at the dive bar Murray’s Saloon.

Don’t miss: Snowshoeing through Big Bear’s backcountry, tobogganing at the Alpine Slide, or zip-lining through the snow-laden pines with Action Tours.

Snow Valley Mountain Resort

The scene: The oldest continually operating ski resort in Southern California, Snow Valley is a low-key, family-friendly, ideal place to learn to snowboard or ski.

Winter Escapes - Snow Valley

Snow Valley Mountain Resort

What’s new: Snow Valley’s award-winning Children’s Learning Center has a new Sunkid Moving Carpet, a 100-foot outdoor conveyor belt to use in their skiing lessons.

Where to stay: Built in 1931 and redesigned in 2021, The Outpost is a waterfront gem on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, just six miles from Snow Valley. Each of the five cabins has a wood-burning stone fireplace, a record player and vinyl, board games, and a fully stocked kitchen.

Great eats: Set in a cozy cottage that was formerly a mining shack, North Shore Café in Fawnskin offers up counter-service breakfast and lunch with omelets, avocado toast, burgers, and beer.

Don’t miss: Snow Valley’s Snow Play, SoCal’s only lift-served sledding and night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays.

Winter Escapes - Palisades

Snowboarders at Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe

The scene: This world-renowned resort spans 6,000 skiable acres across two mountains with legendary steeps, wide-open bowls, and perfect groomers, along with arresting views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. what’s new: Palisades Tahoe just announced their new name. They were formerly “Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows,” and the decision to remove the derogatory word “squaw” was made in consultation with the local Washoe Tribe.

Where to stay: The ski-in/ski-out Village at Palisades Tahoe buzzes with entertainment as 50 bars, restaurants, and boutiques are right outside your door. The Resort at Squaw Creek, a Hyatt hotel, sports three heated pools, a waterslide, a luxurious spa, and fine dining in an alpine setting.

Great eats: Try Rocker in the village for wings, burgers, brews, and big screens, or après at Tremigo for a margarita and Mexican food fix. Go Bavarian style at The Chalet at Alpine Meadows for raclette and cold drafts.

Don’t miss: Experiencing The North Face Mountain Guide, a program where an esteemed skier will take up to four people on a custom tour of the mountain.

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