Skip to Content

8+ Places To Play In The Snow Near Los Angeles (Updated for 2021)

Southern California’s winters range from sunny beaches to snowy mountain tops.  In under 2 hours, you can drive from anywhere in SoCal to the mountains to play in the snow.   So whether you’re headed to the San Gabriel Mountains or San Bernardino Mountains for the day, here is a list of the best places to play in the snow near Los Angeles.

Are you planning a vacation to California in the winter to go snow skiing, snowboarding or simply to play in the snow? Then check out this list of The Best Places To Enjoy The Snow in Southern California!

Best Places Enjoy The Snow Near Southern California

Idyllwild

Idyllwild is a cozy little mountain top community located above the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County.  The village itself is quaint and beautiful, especially during the winter time.  It does snow in Idyllwild, but there is no snow skiing allowed.  Therefore, it’s typically not as crowded as other mountain communities such as Wrightwood or Big Bear.

Best Places To Enjoy The Snow in Southern California

photo credit: Mark Buckawicki

Mt. Baldy

You can easily get to Mt. Baldy in 1 hour and 30 minutes from anywhere in Orange County.  My favorite part about Mt. Baldy is that you don’t have to go very far up the mountain to find the snow.  My children and I like to go half way up and then stop on the side of the road to play.  We also prefer to bring our own snow sleds.

Girl playing in the snow at Mnt. Baldy

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a wonderful way to go up the mountain, enjoy the view of the valley and play in the snow at the top.  The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway starts at Valley Station and travels more than 5,800 feet up to Mountain Station in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  There’s plenty to do once you reach the top including snow shoeing and cross country skiing.

A view from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Big Bear

Big Bear is a unique mountain resort surrounded by the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest.  Activities include skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and cross-country skiing.  The drive to get to Big Bear is fairly quick too.  It’s about a 1-3 hour drive from any major city in Southern California.  Other fun activities in the area include visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, the Big Bear Discovery Center and inner tubing at Big Bear Snow Play.

A lodge in Big Bear California

photo credit: John Murphy

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is another mountain top community located in the San Bernardino National Forest.  It’s a great place to spend a weekend playing in the snow.  Families can stay at a cottage near the lake and head over to the Lake Arrowhead Village for some shopping and eating.  There are also numerous day hikes around the area.

A cabin in Lake Arrowhead where you can play in the snow

photo credit: vastateparksstaff

Running Springs

Snow Drift – Snow Tubing Park in Running Springs is Southern California’s largest and oldest snow tubing park.  They offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes and are at 6500 feet above sea level.  Another local ski resort along the way is Snow Valley Mountain Resort.   This resort has skiing, snowboarding, and tubing for all ages.

Two sleds in the snow in Running Springs California

Wrightwood

Mountain High Ski Resort located in Wrightwood is a snowy ski village nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Their claim to fame is they are “Southern California’s closest winter resort”.  They have three resorts that offer something for everyone including skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and of course making little snowmen with your kids!

People skiing at Mountain High in Wrightwood California

photo credit: Mike Gonzalez

Palomar Mountain

Palomar Mountain is a hidden gem surrounded by the The Cleveland National Forest.  Home to Palomar Mountain State Park and the Palomar Observatory, the Palomar Mountains include peaks ranging from 3000-6000 feet above sea level.  If you decide to play in the snow at Palomar Mountain State Park, an Adventure Pass is required.

A view of Palmar Mountain State Park near San Diego California

photo credit: Phil Konstantin

Mount Laguna

At just over 6000 feet above sea level, Mount Laguna is one of the most popular places to see winter snow coming from the San Diego area.  If there is snow, chains are required and you’ll need to purchase them ahead of time.  The Laguna Mountain Lodge has reasonably-priced accommodations, a Visitor Center and Adventure Passes for sale.

I hope you have a wonderful time taking your family to our local mountains this winter!

Happy Field Tripping!

Jilleen

Best Winter Time Activities in Southern California

5 Things to do in the Winter in Southern California

7 Places to go Sand Sledding in Southern California

Attend WinterFest OC in Costa Mesa

Best Ice Skating Rinks in Orange County

Best Ice Skating Rinks in Los Angeles

Horseback Riding in Malibu
← Previous
Where To Go Horseback Riding Near Los Angeles
Are you looking for some fun activities to keep the kids entertained on Valentine's Day?  These 13 Creative Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids are surprisingly a little silly, but sure to delight your little sweeties.  What's not to love?
Next →
13 Creative Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids

40 Best Things To Do In San Diego - SoCal Field Trips

Monday 6th of July 2020

[…] Palomar Mountain is a hidden gem surrounded by the The Cleveland National Forest.  Home to Palomar Mountain State Park, the Palomar Mountains include peaks ranging from 3000-6000 feet above sea level.  If you decide to play in the snow at Palomar Mountain State Park, an Adventure Pass is required. […]

2020 Best Family Friendly New Year's Eve Celebrations in Southern California - SoCal Field Trips

Saturday 28th of December 2019

[…] Ring in 2019 at the 55th annual Snow Summit Torchlight Parade. Watch 200+ skiers and snowboarders light up the night as they make their way down the face of the mountain in the dark with torches to create a spellbinding spectacle of light before the (snow)ball drops.   Other activities include DJ entertainment, activation booths, face painting, champagne toast, stilt walkers, fire dancers, a photobooth and bounce house for kids.  Come early and enjoy the snow! […]

Sally

Thursday 26th of December 2019

Not sure why Tehachapi, Bear Valley Springs or Stallion Springs weren’t included on this list? Some of the best mountain towns that get snow in Southern California.

Ali

Wednesday 23rd of January 2019

Hi! Ive never driven to see snow (like on a mountain) are any of these accesible with out snow chains? Looking to go with hubby and our almost 2year old mid February, or is that too late?

Jilleen

Wednesday 23rd of January 2019

You can drive up highway 118 to a certain point with no chains and pull off on the side of the road and play in the snow. Many people do it. However, I honestly don't recommend going without chains. You just never know when you might need them. Better to play it safe. I hope you have a great trip!

75 Places in San Diego to Explore with Kids - SoCal Field Trips

Monday 9th of July 2018

[…] 30. Mount Laguna […]