The best thing about Orange County is that in addition to sunny, sandy beaches, we also get the wintry white stuff – snow! Within an hour’s time, you can be skiing, snowboarding, tubing or building a snowman as you enjoy a day away from the city scene. Dust off the snowboard, dig the snow boots out of the closet and maybe buy a new beanie because it’s snow season in the OC. Whether your interests involve a day on the slopes or a casual sled ride and snowball fight, these cool weather hot spots are close, convenient and call for tons of fun.
Devil’s Punch Park Bowl
28000 Devils Punchbowl Road
Pearblossom, CA 93553
With 8,000-foot mountain summits, the 300-foot-deep Punch Bowl Canyon and a variety of landscapes that include Joshua Trees, California Junipers, desert chapparel and pinyon pines, a rich wintry landscape awaits you at the Devil’s Punch Bowl Park. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, so you can start early and plan a full snow day of fun. Several trails of varying difficulty and length allow visitors different views of the park, including a one-mile Loop Trail with a 300-foot elevation drop to the canyon floor and a climb back up to the picnic area. There is no overnight camping at the park, but on December 14th, visitors can enjoy the last monthly moonlit hike of the year, starting at 7 p.m. All of this, plus free parking, makes the Devil’s Punch Bowl a sure hit this winter.
54000 Riverside County Playground Road
Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549
Just an hour east of Orange County lies the rustic mountain beauty of Idyllwild Park. For a small fee the Idyllwild Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit for a day of sledding and snowmen. Five different trails also offer spectacular views of the 200 acres of surrounding woodlands, and some trails lead right to the Nature Center, which is open all year from Thursday through Sunday. After playing in the snow, warm up with a cup of hot chocolate at nearby Café Aroma and shop for local art in the country town of Idyllwild.
Alpine Slide At Magic Mountain
800 Wildrose Lane
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Just off of Big Bear Boulevard, a couple of hours northeast of OC, is the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, home of SoCal’s only place for genuine bobsledding. In addition to the natural snow, the folks at Alpine Slide start blowing snow as soon as possible to help get a head start on the winter fun. Try out the Magic Carpet Ride, or tempt the Snake Run with a series of thrilling twists and turns. Tubing has never been more fun or convenient – just take the enclosed uphill lift for hours of exhilarating fun on the slopes.
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Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts
8401 Mt Baldy Rd
Mt Baldy, CA 91759
Just an hour north on the 57 and 210 freeways lies Mount Baldy Ski Lifts in the heart of the San Gabriel Mountains. Breathtaking rides on the Sugar Pine Chair Lift give you a view of skiers and snowboarders below, as well as a clear view of Catalina Island and the Mojave Desert. Expert hikers can make the climb to the top of Mt. San Antonio and enjoy a warm meal and a drink at the Top of the Notch Restaurant to celebrate their hard work. Reasonably mellow slopes make Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts fun for the whole family, though young children under the age of 14 should be accompanied by a responsible friend or family member older than 14. For a quick day trip on the slopes, Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts has something for everyone.
Snow Valley Mountain Resort
35100 California 18
Running Springs, CA 92382
Head east on the 91 Freeway, then head north toward Big Bear and you will find the Snow Valley Mountain Resort just west of Big Bear Lake. Snow Valley Resort has been in business for 75 years, and is one of the best places near Orange County for beginning skiers and snowboarders to learn the ropes. Half-day and full-day skiing and snowboarding lessons for kids ages four to 12 are available at the Children’s Learning Center, and there is even a Learning Center for beginning skiers ages 13 and up. The focus here is definitely on fun and education for those new to snow sports. Six restaurants and lounges, including the comfy Pine Room and the Last Run Lounge, will help you rest and recuperate after a day of frosty frolicking.
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