Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

December 22, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara)

grey squirrel header Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Grey Squirrel Resort & Vacation Rentals)

Now that the year is almost over, it is time to spread the winter cheer. Make this season one full of good times, adventure and great moments with family. Take advantage of the vacation time with a road trip away with the entire family. The following locations offer you a winter vacation in either snow or sunny weather. Whichever route you decide to take this winter is sure to be memorable at one of these road trip destinations near Los Angeles.

hotel oceana santa barbara Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara)

Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara
201 W. Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 965-4577
Price: from $104 per night

Families that want to see some new scenery and do it in a short time visit Santa Barbara. It takes less than two hours to get there by car. Hotel Oceana is a perfect stay for families with children. It offers large rooms that are brightly decorated and have access to lots of fun. Take advantage of bike rentals to ride to nearby Stearn’s Wharf. At Stearn’s, loved ones can shop, take in a meal at a restaurant, walk along the beach, and enjoy the view of the ocean. Don’t miss the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where you can take a piece of Santa Barbara home with you when you purchase a plant. For some exciting fun children will love, visit Santa Barbara Harbor where they can whale watch, go sailing and fish. Jump on a water taxi or go sightseeing on a trolley tour. Be sure to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, a great way to explore underwater sea life, learn about art work, read about various cultures, study animals and watch shows about planets in the Gladwin Planetarium. While in Santa Barbara there are tons of options for outdoor activities such as skateboarding, volleyball, rock climbing, golf, tennis and surfing. Before you leave Santa Barbara make sure and check out the Art Walk. Not only can you find unique pictures and paintings, but it offers jewelry, sculptures and souvenirs as well.

Related: What To Do With Your Double-Digit Kids

catamaran resort Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa)

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa
3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 488-1081
Price: from $129 per night

San Diego is another city that families flock to year round. With its location close to Mission Beach and a short distance from state attractions, it is easy to understand why. The Catamaran Resort is a fabulous choice to stay at while in San Diego. Many children marvel at this hotel located directly on Mission Bay. Checking in is even fun with talking parrots in the lobby area and lush green scenery. Staying at the Catamaran is like a tropical paradise. Families can venture on over to Mission Bay Park and take in the sun, shop and grab a bite to eat along the way. Barbecue or picnic here for the perfect day out. Next walk over to Belmont Park walk along the beach, rent a bike, surf, go on a roller coaster ride or pick up some beach ware. There is so much to do while in San Diego — ride on a boat, eat some ice cream and ride on a carousel at Balboa Park. Highlights here include Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and the USS Midway Museum.

wrightwood Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Wrightwood Sales & Rentals)

Wrightwood Sales & Rentals
6043 Park Drive
Wrightwood, CA 92397
(760) 249-3339
Price: from $350 for two nights

Start a tradition of vacationing in the cabins of Wrightwood. In Wrightwood, Californians can still experience a four-season year with snow. This highly elevated area makes a great place for fishing, hiking, biking and skiing. For the adventurous family, Mount Baden-Powell is a popular, but still serene hiking trail with magnificent views of the mountains and desert. It is one of the highest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains. The little ones in the family will remember Ski Sunrise as the ideal location for children to ski in Wrightwood. For the older children in the family, go to Mountain High for some snowboarding fun. The daredevils in the family may even enjoy themselves by receiving instructions on zip lining by Navitat Canopy Adventures at a high elevation in the trees. Everyone will go home with a story to tell.

grey squirrel resort and vacation rentals Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Grey Squirrel Resort & Vacation Rentals)

Grey Squirrel Resort & Vacation Rental Homes
39372 Big Bear Blvd.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-4335
Price: from $138 per night

Winter is the perfect time to go camping here, and Grey Squirrel Resort has some of the nicest cabins in Big Bear Lake. It even has a fireplace that makes for an authentic winter vacation. Open the windows to see snow falling. Some of the main highlights of vacationing in Big Bear are the water activities. Families love getting together and kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Take the young at heart and try some lake fun for wakeboarding or racing while water skiing. For the families that like to stay in shape, the scenic trails are great to hike and explore the surrounding area, or even to start a campfire and set up a tent. Some families even go off of the main roads and create their own adventures. Big Bear Lake is great for animal watching and learning about nature first hand.

Related: Nature Education In Los Angeles

desert hot springs spa Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Los Angeles

(credit: Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel)

Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel
10805 Palm Drive
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
Price: from $71 per night

It may be cold for some this winter, but luckily you for you there is a place to still enjoy some warm weather. Pack up your belongings and head over to Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel. Here you can relax in natural, hot, healing waters, treat the family to spa services and end your day in a soothing sauna. Many families enjoy shopping at Palm Springs Mall and browsing the department stores. Shop boutiques, get pampered at the local salon or grab groceries for a picnic. If you like action, head on over to the Palm Springs Air Museum. Here families learn about history, view artwork and gain more knowledge on warcraft and traditional planes. If those are not incentive enough, then the Aerial Tram will bring you in. This tram is the biggest rotating aerial on the planet. It offers a spectacular way to get a top view of Coachella Valley.

Cassandra Bautista is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. Her work can be found at

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