Nothing says wintertime more than bundling up in layers and listening to non-stop holiday music (on repeat: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas”). It’s also the best time to play in the snow — and Northern California has some of the best places to ski, snowboard, and, uh, chill. Check out some wintry escapes in Northern California that are a relatively easy road trip from Sacramento and the Bay Area. Keep in mind that weather conditions and opening days for resorts may vary, so make sure to call ahead or double-check the websites of these locations before visiting.
If you’re looking for a weekend of winter activities, consider making the trek to Lake Tahoe. Approximately 200 miles from San Francisco, Northstar California Resort is filled with fun in the snow, including skiing and snowboarding lessons, fat tire snow biking, and ice skating. After a day of outdoor adventure, wind down with a spa treatment or the resort’s signature cocktails. There’s also on-site lodging, so you can squeeze in a nap (or two) in between runs.
Head to Mount Shasta from Sacramento (about a 228-mile drive) and spend a weekend at Mount Shasta Ski Park. The ski resort offers 425 acres of skiable terrain, 32 trails, and two terrain parks that are designed for various skill levels. If you’re interested in an overnight stay in the mountains, the resort offers backcountry cabin rentals. Just make sure you’re comfortable about making the trek (whether by skis or snowshoes) to your serene stay.
Skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in Yosemite National Park? Yes, indeed. You can enjoy the fresh powder at the Badger Pass Ski Area, where skiers and riders of all levels are welcomed. In the heart of Yosemite Valley, you’ll find the Curry Village Ice Skating Rink, where you can go skating while getting magical views of Half Dome in the winter. Yosemite also offers a variety of accommodations, including The Ahwahnee, Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Located in Tuolumne County, Leland High Sierra Snowplay is a family-friendly winter wonderland that’s roughly 175 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area. With 12 acres of terrain, there’s plenty of room for you and your crew to go tubing, sledding, and playing in the snow. When you need a break, relax in the 4,000-square-foot day lodge that features a cozy fireplace, snack bar, and an outdoor sundeck with a view of the park.
At Soda Springs, located about 175 miles from San Francisco, the ski resort offers experiences for the entire family, especially your little ones. In addition to skiing and snowboarding lessons, there’s a snow tubing area called Tube Town with up to 10 lanes and the Planet Kids snow playground with plenty of fun activities in the cold. During the holidays, kids can enjoy the Snowball Festival, which features a fun bounce house, face painting, and a craft cocoa bar. The North Pole has got nothing on Soda Springs Mountain Resort.