LA tots might be all about sunshine and those enviable beach days but one of the beautiful things about this city is its amazingly short proximity to snow-blanketed mountains. You can pack snowballs with mitten-covered hands and be back in your flip-flops before bedtime. We’ve gathered up a few of the best spots to make snow angels and hit the slopes (some even right here in town!) with your snow bunnies, all within an easy drive of LA. Scroll down for our frosty favorites.
Snow Valley Mountain Resort
About 30 minutes closer to LA than Big Bear (we know every minute counts with antsy toddlers in tow), the Snow Valley Children’s Learning Center and Snow Play area gives Angelenos a chance to experience a true winter wonderland during the holidays and all season long. The Children’s Learning Center offers ski and snowboarding lessons to kids (ages 4–12). By focusing on small class sizes and lots of individual attention to developing skills, tots get a fun and much less frustrating experience. There’s also a Snow Play area where tots can sled the day away to their heart’s content.
“Cool” tip: Ski or ride all day for free on your birthday! Plus, they have great discount packages for the family which can save you a bundle when you’re bundled up, and kids 6 and under are free with a paid adult.
35100 California 18
SkyPark at Santa’s Village
You don’t have to leave the country to pay a visit to the North Pole, in fact, you don’t even have to leave Southern California. Just outside of Lake Arrowhead you’ll find a winter wonderland where Santa and plenty of fun in the snow await. If your idea of a snow day is not so much skiing and sledding, as it is simply playing, then this is the place to be. Besides the snow itself, your kids will be filled with winter wonder over the twinkling beauty of the village and, of course, the big man himself, Santa. If you need a break from stomping around in the snow, there is also ice skating, a train ride, and plenty of yuletide-themed festivities. Tickets are $49 for kids 4-12, and $59 for adults. Kids 3 and under and adults 80 and over are free, in case you want to bring the grandparents along too.
“Cool” tip: Call ahead before you make your trek to ensure that there is snow on the ground.
Skypark at Santa’s Village
28950 Highway 18
It’ll be snowing at Kidspace for the annual Snow Days event! Kiddos can pull out hats, gloves and scarves to play in real snow, make snow angels and snowmen, learn how snow is formed in nature, and enjoy traditional winter crafts. Truckloads of real snow will be delivered fresh and clean, so come ready to play. There are loads of winter activities for those that need to warm up fingertips and tootsies. Admission is $13, and includes most activities. Snow Days are Dec. 26-30.
“Cool” tip: “Cool” tip: Make a whole day of it and check out the Rose Parade floats as they get their final touches in the Decorating Places Dec. 28-30 in the parking lot outside of Kidspace. Tickets are required for entry. Find more infomation here.
Kidspace Children's Museum
480 North Arroyo Blvd.
Mammoth Mountain prides itself in being an uber kiddo-friendly resort. Woolly’s Tube Park and Snow Play area is always a huge hit with young snow-seekers. Tots can enjoy six groomed tube lanes, go sledding, build snowmen, throw snowballs at specially designated targets and ride Woolly’s Tube Rotundo (merry-go-round). When you’re in town over a weekend, be sure to check out Woolly’s Saturday Parade that features live music, dancing and face painting. If your little shredders prefer to hit the slopes for some ski and snowboard festivities, then June Mountain’s your best bet as kids 12 and under ski free all season long. For an apres-ski bite, we highly recommend Campo in The Village. Kids will dig the scrumptious Italian fare, toasty outdoor fireplace and games. Ticket’s to Woolly’s start at $34 for kids 12 and under and $39 for adults.
“Cool” tip: If you’ve got tiny ones too small to ski or board (or bigger kids who just don’t like going fast), don’t skip this trip. Take a scenic gondola ride, where you get sweeping snow views, snow play, a visit to the Eleven53 Interpretive Center and some lunch at the top.
10001 Minaret Rd.
Angeles Crest Highway
If you don’t have more of an end game than “want to show my SoCal kids snow,” possibly for the first time, and don’t want to spend big bucks on lift tickets, a drive up the Angeles Crest Highway might be perfect for you. Along highway 2, just north of La Canada, you can usually find snow in the winter. While you can find snow at many spots, (and more snow the higher into the mountains you go) if you want to program your GPS, look for Eagles Roost Picnic Site. There you’ll find parking (for $5) and potties (albeit rustic ones) and picnic tables where you can enjoy your thermos of hot chocolate.
“Cool” tip: Check the Angeles Crest Facebook page, where people may post pictures about the snow conditions, before you go!
Eagles Roost Picnic Area
Angeles Crest Highway (the 2)
Mountain High Resort
If you want to hit the slopes and be back by dinner then Mountain High Resort, at just an hour’s drive from LA, is the perfect spot for a quick snow day. Mountain High’s acclaimed Children’s Academy is located at the West Resort and offers ski and snowboard lessons to tots as young as four, while even smaller tykes (ages 1–3) can get schooled with the aid of a virtual snow simulator that helps them learn to stand without falling, stop (always important) and turn. If tubing’s more your family’s thing, head to the North Resort to check out the North Pole Tubing Park featuring 10 tubing lanes, two moving carpets and custom tubes.
“Cool” tip: Set your alarm clock, it’s worth it. Plan to get here when the mountain or park opens so you can avoid lines with the kids and so that the snow is fresh, not icy.
24510 State Highway 2
Discovery Cube is hosting their Winter Wonderfest from Dec. 16 - Jan. 7, 2018. Sure, kids can learn the science behind sledding down ice ramps, weather and how snow is formed, but the real draw for the kids is sliding down a 75-foot long ramp on inner tubes, the snow play area and real snow sledding. There’s enough snow to build snow castles & snowmen and make snow angels. Oh yeah, and all that learning stuff the parents like, too.Tickets to the Cube, which includes admission to this and all their exhibits, is just $19.95 per person when you order tickets online. Kids under 3 are free.
“Cool” tip: While you’re here, after your chill out in the snow, warm up with some spicy gingerbread! The Science of Gingerbread exhibit is filled with hands-on kitchen science experiments, kitchen tools, recipe science, Santa, decorating (and devouring) holiday cookies and even creating a cookie car to race in a Gingerbread Derby.
Discovery Cube LA
11800 Foothill Blvd.
SnowDrift Snow Tubing Park
As Southern California’s largest and oldest snow tubing park, SnowDrift, is the perfect place to take littles for a day of fast and furious frosty play in the fresh mountain air. Kids of all ages race down powdery slopes on snow tubes specially designed for speed and safety. There are beginning, intermediate and advanced slopes, so your babes are bound to find one where they feel comfortable. After your ride, pop over to the on-site refreshment stand which offers cocoa, hot dogs, candy, soda and other splurge-worthy delights. Entrance is $17 per person per hour, kids 36” tall or under are free.
“Cool” tip: SnowDrift takes cash only, so come prepared! And it's open depending on the weather, so be sure to call before you go.
San Bernardino National Forest
P.O. Box 252
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
From desert to snow in 12 minutes flat—not too shabby for a quick winter getaway. Leave the snow chains at home, load up the kiddos and hop aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a breathtaking (and rotating) ride to the snow-capped peak of Mount San Jacinto. Once you reach the top, tykes can go sledding (be sure to bring your own), have snowball fights and build snowmen. You can also rent cross-country skis and snowshoes for further explorations for the older kids. If all that snow play works up an appetite, be sure to check out Peaks Restaurant, Pines Cafe or Lookout Lodge for some delish nibbles and a cozy cup of hot chocolate. (Psssst! Mom and dad can grab a cocktail here, too. You’re welcome.) Read more about making this trip, in our guide to taking the tram.
“Cool” tip: Check the website before heading out, as the tram closes early on select days over the holiday for private events. And if your family is full of adventurers (with warm blood), look into the snow camping that’s available here some winters.
1 Tramway Rd.
Big Bear Lake
Winter in Big Bear is pint-sized paradise in every sense of the word. Whether your tots are avid skiers, newbie snowboarders or just want to go tubing for the day, Big Bear’s got you covered. For mini shredders, Bear Mountain provides the only Riglet terrain-based program in So Cal, offering kiddos (ages 3–6) the ultimate opportunity to board in a fun and safe environment. If you’re into tubing, swing by the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain and Big Bear Snow Play for hours of icy fun. Each facility offers a Magic Carpet conveyor belt ride to the top, eliminating the huffing and puffing of lugging your tube (and inevitably your kids’ tubes) up the hill. After a chilly play day, hot cocoa always hits the spot, and our inside tip of the day is that the best in town can be found at Amangela’s Sandwich and Bagel House in Big Bear Village.
“Cool” tip: Got toddlers? Both Alpine Slide and Snow Play have toddler areas and kiddie runs.
Snow Day LA
Here’s how you can really stay right in town! This seasonal, “snow park” is just a few miles from Downtown Los Angeles. Spread across nine acres just a snowball’s throw from Dodger’s Stadium, the first thing you’ll see when you walk up the snaking dirt road into the park is snow. Ok, this isn’t real snow falling in small swirls, it’s bubbles from small blowers perched above. There’s also not real snow on the tube hill, which is made of PowderPak.
But there is real snow in the snowball area, and at dusk, these swirls of white stuff look like the real thing, and kids will love standing in the middle of the snowfall feeling the “snowflakes” melt on their skin. And for that taste of the real, cold, wet stuff you can hit the snowball area for a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Or just to get a chance to wear your mittens in the heart of the city. Snow Day LA is open on weekends through December 17. Tickets start at $12.
“Cool” tip: Snow Day LA is already nearly sold out so if you plan to go get your tickets ASAP.
Snow Day LA
The Old Lodge (Montecillo De Leo Politi)
Stadium Way & Scott Ave.
Where does your crew go to check out the snow? Let us know!
–Jennifer O’Brien & Shahrzad Warkentin