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Road Trip: Ski & Play in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.

Grab the gear and head east to this amazing family-friendly ski resort that seems to be the best-kept secret in California. Mammoth Mountain received more snow in December than anywhere else in the world, and when you consider that the base rests at 8,000 ft, you’ll probably be able to hit the slopes well into June!

Getting to Mammoth:

While the name might imply a giant undertaking, getting to Mammoth is actually a breeze. Daily nonstop flights starting from $59 operate out of LA, San Francisco, and San Jose. Not only is the airport conveniently located nearby, free and abundant public transportation and full sized four wheel drive taxis make getting around without a your own car no problem.

Feel more like driving?  From any direction, it’s no big deal to get here. Folks from SoCal say it’s an easy 5 hour trek up the valley and since it’s only 2 hours beyond South Lake Tahoe, folks coming from the north don’t have that far to go either! The drive on US-395 through the Eastern Sierras is breath taking. Bring the camera. Tip: Make a stop along the way at the family friendly Travertine Hot Springs. These natural wonders are not only totally cool but they are also one of the few hot springs that actually have pools cool enough for kids to enjoy.

What to do in Mammoth with kids:

Hit the slopes: For families with first time or seasoned pint-sized shredders, Mammoth has an amazing 3500 acres of accessible terrain for all adventure levels. The kids’ ski program has a variety of half day and full day ski and snowboard lessons and packages. We were impressed that each base has it’s own ski school complete with beginner magic carpets and easy first-time lifts and terrain. Snacks and drinks are provided, as well as an optional day care.

Dog Days: For an adventure the kids will never forget, hop aboard a handmade sled and let some furry friends take you for a ride. Mammoth Dog Sleds offers daily tours of spectacular Eastern Sierra countryside ranging from toddler-friendly 50 minutes to hardcore overnight family adventures. The dogs and mushers are spectacularly friendly and knowledgeable and your little ones might even get treated to a chance to lead the sled! Prices range from $50 to $175 per person (kids 3 and under are free on the shorter tours).

Slip Sliding: Get the downhill rush without having to strap on skis. Pick up an inexpensive sled disc and enjoy two great locally loved free spots right off of Scenic Loop Road. There is also the pay-for-play spot Sledz, which is located on Minaret Road on the way up to the Main Lodge. $25 gets you a tube and tow rope access for one hour.

Family friendly places to stay in Mammoth:

Feel at home: Family getaway or family reunion, Snowcreek Resort has a wide assortment of one to four bedroom nicely equipped condos. Rental also includes access to their amazing  Snowcreek Athletic Club which features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gym facilities, and the Double Eagle Spa where mom and dad should make time to enjoy a little R&R  with a hot stone massage after a cold day on the slopes. Rates start at $190 and pet friendly units are available if you want to bring the furry family members along.

Kid friendly dining in Mammoth:

On the mountain: Awesome breakfast burritos, mouth watering chili, and the kids favorite foot long “Mammoth Dogs”. The food at the resort is as good as it is abundant and also well located. Hungry for lunch? Ski down to the base of Stump Alley and enjoy some tri-tip hot off the grill at  The Mill Cafe.

Across the street: Located right across from the main village gondola, Burger’s is great locally owned family friendly dining spot does it right. From their home made BBQ sauce to the daily in-house grinding of sustainable grass-fed beef, lunch is certain to end with a plate licked cleaned.

Where to play in Mammoth:

Let ‘em party: Parents can enjoy a night out while kids 5 and up make new friends, enjoy games, activities, movies, and crafts. Dinner is included and reservations are recommended. The cost is $55/child and the program is located at the Grand Sierra Lodge in The Village. Nanny-for-a-day and babysitting placement services also available.

-Drea Lester

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