Southern California Hot Spots for Cool Winter Recreational Sports

Judy Scott, Sports Editor

   Think about the cold air blowing your face as you speed down the mountain, waking up to fresh snow in the morning, or the walking-on-water feeling of gliding in ice skates. There is plenty to love about winter sports. Here are some local places to go tear it up on the slopes or skate around with friends and family.

   According to a travel website, “Skiing and snowboarding in Southern California are some of the best in the nation. The Los Angeles basin is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges, with peaks reaching nearly 9,000 feet.” All the ski resorts mentioned in this article are 150 miles or less from San Diego, with the exception of Mammoth Mountain, which is just about 400 miles away (

   Bear Mountain in Big Bear has top-notch terrain parks that make it a hit with freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Bear mountain is also home to Southern California’s only Superpipe, a large halfpipe for snowboarding and freestyle skiers. According to Snowpak’s “The Best 5 Ski Resorts Near Southern California” “There’s not a lot of steep terrain but the entire mountain is a terrain park and snowboarder-heavy” ( Bear Mountain is better suited for snowboarders rather than skiers, as it is not preferred for traditional downhill skiing. However, one can ski nearby Snow Summit on the same resort day pass. Junior Brooke Hudson, a regular Bear Mountain snowboarder, said, “I like going to the back of the mountain, and I like trying to do the runs with jumps. Though I cannot really do jumps, it is still a lot of fun.”

   Snow Summit is the sister resort of Bear Mountain. Together they make up Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Snow Summit is known as a family-friendly resort with plenty of cruisey blue runs and regular night skiing. According to SnowPak, “Located in the heart of San Bernardino National Forest, Snow Summit is a short, scenic drive from the cities in Southern California” ( It also has extensive snowmaking which allows for some of the most consistent snow in Southern California. According to a travel website, “The top elevation gives skiers and riders access to 1,200 feet of vertical drop. The resort has over 240 acres of terrain with 18 skiable miles for all ability levels” (

   Mountain High is just over two hours from San Diego and an easy drive at that. It is one of the most visited resorts in Southern California. As per SnowPak, “It is the ideal resort for groups of mixed abilities with three unique ski areas: North Resort for beginners, East Resort for intermediates, and West Resort for more advanced terrain. There’s also snow play activities [like tubing and sledding at Yeti’s Snow Parks] for kids and stunning views of the Mojave Desert” ( According to a travel website, Mountain High has three separate mountains, each only a mile apart. They offer different terrains and atmospheres, and you can ski or board at all three resorts with one lift ticket. There are also plenty of accommodation options in the nearby town, Wrightwood (

   Mammoth, the very popular ski resort in the Sierra Mountains, is one of California’s biggest ski areas with tons of snow and one of the longest ski seasons in the United States. It is estimated to be open from November to May this year. It is the farthest of the mentioned resorts, being over a six hour drive from San Diego. As reported by SnowPak, “The modern resort is great for families of all ability levels as well as non-skiers who can enjoy a range of activities including tubing, snowmobiling, scenic gondola rides and snowcat tours.” Being such a large resort, Mammoth offers everything you could possibly want including a wide array of lodging and dining choices at both the base of the mountain and Mammoth Lakes (

   San Diego also has some exceptional ice skating rinks for the holiday season. A unique San Diego holiday experience is The Hotel Del’s outdoor ice-skating rink that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, “Each winter since 2005, the Hotel del Coronado’s oceanfront Windsor Lawn is transformed into a spectacular ice rink with skating sessions offered daily. A portion of the skating proceeds benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego.” Rady Children’s Ice Rink at Liberty Station is another great rink where you can skate for a cause. The same source said, “The inviting outdoor environs of Liberty Station in Point Loma serve as an ideal place for taking a whirl across the ice. Skating runs from mid-November to early January.” Proceeds benefit the Thriving After Cancer program at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (

  Whether you’re speeding down the slopes, shredding on the pipe, or skating with friends, there is so much to love about the winter season and the sports it brings.