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How to Hack Winter: California Style



Posted on: 20 Feb 2015

When you hear the words California and winter, what image comes to mind?

• Sipping a nice cool craft beer on the sunny SoCal shores as the Pacific laps at your toes, whilst the grey skies of the UK fade into obscurity
• Riding out epic powder on jaw-dropping mountains as you face some world-class ski runs
• Cruising through the waves as you go searching for some of the largest mammals on the planet
It turns out you can do all of the above in California, as well as a host of other activities and experiences during the winter months. We’ve rounded up a few of the state’s top experiences below, but for more inspiration and the latest news, visit media.visitcalifornia.com.

Winter Wonderland in Yosemite

The weather is cold and crisp, the days bright and sunny, and the white-capped peaks and snowy meadows capture the imagination like no other place in California. Many visitors don’t realise that Yosemite National Park is open all year-round, and visiting in the quiet winter months offers a more serene and enchanting experience. Ideal for families, guests can enjoy a winter hike through the massive Sequoia Grove trees, ice skating at Curry Village amid stunning views of Half Dome, and spectacular full moon snowshoe walks with the Yosemite Conservancy. After a day’s activities, stop by the historic Ahwahnee to warm up at one of the hotels three giant fireplaces. 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Yosemite, and the park will be celebrating with a series of family-friendly events and activities throughout the year.

Animal Magic along the Coast

Whilst most animals are hibernating, winter time in California signals the arrival of the magnificent grey whales along the coastline of San Diego and Orange County, as well as the Northern regions. Along the Central Coast, Monterey is one of the best places to spot them. Here visitors can head out on one of the many whale watching tours available in the area and watch as the entire grey whale population migrate south from Alaska, past the Monterey coastline, down to their winter breeding grounds in Mexico. Mid-December through to mid-March is the best time to spot some 7,000 grey whales, as well as killer whales and several species of dolphin. Whilst in town, enthusiasts should also head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to learn about the local conservation projects, and winter visitors will also spot the resident sea otters, California sea lions and harbour seals who call Monterey home all year round. Check out Monterey Bay Whale Watch for more details about tours.

Snow Camping…in the Desert

Want to experience something really different this winter? Time to tackle Mount San Jacinto as you head to Palm Springs and go from the dry desert to snowy peaks in just ten minutes. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of California’s most unique experiences, and just two and half miles from the chic palm tree lined streets of Palm Springs visitors will find a pristine wilderness awaiting them at the top of North America’s sheerest mountain face! Visitors can experience Palm Springs like never before when they camp overnight amidst the stillness of the snowy state park, some 8,516 feet above the Coachella Valley stretched out below. If you want to explore a bit more of Mount San Jacinto State Park, the Winter Adventure Center rents snowshoes, cross-country skis and snow tubes. And if you’re in town during the first two weeks of January, don’t forget to bring your camera for celebrity spotting as the Palm Springs International Film Festival arrives in town!

For more winter desert adventures head south to the Salton Sea, which is a hotspot for bird watching November to February. The recreation area is home to 400 different species of bird, almost half of the 900 species known to exist on the North America Continent, and there are more individual species here than any other place in the US. Stop by during migration season to witness up to four million birds use the Sea each day!

Winter Sunshine in SoCal

Whilst some may prefer crisp morning frosts and dazzling snow fall in winter, Southern California is a retreat for those yearning to bask in some warm rays and celebrate Christmas riding the waves on their board. San Diego, California’s most southern gateway city, is renowned for its laid-back charm, year-round temperate climate and beautiful beach communities. For many, winter is the best time of year to visit when the weather allows for an abundance of outdoor activities, from surfing and biking, to golfing and hiking, and the chance to sample one of the many world-popular craft breweries around the city. Head over to the stunning Hotel del Coronado for an unmatched winter experience of skating by the sea - a beautiful outdoor ice rink surrounded by palm trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Make sure you book in for one of their legendary Sunday brunches whilst you’re there! Those looking for a party can ring in the New Year in some of the Gaslamp Quarter’s best clubs, with the Downtown area offering live jazz, rooftop bars and even a Masquerade Ball.

A Californian Christmas Chalet in the Mountains

Surprised to learn that California isn’t home to just beaches and deserts? Time to hit the slopes, dude! California offers superb snow activities throughout the state, with hundreds of miles of white-capped mountains providing unparalleled opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, skating, snow climbing and even sleigh riding. With over 27 resorts scattered across the state, visitors are never far from the piste. The 2014/15 ski season is already shaping up to be a good one, and whether you’re a family looking for somewhere to teach your children to ski, a snow-pro seeking the newest off-mountain entertainment, or a foodie fanatic searching for a taste of the finest cuisine on the slope, California has it all. This season Lake Tahoe has some of the hottest technology on the slopes with Squaw Alpine unveiling the ski industry’s first app for Google Glasses, whilst Sugar Bowl celebrates its 75th anniversary and Heavenly’s hotels are continuing to renovate and expand for the new season. Mammoth Lakes and Mountain are busy with the opening of the Mammoth Rock 'N Bowl, a state-of-the-art bowling and recreation centre, as well as their expansion south with the purchase of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, just a two hour drive from LA. Mt. Shasta Ski Park, the state’s most northern ski resort, is continuing to offer backcountry trails and night skiing.

For more information visit: visitcalifornia.co.uk