IF ONLY... there was a complex system of gondolas and trams and sky chairs that could whisk altitude aficionados around the state, to wherever they wanted to go or needed to be. You could board such a chair, one that traveled high above the streets, in downtown Los Angeles or Old Town San Diego, and after a pleasant ride, you'd be at the beach or Hearst Castle or Ghiradelli Square (or the San Francisco landmark of your choice). Until that day arrives, however, we have to seek out these in-the-sky rides, drive our cars to them, park, and then queue to board for a vista-filled trip up or down a mountain. Sometimes the views are full of a certain superstar -- we're thinking of the tram at The Trees of Mystery near Klamath, which travels among dense redwoods -- and sometimes the vistas change from desert to snow, like at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. But if you're looking for summer stretches of sunny, lake-filled pleasure, and you'd like a deal on your ride, too, look to Big Bear, and the Snow Summit Sky Chair.
END OF SUMMER DISCOUNT PACKAGE: If you're longing for some mountain air, before the flakes start to fall later this year, look into The Stay & Ride Sky Chair Discount Package, which is "good for a roundtrip ride on the Snow Summit Scenic Sky Chair, which presents a relaxing 15-minute ride to the top of Snow Summit to enjoy spectacular views of Mt. San Gorgonio Wilderness." Sign us up for some of that mind-sweet relaxation. There's BBQ options at the top, at View Haus, if you're peckish. Want to do this soon-ish? The Sky Chair is open every day through Labor Day Monday (that's Sept. 7). Then it moves to a weekends-only schedule through Oct. 25. A regular roundtrip is nineteen bucks, but the package shaves off a few dollars, and maybe more, depending on the time of week you ride. You still can't travel the state solely by mountain-style gondola, but you can go to the mountains to go up, up, up on one of the prettiest. Need a dose of altitude view-o-sity before the school year truly gets cranking? Start here to find your lodging.