Inspired by the recent Olympics? Get on the ice at Center Ice Arena in Ontario. Whether the kids want to play a hockey game or get lessons in figure skating, Center Ice Arena has got them covered, and it’s only an hour east of LA. Or, check out the Ontario Ice Skating Arena right near Center Ice, which also offers many open-skate times. Don’t worry about bringing your own skates – both arenas offer rentals.
It’s hard to imagine that quality skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing can be found only two hours from LA. Head up to Big Bear Mountain for some sunny and snowy days on the slopes – from groomed cruisers to terrain parks and wooded glades, Big Bear is one of the best locations for first-time skiers and for teaching young children. The area also offers ice fishing, farmer’s markets and eco-tours. Or, stay more local by heading to Mt. Baldy, where lift tickets are only $19, and you can enjoy 20 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails in blissful seclusion.
Winter is great in theory, less so in reality. If being cold isn’t your thing, why not opt for a winter-themed show in the comfort of an arena? Hang out with Anna, Elsa and Olaf at Disney on Ice presents Frozen, performing in Long Beach, Stockton, and Ontario. Or, grab some tickets to see Disney’s Stars on Ice at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
It might be hard to believe, but Southern California has some very solid sledding hills. We love Frasier Park in snow-blessed Los Padres National Forest, which offers some of the longest, smoothest runs for sled-lovers of all ages. Sleds are provided, or you can bring your own. The best part: there’s a chairlift, so no need to hike back up the mountain for another white-knuckle run.
The Montecito Sequoia Lodge & Family Camp in Kings Canyon National Park, a year-round lodge and family camp, boasts a host of winter activities, from cross-country skiing to backcountry snowboarding to guided snowshoe tours. Blame our inner kid, but we love the tubing, where you can rack up vertical descent after vertical descent on everything from beginner to expert hills. Parents will love time by the fire or in the outdoor hot tub while the Lodge’s counselors look after the kids. Beginners? Not a problem – the Lodge offers lessons for every winter sport, for any age. Add buffet-style meals, evening entertainment, and breathtaking views of the High Sierra, and you've got an idyllic family winter getaway.
For the more adventurous families, rent a cabin at Lake Arrowhead in Twin Peaks. Only two hours from Los Angeles, the Arrowhead Pine Rose Cabins are fully equipped with kitchens and amenities – some are even pet-friendly, so bring the whole family along! The Pine Rose Cabins also offer play areas, sled runs, and fitness centers. Jump on one of the many groomed, scenic walking trails, or spend time near the cabin having a snowball fight.
Though a few extra hours from LA, Big Sur offers some of the most dramatic ocean views in the country, and is famous for its diversity of species. Try to spot the biggest falcons and condors in North America, elusive bald eagles, beautiful killer whales, or – if you dare – mountain lions. While spring is commonly considered the best time to see new wildlife, sea otter pups are born between January and March, and love the waters and coves around Big Sur. Though once thought to be extinct in California, sea otters are alive and well in the surf on Ocean View Boulevard. Come ready for a cuteness overload.