It may not exactly feel like winter here in Southern California, but it's here. Instead of hiding indoors all winter long, bundle up and get ready to explore one of our favorite activities on our Southern California winter bucket list.
Winter in Southern California may not be as snowy and cold as in other parts of the country, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the season. In fact, Southern California offers a plethora of winter activities that you won't find anywhere else. From skiing and snowboarding to whale watching and holiday events, there's something for everyone on our Southern California Winter Bucket List.
One of our favorite winter activities is skiing or snowboarding at Big Bear Mountain Resort. Just a couple of hours away from Los Angeles, Big Bear offers a winter wonderland with over 240 skiable acres and abundant snow-making. If you're not into skiing or snowboarding, you can still enjoy the snow by tubing or sledding down the hills. And if you're lucky, you might even spot some wildlife like bald eagles or coyotes.
Another activity on our bucket list is whale watching. Winter is the perfect time to see the majestic gray whales as they migrate from Alaska to Mexico. You can book a tour from various locations along the Southern California coast, such as Newport Beach or Dana Point. Not only will you get to see the whales up close, but you'll also get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Ocean.
Southern California Winter Bucket List: Fun Activities to Enjoy During the Cooler Months
Exploring Southern California
We may not have snow, but Southern California still has plenty of winter activities to offer. Here are some of our favorite Southern California Winter Bucket List destinations to explore the area during the cooler months.
Visit the Beach
While it may be too cold to swim, the beaches of Southern California are still worth a visit during the winter. Take a walk along the shore, enjoy the views, and maybe even spot some whales or dolphins in the distance. Just remember to bring a jacket and some warm clothes!
Winter is a great time to go hiking in Southern California. The cooler temperatures make it easier to tackle some of the more challenging trails, and the scenery is just as beautiful as ever. Some of our favorite spots include Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Explore the Desert
Southern California's desert landscape is stunning year-round, but it's especially beautiful during the winter months. Take a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, or the Mojave National Preserve to experience the unique beauty of the desert in winter.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
While we may not have snow in Southern California, we do have some great skiing and snowboarding destinations just a few hours away. Big Bear and Mountain High are both popular options for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Enjoy the Festivities
Winter in Southern California is also a time for festivals and celebrations. From the Festival of Lights in Riverside to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, there's always something fun and festive happening in the area during the holiday season.
Winter in Los Angeles
Winter in Los Angeles is a magical time of year. Although it may not be as cold as other parts of the country, there are still plenty of festive activities to enjoy. And with the added bonus of sunny skies, there's no need to stay cooped up indoors.
One of the must-do activities during the winter months in Los Angeles is visiting the Griffith Observatory. This iconic landmark offers breathtaking views of the city and is a great spot for stargazing. Plus, the observatory hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year, so be sure to check their website for the latest updates.
Another popular attraction during the winter months is the Hollywood Sign. While you can't get up close and personal with the sign itself, there are several hiking trails in the area that offer stunning views. We recommend the Hollywood Hills Hike, which takes you through the hills and offers panoramic views of the city.
Of course, no winter in Los Angeles would be complete without a trip to Hollywood. Take a stroll down the Walk of Fame and check out the handprints and footprints of your favorite celebrities. And if you're in the mood for some holiday cheer, be sure to visit the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
San Diego's Winter Charm
San Diego is one of the best places to visit during winter. Despite the lack of snow, there are plenty of things to do and see that will get you into the holiday spirit.
One of the must-visit places in San Diego during winter is Balboa Park. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland during December Nights, a two-day event where the park is decorated with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and holiday music. You can enjoy food from local vendors, watch live performances, and even take a ride on the park's vintage carousel.
Another must-visit destination is the San Diego Zoo. The zoo is open year-round, but during winter, it's transformed into a magical wonderland with light displays, holiday-themed animal exhibits, and special events. You can even take a ride on the zoo's Polar Express, a festive train that takes you on a tour of the park.
If you're looking for something more low-key, San Diego's beaches are perfect for a winter stroll. The weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller, making it the perfect time to explore the coastline. You can also warm up with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee from one of the many beachside cafes.
Overall, San Diego's winter charm is not to be missed. From the festive decorations to the mild weather, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Southern California Winter Bucket List Destinations
As we explore Southern California during the winter season, we cannot miss out on visiting some of the most amazing Southern California winter bucket list destinations. From the stunning Joshua Tree National Park to the picturesque Catalina Island, there is so much to see and experience.
One of the must-visit destinations in Southern California is Joshua Tree National Park. This unique park is famous for its stunning rock formations, desert landscapes, and clear night skies. Whether you are a nature lover or an adventure seeker, Joshua Tree National Park has something for everyone. You can hike through the park's many trails, rock climb, stargaze, or simply take in the breathtaking views.
Another destination that should be on your winter bucket list is Catalina Island. This beautiful island offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can take a ferry to the island and spend your day exploring the quaint town of Avalon, snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, or hiking through the island's rugged terrain.
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, then Big Bear Lake is the place to be. This winter wonderland is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. With over 240 skiable acres and abundant snow-making, Snow Summit at Big Bear is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Finally, no Southern California winter bucket list is complete without a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. This iconic theme park is jam-packed full of things to do and see. From the thrilling rides like Fast & Furious – Supercharged and King Kong 360 3-D to the magical world of Harry Potter, Universal Studios has something for everyone.
Overall, Southern California is home to some of the most amazing bucket list destinations. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or entertainment, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
When it comes to outdoor activities in Southern California during the winter, there is no shortage of options. One of our favorite things to do is to go hiking on the many trails in the area. The winter months bring cooler temperatures and even some snow in higher elevations, making it a perfect time to explore the great outdoors. Some of our favorite hiking spots include the Santa Monica Mountains, Joshua Tree National Park, and the San Bernardino Mountains.
If hiking isn't your thing, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy. Camping is a great way to experience the beauty of Southern California's wilderness. Many campsites remain open during the winter months, and the cooler temperatures make for a comfortable night's sleep. Some of our favorite campgrounds include Crystal Cove State Park, Lake Cachuma, and San Onofre State Beach.
For those who enjoy fishing, Southern California has plenty of options. The winter months bring an abundance of fish to the area, making it a great time to cast a line. Some popular fishing spots include Lake Arrowhead, Lake Cuyamaca, and Big Bear Lake.
No matter what outdoor activity you choose, be sure to come prepared. The weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to bring warm clothing and plenty of layers. Additionally, many parks and campgrounds require reservations, so be sure to plan ahead. With so many options to choose from, Southern California is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Winter Festivals and Events
Winter in Southern California is a magical time of year, full of holiday cheer and festive events. One of the most popular events is the Festival of Lights in Riverside, where the entire downtown area is transformed into a winter wonderland of dazzling lights and holiday cheer. It's an event that's perfect for the whole family, with plenty of activities and entertainment to keep everyone entertained.
Another great event to check out is the Winter Wonderland at Universal Studios. This theme park is jam-packed full of things to do, but some of the highlights include Fast & Furious – Supercharged, King Kong 360 3-D, and of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can spend an entire day or two at Universal Studios and still not cover everything, but you sure can try!
If you're looking for something a little more low-key, then consider visiting one of the many winter wonderlands that pop up throughout Southern California during the holiday season. These events typically feature ice skating, snow tubing, and other winter-themed activities, as well as plenty of food and drink options to keep you warm and cozy.
No matter what your interests are, there's sure to be a winter festival or event in Southern California that's perfect for you. So grab your friends and family, bundle up, and get ready to experience the magic of the season!
Beach Towns and Coastal Adventures
Southern California is known for its stunning beaches and coastal towns, and winter is the perfect time to explore them without the crowds. Newport Beach is a must-visit destination, with its picturesque harbor and charming Balboa Island. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, rent a bike, or go whale watching for a unique winter adventure.
Of course, no trip to Southern California would be complete without a visit to the beaches. From Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach, there are plenty of options to choose from. Spend a day soaking up the sun, surfing the waves, or simply taking a relaxing walk along the shore.
If you're looking for a break from the beach, head to Palm Springs for a different kind of adventure. This desert oasis is known for its hot springs, spas, and outdoor activities. Take a hike in the surrounding mountains, go on a hot air balloon ride, or simply relax by the pool at one of the many luxury resorts.
Finally, don't miss out on the art scene in Laguna Beach. This charming coastal town is home to dozens of galleries and studios, showcasing the work of local artists. Take a stroll through town and admire the beautiful art, or even take a class and learn a new skill.
Delicious Winter Foods
When it comes to winter in Southern California, there's no shortage of delicious foods to warm you up. Here are some of our favorite Southern California Winter Bucket List foodie destinations:
Fish tacos are a staple of Southern California cuisine and are perfect for winter. We recommend trying them at one of the many local taco trucks or restaurants. Some of our favorites include Wahoo's Fish Tacos and Rubio's Coastal Grill. The fish is always fresh, and the toppings are delicious.
Holiday Season Treats
The holiday season is the perfect time to indulge in some sweet treats. From gingerbread cookies to hot cocoa, there's something for everyone. We love visiting local artisanal bakeries for their unique takes on classic holiday treats. Some of our favorites include SusieCakes and Porto's Bakery.
Southern California is home to many talented artisans who create delicious, locally sourced foods. We recommend visiting a farmers market to sample some of their goods. From artisanal cheeses to homemade jams, there's something for everyone. We love supporting local businesses and trying new flavors.
Overall, winter in Southern California is a food lover's paradise. There are plenty of delicious options to choose from, and we can't wait to try them all.
Winter Wildlife Watching
One of our favorite activities on our Southern California Winter Bucket List is wildlife watching. With its diverse landscape, California is home to many different species of mammals, fish, and amphibians. Winter is a great time to spot some of these incredible creatures.
One of the most popular wildlife watching activities in Southern California is whale watching. Winter is prime time for spotting gray whales all along California's coast. These majestic creatures migrate from the cold waters of Alaska to the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. Whale watching tours depart from many Southern California harbors, including San Diego, Newport Beach, and Long Beach.
In addition to whale watching, Southern California is also home to a large population of sea lions. These playful creatures can often be seen lounging on rocks and piers along the coast. For a closer look, head to La Jolla Cove in San Diego or the Santa Barbara Harbor.
If you're interested in seeing even more wildlife, consider a visit to the Channel Islands National Park. This group of islands off the coast of Southern California is home to a variety of rare and endangered species, including the island fox and the Channel Islands spotted skunk. The park offers guided tours and hiking trails for visitors to explore.
Overall, Southern California offers a wide variety of wildlife watching opportunities during the winter months. Whether you're looking to spot a whale, sea lion, or something even more rare, there's something for everyone on our Southern California Winter Bucket List.
When it comes to winter sports, Southern California may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, we have some great options for snowboarding and skiing. Here are some of our favorite spots:
- Big Bear Mountain Resort: This is one of the most popular spots for skiing and snowboarding in Southern California. With over 240 skiable acres, 27 trails, and 16 chairlifts, there's plenty of terrain to explore. Plus, the resort offers lessons for beginners and has a terrain park for more advanced riders.
- Mountain High: This resort has three different areas for skiing and snowboarding, each with its own unique features. The West Resort has a terrain park, the East Resort has longer runs, and the North Resort is great for families and beginners. Plus, the resort offers night skiing and snowboarding.
- Snow Valley: This resort is great for families and beginners, with plenty of easy runs and a terrain park for more advanced riders. They also offer lessons and have night skiing and snowboarding.
- Bear Mountain: This resort is known for its terrain park, which has over 200 features. However, they also have plenty of runs for skiing and snowboarding, as well as lessons for beginners.
No matter which resort you choose, make sure to check the weather and snow conditions before you go. And don't forget to dress warmly and wear sunscreen!
We hope that our Southern California Winter Bucket List has given you some great ideas for how to make the most of the winter season in this beautiful part of the country. From outdoor adventures to cozy indoor activities, Southern California has something for everyone during the winter months.
Whether you're a local or a visitor, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the winter season in Southern California. Take a trip to one of the many national parks in the area, such as Joshua Tree, or hit the slopes at one of the region's top ski resorts. If you prefer indoor activities, check out some of the museums, galleries, and theaters in the area, or simply cozy up with a good book and a warm drink at one of the many cafes and coffee shops.
No matter what you choose to do, be sure to bundle up and stay warm during the cooler months. Southern California may not get as cold as other parts of the country, but the temperatures can still drop significantly, especially at night.
We hope that this bucket list has inspired you to get out and explore all that Southern California has to offer during the winter season. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or something in between, there's no shortage of things to see and do here. So why not start planning your next winter getaway today?
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some unique winter activities to do in Southern California?
Southern California has a lot of unique winter activities to offer. You can go ice skating at outdoor rinks like the Pershing Square Ice Rink in Downtown LA or the Irvine Spectrum Center. You can also take a hot air balloon ride over Temecula Valley or go whale watching in San Diego.
What are some adventurous things to do in Southern California during winter?
If you're looking for adventure, Southern California has plenty of options. You can go skiing or snowboarding at Big Bear Mountain Resort or Mountain High Resort. You can also go hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains or take a helicopter tour of Los Angeles.
Where are some great outdoor activities to experience in Southern California during winter?
Southern California is known for its beautiful outdoor activities, even during winter. You can go hiking in Griffith Park or Joshua Tree National Park, take a bike ride along the beach in Santa Monica, or go kayaking in La Jolla Cove.
What are some fun places to go in Los Angeles when it's cold?
Los Angeles may not get too cold during the winter months, but there are still plenty of fun places to go. You can visit the Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, or the Broad Museum. You can also go shopping at The Grove or visit the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.
What is the closest place to see snow in Southern California?
If you're looking to see snow in Southern California, the closest place would be Big Bear Mountain Resort or Mountain High Resort. Both are located in the San Bernardino Mountains and offer skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.
Is Southern California worth visiting during the winter months?
Absolutely! Southern California has mild winters and plenty of activities to offer during the winter months. From skiing and snowboarding to hiking and whale watching, there's something for everyone. Plus, you can avoid the crowds that come with the summer months.