10 Best Places To Visit In California State This Winter

10 Best Places To Visit In California State This Winter

Known for its lush state parks and beautiful coastline, California is a popular summer destination. However, did you know you could still have a blast in the Golden State even in winter? There is a whole range of amazing places waiting for you to be explored.

From snow-topped mountains and pine forests to romantic vineyards and idyllic beaches, California never disappoints.

To help you plan the perfect trip, we have compiled a list of the 10 best places to visit in California in winter 2023-24. Here they are:

Martis Camp at Lake Tahoe

Credit: Paul Hamill

Martis Camp transforms into a winter wonderland offering a plethora of activities for cold-weather enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy skiing with direct access to the Northstar California Resort, explore the serene landscape on cross-country ski trails, or glide gracefully on the community’s ice skating rink. For those seeking relaxation, the lodge at Martis Camp provides a cozy retreat with luxury amenities, making it an ideal destination for both adventure and leisure during the winter months.

Big Bear Lake

Visiting Big Bear Lake in winter is a magical experience, offering a blend of adventure and serene beauty. The area becomes a snowy wonderland, ideal for engaging in the best winter activities. Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts flock to Snow Summit and Bear Mountain resorts for thrilling downhill runs. For those seeking a more leisurely pace, snowshoeing around the lake offers a peaceful exploration of the winter landscape. Lastly, the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain provides a unique and exhilarating toboggan experience for all ages, making Big Bear Lake a diverse winter destination.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a classic. It offers miles of picturesque vineyards, plenty of foodies spots, and high-end resorts, which are a fantastic place to indulge. 

Not a fan of wine? Napa Valley boasts a number of hot springs, most of which are located in private resorts. It’s a great way to relax, especially in cool winter days. 

If you’re in the area in mid-January, don’t miss the Napa Truffle Festival. You can look forward to gourmet food, cooking shows, and even truffle dog demonstrations.

Mammoth Lakes

Set in the eastern Sierra Nevada, Mammoth Lakes is a quaint mountain town ideal for enjoying some winter fun. There are two major ski resorts – Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain. You can also engage in some cross-country skiing in the nearby Inyo National Forest.

After a long day on the slopes, you deserve to unwind in one of the natural hot springs. Try Willy’s Hot Spring, Travertine Hot Springs, or Rock Tub Hot Springs. They all have their unique vibe but offer the same relaxing experience.

Joshua Tree National Park

If winter sports aren’t your thing but you still enjoy spending some time outdoors, Joshua Tree National Park is an excellent option for you. This majestic desert landscape tends to get less busy in winter. Plus the mild weather makes hiking and rock climbing much more pleasant.

You can even camp in Joshua Tree National Park. There are plenty of unique glamping and campsites available. And thanks to very little pollution, the sky gets lit with thousands of stars at night. What’s not to like?

Palm Springs

Palm Springs has been a popular destination for snowbirds for a while. And for a good reason. The city sees an average of 350 days of sunshine every year, and the temperatures don’t drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit even in winter. What’s more, there are plenty of activities you can enjoy.

Golf courses, tennis courts, and upscale resorts are the main attractions. But you can also hike, dine, shop, or admire the beautiful local architecture. There are also interesting events to attend. In January, the city comes alive during the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Followed by Modernism Week in February featuring walking tours, screenings, live music, and parties.


If you’re looking for something more cozy, then head to Solvang. With Danish-inspired architecture, this city is often called “the Danish Capital of America”. Its streets are full of charming shops and bakeries which will make you feel like in the middle of Europe. And around the town, you will find many wineries that are much more affordable than Napa or Sonoma.

Also, until January 6, you can get in the festive mood at Solvang Julefest celebrations. You can expect light shows, plenty of food and drinks, and some loud holiday music.


Cayucos has something to offer to visitors all year round. And in winter, it’s particularly known for its wildlife viewing opportunities. Just take a pair of binoculars and enjoy some whale watching. You can also spot some other sea creatures, such as sea lions, elephant seals, and dolphins.

If you’re brave enough, you can even catch some waves at Cayucos State Beach. All you need is a wetsuit and good weather. A stroll on the Cayucos Pier won’t disappoint either.

Trinity Alps

In winter, the Trinity Alps in Northern California becomes a hiker’s paradise, showcasing three popular spots: Canyon Creek Lakes, Caribou Lake, and the Four Lakes Loop. Canyon Creek Lakes offer picturesque frozen landscapes, while Caribou Lake, nestled deeper in the wilderness, provides a tranquil setting for the intrepid explorer. The Four Lakes Loop, a favorite among seasoned hikers, presents a challenging but rewarding journey through snow-covered trails, revealing stunning views of the alpine lakes. These destinations, each unique in their charm, make the Trinity Alps a must-visit for winter hiking enthusiasts.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is a stunner all year round, and winter makes no exception, as it transforms into a magical winter wonderland. The iconic rock formations like Half Dome and El Capitan get covered in snow. Plus there are very few crowds, so you will have all the natural beauty only to yourself.

Did you know you could also ski in Yosemite? Badger Pass Ski Area offers opportunities for alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, as well as snow tubing and snowshoeing