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Where to catch some great powder close to San Diego

Snow adventures for schussing down the trails, going tubing, building snowmen, trekking on snowshoes, or just riding chairlifts and drinking hot cocoa

While San Diego is undoubtedly divine in all of its sunshine-y glory, sometimes you need a little snow to remind you it’s winter. Luckily for locals, there are a number of ski and snowboard resorts just a few hours up the road to explore a variety of winter activities.

Whether schussing down the trails, going tubing, building snowmen, trekking on snowshoes, or just riding chairlifts and drinking hot cocoa, there are plenty of options to indulge in without booking a flight to Vail or Whistler. (Note: All locales are under three hours driving from San Diego)

San Jacinto

Float up, up and away aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to a snowy wonderland on Mount San Jacinto. Watch the snowflakes as you rise to 8,516 feet, then disembark for a day of snowshoeing, sledding and snowball fights. There’s hot food and cocoa at the summit restaurant, along with a museum, theater and gift shop. The mountain is au naturel (there’s no manmade snow here), so check ahead for conditions.

Distance from San Diego: 2 hours

1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, pstramway.com

Mount San Jacinto

Mount San Jacinto tram.

Big Bear

A favorite winter getaway for San Diegans and Angelenos alike, this popular village hosts two high-elevation resorts, Snow Summit (8,200 feet) and Bear Mountain (8,805 feet) for skiing, snowboarding and sundry winter activities. Snow Summit provides 31 trails and a tube park, while Bear Mountain is known for its backcountry skiing, along with 200 snowboarding features, halfpipe, and Red Bull Plaza with urban trick features. A free intermountain shuttle runs between the two resorts. Lift tickets for Snow Summit and Bear Mountain start at $55. Book online for specials and 20%-off tickets.

Distance from San Diego: 2 hours 30 minutes

Snow Summit: 880 Summit Blvd., Big Bear Lake; Bear Mountain: 43101 Goldmine Dr., Big Bear Lake, 844.462.2327, bigbearmountainresort.com

Big Bear Resort

Big Bear Resort.

Mountain High

Located in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest, snow lovers can enjoy three resorts in one (East, West, and North). With plenty of options including beginner to black diamond trails, tree skiing, beginner and competitive style jumps, bump run, and a tubing park with ten lanes. Check out their website for views from their six webcams. Deals include “2 for Tuesdays” with two for one tickets, tacos, and drink specials, college nights, and 20% discount for military, fire, and police. Lift tickets start at $49. You can save up to 50% by buying your ticket online at least 48 hours in advance with their Quick-E ticket program.

Distance from San Diego: 2 hours 30 minutes

24510 CA-2, Wrightwood, 888.754.7878, mthigh.com/site

Snow Valley

With 12 lifts, 28 trails and a six-seater high-speed lift, this resort is the oldest continually operating in Southern California. Known for chairlifted mountain biking and hiking in the summer, Snow Valley turns into a snowy wonderland for all ages come winter. Features include skiing, terrain parks for snowboarders, sledding and Slide Peak for the courageous. Check out the website for live webcam video and a timeline history dating back to 1924. Tickets from $32.

Distance from San Diego: 2 hours 30 minutes

35100 CA-18, Running Springs, snow-valley.com

Mt. Baldy

Located on Mount San Antonio in the San Gabriel Mountains, Mt. Baldy is a known for hiking in the warm months and powder in the winter. With four chair lifts, 26 trails, and 4,000 acres of accessible powder, there are choices for every age and skill level. Skiers and snowboarders can hop on the one day lift ($17) or one-day lift and rental ($40), while others can take a 90-minute tubing session ($40). For those just wanting to visit and eat, take a 15 minute ride on the Sugarpine Chair Lift, up 7,800 feet, to arrive at Top of the Notch Restaurant and Bar. $20 online

Distance from San Diego: 2 hours 30 minutes

8401 Mt. Baldy Rd.., Mt Baldy, winter.mtbaldyresort.com