10 Snowy Winter Escapes in California
With the California’s travel restrictions beginning to thaw and epic snow blanketing the Sierras, there’s still time to book a trip to the state’s winter wonderlands. Whether you’re looking to swish down the slopes, snowshoe through the wilderness, or glide through the snow on a pair of cross country skis, California’s higher elevation destinations offer a range of winter recreation. Afterwards, bask in the warm hospitality of a small boutique hotel or bed and breakfast with roaring fires, steaming cups of cocoa, and cozy amenities. Below are 10 of our favorite inns for a quiet escape to the snow.
Five rooms and four cabins in the pines seamlessly blend rustic mountain style, modern touches, and a hip, upscale vibe. There’s the 32-foot river rock fireplace anchoring the main lodge’s soaring great room. Or the exposed wood beams that lead the way to a wall of windows that look out onto forested grounds. A shuttle that departs from just outside takes guests to the slopes of Heavenly Mountain Resort, just a mile away. You couldn’t ask for easier access to world-class skiing and snowboarding. After a day on the mountain, guests like to cozy up by the fire with a glass of wine or soak in the gazebo-covered outdoor hot tub.
Tucked among towering pines on Lake Tahoe’s quiet western shore, these western-themed cabins combine vintage exteriors with whimsical, renovated interiors. Features include inviting fireplaces, exposed wood beams, honey-hued pine walls, comfortable beds topped with buttery smooth sheets, and thoughtfully designed baths with a mix of stone and rustic wood accents. The lake, along with a private beach that features picturesque views of snow-covered mountains, are just a stone’s throw away. Nearby, several downhill and cross-country ski resorts await, including Squaw Valley. After the day’s adventure, guests enjoy mulled wine and hors d’oeuvres beside a crackling fire in the main lodge.
This contemporary mountain-themed inn is nestled on two forested acres, across the street from Donner Lake. Within an easy drive of several major downhill and cross-country ski areas, the inn offers a plethora of winter adventures. Sugar Bowl Resort is just five minutes away, while Squaw Valley and cross-country ski trails like Royal Gorge are within a short drive. Back at the inn, an inviting great room with a wood-burning fireplace, books, and games keep guests entertained on chilly nights. Beneath the stars and towering pines, a creek side hot tub provides a relaxing soak. The next morning, guests enjoy a hearty homemade breakfast, which is the perfect fuel for a day on the slopes or the trail.
This 175-acre estate at the gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park is the area’s best way to experience luxury near the park. Set against snowcapped peaks, the upscale rustic lodge features a large rock fireplace and a bank of windows overlooking a bucolic meadow. Along the edge of the meadow are seven cottages with gas fireplaces, heated bathroom floors, and luxurious beds. Some also offer private outdoor hot tubs. An expansive outdoor deck wraps around the lodge, with views in every direction. Nearby, visitors will find plenty of snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ranger-led snowshoe adventures.
This charming three-story inn is nestled in a quiet forest hollow in the High Sierras. An easy drive to Dodge Ridge Ski Area, Leland Snow Park, and Yosemite, the inn is surrounded by winter adventures. Visitors will find skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, sledding, and ice skating, to name a few. Still, many guests just enjoy the area’s diverse wildlife from large bay windows or decks overlooking the forest. Guest rooms feature exquisite views of the enveloping forest and fire stoves that provide cozy warmth on chilly evenings. A two-course breakfast is served amid forest views, and if the timing is right, snowflakes in flight.
Built in 1915, this Arts and Crafts-style bed and breakfast pays homage to McCloud’s bygone days as a lumber mill town. The town lies at the base of Mount Shasta’s southern slope, and while every season has its charms, the winters here are special. The town’s intermittent snow fall is punctuated by bright, sunny days that make the snow sparkle. Nearby, guests will find a variety of snow sports, including skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Shasta Board & Ski Park, cross-country skiing on miles of groomed trails, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. After a day’s adventure, curl up in front of the fire in the hotel’s warm, inviting lobby and watch the snow fall outside.
Housed inside the original 1895 McCloud River Mercantile, this hotel features a stylish assortment of 12 unique guest rooms to fit every budget. Each is inspired by a distinctive aspect of the region’s rich history. No matter which room guests choose, they’ll enjoy heated bathroom floors, down comforters, fresh flowers, and high ceilings. Many rooms also offer fireplaces and whirlpool or claw foot tubs. In fact, every room meshes modern amenities with period-specific details, creating an experience that marries luxury with historic beauty. To help guests experience the surrounding landscape, the hotel even offers winter packages that include Christmas tree cutting, skiing, or dog sledding.
In South Lake Tahoe, 7 Seas Inn is hard to beat for its location, affordability, stylish updates, and hospitality. The vintage motor lodge was originally built for the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, but has been thoroughly updated with a modern sensibility. The inn is just a short walk from the village and gondola at Heavenly Mountain Resort. You can fuel up for the day’s adventure with the inn’s complimentary breakfast featuring an array of choices including made-from-scratch entrees and pastries. Après ski, enjoy a hosted evening reception with beer and wine. Cap off the night around the fire pit, in the hot tub, or in front of a roaring fire in one of the fireplace rooms.
Located on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, Tahoe Vistana Inn is just minutes from cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling. Northstar Ski Resort, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, and Diamond Peak are all within a 20 minute drive. Perched on four-acre terraced hillside overlooking the lake, the inn offers modern accommodations with rustic accents, outdoor fire pits, and a wooded trail through the property. The inn’s guest rooms accommodate anywhere from two to 19 guests. Lake Tahoe is often considered the Jewel of the High Sierra, but its north shore is uniquely quiet. That makes the Tahoe Vistana Inn the ideal spot for individuals, couples, and families looking to enjoy the snow away from crowds.
Located on Lake Tahoe’s quiet western shore, this collection of vintage cabins is set among sugar pines and built in the classic “Old Tahoe” style. Guests can choose from cozy cottages with claw-foot soaking tubs, gas fireplaces, kitchens, or even all three. Guests staying in the B&B cottages enjoy a hearty, family-style breakfast each morning, entertained by lake views and a cozy wood-burning fire stove. The cottages are within walking distance of cross-country trails at Sugar Pine Point State Park and under five minutes from the lake view slopes at Homewood Mountain Resort. Other nearby attractions include Emerald Bay State Park, Vikingsholm, and Sand Harbor.