If you’re itching for a snow fix while living in or visiting sunny – and warm – San Diego, you luckily don’t have to go much further than an hour or two! There are several spots to see snow in San Diego County on a pretty regular basis in the winter; every time it rains in the city, there’s a pretty good chance some of the higher elevations are getting some snowfall. Be sure to check out our tips for snow travel at the end!
Perched at nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, Mount Laguna is the highest point in San Diego County and is a perfect spot to get your snow fix without straying too far from the city (the mountain receives the most snowfall in all of SD County). A quick one-hour drive will get you up the mountain and through a lush forest of Jeffrey pines just east of San Diego.
This quaint, tucked-away mountain community consists only of a small general store, the Laguna Mountain Lodge and cabins, a restaurant, post office, and campgrounds. The Lodge is about one hour away from San Diego, and is probably a good first stop to figure out how to make the most of your visit; they can tell you where the most snow is that day and which areas are great for sledding or just tossing some snowballs.
Large pine, fir and cedar trees make this one of the more scenic mountain spots in San Diego. Palomar Mountain also boasts a favorite local destination, the Palomar Observatory, which is a great way to end a beautiful winter drive. The Observatory is typically open 9am-3pm daily, weather permitting. The Mountain and Observatory are about 1.5 hours from San Diego. Be sure and call ahead or visit the website for up-to-date information regarding hours and availability.
Julian is one of San Diego’s best getaways and makes for the perfect day trip, as it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes away from the heart of San Diego. Tons of shops, great restaurants and food (including fresh apple pie), hiking trails, riding stables, and historic sites (check out the Mine tours and the old cemetery as a bonus). Head to picnic areas and local community parks for open play spaces and spots to eat, but be sure to dress warmly!
Big Bear Snow Play
Though Big Bear is a little more of a drive from San Diego (2.5 to 3 hours), it’s one of the better spots to snowboard, ski, and do any number of snow activities. If you’re in the mood for something more relaxed, snow play is a great option – enjoy one of the biggest sledding parks with the longest runs in Southern California, all serviced by a Magic Carpet uphill lift that eliminates the toughest part of sledding: the uphill struggle through snow after you ride down! Lift-assisted inner tubing lets you conserve all that energy for the fun part.
- Always check the weather and road conditions before you go! Weather changes quickly and unexpectedly in the winter, especially when there is snow involved. Make sure there are no road closures or hazardous conditions.
- Bring plenty of extra warm gear, water, and snacks.
- Pack some chains or snow tires before you go – there won’t be a spot to purchase items like this once you get up into the mountains!
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