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FINDING THE CLOSEST SNOW TO SAN DIEGO

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Wintertime always makes me feel just a little bit nostalgic. It might be that it reminds me of the times growing up and visiting the snow or maybe it is just the winter spirit that brings joy to my heart. Regardless, winter is such a great time to visit the snow and have that Winter Wonderland experience.

Snow covered trees

However, if you’re reading this article and you know me I am a born and raised San Diego girl. You may think that I can’t see snow living in San Diego, but trust me there are plenty of places for you and me to visit the snow. In this article, I will talk about the closest Snow to San Diego that you can find.

Fun fact, the last time it actually snowed in the city of San Diego was the year 1967. Occasionally San Diego will get some hail that sticks for a minute, but we never get any snow that will stick to the ground. Therefore, we tend to have to leave the city in order to see that beautiful, white, crisp snow on the ground.

Looking to find snow in Southern California? It may be rare, but it can be found. Read this post for all the best places to find snow in Southern California. travel | snow | southerncalifornia | san diego | winter | winter time | snow gear | snow activities | #snow | #winter | travel California | visit California

The best part about being in San Diego though is that you can go to the beach and mountains: all on the same day. 

SO WHY DOES IT SNOW IN SAN DIEGO?

That’s a great question! San Diego is known for its sunny weather and warm beaches. The reason is just not snow in San Diego is plain and simple- it just does not get cold enough. at least it doesn’t get cold enough for it to snow in downtown San Diego.

THE BEST SPOTS FOR THE CLOSEST SNOW TO SAN DIEGO

There are some smaller places near San Diego that most likely will give you an option for snow during the wintertime. These places are usually only known to the San Diego locals check them out below!

JULIAN, CA

Almost every year Julian California gets at least a little bit of snow during the wintertime. This is probably one of your Better options for potentially seeing snow in San Diego. there are plenty of fun activities to do when visiting Julian. You can go sledding, you can see the winter wolves, or you can build a snowman. 

Kids sledding down a mountain

Julian, California gets an average of 22 in of snowfall a year. This town sits at an elevation of about 4226 ft there for offering it a perfect opportunity to get snow when cold enough. 

Make sure to grab a hot apple cider well you are visiting in town Julian is known for they’re ciders and you won’t be disappointed.

If you are looking for a full weekend itinerary on what to do in Julian California check out this post here.

LAGUNA MOUNTAIN

Laguna mountain is only about an hour East of San Diego and is part of the Cleveland National Forest. Snowfall is pretty unpredictable here, but when it does fall this is a great place for some sledding. Find sleds listed below. 

You will need an adventure pass if you plan to go here for recreation purposes which can be obtained here

PALOMAR MOUNTAIN

Palomar Mountain is a hit or miss for snow each year, but when it does come this mountain makes for a great place to go sledding. This past November 2019 got around 2 ft of snow. San Diego Patrol even had to make cars turn around if they did not have chains on.

Check out this Facebook group for updates on snow on Palomar Mountain. 

IDYLLWILD 

This place offers for some good snow hikes as well as sledding. It is a bit closer to LA, but still not a bad drive from San Diego, California. 

This website has some great maps for all the fun snow activities in Idyllwild.

Sunset in the snowy hills


SKI RESORTS FOR SNOW IN SAN DIEGO

If you are looking for a bit more of a drive and a bigger adventure to find snow in San Diego, then make sure to check out some of the ski resorts. There are quite a few ski resorts not too far from San Diego county. These are some of the best and closest snow to San Diego locations around town.

BIG BEAR MOUNTAIN 

Some of the ski mountains that have the closest snow to San Diego are located just a short 3-hour drive away. One of the most popular ski resorts is called Big Bear Mountain.

Big Bear consists of two different ski resorts – Big Bear Mountain which is more for snowboarders and Snow Summit which leans towards skiers.

Skiing at Big Bear Mountain

Most of the time the snow season begins in mid-November and ends at the beginning of April. This offers a decent amount of time for you to try to make it up to this mountain and experience the snow.

This ski town offers a variety of different snow activities such as skiing, sledding, hiking, and much more.

Read more for a full Big Bear weekend itinerary

MOUNTAIN HIGH 

Mountain high is another Ski Resort located close to Los Angeles in the San Gabriel mountain range. It is just a bit closer to San Diego than Big Bear sitting at about a 2.5-hour drive. It is super easy to get to the ski resort and the drive is not sketchy at all. Mountain High is a great place for both San Diego and Los Angeles residents to see some snow.

The ski resort is super family-friendly it is a great beginner’s place to learn and it is the only Resort that is open seven nights a week for the option of night skiing. Check out this website for a full breakdown plus a fun video on the history of Mountain High.

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN

Mammoth Mountain is a bit further away than the two mountains mentioned above, but it is a much larger mountain. You are guaranteed to see fresh snow here; whereas, the other mountains sometimes have to make their snow. 

Family ski and snowboard trip

If you are looking to spend a lot of time in the snow, then it may be your best bet to head to Mammoth for a long weekend trip. 

THE LEGIT CLOSEST SNOW TO SAN DIEGO SPOTS

Although San Diego may not get real snow itself, lots of places do a great job of re-enacting what it may look like and feel like if it were to snow in San Diego. There are quite a few amusement parks located within San Diego County that put on full winter experiences. Read below for more information on these amusement park Winter Wonderland events.

LEGOLAND’S HOLIDAY SHOW 

The holidays at Legoland is the perfect place for your child to get a taste of what snow feels and looks like. if you have never been to Legoland before it is a fun amusement park built all-around Legos. 

It is the perfect location for both young boys and young girls. During the holiday season and sometimes even after they have a holiday show where they dropped snow that they have made from the sky to make it look it look real.  

 Click here for discounted tickets to Legoland!

SEA WORLD’S CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION 

Sea World theme park is another amusement park that puts on a spectacular winter experience. They put on an ice skating show, a festive Winter dolphin encounter, And a snow pile for the kids to play in. if you have never been to Sea World before I highly recommend it. It is a fun place to experience and learn about the animals that live underwater. 

Looking for discounted tickets to SeaWorld? Click this link for a discounted pass. 

THE BEST WINTER SNOW GEAR

Alright! Now that you have chosen from the list of options for the closest places with snow in San Diego you need to physically be prepared. Going to the snow can be cold! Especially if you are not used to that chilly kind of weather. 

Girl finding the closest snow to San Diego

It will be key for you to wear layers. Let me repeat that. LAYERS ARE KEY. This is how you will stay warm. This is where I can help you!

I have traveled to the snow multiple times and I am sharing with you below the exact things I have used to help me keep warm! 

OUTER LAYERS

Thick jacket: If it is super cold out you will want a thick jacket to put on top of all your layers. This is one of my favorites. It is long so it helps keep your legs warm too.

Fleece Layer: You will want to wear a fleece layer on top of your sweat-wicking layer. I personally love the brand Patagonia and have multiple jackets from them. This is one of my favorites.

Beanie: This is my favorite beanie to wear because it allows me to still have my hair up in a ponytail and have a cute beanie on. 

Goggles: I have Blenders eyewear goggles and love them. Not only have I received so many compliments on them, but they fit well and they stay on my face. 

Girl with snow goggles

Helmet: My husband and I just purchased these items. Safety first people. I am an Emergency Room nurse and have seen way too many head injuries happen, so ALWAYS wear a helmet.

I got a helmet with audio capabilities and my husband opted out on the audio. So you choose what works for you.

Hand Warmers: These are a must! I get them in my stocking every year and not going to lie I often forget to use them, but when I do remember to use them my world is changed. They are so cheap and keep your hands and toes so warm. 

Snowshoes: Having warm shoes has literally saved my toes from frostbite. For reals though I have poor circulation and I need warm shoes. I have the KEEN Terradora’s if you are looking for a poor. I also know people who recommend any of the following shoes from KEEN.

Want to purchase a pair of your own click here for 25% off!

FUN SNOW ACTIVITIES 

Visiting the snow can make for a lot of fun daytime activities. Listed below are some snowy day activities.

Skiing/snowboarding-This is probably the most popular snow activity. However, if you are like me then you may not ski too often and maybe a little scared. Don’t worry I was there too! But the more you do it and practice the more fun it is! If you are looking for a beginners guide to skiing then click here.

Girl and guy finding snow near San Diego

Sledding-This is a great cheap activity for everyone! You can buy a cheap sled from the local store or bring one with you. Head into an open field or hike up off the side of the road a bit and sled on down. 

Snow tubing-Most ski resort mountains offer snow tubing parks! 

Build a snowman- This is a great activity to do with the kids! If you can remember bring along a carrot for his nose and maybe some olives for his eyes. 

Building a snowman

Have a snowball fight-Who doesn’t love a good snowball fight? I find it fun to make snowballs in advance and then set up a snowball course and try to make a game out of it. 

Make snow Angel’s– This one is a classic snow activity. For an even more exhilarating experience make a snow angel in your bathing suit. This will get your adrenaline going and they say it is good for your health and skin. It is like an ice bath. 

TIPS FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW

Driving in the snow can be very dangerous, especially if you are from the San Diego county area and are not used to driving in these types of conditions. 

My husband and I were once visiting Tahoe, California and ended up getting stuck in a snowstorm. We chose to do a half-day of skiing and then drive down the mountain around 1 pm. We made it about 15 miles in the course of 5 hours. 

It was now dark and we weren’t even near close to getting down the mountain. It was so backed up. We discussed if we should turn around or not, but we decided we wanted to try to make it home that night…

Snow chains

Well, after another 3 hours had passed and only making it about another 5-miles we decided we should turn around. However, a crazy snowstorm had started. It was dark, the winds were super high and we could barely see. 

We turned our car around to head back into town, but on the way back we had to go up a hill. Multiple cars were getting stuck on this hill. The snow was so bad that nobody was making it up the hill. Cars were literally being pushed up the hill by the strength of multiple men. It was cold out, it was dark, we couldn’t see and I was freaking out.

Thankfully, we were well prepared for this. If you want to avoid being one of the cars that couldn’t make it up the hill then follow some of the snow driving tips I have listed below. 

Proper planning and preparation are going to be necessary in order to help keep you and your family safe. Some tips for driving in the snow. 

  • Always make sure to have the appropriately sized snow chains in your car with you
  • Make sure you have practiced putting on the chains before. This sounds silly, I know, but when it is snowing and cold outside you are not going to want to learn how to do it then.
  • Have an emergency kit in your car with water, blankets, and a flashlight in case you get stuck in the snow
  • Have extra snacks in the car in case you get stuck
  • Beware of black ice. Take slow turns and take your time when changing lanes
  • If it is completely unsafe, try to stop in the closest town and wait out the storm

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM A LOCAL SAN DIEGO GIRL 

There it is! Some of my favorite options for the closest snow to San Diego. This local San Diego girl has been to the snow multiple times and loves it. Visiting the snow is a perfect family, single person or a couple’s adventure. 

Let me know in the comments below where your love to see snow!

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Looking to find snow in Southern California? It may be rare, but it can be found. Read this post for all the best places to find snow in Southern California. travel | snow | southerncalifornia | san diego | winter | winter time | snow gear | snow activities | #snow | #winter | travel California | visit California

FINDING THE CLOSEST SNOW TO SAN DIEGO

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10 Comments

  1. All the places you have mentioned is no where near to my country. But we do have our own snow mountains in North India , which is the part of Himalayas. Hope i visit the place and enjoy the snow.

  2. Love you’r post – I am so jealous ,my husband grew up in North San Diego and we lived there for 10 years of our marriage .Hope to some day retire there .Love the fact that you can go to the beach and the snow in the same day

  3. Great post! Very informative. I’m in Phoenix so not far from San Diego and wow! I didn’t realize there were so many snow spots. We did go to Big Bear year one year after camping in San Diego for a few days. It’s such a cute little town. I need to pin this for our next trip!

  4. I lived in San Diego for years and I didn’t know some of these tips – especially the ones about chains and layering for snow. You’re right! It just doesn’t snow here (for more than 5 minutes anyway!) Great article and tips for exploring my back yard.

  5. I love your suggestions for snow gear! And this is surprisingly similar to how things go here in Colorado. Yeah, it snows everywhere, but going up to the mountains every weekend to ski is a whole other lifestyle.

  6. I’m from the east coast and love to visit in San Deigo for the weather! I never knew there were so many places around there with snow. Great detailed post about gear and where to go.

  7. No snow since 1967?!? Wow! I live in the South (Tennessee) and we get at least a little every year. I don’t know whether to be sad for San Diego or jealous, lol.

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