As a San Francisco Bay Area local, I know all too well that our beautiful region is more renowned for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and tech innovations than for snowy retreats.

However, as the winter months roll in, bringing with them a longing for cozy, snow-draped landscapes, I’m often reminded that some of the best winter getaways are just a stone’s throw away.

In this guide, I’m excited to share with you the best winter getaways near the San Francisco Bay Area. We’ll explore the top destinations where you can trade the city’s hustle for serene snowscapes, thrilling ski slopes, and charming mountain towns.

From the breathtaking peaks of Lake Tahoe to the hidden gems in the Sierra Nevada, these getaways offer a delightful escape for everyone — families looking for a fun-filled snow day, couples seeking a romantic snowy backdrop, or solo travelers in search of some peaceful winter solitude.

So, pack your warmest winter gear, and let’s discover the magic of these snow-covered havens near the San Francisco Bay Area, each promising a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable winter joy.

Winter in California is varied and beautiful. Explore snow-filled winter getaways in California from the San Francisco Bay Area. #Travel #VisitCalifornia Share on X
Pinterest Pin for 8 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Map of winter getaways in California

Snow-filled winter getaways near San Francisco Bay Area

When winter arrives I love frolicking in the white snow. I enjoy when a familiar landscape becomes new overnight and slowly a world of monochrome unfurls.

In California, it just takes a drive of a couple of hours to arrive at a snow-filled landscape. Snowfall amidst the woods, beside a lake, or in the mountains, all have a different ethos.

All landscapes transcend the ordinary. Come along with me and take a look at all the snow-filled winter getaways in California and choose the one that suits you.

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. 

Henry David Thoreau

1. Visit Sequoia National Park – A perfect winter getaway in California

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations
Stalactites of snow at Sequoia National Park!

Greet winter amidst the giant sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. Under the snowy boughs and branches of the big trees, go for snowshoeing.

Take a short hike to the biggest tree in the world –The General Sherman. You will find well-marked trails to crunch through groves of big trees in this pristine winter wonderland.

If you have time, head over to Wolverton Meadow in Sequoia National Park. Once you reach the large snow play area, there are plenty of options to go for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.

There’s no admission charge to Wolverton’s snow play and sledding area. I remember building a snowman with my little one. She also loved making a snow angel in the lovely Wolverton Meadow.

The glee and glitter in her eyes was perhaps the best reward. When the snow was falling incessantly, we both tried catching the snowflakes on our tongues. No calories after all 😉!

Where to Stay near Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks:

Enjoy a virtual tour of Sequoia National Park in the winter below!

If we didn’t think of spring in winter, or search winter to find some new emotion of its own to make up for the absent ones, half of the keyboard of life would be missing. We would be playing life with no flats or sharps, on a piano with no black keys.

Adam Gopnik

2. Visit Bear Valley – A snow-filled winter getaway in California

On a crisp, cold Saturday, with the skies a pure, cerulean blue, meet winter amidst snow-capped mountains and valley.

Drive a couple of hours from the San Francisco Bay Area and reach Bear Valley, located in the beautiful Central Sierra Mountains. 

Check in to the beautiful Bear Valley Lodge and spend a perfect winter weekend. You can choose to slow down and savor the Sierra.

At night remain cocooned with extra blankets and duvets, fires and candles and mulled wine, and perhaps one of your favorite travel books.

Given an option, I would have opted for Thoreau’s journal. You can also choose to get your heart racing at Bear Valley Resort.

Bear Valley Mountain is the place to be for some epic skiing or snowboarding, other winter activities such as sledding or cross country skiing can be found in the Bear Valley Village.

You can also plan a visit to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Bask in the majesty of the giant sequoias, a serene spectacle in the snow-covered Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

My visit to Bear Valley was full of fun and I would love to visit this place every winter.

This little corner of California, away from skyscrapers, gave me my much-needed solitude amidst nature while my daughter enjoyed making a snowman with her daddy.

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations
The future lies before you, like a field of fallen snow; Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show ~ Doris A. Wright

I also enjoyed looking at people doing different winter activities. People-watching during travel is one of my favorite travel activities from my Switzerland days.

Where to Stay in Bear Valley

Memories that we make in the grey of the winter with Santa, snowman, snowflakes and pine trees, keep our hearts warm for the rest of our lives.

Chirasree Banerjee

3. Visit Lake Tahoe – A magical weekend getaway in California

I visit Lake Tahoe often to celebrate winter. The gorgeous blue-robed lake and the surrounding snow-peaks is a perfect sorbet for my eyes.

Whenever I feel like going on the top of the mountains, I embark on a Gondola and soak in breathtaking views of the mountain.

The Heavenly Gondola ride and the one in Squaw valley, both offer spectacular views.

If you want to go for skiing then the options are plenty – the Heavenly ski resort, the Squaw Valley ski resort, the Kirkwood ski resort, and the Northstar ski resort.

Another activity that I like when I visit Lake Tahoe is the horse carriage ride. It feels like traveling back in time, meandering through scenic landscapes while listening to the rhymic clippy-clop of the horse!

A magical experience. During the winter vacation, if you don’t feel like driving all the way to beautiful Lake Tahoe from the bay area, then take the train from San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe.

Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe

The sunshine and cold, the sparkle and the ice, somehow warm even when the north wind bites.

Unknown
 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations
A beautiful winter morning at Lake Tahoe!
 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations
I saw this beautiful sculpture at Squaw Valley – Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics

4. Visit Donner Lake – A beautiful winter getaway in California

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations
A piece of perfection along with its reflection at Donner lake!

If you want to avoid crowds and savor some solitude then visit Donner Lake. I love the quiet and calm atmosphere here.

The lake reflects the snow-clad mountains and pine trees and is perfect if you love to experiment with your camera like me.

Spend time in nature in the Donner Memorial State Park. Here you can engage in lots of activities or forgo a things-to-do list and just relax to enjoy the pleasures of solitude, to dream, and contemplate.

For me, winter opens up a space in which I restore and repair my energy for the rest of the year. Everything about me changes in winter – and I let it happen.

Donner Lake is a perfect gem for my precious solitude.

Where to Stay near Donner Lake

This winter day – grim, yet so delicate-looking, so spiritual – striking emotional, impalpable depths, subtler than all the poems, paintings, music I have ever read, seen, heard.

Walt Whitman

5. Visit Mammoth Lakes – An amazing winter getaway in California

Savor the gorgeous winter scenes in Mammoth Lakes – the beautiful mountain resort town! Mammoth Lakes means a line of jutting peaks, clusters of crystalline Alpine lakes, and the dense Inyo National Forest.

The snow, the lake, and the forest – feel the harmony here! Adventure awaits at the top of the mountains. Pack or rent all the gear for skiing and get inside the Gondola.

The wooden chalets, small shops, and the grand mountain surrounding the Mammoth Village are spectacular.

I remember sitting beside Lake Mary in Mammoth Lakes and listening to beautiful birds. Mammoth Lakes is indeed a perfect winter getaway in California.

I visited Mammoth Lakes on my way to Death Valley National Park, and I would love to revisit it again.

Where to Stay in Mammoth Lakes

I remember the long drive to Mammoth Lakes like one remembers a beautiful serenade. Snow-clad Eastern Sierra mountains, the winter grey, and the sun peeking through the clouds were mystical and magical.

6. Visit Yosemite National Park – Enjoy a winter weekend in California

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations

Say hello to winter amidst the wilderness in the Yosemite National Park. Marvel at the snow-clad iconic granite domes and enjoy the unrivaled thrill of time spent at one with nature.

Choose to go ice-skating at the Curry Village Ice Rink, a spectacular family-friendly outdoor skating rink in the heart of Yosemite Valley.

You can also opt for cross-country skiing to the scenic Glacier Point, which towers 3,200 feet above the valley floor and offers some of the most beautiful views in all of Yosemite — including Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the Yosemite High Country. 

Embrace winter vibes and enjoy the sight and sound everywhere. Yosemite National Park, one of the oldest national parks, makes a magical winter getaway for sure!

Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park

The snow is melting into music.

John Muir

7. Visit June Lake – A Serene Winter Wonderland in California

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations

On a fresh, frosty morning, under the endless, azure skies, embrace the heart of winter in the enchanting embrace of June Lake.

Just a few hours’ drive from the bustling San Francisco Bay Area, this hidden gem in the Eastern Sierra awaits, a haven of tranquility and snowy splendor.

Arriving in June Lake, the charm of this quaint mountain hamlet immediately captivates. It’s a place where time slows down, allowing you to fully immerse in the serene beauty of the Sierras.

Settle into a cozy retreat at one of June Lake’s inviting lodges. Here, winter weekends are about relaxation and enjoying the simpler pleasures of life.

As evening falls, wrap yourself in the comfort of extra blankets and duvets, the glow of fireside chats, and the warmth of a mulled wine. For a perfect companion, I’d recommend losing yourself in the pages of John Muir’s wilderness reflections, echoing the beauty surrounding you.

But June Lake isn’t just about peaceful contemplation. For those seeking adventure, the nearby June Mountain Ski Area beckons.

This spot offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding experiences in the region, along with other winter activities like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through the pristine landscape.

This secluded corner of California, far from the rush of urban life, is a reminder of the joys of slowing down.

Where to Stay in June Lake

8. Visit Convict Lake: A Picture-Perfect Winter Escape

 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area: Enjoy a Perfect Snow Day, Travel Realizations

Escape to Convict Lake, a hidden gem in the Eastern Sierra, just a few hours from the San Francisco Bay Area.

In winter, this serene alpine lake, framed by the stunning Sierra Nevada, transforms into a snowy paradise, perfect for those seeking a tranquil retreat or a touch of adventure.

The landscape around Convict Lake is a photographer’s dream, with snow-covered peaks reflecting in the clear, icy waters.

Cozy accommodations nearby offer a warm respite after a day of exploring, whether you’re ice fishing, snowshoeing, or simply enjoying the pristine beauty of the area.

At night, the star-filled sky creates a magical backdrop, making Convict Lake an enchanting winter getaway that combines natural beauty with peaceful solitude.

This picture-perfect destination is an ideal escape from the hustle of city life, offering a blend of serenity and outdoor excitement.

Where to Stay Near Convict Lake

Similar articles from Travel Realizations

I love weaving the outdoors into the fabric of daily life. Sometimes a week-long road trip, sometimes just a day trip, and sometimes weekend escapes.

I travel. I write. I celebrate the experiences. And I hope I inspire you too! Take a cup of coffee or a strong black tea with a smidge of sweetener and a kiss of milk and read along. ⁣

Which article below piques your interest?

I love weaving the outdoors into the fabric of daily life. Sometimes a week-long road trip, sometimes just a day trip, and sometimes weekend escapes. #Wanderlust #Travel Share on X
Take a cup of coffee, or a strong black tea with a smidge of sweetener and a kiss of milk and read along. #Travel #Blog Share on X

Travel Realizations

I rejoice in the glorious brightness of frosty mornings. I don’t sleep the white months away. Every season, every day, is an opportunity to live and celebrate life.

Nature’s infinite industry and love of hard work in creating beauty is my inspiration.

During the winter, when days are full of sunshine and the nights all starry and calm, I explore, contemplate, click photographs and write.

Each and every destination I visit becomes a part of my being. If you are here searching for a beautiful winter getaway, then pick any of these destinations, explore and enjoy.

Celebrate winter and your experiences.

If you are here searching for a beautiful winter getaway in California, pick any of these destinations, explore and enjoy. Celebrate winter and your experiences. #Travel #Winter #California #BayArea Share on X

Why do you flee so soon, sir, to the theaters, lecture-rooms, and museums of the city? If you will stay here awhile I will promise you strange sights. You shall walk on water; all these brooks and rivers and ponds shall be your highway. You shall see the whole earth covered a foot or more deep with purest white crystals . . . and all the trees and stubble glittering in icy armor.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Winter in California - Weekend Getaways, Tahoma
In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer ~ Albert Camus

Until my next post, adieu!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to Winter in California – Weekend Getaways. You may also enjoy these other Bay Area and California travel guides.

Newsletter

Sign up to get travel tips and advice for your next journey. 

Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or DM me on Instagram @travelrealizations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to 8 Top Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area. You may also enjoy these Bay Area and California travel guides.

If you need this guide to 8 Best Winter Getaways Near San Francisco Bay Area, Pin It for later.

Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.