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Snow Snow/ Flickr

Northstar California

Northstar California
Find perfect family playtime near Lake Tahoe

Scan the crowd around the ice rink in the handsome Village at Northstar and you can see this place is all about families- happy families-on the ice, sprawled on comfy outdoor sofas, in shops and restaurants. They just had a great day on a great mountain, a place with some of the region’s best terrain parks for all abilities, including a massive half-pipe designed specifically for mega star Shaun White. Experts love the snowy acres of endless trees off legendary Lookout Mountain, and access to miles of pine filled back-country. Intermediate and beginner skiers cruise on wide groomers, some with Instagrammable views of nearby Lake Tahoe.

And then there is that village. Many resorts sell s’mores kits, including sticks, to create your own sweet treats at base village fire pits. But at super family friendly Northstar, the whole set-up seems especially right. Children show off their moves on the ice, then take breaks with mum and dad (sipping Irish coffees in heated rink side cabanas) to make marshmallow treats. Slip into a comfortable banquette at edgy urban meets mountain hip Petra Bistro & Wine Bar, with top wines by the glass and sophisticated small plates like braised short ribs with shaved fennel.

After a day in ski boots, try the 'Aching Feet Rescue' at the swanky spa at the Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, then recharge at the resort’s sought after restaurant, Manzanita. 

Insider tip: Consider getting an Epic Pass for access to Northstar California, Heavenly, and Kirkwood; there are various options and pricings, so check to see which one could work for your holiday plans.

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Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Northern California

Discover the High Sierra

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-2
December
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
3°
High
-7°
Low
Mar - May
12°
High
-5°
Low
June - Aug
22°
High
5°
Low
Sept - Nov
18°
High
-4°
Low

Snow-covered peaks in winter, gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower meadows and glistening lakes in summer, vibrant colours in fall—this is a land of dramatic and wild beauty. World-class mountain resorts circling turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe, and at Mammoth Lakes cater to all, with scenic ski trails in winter and trails and vistas in summer.

Yosemite Valley…is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and gold and wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  - photographer Ansel Adams

Yosemite National Park - a World Heritage Site, is found roughly 3½ hours east of San Francisco. Whether you hike a mountain, ski the steeps, or lounge in a hot tub beneath a canopy of stars, you’ll find your perfect getaway. 

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At 14,505 ft. above sea level, Mt. Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous United States.
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Family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes

High Sierra peaks, deep drifts on a Mammoth volcano, family friendly resorts, snowy escapes on the edge of Yosemite and more - California has enough alpine destinations to keep any skier or...

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Relax after a day on the slopes

Kicking back after you kick off your boots is a snow-country tradition, and there’s plenty of post-slopes fun at California’s top alpine resorts. Have a beer or warm up with an Irish coffee, dance...

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Jeff Enegerbretson
Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.
Ansel Adams
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Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

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Majestic Peaks, Bucket-List Essential

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket list essential. Where else...

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Rebecca Garrett

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

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Snowy winters, wildflower summers

Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the west, folks in this laid-back mountain town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a land of...

As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
Mark Twain (recalling his first sighting of Lake Tahoe)
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Kodiak Greenwood

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Visit bizarre formations, cinder cones and a super-salty lake

There are few places in California—and maybe on the planet—that can make you think you might just be on Mars. This is one of them. At this high-...

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Bodie

Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

There's something eerily appropriate about bumping down the dusty desert road that winds the final few miles into Bodie State Historic Park. Round...

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Alex Farnum

Guided Adventures

Learn to climb, join a pack trip, and more

While there are plenty of ways to play on your own in the High Sierra, there’s a whole host of ways to learn a new activity, like how to catch and...

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Bishop

Explore an outdoorsy adventure town with an artistic side

Bishop brims with outdoor activities. Situated at the north end of the Owens Valley, with close access to some...

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Lucas Himovitz

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Look up at (and learn about) amazing giant sequoias

Established in 1931 to preserve a stunning stand of giant sequoias, this park offers one of the easiest places to see these towering trees. Head...

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From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
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The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world.
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Gold Rush history, epic high-country landscapes, hidden wine country, and charming country towns

Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows—it’s no secret that Yosemite delivery some seriously big wow moments. But what is a secret is the bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your...

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Kodiak Greenwood
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Mammoth Chambers of Commerce

Manzanar National Historic Site

Learn about a sobering time in U.S. history

During World War II, thousands of Japanese-Americans were moved from their homes throughout the West and brought to internment camps like Manzanar...

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Jeff Mosers/ Flickr

Grover Hot Springs State Park

Soak in naturally heated mineral pools

Nestled in a notch of the High Sierra about an hour’s drive south-east of Lake Tahoe, mineral springs bubble up from the earth, a testament to the...

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Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California, one that is less connected...