by Sara Martz

The holidays have come to San Clemente California. For us the “colder” months do not mean shoveling snow or lighting a fire for actual warmth, it means you will now need a light jacket to wear at night, holiday lights are already up in mid November, the Beach Boys Christmas album is on repeat in every store, and you can find at least two Surfin’ Santa Claus decorations on every block.

One of my favorite winter activities is to cozy up in the sand with a good book and sip on a hot chai latte during Christmas season. I’ve lived in San Clemente for most of my life, and love having sunny weather year round, but many times I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere with actual seasons. When I brought this up to my husband he was very quick to remind me how lucky we are to live where you can surf in the morning and be snowboarding in the mountains by mid-afternoon. So here is my list of cities to put you in the holiday spirit, for the Southern Californian’s who are dreaming of a white winter wonderland.


If you are an outdoor lover, then you will love Bishop CA. This small town is nestled under the Sierra Mountains, and is famous for it’s world class rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and pretty much any outdoor activity you can think of. The town itself is filled with old buildings, twinkly lights, and welcoming locals. Put yourself in the holiday spirit by stopping off at Schatt’s bakery for a turkey pot pie, stroll down main street to see all the pretty lights and the old movie theater, and finish off the evening with some mulled wine over at the Mountain Rambler Brewery. Where to stay? If you’ve got the gear for it, I would recommend camping. If camping in 10 degree weather isn’t your thing, they have some pretty awesome Airbnb’s and a really great hotel called the Creekside Inn.


Courtesy of NBC Los Angeles

If you live in the area and have never heard of Julian Pie Company, I feel sorry for you, and also urge you to cancel any plans you have this Saturday and take a little drive to Julian. The drive out is beautiful, and once you get there you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the California Gold Rush era. Take a horse drawn carriage down main street, check out the Eagle & High Point gold mine, visit the Volcan Mountain Wilderness, and finish off your evening with a whole lot of pie. Stay at a cute bed and breakfast, or drive an hour west to downtown San Diego and party the night away. Either way you will not miss the holiday spirit in this quaint little mining town. Did I mention it often snows here?

Big Bear

Courtesy of The Rock At Boston College

Snow, twinkle lights, cabins, hot chocolate, and fireplaces are what remind me of Big Bear California. This mountain town is the perfect way to get you into the Christmas spirit. Just stay at a local Airbnb or one of the many hotels the area has to offer. You can spend your day skiing and snowboarding on the mountain, or drinking hot cocoa in the lodge and cozying up with a good book. You can take a stroll through town and eat at the Himalayan Restaurant for some amazing Indian food, purchase some last minute holiday gifts at one of the many gift shops, and retreat back to your cabin to start a fire. Big Bear will leave you with the perfect amount of holiday charm to quick start the season.

June Mountain

Another quaint mountain town to put you in the spirit of Christmas, June Mountain is a great cozy town if you just want to relax and get away from some of the more crowded mountain towns. You can ski and snowboard on the mountain, or take a hike around June Lake. Be sure to leave the kids behind, stay at a place overlooking the lake, and bring a bottle of wine. Start a fire and take a gander at the twinkling lights reflecting off the frozen lake as snow drifts down from above. We can assure you, it will be hard to top an evening as romantic as that.

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