15 Best Winter Activities to Do in California!

California is the perfect place to celebrate the winter months because you can opt for snow or sand. Featuring both mountains and coastal regions, California has something for everyone, whether you prefer your holidays sunny or snowy. Check out some of the best winter activities, events, and things that make California unique during the year's coldest months.

Camp and snowshoe in Yosemite

Yosemite is a winter paradise. Embrace the magic of the snow-covered hills and explore this breathtaking wonderland. From skiing atop Glacier Point Road at Badger Pass to snowshoeing through the winter scenery, there are countless opportunities to enjoy. And be sure to set aside some time for a moment of awe while ice skating in the open air with the stunning view of Yosemite Mariposa County.

Whale Watching from San Diego to Monterey

Explore California's majestic coastline and spot some of the world's most magnificent whale species. Gray whales, orcas, humpbacks, minke, finback, and blue whales swim the waters off the coast all year round, giving you the perfect opportunity to spot them on a whale-watching tour.

San Diego Bay’s Parade of Lights, San Diego, CA

Be part of the festivities as you witness the amazing spectacle of the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. With over 80 boats festively illuminated, join an audience of over 100,000 to revel in the traditional winter event of the city. Free to attend, grab your loved ones, and come along for a night of incredible memories.

Ice skating under the Sun in Santa Monica

Witness the allure of California's coast while you glide across Ice at Santa Monica's smooth-as-glass ice rink, taking in the magic of the holiday season. Make your winter dreams come true all within four blocks of the Pacific Ocean.

Chinese New Year, San Francisco, CA

Chinese New Year occurs during the winter months, usually January or February. The biggest celebration outside of China is held in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, with parades, dragons, floats and other special activities.

Rose Parade, Pasadena, CA

Each year, households across America tune in to the Rose Parade. Instead of just tuning in, check out the amazing floats for yourself, up close and personal as they make their way down Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena’s main drag. The creativity and detail that goes into each float is amazing to see.

Ski and surf in the same day in Venice

Discover the ultimate rush of adventure in Los Angeles! Start your day by hitting the slopes and then test your skills in the ocean. Enjoy the perfect combination of skiing and surfing - whichever you decide to do first! Let the exhilarating City of Angels take your breath away.

Tamale festivals in Indio and Oxnard

Winter is the most wonderful time of year in Southern California because it brings the holidays and the holiday tradition of tamale making. Throughout California, cornhusks are lovingly stuffed and sold at tamale festivals from Indio to Oxnard and beyond. 

Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

During the holiday season, theme parks like Disneyland transform into winter wonderlands, complete with fake snow and twinkling lights. Even better, the crowds are usually shorter so that you can enjoy more rides and catch the parades.

Polar Express Train, Sacramento, CA

Witness firsthand the magic of the Polar Express this holiday season. Take the family on a miraculous journey to the North Pole, where you can enjoy entertainment with the Polar Express characters, a cup of hot chocolate cooked up by the hot chocolate masters, and even get the finest gift of Christmas directly from Santa himself.

Monarch Butterfly Migration, Pacific Grove, CA

Each year thousands of monarch butterflies flock to the city of Pacific Grove to stay for the winter. The event is so spectacular that the monarchs have inspired their own sanctuary in the city, where visitors head each year to watch the monarchs arrive. 

Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth, CA

Feel the freedom that comes with adventure and explore life to its fullest at Mammoth Mountain. With its soaring 11,053 feet above sea level and 300 days of magnificent sunshine yearly, Mammoth is the perfect place to create your own story. Take in the spectacular loveliness of Southern California's mountain oasis.

Elephant seals in Cambria

This peculiar beach is home to the giant northern elephant seal - the second-largest seal in the world. To witness these impressive animals in their natural habitat, come and see them marvelously lumbering on land, using their flippers and bellies for propulsion. It's a sight to behold!

Big Bear Mountain, Big Bear, CA

Snowboarding is quickly becoming a must-try activity. Big Bear is the preferred place to try the sport for the first time as the slopes are relatively gentle and you’ll probably fall down a lot on your first time out.

Experience Tahquitz Creek, Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs is a famous desert resort where stars head to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The winter is the best time to visit because you can enjoy all the outdoor activities that the resorts offer, including golfing and hiking, without suffering from heat stroke.

This text was created by the author with the assistance of GPT-3, a large-scale language generation model developed by OpenAI. The author reviewed, edited, and revised the draft language to their satisfaction and is fully responsible for the content of this publication.

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