Winter is the time for vacations, and that means exploring every little bit of your state. While you might feel like you’ve done all of the things in your city, there are always those hidden gems that take you by surprise. With a state as large as this one, can you ever see it all? Here is our list of the best secret places in California to visit this winter

Watch the Newport Beach Boat Parade

Price: Free to view; $20 for Christmas boat cruise. 

When: December 18 - 22; See event site for full hours

Location: 309 Palm St, Newport Beach, California

Why You Should Go: You and your friends can sip hot chocolate and watch a spectacular light display on the water.

Website 

Book a Cozy Getaway Cabin

Price: A 2-person cabin begins at $139 a night. Prices vary by date.

When: Year-round

Location: Big Bear, California (2 hours from LA)

Why You Should Go: You can escape from city life in these beautiful fully-stocked glamping cabins.

Website

Explore the Cambria German Christmas Market

Price: $10 to $25 per person

When: November 29 - December 23 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Location: Cambria Pines Lodge, 2905 Burton Dr, Cambria, CA 93428

Why You Should Go: You can experience what Germany is like in the winter but in your own backyard. The markets are full of magical sights, goodies, and Christmas cheer. Who doesn't want Gluhwein and pretzels?

Website 

 

Snowshoe to Fallen Leaf Lake

Price: Free

When: Varies by season

Location: South Lake Tahoe, California 

Why You Should Go: During the winter, grabbing a pair of snowshoes and exploring is one of the most fun ways to see northern California. This frozen lake is one of the most beautiful winter destinations. 

Website 

Ride an Alpine Coaster Through the Forest

Price: $6 per person 

When: Year-round; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday

Location: Big Bear Lakes, California 

Why You Should Go: You can race your best friend on a giant alpine slide through the wilderness.

Website 

Go Sledding at Mammoth Mountain

Price: Varies by season

When: November - February 

Location: You can find full directions here

Why You Should Go: You can fly down the mountain on a sled and feel like a kid again. Mammoth is one of the best places to go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in California. 

Website 

Tour California’s Largest International Christmas Market 

Price: Free admission

When: Friday, December 6 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 from noon to 11 p.m. 

Location: Balboa Park, San Diego, California 

Why You Should Go: You can enjoy San Diego’s largest Christmas festival. There are beautiful lights, delicious food, and goodies from all around the world, and plenty of places to take super-fun, Instagrammable pictures.

Website

Visit Sequoia National Park During the Snowy Season

Price: $35 per vehicle

When: November - December 

Location: Sequoia National Park, California

Why You Should Go: You can walk through a forest of 275-foot tall Sequoia trees, hike by beautiful frozen lakes, and have a massive snowball fight.

Website

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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