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There aren’t many places where you can enjoy the rapture of skiing or snowboarding, the bliss of hiking and the delight of surfing all in the same day. The dichotomy of summer and winter recreation spliced into 24 hours is a rare and thrilling experience in California. Like diving straight from a hot pool into an ice bath, it excites the senses and mingles pleasures to tingle the soul. California is one of those rare places where mountains are located close enough to the beach and an ultimate day of outdoor adventure is totally feasible — even encouraged. Here's how to do it:

Make Los Angeles Your Base

Strategically located between the mountains and the ocean, LA is the perfect launchpad for such an adventure. There are a couple ways to approach this adventure: surfing in the morning, hiking in between and skiing in the afternoon, or vice versa with skiing in the morning, hiking in the middle and surfing in the late afternoon/evening.

Functionally, we recommend the latter for a few reasons. First, ski resorts close around 3 or 4 PM, whereas the ocean never closes. Second, skiing in the morning means fresh tracks and untapped powder while still offering the opportunity to take in a gorgeous West Coast sunset over the lapping waves.

Hit the Slopes

There are a number of ski mountains just outside the city including Big Bear, Mountain High, Mt. Baldy, Snow Valley, Buckhorn Ski Club, and Mount Waterman. They are all charismatic little resorts where you can satisfy your ski/snowboard appetite. The trick is to leave early. We recommend grabbing a quick breakfast and hitting the road if you want to get in a reasonable amount of skiing.

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Stretch Your Legs

Most of the ski areas around LA are located in or around San Bernardino National Forest, which means there are numerous hiking trails nearby. Hidden Springs, Fallen Springs, Crestline, Twin Peaks, and Forest Falls are just a few areas that put California's wilderness on full display. Pack a picnic lunch and take in one of the fantastic alpine vistas.

Surf's Up

Once you've worked up a sweat, it's time to head west for the final leg of your journey. Venice Beach is one of the most popular places to surf around Los Angeles. Sunsets here are usually a dazzling display of oranges, reds, blues, and greens so prepare to be wowed. There are a number of surf shops that offer rentals and lessons for any level of water sport enthusiast such as Aqua Surf School or Kapowui Surf Lessons. Treat yourself to an incredible dinner on the boardwalk because the electric atmosphere makes for intoxicatingly good people watching, too.

Make It a Weekend

Just because you can ski, hike and surf all in the same day doesn’t mean you have to. Whether you choose to take a few days to enjoy California’s summer and winter recreation or make it your mission to have the ultimate adventure day doesn’t really matter; the experience remains the same, as does the sense of accomplishment. The simple fact that California offers the opportunity for both is amazing, and it's something anyone who enjoys both beaches and mountains should definitely take advantage of.


Will Brendza

An American writer, global citizen and lover of nature.