Content Produced in Partnership with Visit California
The winter chill may keep you homebound in other states, but adventures in California don't end just because the calendar indicates it's time to bundle up. The Golden State experiences a full spectrum of weather year-round, so your chances to live large are that much better. Whether your heart lies with the flow of the ocean waves, the hardiness of a desert landscape or the majesty of a mountain peak, don't be afraid to get out, explore your surroundings and dream big this winter.
Dive for Art - Catalina Island
Art and recreation have collided in a completely unexpected way off of California’s southern coast. Early in 2017, American artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken created an underwater world by submerging three large sculptures about 100 yards from Catalina Island. The three eco-friendly, hexagonal structures purposely use mirrors and other reflective surfaces, creating an interactive sensory experience. The idea is that no dive or snorkeling experience will be the same as the light and movement of the pieces will shift and change along with the ocean's currents and tides. Aitken hopes the unique setting will give those who enter a new perspective on the ocean's rhythms and life cycles.
Soar Through the Trees - Big Bear Lake Resort
There's no better way to see the majestic Sierra-Nevada mountains than by soaring through the treetops. Action Zipline Tours lives up to its name by providing a three-hour thrill ride. After a two mile off-road jeep ride to the course, you'll take to the skies on nine high-speed ziplines that'll have you flying faster than a bird.
Wine About It - Sonoma County
Eradicate the winter chill and let the warmth of California’s natural hot springs soothe you instead. Sonoma County and Napa Valley are dotted with natural hot springs and mineral-rich muds so you have more than your fair share of options. If, however, you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, give vinotherapy a try. It's a luxurious bath infused with — you guessed it — wine. You're even able to choose from your favorite blend of pinot noir, chardonnay, or sparkling grapes to feel the true revitalizing effects of your favorite beverage. Just remember to keep the drinking glass separate.
Surf and Shred the Same Day - Multiple Locations
California’s climate is as varied as the activities available there. In both the Northern and the Southern parts of the state, it's totally reasonable to catch the sunrise from the beach and the sunset from the lifts. To have the most California day ever, make the trek from Redondo Beach to Mammoth Mountain or from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe for a day of surfing and skiing. If you feel like you're ready to collapse from all the activity, rent a cozy cabin and spend the night watching the snow drift by the roaring fire. Try West Shore Cafe and Inn for stunning views of Lake Tahoe with their irresistible West Shore Toddy in-hand (made from house-made toddy syrup, Dickel whiskey, and Korbel sparkling wine). Tamarack Lodge is a historic home-away-from-home just a mile away from Mammoth Mountain, which means you can hit the slopes and then come back to hearty, locally-sourced California cuisine.
Kayak with Whales - Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are a small cluster of rocky outcrops off the western coast of California. The islands' isolation has allowed many rare plant and animal species to thrive. During the winter months they are a layover for gray whales. Getting to the islands requires a ferry ride or a plane, but once you're there, it's easy to simply pack your things into a kayak and push off. You can, of course, visit the Channel Islands any time of year, but winter brings several special perks beyond whale watching. You can expect magnificent sunsets, seals frolicking (toward the end of the season), and the islands glowing green and gold with new life.
Hit the Wonderland of Rocks - Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is well known for its Dr. Seuss looking trees, dazzling night skies and incredible climbing opportunities. With winter temperatures typically in the 60s, the park is the best kind of natural playground for any carefree, winter adventurer. A climbing mecca, there are over 400 formations to scale plus 8,000 established climbing routes, the most famous quite literally called the Wonderland of Rocks. Scaling smooth sandstone and sheer cliffs is not without its risks, but pairing with companies like Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School will ensure that even beginners can make their way up the monoliths.