California Is the Ultimate Outdoor Adventure Playground

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

There aren’t many places where you can go surfing one day and skiing the next. Add to that hiking, cycling and dining on fresh seafood overlooking the ocean, and there are even fewer places on planet Earth that fit the bill. One of those few places is The Golden State—California has it all: sun, sand, surf, mountains and so much more.  

If you’re looking for the ultimate outdoor adventure vacation, you’ve come to the right place. This action-packed itinerary will satisfy every adventurer, from weekend warriors to adrenaline seekers.  

Hike to the Hollywood Sign 

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

Upon arrival, we’re going to hit the hills for an iconic hike. No visit to Southern California would be complete without a hike to the Hollywood Sign. There are a few different trails that vary in length and intensity, ranging from 90 minutes to just over 2.5 hours. The length of time will depend on your speed and how often you stop. Our hike took longer than expected because we couldn’t stop taking pictures; the views along the trails are spectacular.    

If you’d like to learn about the area, I suggest taking one of the many guided tours. We learned all about the history of Los Angeles and the infamous Hollywood Sign while we hiked. Did you know it was originally a temporary advertisement put up by a local real estate company to help sell homes in the area? It became so popular they eventually replaced it with the permanent steel structure we see today.  

Ride the Slopes at Mammoth

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

Now that you’ve warmed up your legs and done a little cardio, it’s time to step it up a notch and hit one of California’s main attractions. And no, we’re not talking about Disneyland—although you’d certainly get your steps in there as well.   

A five-hour drive from Los Angeles is the highest peak I have ever had the pleasure of snowboarding. Sitting at just over 11,000 feet, Mammoth Mountain boasts panoramic views and legit black diamond runs. With 25 chair lifts, 125 trails and over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, Mammoth lives up to its name.  

Having arrived just after a storm, we were treated to fresh powder and sunny skies. It was a true bluebird day—every snowboarder’s dream. The terrain is well-thought-out with ample groomed runs and untouched snow along the sides where you can zip in and out of the trees, making fresh tracks all day long.

It is worth mentioning that the air is significantly thinner up here so be gentle with yourself, especially when exercising. Take breaks when needed and be sure to stay hydrated. When I had to unstrap my snowboard and walk in knee-deep snow, it was exhausting, but well worth the effort.  Even the four flights of stairs we trudged up back to the hotel left us all gasping for air. 

One of the most impressive things about Mammoth, aside from its elevation, is the length of its ski season. While a typical season runs from November to June, last year they were still skiing in early August.   

Getting to Mammoth Mountain 

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

The five-hour drive from the coast of SoCal to Mammoth is an incredibly scenic drive with well-maintained roads. If you’d rather fly than drive, Mammoth is easily accessible via two nearby airports: Mammoth Yosemite Airport offers semi-private charter flights while commercial flights land slightly further away at Bishop Airport. Both airports offer shuttle service so you don’t need a rental car.  

With direct routes from Hawthorne, CA, you can get from the sand to the slopes in under two hours. Talk about convenience! We drove one way and then flew back, which was a nice way to do it because the stunning drive is worth it if you have the time. 

Après ski 

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

If you’re like me and you love a good après, check out Lakanuki Bar & Cafe in the village. This Tiki bar is known for its famous Mai Tais. If you’re looking for something stronger, head over to Clocktower Cellar. Located just outside the village centre, this cozy underground bar boasts over 160 different whiskeys and over 75 varieties of beer.  

Speaking of beer, you’d be remiss not to swing by Mammoth Brewing Company where they’ve been crafting beer since 1995. I enjoyed a flight so I could sample a variety of the local brews. It arrived with seven glasses, but only six are truly beer. The final sampler is their Mammoth Imperial Root Beer. As a fan of darker beer, their Double Nut Brown was my favourite, but the Mammoth Pilsner was a close second. It was the refreshing pint needed after a day of riding the slopes.

Soak in a hot spring 

There are numerous hot springs in the area beckoning you to come for an outdoor soak. A local favourite is Hill Top Hot Springs. While small, this natural hot spring offers unparalleled sunrise views for early risers.  

Also known as Pulky’s Pool, these hot springs have breathtaking views of the Eastern Sierra. There are no facilities here so it’s best to come dressed in swimwear, ready for your soak. 

Take a Surf Lesson from a Pro Surfer

Image Via: Kathryn Anderson

Southern California is a mecca for surfing. With over 320 kilometres of shoreline, there is a wave for everyone from beginner to aspiring pro surfer. If you’ve never tried to catch a wave, there’s no time like the present. If you’re new to the sport, it’s best to book a lesson. You might be surprised that within a couple of hours, you’ll likely be up and surfing. 

I took a lesson with former pro surfer Rocky McKinnon. He and his team had almost everyone in our group riding waves by the time our lesson finished. We had several first-time surfers in the group and I think one of them may now be hooked on the sport! Surfing is one of the hardest sports I have ever tried, but it’s also one of the most fun. I highly recommend booking a lesson and giving it a go.  

California truly does have it all. If you’re looking for a bucket list trip to go surfing one day and skiing the next, there’s no better place than sunny SoCal. My only complaint is that I didn’t have longer to stay and play!

But there’s always next time.

Disclaimer: The author was hosted by Visit California. 

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