Earlier this year we made plans to spend our kids’ holiday break chasing the sunshine with a visit to sunny Southern California. Warm climate and sandy beaches. No brainer, right? But after spending some time in the Sierras of Northern California over the summer, we decided this was a place we definitely wanted to experience in the winter.
When we changed our plans there were a lot of questions. Where would we go exactly? How cold would it get? Would there be activities for the kids? You see, last year California and the Sierras saw record-breaking snow fall the likes of which we hadn’t seen in years.
While this winter was shaping up to be a bit more mild (in California at least), we decided to plan our trip expecting snow and cold weather. The result was an awesome getaway that will likely become a tradition.
Below are some of our highlights:
Inn Town Campground
Nestled in California’s Gold Country (Nevada City to be exact), Inn Town Campground was the perfect home base for our winter adventure. Located at 2500 feet elevation, we were close enough for day trips to Lake Tahoe’s beautiful North Shore and all the winter magic it had to offer, without actually camping in the snow.
You may be familiar with Inn Town, as they have quite an Instagram following (over 10K followers). It is a wonderful, family-friendly campground that its awesome owners Erin and Dan built from the ground up. Complete with one of the most relaxing common areas we’ve seen, it’s was perfect for unwinding after a day of play in the snow.
What’s not to love about Lake Tahoe? With great food, breathtaking scenery, and access to everything from snow resorts to casinos, North Lake Tahoe is one of our family’s favorites. There are a ton of great places for the kids run around, a variety of local shops and restaurants for us parents to enjoy, and an abundance of walking trails and scenic views around every corner.
We highly recommend stops at Donner Lake and Emerald Bay, which are both less than 30 minutes by car from Tahoe City and are quite possibly two of the most majestic sites we’ve visited.
Soda Springs Mountain Resort
At the recommendation of our wonderful hosts at Inn Town Campground we decided to visit Soda Springs Mountain Resort and we weren’t disappointed. Our kids are ages four and six and we are always looking for places they can enjoy. With so many of the ski resorts tailored for older kids and adults, we were happy to learn that Soda Springs has a section called ‘Planet Kids’ that is designed for kids age seven and under.
At ‘Planet Kids’, our kids were able to enjoy mini-tubing hills, very beginner ski and snowboarding lessons, and even a tubing carousel. ‘Planet Kids’ was perfect for our little ones, however Soda Springs also includes an area called ‘Tube Town’ for older kids (a minimum height requirement of 42”), as well as standard snow slopes for the bigger skiers or snowboarders in your family.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to visit ‘Planet Kids’ at Soda Springs, it is important to know that they limit capacity so you’ll want to buy your tickets online in advance to ensure your space.
Grass Valley /Nevada City
Only a few miles separate Grass Valley and Nevada City. Both have quaint downtown areas complete with restaurants and shops that both parents and kids will enjoy.
Our little ones were especially thrilled to visit Lazy Dog Chocolateria, a super fun candy shop and ice cream store downtown. And afterwards, Mom and Dad were like kids in our own kind of candy store as we explored the vinyl selection at Clock Tower Records right up the street.
With it’s own historic downtown, Nevada City offers a wide variety shops and restaurants to enjoy. Although we arrived late for it this year, Nevada City also holds a Victorian Christmas downtown, which we hope to attend next time. Although we found it to be a perfect winter destination it’s also a great place to visit in the spring and summer months. Located near the Yuba River, there are plenty of great trails for biking and hiking and some great swim holes, perfect for cooling off on those hot summer days.
During the winter months some head for the snow, while others seek out warmer climates. What we found in the Sierras and California’s Gold Country was a perfect middle ground and a wonderful location for our young family to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Keep up with Karen, David and their family on Instagram @thecampingplaylist.