The 8 Coziest Winter Weekend Getaways Near San Francisco (Snow or No Snow)
Let’s face it: As bone-chillingly cold as San Francisco can sometimes feel, there’s really no such thing as winter here. We may pull out the heavy coats and bundle up, but if you’re looking for snow, you have to hit the road. The good news is that Lake Tahoe and the Sierras are just a short drive away. So, whether you want to hit the slopes or just chill in a cozy cabin, we’ve got you covered. Here are our picks for the best winter weekend getaways near San Francisco, including the approximate travel time to each destination.
1. WYLDER HOTEL IN HOPE VALLEY (3 HOURS 30 MINUTES)
Get the whole winter wonderland experience—minus the ski resort crowds—at Wylder Hope Valley, where you’ll have access to cross-country ski and snowshoe trails right outside your cabin door. Take a break from the snow-filled action for hot chocolate and s’mores at the communal fire pit. Then cap the day with a stop at the woodfired sauna (reserve a private session in advance) followed by a tub soak with Champagne back at your cozy cabin.
2. RUSH CREEK LODGE IN GROVELAND (3 HOURS 20 MINUTES)
Searching for an upscale-modern vibe surrounded by natural beauty? Check into Rush Creek Lodge just outside the Yosemite gates. (And save up to 50 percent on room rates if you stay between Thanksgiving and Christmas!) Strap on your snowshoes for a walk among giant Sequoias and admire the towering, snow-covered granite walls in the park. Or enjoy the comforts of a classic mountain lodge with a day of spa treatments, tavern drinks and hot tub sunsets without ever leaving the property. No judgment here.
3. COACHMAN HOTEL IN SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (3 HOURS 25 MINUTES)
Didn’t splurge on a ski pass this season? Not to worry. There’s plenty of wintry action at the base of the mountain in Heavenly Village instead. With immediate access to lake, forest and mountains, the newly expanded Coachman Hotel is the perfect location for a winter weekend in Tahoe. Ice skating fun in Heavenly Village is just a short 5-minute walk away. Interested in some quality hotel time too? Enjoy breakfast in the mountain-chic lobby, dip in the hot tub after a day of ice skating and exploring, join the après scene at the lobby bar (3 to 6 p.m.) and have s’mores by the fire pit before calling it a night. And coming soon, the hotel will house the first South Lake location of Reno-based Perenn Bakery, known for its gorgeous pastries, breads, tartines and sandwiches.
4. THE INN AT MOUNT SHASTA (4 HOURS 30 MINUTES)
Winter fun for the whole non-skiing family? We’ve got you covered. Book a family or bunk suite at the newly renovated Inn at Mount Shasta, where even your pup is welcome. Your weekend base camp is a short drive to California’s majestic 14,179-foot mountain (OK, technically it’s a volcano) at the southern end of the Cascade Range, where casual sledding is a must. Pack up the sleds (or tubes) from home and head straight for Snowman’s Hill or Bunny Flat. If your family is the adventurous type, sign up for a guided snowmobile adventure with Fun Factory. And save time for a trip to McCloud, an adorable old mill town with an impressive candy store the kiddos will love.
5. RITZ-CARLTON, LAKE TAHOE IN TRUCKEE (3 HOURS 15 MINUTES)
The snow forecast for Lake Tahoe this winter is shaping up to be a good one, and one of the prettiest places for fresh powder is The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The ski-in, ski-out resort offers access to every kind of snow activity you could imagine—skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, sledding and even snowmobiling—plus après-inspired cocktails after an exhausting day on the mountain. Before you leave, relax those tired muscles and rejuvenate with a day at the spa, where you’ll enjoy massage treatments (some even featuring warmed stones from Lake Tahoe itself!), relaxation areas warmed by fireplaces, a dry-heat lodge, a eucalyptus steam room and a heated lap pool overlooking the slopes.
6. THE AHWAHNEE IN YOSEMITE (4 HOURS 10 MINUTES)
This winter, splurge on a room at the historic Ahwahnee hotel—the crown jewel of national park lodges. (We’re partial to the cozy cottages behind the main building.) Spend day one of your weekend getaway doing all the wintry things Yosemite has to offer—skiing, snowshoeing and tubing at Badger Pass (opening December 17) with stunning views of Half Dome and then ice skating under the starlit sky in Curry Village. On day two, gorge on the lodge’s famous breakfast buffet (which has gone “touchless” for COVID safety), curl up by one of the Great Room’s giant fireplaces and play board games all day while sipping hot apple cider or Irish coffee from the bar.
7. MODERN MOUNTAIN MANOR IN INCLINE VILLAGE (3 HOURS 30 MINUTES)
Our favorite part of this spacious two-story single family vacation home is the private deck with a view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Mt. Rose Ski and Diamond Peak Ski Resort are both close by if you’re looking to hit the slopes, and there’s also easy access to sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. A short drive to the beach and nearby trailheads (Tahoe Rim Trail and Incline Flume) will serve you well if there’s no snow when you go. After a long day of activity, you’ll be ready to cozy up by the living room fireplace for a night of Netflix and hot cocoa with the kids. And even the family dog is welcome.
8. RV CAMPING OUTSIDE KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK (4 HOURS 15 MINUTES)
Looking to live out your #vanlife fantasies this winter? No problem. Hit the road and head for the Sierras. Rent the retro-cool Kuga Campervan from Traveller’s Autobarn and ask for the Winter Mountain Pack, which hooks you up with a heater, special heated blanket, hot water bottle and extra sleeping bags to keep you toasty warm during the chilliest of trips. Set up outside Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra or Inyo national forests, which have partially reopened to the public. Then hit up the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon and check with the visitor center for the latest updates on snow play areas around General Grant Tree, Panoramic Point and the Big Stump picnic area.
Editor’s Note: The recent KNP Complex Fire threatened some of our great giants, and many parts of Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and surrounding forests remain closed. But the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon is back open for day use! Always check the latest news about weather alerts and closures from the National Park Service before you plan your trip.