3 snow play areas in Southern California for small children

Updated: December 27, 2018

Mountain High, CaliforniaIf you live in Southern California, snow is a rare occurrence. If you don’t make some extra effort, your children might grow up not knowing what snow is. However, one of the greatest things about living in Southern California is that pretty much everyone lives within a few hours from the beach and within a few hours from the snow. I love snow and I love to take my family to play in the snow at least once a year…and it doesn’t take much effort. While, everyone knows about the big Southern California ski resorts, there is very little information available about places where you can take small kids so that they can simply play in the snow.

This article explores my favorite snow play areas in Southern California for small children. Over the years, I have taken my children to a few more snow places in Southern California where they have been able to simply enjoy natural snow.

SoCal is a place for snowboarders…most of the times

If you just stick with the big names in winter sports in SoCal you will end up frustrated if you take your small children to play in the snow. Why? Well, if you just drive to Snow Summit, Bear Mountain or Mountain High and you just hope that your children can just take their sled and play in the snow you’re wrong. Once you get to any of these big resorts you will see these large signs as soon as you come close to being close to the snow. They usually read that nobody has access to the slopes unless they snowboard or ski. Some also read no snow play or sledding.

What’s going on? So where can you take your small children and have them play in the snow so they get the “snow” feeling? There are a few places in Southern California where you can do that…so read on.

Snow Valley in Running Springs

Snow Valley is one of the best snow play areas in Southern California. Snow Valley is very close to the town of Running Springs on the way to Big Bear’s Snow Summit. Snow Valley relies on natural snow, and when there is enough, they have areas designated especially for sledding and snow playing. However, this is a winter resort even though it’s much smaller than Snow Summit.

Big Bear, California - The snow play area at Snow Valley resort
The snow play area at Snow Valley winter resort
See more photos from Snow Valley

There is also a tubbing area right before getting to Snow Valley. It’s much smaller, but it’s a lot of fun for small kids.

Mountain High – well…not exactly there but very close to it.

Instead of trying to park at the resort’s parking lot just keep going up the road. As soon as it starts going up try to find a parking spot on the side of the road. Make sure you purchase a wilderness pass…otherwise you will get a ticket. There are no signs warning about the pass so you just have to know. We were very fortunate because a good citizen gave us his pass when he was leaving…otherwise we would have not known.

Wrightwood, California - Snow play area near Mountain High winter resort
Wrightwood, California – Snow play area near Mountain High winter resort
See more photos from Mountain High

Once parked, cross the street and find some place on the hill where your children can play in snow…well assuming there is still snow.

Frazier Park

To get there you take the 5 freeway north and right after you go down the Grapevine and pass the little town of Gorman exit following the signs that point to Frazier Park. Follow the road and pass through the town of Frazier Park and keep going up the hill towards Mount Pinos. The road will become steep but keep going until you reach the snow. Once you do that you need to stop anywhere on the side of the road…and play.

Frazier Park, California - Snow clouds gathering over the small village of Frazier Park in Cuddy Valley
Frazier Park, California – Snow clouds gathering over the small village of Frazier Park in Cuddy Valley
See more photos from Frazier Park

Mount Pinos is the end of the road. There are a couple of snow sledding areas created by people without anything officially organized.

Resources for planning your trip to the snow

Read my in-depth article about the best snow play areas in Southern California. It includes a lot more details about snow play areas in Big Bear, Frazier Park and Wrightwood.
Here the official Snow Valley website.
Here is the website with current snow conditions in the Frazier Park, Mount Pinos ares.
Find budget hotels in the Big Bear Lake area. Use the map below


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