In 1953, Mammoth Mountain ski area was launched with a single rope tow. Visit now and you’ll have access to 28 lifts and 3,500 acres of skiable terrain. The town of Mammoth Lakes, a 300-mile drive north of Los Angeles, combines a majestic setting with draws such as Cuban food, local brews, and a chance to see Olympic superstars.
Mammoth Mountain serves up plenty of snow sports: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling—plus a tube park, scenic gondola rides, and snowcat tours. Season-pass options include ski days at other resorts around the globe. One pass even enables a work-from-the-slopes lifestyle with membership at the Fort, a shared office space. 800-626-6684; mammothmountain.com.
Watch the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain (typically in January and February), which welcomes the world’s best freeskiers and snowboarders, who go head-to-head in half-pipe and slopestyle competitions. Get an up-close look from multiple vantage points, including the Main Lodge sundeck, a good spot to admire the action with hot cocoa in hand.
The best view in Mammoth Lakes looks even better with bossa nova music and Caribbean/Spanish food at downtown’s Dos Alas Cubarican Café and Lounge. Windows frame the dramatic peaks of the Sherwin Range south of town, while the menu showcases the owners’ Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage with Cuban sandwiches, plus rotating favorites such as garlic roasted pork, sweet plantains, and arroz con picadillo. Sides, $3.50 to $7; entrées, $17 to $28. 760-965-0345; visitmammoth.com/restaurants/dos-alas-cubarican-cafe-lounge.
You may find peak happiness at Shea Schat’s Bakery. Main Street’s classic European pastry place with a small café is known for cookies, doughnuts, and apple strudel, as well as bread—sheepherder bread, onion bread, cheese bread, and jalapeño cheese bread. 760-934-6055; visitmammoth.com/restaurants/shea-schats-bakery.
If your winter fantasy includes a ski-in, ski-out A-frame with a wood-burning stove, you’ll covet one of the 25 classic cabins at Mammoth Mountain Chalets. During snow season, a vintage snowcat transports guests and their belongings to individual units situated at 9,000 feet. Rates from $360 for weekdays in January; December holiday rate from $510. 760-934-8518; visitmammoth.com/hotels-lodging/mammoth-mountain-chalets.
The AAA Three Diamond Village Lodge has one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos adjacent to shops, dining, and the gondola ride to the slopes. Rates from $230. 800-626-6684.
In Santa Barbara, get some R&R