The end of the semester means the beginning of winter, and unfortunately that means the start of sad shivers for many of us. But for those of you who love bundling in layers of clothing, trading your sandals for boots and frolicking in the rain, get excited to break out of your shelter from the sun. Berkeley is a great place to do all these things, but what if you wanna build a snowman too? Here is a list of some of the coolest places to visit in winter near Berkeley to satisfy your wintry appetites.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
A closer, and more uninhabited option for a real winter pathfinder, Lassen Volcanic National Park is four hours north of Berkeley. The park is located over a giant subduction zone off the northern coast and currently has the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Although there are several volcanic sites to visit and hike, Lassen Volcanic still gets a good amount of snow every year, enough to make a snowman and a lot to spare. It’s also an especially good place to get a trip in before the end of the semester because the park is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary and has special events happening through the end of the year.
One of the most popular and populous destinations on this list, Tahoe is one of the easier places to book a room or an Airbnb for a weekend. The four hour drive down US-50 East is scenic as heck too. In the winter, snow makes up a significant part of any Tahoe trip, and there’s an impressive amount of skiing resorts. Even on the nippiest days, Lake Tahoe never freezes over, so it’s still possible to take a boat out (if you’re into wind chill) even in the dead of December. South Lake Tahoe also has a good amount of nightlife with casinos and dive bars accessible to anyone of age, and a good amount of jukeboxes for everyone.
Just about a four and a half hour drive via I-5 north, Shasta is about as close as you’ll get to the Oregon border on a California getaway. There are more than enough hiking trails to last you a good weekend or two, some reaching the more hidden alpine lakes, and ski and snowboard lodges are pinned up all along the mountain. Even though Shasta is an active volcano with a hot eruptive history, it’s common to find untrampled snow waist-high later in the winter. Downtown has a nice a cozy ambiance to help you warm up, and enjoy some fresh grilled burgers and microbrews while your at it.
South of Berkeley about three and a half hours away, Big Sur is one of the closer options for significant amounts of snow and winter weather near Berkeley. There are many cabins to rent for both large and small groups, but if you’re into it, one of the best ways to experience Big Sur is by backpacking and camping — there are 14 campsites along the hiking trails. Near the southern edge of the redwoods is where you’re most likely to find snow, and if not, some of the rarest flowers in California. And if you love animals, Big Sur is home to abundant amounts of California wildlife, including deer, coyotes, fox, mountain lion, rabbits, wild boars and, of course, bears.
Just because we’re Bears doesn’t mean we have to hibernate through the season. So, go out and roll on all you winter Bears.