— Where to Go Now —
We've spent Christmas the last 2 years snowshoeing in Sequoia National Park. It is the most surreal experience you can have tromping around those majestic giants in the hush of the snow. We can't recommend it enough. And while you're in California, you can stop by the coast to see one of the beaches covered in elephant seals, get a tour of the extravagant Hearst Castle filled with beautiful Christmas decorations, and sample the wineries in Paso Robles.
If you'd rather extend this trip, you can fly into San Francisco or Los Angeles to see some of the sights there. Both are within a 4-hour drive of Sequoia, San Simeon, and Paso Robles.
Winter is our favorite time of year to visit Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Now don't get us wrong, we love those parks in the summer, too. The winter is just that much more scenic and all the wildlife come off the high mountains to feed in the valleys. Elk, bison, coyotes, moose, wolves, bald eagles, and more are almost guaranteed sightings. Plus the steam off the hot springs form fantastical designs on the surrounding trees.
The few roads that are open are maintained rather well. However, the majority of Yellowstone you'll need to access by snowmobile or snowcat. Tours are available at several locations outside the park and at Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.
San Diego is a great place to head in the winter when you're sick of the snow back home. The weather is always mild. The food is fantastic and they have a pretty good music scene. In addition, you have beaches, surfing, wineries, deserts, sand dunes, and scenic mountain drives at your fingertips.