I recently got back from Los Angeles—checking out law schools with my daughter—and was struck by two things: L.A. is downright friendly anymore and it is always nice out. But one night, we were on our way to Santa Monica for dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant, followed by a glittering Ferris wheel ride on the pier and a stop at the warm nighttime beach. And our (very friendly) Lyft driver asked us wistfully, when she learned we were from Northern California, “Oh, do you have four seasons up there?”
We do—so as we prepare this issue of Sierra Living, I am equally charmed by winter in the Sierra Nevada.
For example, our Downhill Racer cover story not only describes lovely snowy places we can ski—from Tahoe to Mammoth to Yosemite—but also gives details on ice skating rinks, snow tubing runs, village fire pits to drink hot chocolate around, and hotels where you can soak in a big bathtub, then wrap up in a warm robe. With California-born-and-bred children of my own, I will also say there is nothing that amps up the pint-size excitement for the winter holidays quite like snow. And our region gets more kid-friendly by the day, with playful lesson packages, as well as the chance to ski with Santa and his elves or with big costumed characters like Woolly (the mammoth). You can also find Polar Express trains, cookie-decorating workshops, horse-drawn sleighs, interactive art and science museums, storytimes and holiday movies—in parts of the Sierra where your little ones can catch a snowflake on their tongues or make snow-angels.
All of which is not to suggest that lower elevations aren’t just as festive this time of year. Our calendar of events is full of Christmas street fairs in historic Gold Country towns, as well as plays, film festivals, sing-alongs, concerts and fun shopping. How about wine-tasting in Amador County—on a patio with views of the Sierra—and picking out a bottle of wine for everyone on your list while you sip?
Lastly, we have you covered with other critical holiday information, like where to cut a Christmas tree and how to pair seasonal appetizers with cocktails that warm you from the inside out. And don’t miss this issue’s recipe—wild buffalo meatloaf, from Chef Matt Toomey in Mammoth Lakes—which would be delicious anywhere, but I suspect eating it in sunny SoCal might lack the necessary coziness factor.
So enjoy reading and keep your phone nearby—you will want to make some reservations. Also hug that little kid who is running circles around you right now as you try to accomplish this—changing which Barbie she wants Santa to bring and insisting she needs to look at the decorated tree instead of going to bed. One day she will be leaving for law school and you will long to have her 3-year-old self in your living room, interrupting your magazine reading.
Happy Sierra Nevada Holidays—from ours to yours.
Thea Marie Rood