It’s beginning to look a lot like winter here in Southern California. Here in North County, we enjoy walking in the cold morning air and sliding into the hot tub on these crisp, clear nights. But the nice thing about California is that, if it’s genuine winter you want, you can find it not too far away. And even better are the great deals to be had at this time of year. Read on:Early and ample snowfall has made Sequoia National Park in the eastern Sierras a spectacular winter wonderland, which can be appreciated both from indoors and out. Special offerings from the park’s cozy Wuksachi Lodge include the Winter Romance Package (locally-crafted chocolate truffles, bottle of red wine, souvenir wine glasses and throw blanket) which starts at $88. The Winter Family Fun Package (winter sports map, snowshoe rentals and a new snow disc for kids) starts at $77. The Sweet Treat Package (two Sequoia souvenir mugs with hot cocoa mix, marshmallows and bottle of peppermint schnapps) starts at $70. The Winter Adventure Deluxe Package (full-day snowshoe rentals, winter sports map, box lunch, daypack and souvenir Sequoia thermos filled with hot cocoa) starts at $107.50. All prices are per person, per night, double occupancy. Rates valid through March 31.
Maybe best thing of all at Sequoia is the free snow-chain concierge service (weekends only) for Wuksachi Lodge guests. Check road conditions by calling the National Park Service hotline at 559-565-3341. Visit http://VisitSequoia.com.
A less-than-three-hour drive north will take you to Big Bear ski country where there’s plenty of snow for skiers, snowboarders and anyone who enjoys the mountains and all that white stuff. Big Bear Lake Resort Association is offering “Lift and Lodging” deals like the midweek packages that start as low as $69 per person per night, double occupancy. Weekend packages start at $89 per person per night, double occupancy (with minimum of two nights and two days of lift tickets). Lodging choices include private home rentals, bed-and-breakfasts, condos and cabins. Snow Summit and Bear Mountain offer 435 developed acres, 26 lifts, four high-speed chairs and 1,800 vertical feet. Visit bigbear.com.
You don’t have to go to the mountains and the snow for great winter deals. The Boutique Hotel Collection on the much-overlooked Central Coast is offering special prices at its four properties: the Apple Farm Inn and Sycamore Mineral Springs in San Luis Obispo, and the The Cliffs Resort and SeaVenture Resort in Pismo Beach. The Cliffs underwent a multimillion-dollar update July 2009, so the renovation plus its location on the beach make it a wonderful place to spend a few winter days. Stay in SLO Town (its residents were voted the happiest in the country) and enjoy the popular Thursday farmer’s market where you can meet locals and enjoy local food, produce and crafts. Don’t miss the historic Mission San Luis Rey or the downtown shops and restaurants. All can be seen on foot. Visit boutiquehotelcollection.com/ for specials at all four hotels.
Regardless of the season, there’s always plenty to see and do in New York City, but the cost of lodging in Manhattan can cause heart palpitations. However, visit the Big Apple before Feb. 28 and take advantage of bargain prices at seven Hilton Worldwide hotels. They’ll throw in a coupon for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – Times Square, too. Rates start at $129 at the seven participating hotels: Hilton New York Fashion District; Hilton Times Square; DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Times Square; DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan – New York City; Hilton Garden Inn New York/West 35th Street; Hilton Garden Inn Times Square; and Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square North. Call (800)-HILTONS and request plan code KX or KX1.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.