When you think of traveling for the winter, Northern California might not be the first location that comes to mind. The winter season is usually associated with snow-covered driveways, icy ponds perfect for ice skating, and warming yourself up with a mug of hot cocoa (or a nice glass of whiskey to warm you from the inside out). All of these winter descriptions are still true about Northern California, with some slight modifications. The temperature is still cold, but the air is clear and beautiful, there is plenty of snow to enjoy if you go to the right places, the crowds are thinner, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to warm you up.
If you’re looking to enjoy a Sacramento winter, then we have just the guide for you. Learn how to navigate through all the winter activities that this Northern California location has to offer, and enjoy this special time of the year in an unexpected location. Replace your thoughts of California palm trees and sandy beaches with the ideas of a crisp winter air, the smell of rain filling your nostrils, and plenty of winter activities for all to enjoy. That’s right, winter activities in Northern California provide fun and enjoyment for the whole family, right here in Sacramento.
What to Expect from Sacramento During the Winter Months
If you’re expecting a snow-filled time when visiting Sacramento for the winter, you’ll have to travel a little outside of the area to find your desired snow-filled winter activities. Even though snow is quite rare in Sacramento, you can expect to see the occasional dusting of the city. With that being said, this part of Northern California still experiences much colder days than normal, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s all the way down to the low 40s. In addition to these colder temperatures, the rainy season in Northern California begins in November. So, you can expect a few damp days, but don’t let that stop you from visiting the areas that make up this part of the state. There are plenty of clear, beautiful days to enjoy some much-needed fun winter activities in Northern California.
Even though it might be colder during this time of the year, you can expect fewer crowds during a Sacramento winter, before the holidays. Whether you’re looking to knock out your Christmas shopping early, are planning on having a winery filled vacation, or simply are looking for family-friendly winter activities for everyone to enjoy, Sacramento offers all of this with fewer people.
If you travel a short distance east of Sacramento, you will be right in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, here you can expect a winter wonderland and an alternative to the more moderate climates in Sactown. So what exactly are all the winter activities that Sacramento, the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe have to offer, you might ask? We have crafted the perfect guide to winter activities in Northern California. All you have to do is decide which activities you want to enjoy!
Sacramento Winter Activities
Downtown Sacramento has plenty to offer it’s visitors throughout the year, but when the winter months arrive, this part of the city is known for their ice rink. This year will mark the 28th season that locals and visitors alike have been lacing up their skates and enjoying this fan-favorite, Sacramento winter activity. Enjoy gliding around the Downtown Sacramento ice rink with friends and family, and embrace the cold weather that is upon us.
- Location: 7th & K Streets, Sacramento, CA 95814
- Hours of Operation:
- November 1, 2019 – January 20, 2020
- Monday – Thursday: 2 – 9pm
- Friday – Sunday: 10am – 10pm
- Children 6 and under: $6
- Regular Skate: $13
- Holiday Skate (November 24-30, 2019 & December 24, 2019 – January 5, 2020): $15
In addition to the Downtown Sacramento ice rink, there is another location for outdoor icy fun, just 20 miles northeast of Sacramento. Skatetown Ice Arena is hosting it’s 7th annual holiday outdoor ice rink. Enjoy a Sacramento winter mixed in with the holidays for maximum enjoyment. Take in the brisk air of winter as you skate around in circles. This holiday winter activity is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
- Location: Skatetown Ice Arena – 1009 Orlando Ave, Roseville, CA 95661
- Hours of Operation (outdoor rink):
- November 23, 2019 – January 20, 2020
- Monday – Thursday: 6 – 8pm
- Friday: 10 a.m. – 5pm & 7 – 10pm
- Saturday: 10am – 10pm
- Sunday: 12 – 8pm
- Hours may vary on holidays
- Pricing (holiday rates):
- Children 3 and under: Free
- Youth 10 and under: $14
- General: $16
Holiday Shows & Special Events
Start gearing up for the holidays with some of the best Sacramento winter holiday events around. Magical Moments at Sunrise Village, located 16 miles northeast of Sacramento, is hosting a collection of breathtaking, holiday driven events to kick off your Sacramento winter the right way. Gather the whole family and experience some of the best magical moments in the city, all for free. This year you can witness three different shows to truly celebrate winter in Northern California.
- Holiday Rock Laser Light Show: Kicking off the winter season on November 22nd, starting at 6pm, you can witness the amazing light show complete with fun winter activities. Giant snow globes, laser tag, inflatables, tasty food, and much more!
- Frozen Winter Festival: Continuing the winter spirit on November 30th at 12pm, the pop-up carnival is coming to town! Enjoy kid-friendly amusement and entertainment, along with some special guests. This winter activity in Northern California is sure to gear you up for the best holiday season yet.
- Nutcracker: Wrapping up Sacramento’s magical moments is the classic performance of The Nutcracker on December 18th at 5pm. Witness breathtaking ballet performances through the classic story of the Nutcracker. Be sure to bring the whole family and enjoy additional fun during the Sacramento winter.
Winter Activities Surrounding Sacramento
Skiing, Snowboarding, and Tubing. Oh my!
If you’re looking for snow this winter season in Northern California, then you’re in luck! Pack up your friends, family, and winter gear, because just a short three-hour drive will put you at one of roughly ten ski areas filled with the best winter activities. East of Sacramento, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, you will find a plethora of snow to enjoy. With the closest ski resort located just 80 miles from the city and the furthest located 150 miles away, there is plenty of fun for all to partake in, making the drive worth the trip. Whether you’re an expert snowboarder, just learning how to ski, or prefer to hit the slopes on a tube, you are sure to find a place for your favorite winter activities in Northern California. Some of the best ski resorts outside of Sacramento, offering a winter wonderland for all include:
- Soda Springs | 89 miles
- Sugar Bowl | 91 miles
- Boreal Mountain | 91 miles
- Sierra-at-Tahoe | 91 miles
- Kirkwood Mountain | 102 miles
- Heavenly Mountain | 105 miles
- Alpine Meadows | 112 miles
- Bear Valley | 124 miles
- Mt. Rose | 126 miles
- Dodge Ridge | 137 miles
Located about 70 miles southwest of Sacramento is the ever famous Napa Valley. If you’re looking to spend this Sacramento winter sipping on fine wine, then now is the time to make your road trip out to wine country. There are many benefits to visiting Napa during the winter months; less crowds, lower prices, and beautiful colors adorning the landscape to take in. Use this time to experience a laid-back and relaxing vacation during the quietest time of the year for the wineries and vineyards.
If you’re looking to enhance your winter activities in wine country, sign up for the Winter in the Wineries Passport. This holiday experience gets you tastings at 17 different wineries for just $60. In addition to visiting the most beautiful wineries, there are plenty of winter events happening in the area; Napa Valley Film Festival, Napa Truffle Festival, Napa Valley Restaurant Week, and much more!
However, if you’re looking to stay closer to the heart of Sacramento, you are still close to a variety of wineries, providing some of the best winter activities for you to enjoy while vacationing in Northern California. Map out some of the most popular wineries surrounding Sacramento, and get started on your winter wine tour!
With so much to do in Northern California during the winter months, it’s time to start planning your vacation! Whether you’re looking to tour the wineries in the area or are eager to bring the whole family out for ice skating in Downtown Sacramento, let Hard Rock Sacramento Hotel & Casino be your host. Offering unmatchable amenities, some of the best dining around, and a casino floor full of excitement, you’re sure to have the best time enjoying a Sacramento winter with us.