We enjoy our warm weather. It’s sunny, there’s palm trees, many trees still have their leaves and I’m walking around the neighborhood wearing shorts. However, many of us enjoy getting a bit of the holiday spirit in different ways — especially if we are transplants from the Midwest.

The snow glows white on the mountains today

Thankfully, many of us in the Southwest live relatively close to the mountains. These mountains often get a beautiful dusting of snow, often as low as 3500 feet in elevation. Day trip!

More than palm trees and sand in sunny Southern California

In Los Angeles, there is a ring of mountains around us. We have easy access to the snow. In fact, it’s one of the few places where you can ski and snow in the same day. We can drive to the San Gabriel Mountains or elsewhere in a short amount of time.

In Palm Springs, the path to snow is even more fun. You can take the aerial tram up to the towering San Jacinto Peak. From sand to snow in minutes.

Grab your stuff, let’s go!

Sure, its T-shirt weather. But let’s get in the spirit. Pack some warm clothes, gloves and some spiced hot chocolate. Here in the Southwest, we have the added bonus of being able to get champurrado, often having maize flour, cinnamon, whole milk, sugar, and sometimes star anise and ground nuts if you want. Goodness in a Thermos.

Most of the time, the roads to the mountains are already cleared. You can find out on various websites or from ranger stations. It never hurts to have chains, but it’s usually not necessary. We can stay in the lower elevations. The snow line is often under 5000 feet after a good rain.

Take your camera!

This is essential, along with the warm clothes, gloves and champurrado. In the meadow you can build a snowman. And you take photos! It’s fun to surprise everyone by showing them that you and your friends or family are building a snowman or having snowball fights!

These photos show us hanging out with our friends and an 8-foot tall snowman with plastic yard tool arms and a sled. This was in Frazier Park, at about 5000 ft. in elevation, on the way to Mt. Pinos. You can go from sun-drenched warmth of Los Angeles to a winter wonderland among the pine trees in a short one-hour drive.