Snow in San Diego

San Diego: sunny beaches, palm trees, laid back atmosphere, friendly people, and coastal towns. But, San Diego is more than just a beach city. The dynamic county is also home to annual snowfall in its local mountains.


Photo from Palomar Mountain Snow Play’s Facebook Page (2013)

During the winter months when the beaches are cold, northeast San Diego has a few mountain getaways perfect for a snow-day with the family. Moms and Dads, grab your family’s winter jackets, and head out to one of these four destinations for a day of snow playing, sledding, and even some apple pie.



Sixty miles northeast of San Diego, the historic mountain town of Julian rests between the Cuyamaca Mountains and the southern slope of Volcan Mountain. From central San Diego, it is about a 60-90 minute drive to explore the quaint area.


This rural town was founded by Civil war veterans and cousins Drue Bailey and Mike Julian who traveled west to start a new life. Julian was San Diego’s only gold rush area, and the place was named for Mike Julian who was the San Diego County Assessor during that time.


Because of its ideal apple growing climate, Julian is perhaps most famous for its apples, apple pies, and apple cider which are enjoyed throughout San Diego county but can be picked fresh in the mountain area.


The mountain is 4,235 feet high and receives quite a few feet of snow during the winter which generally covers the entire mountain. Besides sledding and playing in the snow, the small village has plenty of antique shops, horseback riding, hiking, wine tasting, mine tours, apple picking, and, of course, apple pie eating to enjoy.


Cuyamaca Peak

Roughly 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Cuyamaca Peak resides within Cuyamaca Rancho State Park east of San Diego and southwest of Julian. This is on of the highest peaks in San Diego at 6,512 feet. On clear days, the view is absolutely breathtaking with visibility of both the Coronado Islands and El Cajon Mountain. It is not uncommon to have thigh high deep snowfall during the winter ideal for snow shoeing and sledding


Mount Laguna

Located on the eastern edge of the Cleveland National Forest, this rural community sits at almost 6,000 feet. Mount Laguna is known for its campgrounds adjacent to the Pacific Crest Trail. The small town also offers a quaint general store, rustic lodges, and local restaurants. In the winter months, there are plenty of recreational activities from sledding to cross country skiing to hiking and just playing in the snow.


Palomar Mountain

In northern San Diego County, Palomar Mountain sits in the Peninsular Ranges. It is famous for the Palomar Observatory, Hale Telescope, and Palomar Mountain State Park. Until 1992, the Hale Telescope was the world’s largest and most important. Now, two more telescopes reside within the Observatory.


At this California State Park, there are campgrounds for vacationers and other campgrounds specially designated for local schools to use on field trips. A densely wooded area, the forest boasts many hiking trails and unique tree species. Dwarfed by the San Bernardino Mountains, this range is 6,140 feet which is almost as tall as Cuyamaca Peak.


San Diego provides plenty of activities to enjoy year round. And the winter months might be the perfect time to explore its beautiful mountain areas.


About this contributor:  Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who loves having family adventures around San Diego. She is also an editor at The Teaching Box. Follow her at





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