LONG HISTORY: Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite National Park is billed as "the original Northern California ski area," which makes sense, given the area's history as a place of play, not only in the bustling summer months but in the snowier times, as well. But a lengthy, decades-long story doesn't not mean that Badger Pass has grown out-sized or too big for its britches; on the contrary, it is known for being one of the more laid-back places to strap on the board and enjoy some high Sierra winter sunshine. The elevation at the ski area means it is never first out of the gate as far as opening dates go, but it always gets the snowflakes flying before Christmas. And the date this year is just ahead: Friday, Dec. 14.
ABOUT BADGER PASS: It isn't just about the skiing at the pass; snowshoeing and tubing are also on the docket. It's vast veranda also gets the props, the better to sit upon for that Sierra-sunshine-soaking-in. There are a number of discounts available, too, from Two for Tuesdays to Ski Free on Your Birthday to Military and Student deals.
MORE WINTERTIME YOSEMITE: The mid-December opening of Yosemite's ski area isn't the only marquee thing happening in the national park around that time; the famous Bracebridge Dinners are set to open at The Ahwahnee Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 13. You could get your medieval feasting on that night, then make it to the slopes for the opening run the next morning. You're a renaissance person, surely?