This article was produced in partnership with Visit California.
The history lover's twofer, this trip takes you from Santa Monica to Mount Baldy — a storied surfside playground to an iconic mountain that helped kick off the southland's obsession with snow sports. Nearly 50 years ago, the breaks around Santa Monica, including the legendary Venice Beach, helped give rise to the rebellious surf culture we know and love. Before that, way back in the 1940s, skiers first began tackling the slopes of Baldy, tucked into the sub-peaks of towering Mount San Antonio to the west.
Santa Monica is where LA goes to the beach. Paddle out today and you'll likely share the lineup with celebrities just getting their feet wet, or longtime salty locals who’ve been ripping breaks around Venice since the Dogtown and Z Boys days. Hit up the Venice Breakwater for some of the most consistent surf in the LA area—especially if you like rippable righthanders breaking over soft sand. The fishing pier in Venice, too, can host some fun sandbars. Plus, once you get out, there’s always something to see on the boardwalk.
Bay St, the main beach in Santa Monica, offers up beginner-friendly waves if you’re not quite ready to tackle the breakwater scene.
Look shoreward on a clear winter day and you might spy the craggy San Gabriel Mountains just to the east, often snow-capped in the winter. Believe it or not, Mt. Baldy is only 60 miles away from where you’re floating. Load up your skis or snowboard when you pack your surfboard in the morning, get out of the water by 10, and you'll be on the lift with the Los Angeles basin far below by lunch.
Before you leave Santa Monica, grab coffee and a breakfast burrito at Dogtown Coffee, which is located in the former home of the Zephyr skate shop—the place gave rise to modern skateboarding culture. It's a perfect spot to keep the stoke levels high between the surf and the snow.
Hop onto the 10 to the 605 north to the 210 east and get off on Baseline Road to link up with Mount Baldy Road and park when you see the lifts. The mountain offers a couple of dozen runs, but it's the glades skier's left of Eagle Chair that make Southern California powder hounds call in sick when it's raining at sea level. Time it right with the weather and you can be lapping thigh-deep runs with just a few hundred other people.
But follow the above playbook, and you'll be the only one with sand in your boots.