A Relaxing, Snowy, Fun, Family Vacation in Bass Lake, California

Looking for a good spot for a relaxing snowy vacation with the kids? Bass Lake is a great choice!

T and M loving the snow at Bass Lake
T and M loving the snow at Bass Lake

Our family loves to take at least one trip a year to a snowy destination. In the San Francisco Bay Area where we live, almost everyone heads to Lake Tahoe when they want to enjoy the snow. The traffic on President’s Day weekend and other winter weekends is astounding – it’s like everyone in San Francisco and the surrounding cities all decide at once to get in their cars and head up to Tahoe. Because of that, we always stay home over President’s Day weekend. But this year I thought…how about if I think outside the box? Our family has skied a couple of times, but it’s not really our thing. We love to build snowmen, throw snowballs at each other, and sit inside drinking hot chocolate and playing board games or watching movies. What we really want is a relaxing, snowy vacation.

So I started looking at the map and thinking about where else there would be snow. Maybe I could find a place that wasn’t quite as far a drive, too. Yosemite is lovely of course, but world famous = high prices. Where could I find a place at a high enough elevation for snow, not too far from the Bay Area, not too expensive, and with some nearby services like restaurants? Bass Lake ticked all the boxes!

I found a cabin on VRBO, which is an abbreviation for Vacation Rentals By Owner.

Pet Friendly Vacation Rentals in California

There are lots of choices on HomeAway as well. Our cabin was a great deal. It was 2100 sqft with 3 bedrooms + a bonus room that could be used as a bedroom, 2 bathrooms, and a pool table. All for about $200 per night.



Bass Lake is a resort property with restaurants and a market. There are also hotel rooms available, if you prefer that over a cabin.

Ducey's sign
Ducey’s has great food and service

Ducey’s on the Lake has a main dining room downstairs that serves breakfast and dinner. It has a steakhouse ambiance and steaks and seafood are the specialties, and it’s also known for serving a delicious brunch. Upstairs is the bar and grill, which is open for lunch and dinner. We had lunch at the bar and grill. We had a beautiful view of the lake and the snow falling on the mountains. The burgers and sandwiches were tasty, and the onion rings and wedge salads were especially good. I tried the Pink Sombrero – lemonade and tequila with cherry liqueur. YUM. Did I mention they have a full bar and a long cocktail menu?

We had lunch at Casa Velasco another day. It’s right there by the Pines resort area. It’s a family-owned cozy place with great service. The food was delicious! I was surprised that my fajitas had sauce on the meat, which is different than I’ve had before, but they were super tasty. And enormous! Don’t miss the albondigas soup or the house margarita – SO GOOD.

There is also a pizzeria, but it was only open for dinner so we didn’t try it this time since we’d planned to cook.

The Pines Market is right there at the resort, and I was surprised at the size of it – it’s way bigger than other markets I have been to at resorts. It’s a decent-sized grocery store, plus they also carry snow clothes, hardware, toys, and souvenirs.

Pines market in the snow
Pines market is convenient for anything you forgot


We spent our days PLAYING! Our cabin had a hill right in front of it on the property, so we were able to step outside and sled right there! We built snowmen, a fort, and made snow angels. We bought a snow brick maker to help us with fort building, and we brought our snowball makers:

Every day we played outside for a few hours, and then would walk to a restaurant for lunch. In the afternoons we played games and billiards, and I’d let the kids have some time to play on their devices, since, you know…TWEENS. In the evenings we made dinner with the groceries we’d brought and watched movies.

Yosemite is not far from Bass Lake, but in the winter many of the roads are closed, which can make the drive too long. You can check road conditions- it the roads are open, it’s a 47-mile drive. When we were there they had closed the closest road, so it would have been more than three hours to drive around the long way. Today as I write this, the road is open and it’s 90 minutes. I’m looking forward to heading back to Bass Lake in the spring or fall so we can enjoy Yosemite. Yosemite in the summer is nuts, so we probably wouldn’t go then.

If you’d like some more general tips about traveling with teens, please check out my article Traveling with tweens and teens

Looking for more destinations? Check out these articles:

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Sonoma Wine Country, California

Washington DC

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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  1. Hi! This blog was perfect for us because we’re looking for something very similar. Do you have the link to the cabin that you rented? We’re looking for a cabin where we can just have the kiddos sled right outside.

    1. Sorry, the specific cabin we stayed in has changed ownership, so I can’t find it on VRBO. If it shows up later, I’ll add the link.

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