Discover the go-to accommodations, restaurants and entertainment options at Mammoth Lakes, helping you make the most of your family's winter adventure.
Beyond the foundation of our love for Mammoth (the 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, 28 lifts, pure air, and endless, ancient pine forests) are the modern conveniences, such as hundreds of accommodation options, great food, and The Village, which features spas, non-dive bars, and excellent opportunities to people watch by outdoor fire pits. And then there's the year round twinkle lights covering much of the town - yes, please.
While it has a thriving youth culture and party scene, Mammoth also offers numerous family-friendly events and conveniences, making it a prime destination for adventurous families, or those who just like cozying up by the fire in a snow-covered cabin.
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Where to Sleep
As a resort town, almost every structure you see in Mammoth has a room, or more, for rent. Whether you're looking for an economy hotel, upscale resort, studio apartment, or big ole cabin, Mammoth has something that is sure to please your entire brood.
This is our go-to option, as we can get a comfortable, (usually) updated place that suits the exact number of people we're traveling with. If you want variety with the style, price and location of the rentals, book your Airbnb (or VRBO) at least two months in advance.
From an economical standpoint, these rentals are unbeatable as they almost always have a full kitchen, allowing you to eat in for many of your meals. In addition, many of these spaces have up-to-date entertainment systems (often with Netflix + Amazon), and games and movies. Unless you want to be able to walk to the lifts, or The Village gondola, location isn't much of an issue as almost all Mammoth rentals are a 5-15 minute drive to the mountain's numerous lodges.
The Village Lodge Mammoth
The Village Lodge is a laid-back, yet upscale, home base for travelers who want a mountain chic ambiance, like to be at the center of the action, and don’t want to hassle with driving to the slopes. With a prime location in the heart of Mammoth, this resort is able to offer a free on-site gondola that delivers guests directly to Canyon Lodge, and easy access to numerous boutiques and day spas.
In addition, The Village is like an edible playground with high-quality eateries ranging from Italian to sushi, plus numerous varieties of dessert. Adding to the sweet taste of convenience provided by this renowned lodge is the 5-mile radius shuttle service, childcare, DVD movie library, outdoor fire pits, in-room fireplaces, fitness room, game room, laundry services, media, pool and hot tubs. They've succeeded in the enviable feat of having it all.
Snow Creek Resort
If you want towering pine trees, a sprawling golf course and views of Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Rock, and the Sherwin and White mountain ranges to be the backdrop of your stay, check out Snow Creek. This resort is a luxurious 449-acre alpine village with finely-appointed one to four bedroom condos (many of which offer garages and private hot tubs), a 9-hole golf course (that's fun to sled on, but don't tell them we said so), and a 30,000 square foot athletic center that includes the Double Eagle Spa (try a facial), tennis courts, racquetball courts, wellness classes, and indoor and outdoor pools.
Located within the Snow Creek Meadow Preserve, this community was crafted with Mother Nature in mind, highlighting rugged wonders such as the glimmering Mammoth Creek that winds through the area. Although the resort creates the sense that you've landed in a secluded, frosted oasis, Snow Creek is only a 5-minute drive to The Village, and a 10-15 minute drive to many of the Mammoth Mountain lodges.
Westin Manache Resort
One of the most elegant hotel options in Mammoth, the Westin accommodates any size of family, as they offer standard rooms, two-bedroom suites, and everything in between. In addition to the chic ambiance (not too mountain-y, with the exception of the views) and impeccable service, this resort is incredibly convenient, as it's located across the street from The Village, and the gondola that drops you at Canyon Lodge.
Making the suites all the more attractive for families looking for comfort and usability, are the gas fireplaces, kitchens or kitchenettes, flat-screen TVs, Heavenly Beds (yes, please), balconies that offer jaw-dropping vistas, and beloved Wi-Fi. And if your furry family needs to tag along, the hotel has pet-friendly suites. Other wonderfully opulent amenities include in-room massages, a heated outdoor pool, hot tubs galore, and a tricked out fitness studio.
Mammoth Mountain Inn
If your family wants to spend every possible second on the slopes, this inn will be your jam as it's located at the base of Mammoth's Main Lodge slopes, offering ski-in/ski-out access and in-room boot fittings. And when the lifts close, a large outdoor hot tub and cozy, fireside seating arrangements in the lodge await. Standard rooms to two-bedrooms condos are offered, in addition to a standalone chalet that sleeps six. Sweetening this spot are the unbeatable deals, including the Lift+Lodge package that provides a lift ticket and gondola ride (that takes you to the summit) for every guest on the reservation, every day of your stay.
Tamarack Lodge and Resort
The ideal haven for a digital-detox, the historic Tamarack Lodge and Resort is a screen-free (not as painful as it sounds), mellow and meditative escape, offering the classic cabin-in-the-woods experience. Resting on 6-acres, and being the place to go for cross-country ski gear, maps, trails and guides, Tamarack is the optimal location for families who would rather not downhill ski.
Beyond cross country skiing, their prime position on the shores of Twin Lakes makes it an epic spot for sightseeing. While this resort is only 7-miles from Mammoth Mountain, the numerous amenities, including a gourmet restaurant, make this a vacation destination unto itself, maybe even convincing you to not leave the premises for the duration of your stay.
Where to Eat + Drink
There's something about shlepping around kids and an arsenal of snow gear, then careening down snow-soaked slopes that inspires a lumberjack appetite. Mammoth has heard the call of the skier's stomach, serving up an impressive array of eateries that wrap you in coziness, coat your mouth in yumminess, and offer enough carbs and melted cheese to keep the children from rioting. And there's caffeine as far as your fatigued parent eyes can see.
Black Velvet Coffee
The science of good coffee is taken to a new level at this amiable, hipster “caffeine lab.” Because of the 8,000+ foot altitude in Mammoth, Black Velvet had to adjust the classic espresso chemistry and are always tinkering with their brewing methods and taste profiles, ensuring patrons receive cutting-edge, opulent brews that fuel their mountain adventures. For children who are not yet espresso aficionados, fresh, perfectly over-the-top baked goods (including cereal-covered waffles) are provided.
Shea Schat's Bakery
To make sure our under-butts don't lose their attractive layer of cellulite, we have a family tradition of indulging in Schat's Bakery the morning we leave Mammoth. The abundance of flaky, butter-filled goods soothes the sting of saying goodbye and allows us to stock up on homemade candy, pastries and cookies for the ride home. To minimize our guilt, we'll also grab a few of their sandwiches, which are made with fresh bread and veggies, in addition to high-quality meat and cheese.
Good Life Café
While they offer good lunch and dinner options, Good Life Cafe is where it's at for breakfast. Go here to find affordable, well-portioned and expertly prepped favorites like omelettes, scrambles and oh-so-fluffy pancakes, in addition to sumptuous twists on classics, like the Gobbler (turkey) Benedict, or Crab Cake Benedict. We'll usually grab an early morning meal here and leave so satisfied we don't need to eat again until we grab a 5pm early-bird-special with all the grandparents in town.
A pizza (maybe with some veggies thrown on for good measure), a delivery, and a stack of paper plates = a slice of heaven for many parents, especially those who have been braving the snow with children all day. If you're so done with wearing anything but pajamas, and would rather do a naked snow angel than cook, order a Zpizza.
This joint has an eclectic menu that will allow you to please the kid with an aversion to everything but pepperoni, the gluten-intolerant and occasional vegan one (they offer a cauliflower crust), and you, the parents who want to mix it up with something delicious and different like a Tuscan Mushroom or Provence pizza. And because pizza can sometimes come with a side of parent-guilt, rest assured that their pies are made with certified organic tomato sauce, non-gmo flour, cheese from grass-fed cows, and preservative-free pepperoni and deli meats.
Mammoth Brewing Company
The place for apres-ski, and some communing with locals who use this as their hub, the Mammoth Brewing Co offers a tasting room, eatery, and laid-back environment that's especially lovely during the Spring skiing season when you can sit outside. There's usually around 15 beers on tap, in addition to some delicious root beer that kids love to pretend is a brewski. And then there's the eatery with stick-to-your-rib fare that, when followed up with a soak in a hot tub and a warm bed, is divine. Our favorite options are the hopped tots, BBQ chicken pizza, naan tacos, crispy chicken griddle cakes and the Damn Good Burger.
While you might want to skip Nevados if you have younger children, this is an excellent choice for date night, if you have someone to babysit your brood (Care.com can be a good option.) Nevados is often our go-to for a birthday or anniversary celebration that makes it easier to say yes to a splurge. As one of Mammoth's premiere fancy-pants restaurants, you can expect white table cloths, a lot of silverware, and a server that knows all the things about all the wines.
But Nevados strays from classic luxury dining in one area - portions. Instead of portions that appear to have been made for ants, they offer up just-right servings that won't stuff you, but also won't require a stop at Taco Bell afterwards. So treat yourself and your honey to some innovative American cuisine, picturesque mountain views, and an excuse to put on something besides water resistant pants - you deserve it ;-)
This is a fun choice for a laid-back date night as 53 Kitchen has excellent food and cocktails at a fair price. The ambiance is chic without being stuffy, and the servers are personable. A few times, it took awhile to receive our appetizer, but our main dishes always came soon after - we saw it as a good excuse to order more alcohol. Our favorite dishes are the pretzel bread and crab cakes, sweet tea brined crispy chicken, and red quinoa and Farro salad.
If you're starving after the slopes, fill your bellies and save some dough by catching the happy hour between 3-5pm. This is a good choice if you'll be dining with the whole fam, as you're seated in the very comfortable bar area (that's filled with kid-approved booths and screens displaying ski + boarding videos) and have the option of many of the restaurant's best dishes (and a signature cocktail and beer) at a super reduced rate. As 53 Kitchen is located in The Village, digest your food by posting up by one of the outdoor fire pits and people watching.
If you’re looking for legit pizza, served up in a mountain-chic environ, Campo is for you. While they offer all varieties of Italian fare, you go to Campo for the pizza, which is wood-fired and topped with fresh ingredients, including handcrafted salumi. Our favorite is the Bee Sting - who knew honey and basil could create such a delicious union. And for the love of the food Gods, do not leave without ordering at least one Caramel Budino.
Steak-lovers will rejoice at Mogul, where expertly-prepared beef is the main attraction. Tasty, classic sides like baked potatoes, steamed veggies, rice and an all-you-can-eat salad bar compliment the meat, while desserts like the White Charlotte and Blackberry pie finish the meal on a satisfying note. If beef isn’t your jam, there are plenty of chicken, fish and pasta dishes, in addition to a kid’s menu.
Roberto’s Mexican Cafe
Being from Texas, Bailey never thought she’d find good Mexican food in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas, but alas, Roberto’s has done it, offering quality, authentic nosh that is oh so satisfying after a day burning calories on frozen water. And because of all that calorie burning, ordering cheesy-goodness like the shrimp-stuffed chile relleno or enchiladas rancheras doesn't feel too naughty. This place is fairly small and gets crowded fast, so call for reservations.
On trips where we head home after a day of skiing, we're ravenous by the time we arrive in Bishop. While we used to subject ourselves to the likes of the fast food options littering Bishop's main street, a little birdie told us about Bishop Burger and our lives have never been the same. Numerous varieties of burgers, fries, onion rings, and a fabulous collection of malts and milkshakes (all of which are made with fresh, non-chemical ridden ingredients) are offered, making this a sublime choice after many days of skiing. For non-beef eaters, they provide an excellent veggie burger.
Although it's off the beaten path, word is out on the high-quality deliciousness at Bishop Burger, as it's always packed. You can save yourself significant wait time by calling in your order (760-920-6567) about 20-minutes before you reach Bishop.
Where to Play
While chilly temps make it tempting to stay in the flannels all day, posted up with a hot drink and book by the fire (and don't worry, there will be plenty of time for that), the captivating beauty of Mammoth, coupled with its copious opportunities for adventure, demand action.
Whether you're in Mammoth for its primo attraction of downhill skiing and boarding, or prefer your snow excursions to be on the mellower side, this resort town has a frosty platter of activities that's sure to please any variety of adventurer. And if you're set on being fireside all day, these thrilling activities will get the family out of the cabin so you can savor some sweet sweet alone time.
Skiing + Snowboarding
The obvious choices, as Mammoth was founded on downhill snow gliding, skiing and snowboarding opportunities abound in Mammoth with five lodges, 3,500 acres of skiable terrain and 28 lifts. Conditions here are often excellent, as they are ideally situated to receive regular snow dumps, make snow when the storms are sparse, and release an army of snowcats every night that groom the runs, ensuring those who pull themselves out of bed early enough can score corduroy runs. But even if you're a late riser, the temps in Mammoth often stay low enough to keep the snow crisp throughout the day.
Because Mammoth is a premier skiing destination, they have rates that match... so if you're looking for a more economical option, sleep + eat in Mammoth, but ski at nearby June Mountain, which offers family-friendly and affordable slopes. If you're set on Mammoth, and plan to ski more than four days in the season, you can score a serious price break by investing in the Ikon Pass, or Ikon Base Pass.
Tip: If you'll be on the mountain during a storm, check the wind forecast. If winds will be high plan to stick to the lower lifts, as it's likely that lifts heading to the top of the mountain will be closed, or unbearable.
Cross Country Skiing
While downhill skiing is the thing to do if you're seeking thrills, cross country skiing is where it's at for in-depth, jaw dropping sightseeing. Mother Nature has blessed Mammoth Lakes with natural wonders so extraordinary you half expect Anna and Elsa to jump out of the forest and start singing you a ballad you'll never get out of your head. To fully commune with this splendor you need to strap on some toothpick-esque skies and get to gliding.
To ensure you have the right equipment (and know how to use it), don't get lost, and generally have the tools for a life changing foray across the sparkling floor of Mammoth's pine forests, head to Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center. Tamarack offers all the essentials, including guides for those who don't want to take full responsibility for their family's safety while exploring the frozen woods (which is us - we're happy to forfeit responsibility any day.)
As dreamy as this all sounds, you should know that it's a work out. Cross country skiing is certainly easier to get the hang of than downhill skiing, but will require effort. So if you're going out with younger children, or you're knocked up, request an easier trail and take your sweet time.
Blasting across the snow without having to do much more than hang on is delightful. Mammoth is a renowned destination for snowmobile junkies, as it offers over 95 square miles of groomed and ungroomed trails, open expanses to explore, and reputable rental and tour companies.
While there are plenty of local businesses touting snowmobiles, our favorites are DJ's Snowmobile Adventures and the snowmobile outfit run by Mammoth Mountain, which is located at Main Lodge. These options offer snowmobile rentals and guided tours at reasonable rates, and have professional guides that create safe and stimulating adventures. But before you get the kiddos stoked on the idea, know that the minimum age for passengers is 5, and all drivers must have a driver's license.
Woolly's Tube Park and Snow Play
If you're still raring for snow sliding after getting off the slopes, head to Woolly's Tube Park where a tube-lift will pull you to the top of a series of groomed lanes. For the little littles, they have a Snow Play area to craft a snowman, ride in slow circles on a tube-merry-go-round (which is pretty hilarious), enjoy photos ops in various festive, perfectly cheesy cutouts, and stir up an epic snowball fight. And because nothing compliments physical activity in the snow like warm sugar, you can complete your tube park adventure with hot cocoa and snacks on the their heated porch. If you're driving down from Main Lodge or The Mill, the tube park will be on your left before you reach The Village.
Tip: While children 12 and under ride free, tickets for older children and adults can be a bit steep. If you'd rather skip the fees and put extra effort into your sledding endeavors, consider the below activity.
Unless you're visiting Mammoth at the very beginning or end of ski season, there's likely a decent amount of sledable snow on the side of the 203 (the road that leads to Main Lodge and The Mill.) First off, purchase a sled at one of the many sports shops (or bring one from home) then find a gentle slope on the side of the 203. There are numerous areas with expanses of snow that aren't not too steep, too flat, or littered with pine trees.
Just drive slow and find a safe area to pull over on the shoulder when you see an area worth exploring. Have one adult scope out the area, ensuring there aren't any drop offs or deep pockets of snow, and resist the urge to travel deep into the woods - you should always be able to see the car. Finally, do a test run before you put the kids on the sled, verifying the sled comes to a stop in a safe area, and then revel in your free sledding.
Scenic Gondola Ride
Because Bailey is too chicken to ski off the top of Mammoth Mountain, she takes the round trip scenic gondola ride with Hudson on each visit. When friends later ask if she made it to the top, and how the runs were, she can smile and nod, telling them that the runs had snow on them. With that said, it still takes guts to ride in a cable-suspended-pod to a 11,053-foot-high mountaintop. If you're panic-attack-scared of heights, just skip it. But if you're only kinda scared, do it - it's a breathtaking experience as the gondola drops you off at the Eleven53 Interpretative Center and Cafe where you can discover the dramatic geologic, natural and cultural history of the area and bask in the glory of 360 degree views. Be sure to take photos outside by the summit sign, where you can take a page from Bailey's playbook and snap a pic with your gear, even if you have no intention of using it.
Tip: Get 20% off scenic gondola tickets if you purchase in advance.
Woolly’s Saturday Parade at The Village Plaza
Get the chance to meet Mammoth's giant, hairy, tusked and mute local celebrity Woolly during his (or her?) weekly parade in The Village Plaza. Parade events run from 3:45pm to 4:30pm, every Saturday, during ski season and include face-painting, a dance party with the ski and snowboard school crew, complimentary cocoa from Huski Chocolate (it runs out, so show up at 3:45pm to make sure you score the goods), photos with Woolly, Huck, Goldie and Bucky, and of course, a parade with the whole hairy gang. Mammoth also offers a slew of other events, like helmet decorating, apres ski parties, and other family-friendly social treats throughout the season.
Tip: These parades can get hectic, so if you have little ones keep them close, and if you have big ones make a plan for where to meet after the parade if you get separated.
Natural Hot Springs
When some people hear the term "natural hot springs" their mind's nose elicits the lovely smell of rotten eggs. But your nose has nothing to fear in Mammoth, as its hot springs are sulphur-fee and don't smell like Mother Nature farted. These springs are 15-minutes outside town and provide spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. They make you feel like you're in a movie (a happy one, during a music montage), especially if it starts snowing, as it did when we were there the night of Bailey's 30th birthday.
If you're visiting with kids, go earlier than later to avoid the rowdier crowds, and be forewarned that there may be naked people. And hey, maybe those naked people will be you - no judgment - it feels good to be free ;-) Just prepare your kids for potential butt sightings.
Note: The Internet says Shepherd Hot Springs is "permanently closed," but we were just there (as of the date this is being written - January 16, 2019). Hopefully that doesn't mean the tub is filled with a mysterious bacteria and we're now going to sprout eleventh toes... We'll keep you posted.