Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite, California

Mammoth Lakes, once a gold mine town, rests at a 7,880-foot elevation in California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. Trout-stocked alpine lakes, granite mountain crags, and lush pine forests dot the region. Cross-country ski in the winter and ride horseback on the summer trails. For deep outdoor relaxation, head east a few miles from town to the Hot Creek Geothermal Area and soak in one of this area's best natural hot springs.

Pack a lunch and some sturdy shoes, and head up to Convict Lake for hiking and fishing. Check out the unusual basalt columns and waterfalls of Devils Postpile National Monument. Explore the former mining village and now ghost town of Bodie. Ride a gondola to the Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center. Just a 45-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes takes you to the edge of Yosemite National Park.

Wake up with an espresso and a pastry from Looney Bean Coffee. Opt for a healthy but tasty lunch with an Alpen salad or a Carnivore sandwich at Stellar Brew & Deli. Indulge in après-ski treats like baked brie, lobster taquitos, and a glass of wine at Toomey's.

Next Stop: Mammoth

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