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Mammoth Mountain

Yes, Mammoth is the nearest “true big mountain” to Los Angeles. But snow-loving Californians migrate to this windswept and view-blessed knob in the eastern Sierra for reasons beyond the obvious. Mammoth’s natural terrain variety (no. 4) is among North America’s best, delivering quality and abundance across the spectrum: broad beginner boulevards, corduroy fall-line carvers, piney glades, radical steeps. Its 3,500-plus scenic and open acres are sunkissed yet get hammered with more than 33 feet of mostly dry high-altitude snow annually. Lifts (no. 7) are swift and well laid out. Off-slope, the Village at Mammoth has matured into the amenity the diffuse Town of Mammoth Lakes needs. “The biggest weakness at Mammoth” according to one reader: “You can’t ski between Fourth of July and Halloween.” —S.R.

Must Do » Sample the best of Mammoth Brewing Company’s 17 years of awardwinning craft creations in its tasting room.

Bragging Rights » The Paranoids, steep, narrow and technical chutes, drop precipitously off of Mammoth’s crest. Yikes.

What’s New» A high-speed quad replaces Chair 5; direct flights from San Diego and Orange County bring the number of cities connecting to Mammoth Lakes Airport up to five.

The Mammoth Three Way Challenge

The Mammoth Three Way Challenge
mammoth 3-way
When you think 4th of July, you probably think: fireworks, cookouts, and beach-side festivities. When the people at Mammoth think of 4th of July they think: skiing, golfing, and mountain biking.

Mammoth Mountain had a record year for snowfall, which means they’ll be open through July 5. Even though they have snow, its still summer, and they’re opening their Mountain Bike Park on June 25. Mountain biking and skiing in the same day—an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. To make things even better, The Sierra Star golf course, located just five miles from Mammoth Mountain opened June 11, and is collaborating with the mountain for 10 days to provide skiers with discounted golfing if they skied that day.

Woah Nellie Deli

Woah Nellie Deli
woah nellie deli
The best food you'll ever find inside a gas station.

You’ve never seen a gas station quite like this before. If you’re driving to Mammoth from the north on Highway 395, you’ll pass a Mobile gas station in the tiny town of Lee Vining, near the shores of Mono Lake. Inside this Mobile station, you’ll find the Whoa Neli Deli, where chef Matt Toomey whips up fish tacos with ginger coleslaw, mango salsa, and Brazilian black beans. The menu also includes such specialties as wild buffalo meatloaf, lobster taquitos, and herb crusted grilled pork tenderloin.

Good Life Café

Good Life Café
Good Life Café
Enjoy Mexican food on a sunny patio.

For a local’s favorite, casual lunch spot, go to The Good Life Café on Old Mammoth Road. They serve breakfast all day—try the eye opener, grilled Cajun mahi mahi with eggs, brown rice, and corn tortillas, or the gobbler benedict, eggs benedict made with turkey instead of ham. On sunny days, ask to sit on their outdoor patio. The menu is a mix of American (salads, burgers, and sandwiches), Mexican (burritos, enchiladas, Baja fish tacos) and California healthy cuisine (like the “healthy wrap” or the “living large salad”). They also serve beer, wine, and thick and creamy milkshakes.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club
Pancake stack
The best breakfast spot in town.

Open from 6 am to 1 pm and located at the corner of Highway 203 and Old Mammoth Road, the Breakfast Club is where locals go to fuel up for a big day of backcountry skiing and where tourists go to grease over their hangovers. You can get a blueberry muffin or an egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich to go or sit down and enjoy huevos rancheros, chocolate chip pancakes, or biscuits and gravy. They don’t take credit cards, so bring cash. This place is almost as good as the 1985 John Hughes movie starring Emilio Estevez and Molly Ringwald.

Whiskey Creek

Whiskey Creek
whiskey creek
Mammoth's rowdiest spot for happy hour also serves good steak and potatoes.

A good spot for happy hour, group dinners, or late-night drinking, Whiskey Creek, on the corner of Main Street and Minaret Road, is a steak-and-potatoes kind of place in a rustic mountain setting. After skiing, go to Whiskey Creek for one of Mammoth’s rowdiest happy hour spots, where between 4 and 5:30, you can get four dollars off pitchers of beer (try an ale from Mammoth Brewing Company) and half-priced bar menu snacks like spicy chicken wings, artichoke dip, or calamari. Or go for dinner for menu items like bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

Mammoth Mountain Inn.

Mammoth Mountain Inn.
mammoth mountain inn
The closest hotel to Mammoth Mountain.

The closest hotel to Mammoth Mountain, the Mammoth Mountain Inn is literally located in the ski resort parking lot, elevation 9,000 feet. New this year: Guests of the inn receive a free copy of Mammoth Adventures, a new guide book with details on the best local outdoor activities, including hikes, hot springs, skiing, and more. Condo units come with kitchens and dining rooms, and all suites have access to the indoor spas, outdoor heated swimming pool, on-site child care, free airport transfers to the Mammoth airport, town shuttle, on-site ski rental shop and overnight ski valet.

Double Eagle Resort

Double Eagle Resort
double eagle
So much going on you won't want to stay inside.

Just 20 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and a few minutes from the small ski area of June Mountain, The Double Eagle Resort and Spa has 16 rooms, plus 15 two-bedroom cabins with kitchens, outdoor barbecues, and indoor wood-burning fireplaces. But you won’t come to stay inside: The resort is located on 13 acres surrounded by lakes, skiing, and fishing. Finish the day with a hot-stone massage at the award-winning Creekside Spa. The on-site Eagle’s Landing Restaurant serves made-to-order omelets, French toast, and more for breakfast.

The Westin Monache Resort

The Westin Monache Resort
Room service—particularly with choices like mac and cheese made with tallegio and truffles—is a new concept in Mammoth. And while 32-inch flatscreen TVs, fireplaces and plush robes make in-room dining at this 230-suite condo hotel particularly appealing, guests find it easy to venture out. The Village at Mammoth and a gondola to the slopes stand some 75 steps downhill from the Westin’s ski valet. Even so, the hotel’s free shuttle ferries guests on the 60-second drive. Après-ski, families splash in the heated pool amid big views before dropping the children at the free Kid’s Club while adults repair to the postmodern environs of Whitebark for epicurean eats. $299–$1,079; 760-934-0400; westin.com
Book a ski-and-stay package at Mammoth's Westin, which is walking distance to the gondola, and get a $20 tab for après ski drinks.

Book a studio or a one- or two-bedroom suite at the Westin Monache Resort, located across from the Village at Mammoth and walking distance to the gondola that accesses the ski resort. The on-site Whitebark Restaurant is a popular lounge spot for après ski and features a new sushi menu. Resort amenities include free town shuttle, ski and snowboard rentals, a kids’ center, and more. Good news for pet owners: Dogs are welcome, and the hotel even provides a Westin Heavenly Dog Bed, food bowl and mat, water bowl, and a dog amenity kit.

Cinnamon Bear Inn

Cinnamon Bear Inn
Cinnamon Bear Inn
Going on a romantic weekend to Mammoth? The Cinnamon Bear Inn is as cute and cozy as it sounds.

Going on a romantic weekend to Mammoth? If you can’t already tell by the name, the Cinnamon Bear Inn is as cute and cozy as it sounds (translation: your girlfriend will think the checkered quilts and vintage, Colonial-style furnishings are kitschy, but still adorable). For the full experience, book the Honeymoon Suite, which has a four-poster canopy bed. It’s also a good spot for families—kids’ rooms come with two twin beds. There’s complimentary breakfast in the morning and hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. Their three-day lift ticket and lodging package starts at $354 per person.

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