“Baby, you’re a firework!”
It’s late in the evening and you’re standing under a sparkling sky, but it’s not the stars you’re looking at. One after another the fireworks burst into brilliant flickers of color and shape. Your kids are gazing, not down at their cell phones, but up into space while a grin turns into a smile turns into a laugh with each pop. As you glance at the crowd surrounding your family you realize it really is like that Katy Perry song. You hear the crowd say “oh, oh, oh” with each flash shooting across the sky. It might be a chilly New Year’s Eve, but the sights and sounds are keeping you warm.
Mammoth Lakes in California is a perfect little mountain town tucked into the Eastern Sierra with rugged mountains surrounding calm alpine lakes. This place screams outdoor adventure. In the winter the area’s snow covered peaks beckon snowboarders and skiers. But what really keeps people returning to this mountain town is the sense of community the town shows its visitors. With the holidays just around the corner, Mammoth Lakes is ready to welcome you and no place better defines that community spirit than The Village at Mammoth.
The Village at Mammoth opened in the spring of 2003 providing a gathering place for locals and visitors to relax, dine and relive their mountain adventures in a comfortable atmosphere. The Village is one a stop shop for visitors because of the mix of lodging, retail and dining options and most importantly, gondola access to the mountain. The Village itself serves a variety of functions from family check point, to business meeting place to concert venue and movie theater in the summer. This time of year the plaza becomes a festive Winter Wonderland.
During the holiday season the kids can enjoy Woolly’s Saturday Parades. Held every Saturday (except December 19) Mammoth’s mascot Woolly leads his friends around The Village with music and dancing. The fun starts with face painting at 3:45 p.m. and party favors get passed out shortly after. Woolly the Mammoth arrives at 4 p.m. with his friends Huck the Bear, Goldie the Eagle and Bucky the Deer for a parade of people around the plaza.
When the parade ends, it’s no coincidence that après ski begins. For parents, a late afternoon cocktail in The Village is a must. The hard part is selecting a place. 53 Kitchen & Cocktails has a variety of specialty cocktails with international flavors. Try the Jimi with Hendricks Gin, St. Germaine, and fresh lemon and hand-pressed cucumber for an afternoon refresher. For the adventurous try the Ol’ Smoky with Hickory Smoked Vodka and a house BBQ tomato mix with secret spices. Campo brings a slice of Naples, Italy, to the village with its wood-fired pizzas and both kids and adults can enjoy the large patio with bocce ball court. You’ll forget to keep score while enjoying the large selection of wines, cocktails and local brews from Mammoth Brewery and June Lake Brewing on tap. Also, only in The Village can you snow ski all day and relax under a thatched roof at night. Lakanuki Tiki Bar is an island oasis complete with totem bar stools and bamboo chaises. While the kids have non-alcoholic frozen daiquiris, parents can enjoy such tropical libations as Rum Runners, Mai Tais and Pina Coladas.
On a brisk, but sunny afternoon, some kids are enjoying a game of Ladder Golf in the plaza. Three boys and one girl take turns lofting two brightly colored plastic balls connected by a string in the air. Wrapping the balls around a ladder of PVC pipes is the goal. The pipes have three rungs and if they can get the string to wrap around the lowest rung, the most difficult to catch, they earn three points. The kids groan in unison when one catches the bottom rung, but instead unwind and fall to the ground. This is just a sampling of daily life in The Village. Kids and adults can play other games such as a giant Jenga, table tennis, bean bags and checkers while three fire pits keep everyone warm. Music is piped through the plaza sound system during the day. If it’s not too chilly, Gomez’ Restaurant has a sand box with toys for the littlest ones to dig around in.
The Village is center of activity on a Mammoth winter vacation. Besides dining, there are shops including Busy Bee’s General Store which has everything you need or may have forgotten from home. After a day on the slopes a visit to Simple Massage Body Boutique is in order. Give your sweet tooth a fix at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Need more gear? Alpine Approach and McCoy’s will get you suited up no matter what the Eastern Sierra weather brings.
As the holidays get closer, The Village shines brighter. At the Night of Lights on December 19, guests will get a sample of what’s to come on New Year’s Eve. Take the gondola to Canyon Lodge for family activities from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. including snowmobile rides, a sledding hill and face painting. At 5 p.m. food concessions open and live music begins. Watch in wonder at the torchlight parade down the slope while the fireworks explode at 6:45 p.m. There is even an On-Snow After-Party with Santa at 7:30 p.m. The event is free to attend, but special viewing with food packages on the roof of Canyon Lodge are available for purchase.
All this is merely a tune up to the big show on New Year’s Eve when The Village really shines. The fun starts with stilt performers in the plaza at 4:30 p.m. That turns into a live music concert from 6 to 9 p.m. The fireworks spectacular that will leave your family breathless starts at 9:15 p.m. The early fireworks show means the little ones don’t have stay awake past their bedtimes to enjoy New Year’s Eve. For adults, however, the night is just beginning.
The Mammoth New Year’s Eve Party at Canyon Lodge starts at 9:30 p.m. with two DJs and special guest performers. Tickets for General Admission and VIP Lounge packages to the NYE party are available through The Village at Mammoth website. But no one has to leave the plaza to find a party. The Village will be hopping all evening long. Both 53 Kitchen and Cocktails and Gomez’s Restaurant along with Petra’s Bistro and Wine Bar and Smokeyard BBQ and Chop House will have New Year’s Eve dinners with music and fun after the fireworks.
The Village at Mammoth is a merry place to make memories this holiday. Get ski and lodging information from The Village’s website or from VisitMammoth.com and lift tickets from Mammoth Mountain.com.
If You Go
Getting there: Mammoth Lakes is 325 miles north of Los Angeles, 259 miles east of San Francisco and only 164 miles from Reno, NV. Visitors can fly into Mammoth Lakes/Yosemite Airport on Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles and on United from San Francisco.
Where to stay: The Westin Monache Resort next to The Village has a variety of studios, and one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites. The resort is dog friendly and has a heated outdoor pool, Westin Workout fitness studio, ski and snowboard rentals and free local shuttle.