I have friends coming over from Florida around Christmas and want to go for a day trip for some snow fun. I live in San Jose but have never gone to any of the "snow resort" places around California. I found from people and online that folks love going to Lake Tahoe area or Yosemite. If I want to drive to one of the places, get a few hours there, and drive back home by night (say, 9 or 10pm), what are my options?
Should I go Tahoe side or Yosemite side? In either case, what places specifically? None of us have ever done any "snow sports" as such, so obviously we would only be trying out very basic fun things like a little snowboarding or snow tubing etc. None of us are looking for serious skiing slopes or pro level stuff.
I have a 2012 Honda Civic, car is mechanically in perfect condition, but I have never driven in snow nor do I know exactly how bad the roads can get at either places. We will be going in the weekend before Christmas, in case anyone has any idea about current conditions. Can I safely take this car or should I rather be safe and rent a 4WD vehicle for a day and go? What about chains? Where to buy them and how to install them? Does it affect normal driving in any way?
Any tips or suggestions welcome!