There is something to be said about going “off-season” to Big Bear Lake – the roads are open, the village square is quieter, and there’s little need for dinner reservations.
The record-breaking heat in LA had taken its toll and it was time for a change of scenery. With just a couple of clicks and a few days later, our impromptu trip to the mountains began. After the winding climb up highway 330, we inhaled the fresh mountain air, admiring the tree-lined vistas and sprawling landscapes of gorgeous green. We were happy to discover the quaint Pine Knot Guest Ranch, which sits tucked away in a perfect location, just a few blocks from The Village (Big Bear Lake’s main drag). For fear of giving away what I now consider a secret gem, I hesitate to reveal just how fantastic Cabin 20 was (aka Brooke’s Bridle Sweet). Perched above the other cabins with a partial view of the lake (and llamas!), we couldn’t have asked for a better stay. For a couple of relaxing days, we were the lucky tenants of a spacious cabin, equipped with a kitchenette, stone fireplace, big screen TV, and a jacuzzi, positioned front-and-center for optimal movie-watching.
After we got settled, we decided to stroll into town and check out the few blocks that make-up The Village, comprised of souvenir and curio shops, clothing stores and restaurants. We had low expectations for mountain cuisine, but were surprised to discover some great food finds. My personal favorite, and an absolute must-try for the lunch crowd was Amangela’s, a hip mom-and-pop shop with fresh-baked bread, homemade hummus and a mean veggie sandwich. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and smoothies and headed to the water for a lakeside picnic.
Big Bear Lake is stocked with a slew of water sport rentals and activities to keep anyone busy for days, making it a great destination for families during the warmer weather months. Classic Californian scenes enfolded in front of us – kids letting loose, while their parents soaked up the rays of sunshine bouncing off the lake. Kayakers can get an early start and make use of the glassy morning waters to enjoy the subtle blue reflections that only a sunrise can deliver.
After a lazy afternoon in our cabin, we headed over to Peppercorn Grille, a pleasant cottage-inspired restaurant, and home to some of the best ravioli we’ve ever had. Owned by a local, the restaurant produces delicious Italian dishes, served by a professional staff, in an intimate environment. During nice weather, be sure to sit outside and take in the charm of the village. For those who want to keep the party going after dinner, head over to Whiskey Dave’s for some strong drinks.
The best part of a Big Bear mountain escape is that it’s remote enough to channel your inner Thoreau and work on the next great American novel, but close enough to grab a slice of piping hot pizza at Saucy Mama’s when hunger strikes. It’s this balance between the Great Frontier and Smalltown USA that keeps couples, families and adventure-seekers alike, flocking to Big Bear Lake year-round. Between the picnicking and 70-degree strolls, not a snowflake was missed.
Photos by Kiana Laing.