Southern California ranks as one of the few places in the world where weather forecasters deliver both surf and snow reports during the same newscast. While surfers can choose from miles of beaches, there is only one resort destination for snow seekers in the know: Big Bear Lake. Surrounded by the San Bernardino Mountain National Forest at an elevation up to 9,000 feet, Big Bear Lake is a mountain resort community within a 100-mile drive from Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Big Bear’s centerpiece is its picturesque lake. Seven miles long with 22 miles of open shoreline and pine-shadowed inlets, the lake is popular year round for fishing, water sports, boating or just savoring the extraordinary alpine beauty and breathing the crisp clean air.
In winter, this wonderland is full of frosty fun for everyone. To begin a perfect winter day in Big Bear fuel up with a hearty breakfast at The Bear Claw Corner Café. The breakfast sandwich is a hot seller and so is the bear claw cinnamon roll, served with a side of warm butter.
From there, trek to Snow Summit, one of two ski areas that comprise Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Along with sister park Bear Mountain, Snow Summit offers dozens of runs, including jumps, grinds and half pipes. Quality snowmaking facilities and expert slope grooming distinguish these resorts from other regional ski areas. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, learning programs and a multitude of other premier services are available.
After a morning on the slopes you’ll be ready for lunch; so mosey on over to the Cowboy Express Steak House where you can order a buffalo burger. Low in cholesterol yet high in protein, the tasty one-third pound fresh ground buffalo patty is charbroiled and served on a giant bun. Yee-ha!
The flurry of snow activity continues in the afternoon at Big Bear Snow Play where you can fly down a snow packed slope on an inner tube. A “magic carpet” conveyor belt whisks you 210-feet to the top where you board a large tube and slide down one of many runs kept fresh from super-powered snowmaking guns. Laughter and screams of joy fill the air, slicing the silence of the wilderness as you experience this thrilling adventure.
Besides tubing, downhill skiing and boarding, Big Bear Lake also offers other winter recreation. From snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to sledding and horseback riding, you will find the perfect activity to round out your afternoon.
As the dinner hour approaches you will find an array of restaurants available to satisfy your palette and fill your tummy after a day playing in the snow. One of the newest dining establishments in town is Sweet Basil Bistro. Featuring fresh Italian cuisine in a casual, cozy atmosphere, Sweet Basil Bistro appeals to all ages. A specialty is lobster lasagna. Baked in a bowl, the dish is served with chunks of sweet lobster and ricotta cheese layered among pasta and a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce, then topped with mozzarella.
Nighttime activities in Big Bear are as varied as the daytime. You can find the bare essentials and much more while shopping at a variety of quaint stores in the charming village area. Trendy mountain-style boutiques along with antique and collectible shops are scattered throughout Big Bear Village offering a wide variety of merchandise for the discerning shopper.
Once you hang up your snow boots for the day, there are many places to bunk. Among them are properties from Mountain West Vacation Rentals that feature first-class accommodations ranging from ski accessible condominiums to lakeside houses. One of the rentals is Laken Haus, a 2,000 square-foot “cabin” which sleeps at least 10 people. With breathtaking lakefront views, the recently remodeled house has a large stone fireplace to warm cold toes and a hot tub to sooth sore muscles.
After a perfect day of shushing under the sensational sun and soaking up the sizzling stars, the thrills and chills of visiting Big Bear Lake in the winter create magical memories that you cannot bear to pass up.
What & Where:
The Bear Claw Corner Café(40729 Village Dr; 909-866-7006)
Snow Summit Mountain Resort (880 Summit Blvd; 909-866-5766)
Cowboy Express Steak House (40433 Lakeview Dr; 909-866-1486)
Big Bear Snow Play (42825 Big Bear Blvd; 909-585-0075)
Mountain West Vacation Rentals (909-273-4171)
Sweet Basil Bistro (40629 Lakeview Drive, Big Bear Lake; (909) 866-9212)