LA’s Great Escapes: Big Bear

There are so many exciting, delicious, wild, heart-beating cultural capitals of this world, but I believe Los Angeles has one thing over the others. It has so many escapes. When the smog, cars, and stress at jobs have you by the throat, L.A. has many roads leading out to desirable adventures. There is Joshua Tree, Laguna Beach, Las Vegas, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Mexico to name a few; but this time I want to talk about Big Bear.

In a short two hours driving through the winding mountains, you can experience a full range of activities and seasons. Here are just some tempting reasons for you to pack your car and get out there.

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SUMMER

  1. Cool off. Rent a jet-ski, kayak or paddleboard and swim in the lake. There are a few boating services, I personally use North Shore Landing for their reasonable prices and efficiency.
  2. Go hiking. There are many spots, a great summer hike is Castle Rock Trail. It is a two-mile hike round trip, with much incline but rewarding views. For those who love rocks, there are many rocks to climb and there are grand lookout points at the top with views of all the boats on the lake.
  3. Check out the Alpine slide and water slide at Magic Mountain.
  4. Grab some bubble tea or gelato after a big hike at An Ran Ju’s gelato & tea house. If you bring your dog, he can get a scoop also.

 

 

FALL

There are so many options of what you can do here in the fall, it all depends on what kind of weekend you want.

  1. Don’t miss Oktoberfest. No, you don’t have to go to Munich. You and your freundens can gorge yourselves on all the weissbier and bratwurst right here in Big Bear,  from September 9th-October 28th at the Convention Center.
  2. Go horseback riding 10 minutes away from Big Bear at Baldwin Lake Stables. Starting at $55 an hour, you can go horseback riding through the fall leaves and sometimes even snow in the fall. It is all year round, and you can even take home a free horseshoe.
  3. Go on a hike to see the fall foliage. A great autumn hike is at Aspen Grove trail. It is a trail full of golden aspen trees where you will experience the best fall colors. (Before you go, check to see if it is open to the public because they recently had some fires.)
  4. Grab a cider or beer at Big Bear Mountain Brewery. Unpretentious, homey and local, this brewpub has been serving the mountain community for almost 20 years.
  5. Get spooked at Scare Valley Farms haunted hayride. They have clowns, demons and live electrocutions all waiting for you in the woods.

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Winter

This what makes Big Bear a great escape. What kind of godsend is L.A., where you could live in a city with sun and a temperature of 70’s every single day but then drive two hours east and ski in the snow? With these escapes to Big Bear, you can cheat mother nature.

Besides skiing this is your Angeleno chance to be cozy, smell the crisp cold air and have the need for snow boots, nevertheless a jacket. There are many things you can do in Big Bear to make an experience an enchanted winter.

  1. Last week of November you can officially start Christmas with the lighting of the Christmas Tree and the grand entrance of Santa Claus. This year it will be on Friday Nov.27th at Big Bear Village starting at 5 p.m.
  2. Ski or snowboard at either Bear Mountain or Snow Summit. Or snow tube at Big Bear Snowplay if you are like me and don’t trust yourself with boards and sticks to hold you up barreling down a mountain.
  3. Winter is a great time for the most intimate hikes with nature, you can hear the whistle of wind through the pines and hear of the crunch of snow under your boots.  To hike safely you can rent snowshoes at any ski rental store such as Ski Haus, Blauer Ski Rentals, or Goldsmiths Sports. Some beautiful winter hikes are at Grand View Summit, where you can enjoy isolation and panoramic views. Or at Alpine Pedal Path, if you rather hike without the worry of snowshoes.
  4. Get a candied apple or a warm hot chocolate at the North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Company.
  5. Rent a cabin for you and your friends. Some of my best memories were times in winter cabins; something about the wooden beam ceilings and eggnog by fires surrounded by snowy pines are warm memories that you can’t get in the city.        Airbnb is my suggestion any time traveling, but some trusted rental cabin companies are Big Bear Cool Cabins, Big Bear Vacations, and Golden Bear Cottages.

 

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Spring

Spring can last in Big Bear till April, so there is plenty of time to experience snow. Yet, when the mountains do begin to awaken, springtime in Big Bear it is very pleasant. There are fewer people and the flowers are blooming and less shy. You can have more intimate walks through nature and better chance to mingle with the locals in town. Springtime is the underrated season to be in Big Bear.

  1. Go ziplining, and see all the fresh new colors the post-winter season brings. Action Tours has 9 zip lines, a suspension bridge and if you like to go offroading they have Swiss Army Vehicles you can take for an adventure.
  2. Check out the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. There are only two zoos in the United States that are alpine zoos, and that includes Big Bear. It is also a great zoo to support because that it is a rehab zoo, that releases any local alpine species.
  3. Go fishing. Fishing season on Big Bear Lake officially opens on April 1st. Some fishing guides and marinas are Fish Big Bear Charter Services, Holloway’s Marina or Big Bear Fishing Charter.
  4. Walk around the old town of Fawnskin. Just across the lake, you will find the charming tiny town of Fawnskin. Home to gold miners and lodgers in the 19th century and attracting artists and musicians later in the 20th century; it is a small town, but one worth exploring.

 

Whether you go to Big Bear for summer lake swims or go to quiet the mind, these year-round experiences are what make Big Bear so special. It gives southern Californians the chance to experience seasons and fresh air without driving six hours up north. It is our southern sanity, our haven. At any season you will have plenty of things to do for a weekend or vacation and that is why it is one of L.A.’s many great escapes.

 

 

 

 

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