California's premier ski destination, Big Bear Lake houses two handsome peaks – Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. With one lift ticket, visitors can access both resorts. And with these two mountains in the area, that means that the village is double the fun – family amusement centers, friendly mountain diners and comfort restaurants, a zoo, nature discovery centers, tons of hometown apres ski locales, and more. People who go tend to go year after year and become regulars themselves – L.A. might be big and sunny, but snowcapped peaks it don't got, you feel?
So grab those sunglasses and jump in the car – Big Bear Lake is two hours east of Los Angeles, almost three hours from San Diego and 3.5 from Las Vegas.
One of the largest ski areas in Southern California and an attractive vacation getaway for families, Snow Summit covers 240 skiable acres at a top elevation of 8,174 feet. Etched in the snow are 31 trails, evenly distributed to suit any ability level, serviced by 14 lifts. With an annual snowfall of 100 inches with more coming out of its impressive snow making machine, Snow Summit is a consistently top destination for Southern Californian snow-faring families.
At the beginning, back in 1959, the Moonridge Animal Park opened following a tremendous wildfire throughout the San Bernardino National Forest to take in and rehabilitate injured animals in the area. Now it's similar to a typical zoo, home to over 85 species and educating visitors to the natural wildlife in Southern California by holding events, feeding tours and presentations by the zookeepers, but its primary mandate is still to take in injured animals and nurse them until they're strong enough to go out into the wilderness.
Nothing is more classically fun than sliding down a mountain slope really fast. Sports were invented to facilitate this activity, as we've seen, and very often they are grouped together when there is a mountain large enough: skiing, snowboard, tubing, it's all just a way to make gravity much more fun. So it's no surprise that the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is a hit with kids both young and old. Open all year round, two quarter-mile cement tracks offer just enough high banks and long straight ways for each operator of these sleds to have the time of their lives.
Since 2003, the Peppercorn Grille has been serving elevated steakhouse staples to the ski community and residents of Big Bear and gaining a reputation for it. Seafood, steaks, salads and pizza, all assembled by an expert hand paired with a label from their extensive wine list are reasons to keep visitors and regulars coming back.
Go for the heaping plates of massive pancakes and other breakfast goodies, the bottomless java and caffeine-buzzed atmosphere, and the friendly service. Before a long day of skiing or hiking, it's best to fuel up on eggs, plate-sized pancakes and huge sides of hash browns. Not to mention the coffee, because for days on the mountain, coffee is key. The locals and all the patient diners waiting in line agree – this is a mountain diner you're going to want to visit.
Photo by Mallard Bay Resort via Facebook[/caption]
For convenient lodging near Big Bear Lake, half a mile from the shops, cafes and restaurants of Big Bear Village, Mallard Bay Resort offers studio rooms and fully equipped rental cabins. Those sailing in will be able to hitch their rides to the private boat docks while they go fishing or take a swim in the heated pool or enjoy a barbecue on the grounds.