Bound for Big Bear
Who needs Aspen when Big Bear Lake is less than three hours away? The mountain town packs in two ski resorts plus beloved little eateries, a new boutique wine bar, and a recently opened park for boarders.
November in Big Bear
Santa’s Grand Entrance and Tree-Lighting Ceremony (November 23)
Resorts open by Thanksgiving
Flashlight Safari nighttime tours, Big Bear Alpine Zoo (through November 10)
For gargantuan scones and your pre-ski cup of joe, stop into The Copper Q (645 Pine Knot Boulevard), a pastry and espresso bar with specialties like apple cider spiced chai lattes, while learning culinary tricks via in-store cooking demos. Rub elbows with locals at Teddy Bear (583 Pine Knot Avenue) over a heaping plate of eggs Benedict, or head to the long-standing breakfast institution Grizzly Manor Café (41268 Big Bear Boulevard) for home-style fare like bigger-than-your-head pancakes and affectionately named heaps of food, “the mess” and “the blob.” No sweet tooth is truly satisfied without a visit to North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co. (618 Pine Knot Boulevard), where kids and adults line up for confections like chocolate caramel pecan fudge, rocky road caramel apples, and old-fashioned dipped ice cream bars. To unwind après-ski, enjoy boutique pours, micro-brewed beers, and light bites at Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room (40645 Village Drive), Big Bear’s newest hot spot and the town’s first-ever wine bar.
Come November, Bear Mountain (43101 Goldmine Drive) and Snow Summit (880 Summit Boulevard) open for the winter season. With more than 55 runs and a combined skiable area of 438 acres, each mountain dishes out something different for both first-timers and seasoned skiers. Snowboarders should head straight to Bear Mountain, where jumps, rails, and one of the country’s top terrain parks awaits. Up for a challenge? Bear will unveil the new Red Bull Park Plaza for the 2012-13 season, a city-inspired collection of wall rides, staircases, and urban ledges made to please the advanced crowd.
At Snow Summit, families will enjoy making turns on “miracle mile,” but experts should save their strength for more vertically challenging runs, including The Wall and Olympic. Looking for solo time on the slopes? Pop the kids into Little Bear Ski School, where they’ll learn how to “french fry” and “pizza” with the best of them. To stay clear of lines, jump on chairs 5, 6, 7, and 10, or head west with the family to ski through the super-scenic family park via chair 9. For shredders, ride down world-famous Westridge—the site of the first Winter X Games—and hone your skills on a variety of beginner-friendly features. Lift tickets are good at both mountains, so hop on the inter-resort shuttle and check out both hills for the price of one. The catch? There is none. For those who aren’t quite ready to strap in, visit Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain (800 Wildrose Lane) for a wintry bobsled-like experience, or jump in an inner tube and race to the bottom.
Sprawl out in a rustic log cabin built in the 1920s at Timberhaven Lodge (877 Tulip Lane) or nestle up near the slopes at Eagle’s Nest Bed and Breakfast Lodge (41675 Big Bear Boulevard.). To sooth sore muscles after a long day on-hill, take a trip to The Village Spa & Wellness Center (40729 Village Drive) or let Chelsea at Big Bear Mobile Massage (909-747-9696) bring a five-star treatment to you.