Peace and Quiet at Big Bear Lake, CALIFORNIA

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.

A blue So Cal sky reflecting in Big Bear Lake.

A blue So Cal sky reflecting in Big Bear Lake.

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.

Pine Knot Guest Ranch has cozy cabins, some with fireplaces and jacuzzis.

Pine Knot Guest Ranch has cozy cabins, some with fireplaces and jacuzzis.

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.

Mouth-watering veggie sandwich from Amangela's.

Mouth-watering veggie sandwich from Amangela’s.

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.

The Village at Big Bear Lake.

The Village at Big Bear Lake.

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.

We bid farewell reluctantly and look forward to another visit.

We bid farewell reluctantly and look forward to our next visit.

Photos by Kiana Laing.


  1. Pine Knot Guest Ranch on October 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Hey Collin, thanks for taking the time to include us in your post and we’re really happy you enjoyed your stay up here in Big Bear!

    The holidays are coming up soon and we’d love to have you back for another visit, once the snow’s down that’s when the fun goes down up here I guess you could say. (Extra cheese, if you please.)

    Pine Knot Guest Ranch

  2. ron on October 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Enjoyed your article and was a reminder that i must return after ten year adsence…..thanks.

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