LA Weekends: Big Bear Lake

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DOES ANYONE IN LOS ANGELES HAVE SNOW CHAINS?

Two days before our trip was to begin, Big Bear Mountain received its first big snowfall of the year, big enough that California was requiring all vehicles to have snow chains. I scoffed at the idea–I’ve been skiing in the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes, the dunes of Michigan, and never once have I needed snow chains. But since the police at the checkpoint were unlikely to care about my vehicle’s track record, no pun intended, we stopped at a Walmart at the foot of the mountain to pick up some chains and cheap libations.

We drove to just before the checkpoint and installed the chains–a dirty and somewhat difficult task that you may want to practice beforehand, if you’re not planning to pay someone to do it for you. The ground was still dry here, but soon after the checkpoint, it began to snow more and more until we were in the middle of an outright blizzard.[/one_half][one_half_last]

Listen while you read

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[one_fifth][/one_fifth][three_fifth]Soon we arrived at the Mallard Bay Resort, a collection of small cabins a few miles from the ski slopes and just feet from the lake. The friendly owner met us as we arrived and let us into a cabin with three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. It was obviously oversized for the two of us, but it’s easy to imagine what a blast it could be with a big group of friends. Sitting around the cozy gas fireplace was the next best experience to waking up and drawing the blind to see the sun shining over the bay and six inches of fresh snow. The smell of bacon frying and coffee brewing in the kitchen would be a close third.[/three_fifth][one_fifth_last][/one_fifth_last]

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Soon we were on our way to Snow Summit, one of two ski slopes connected by a shuttle bus. Several of the park’s ten lifts were still closed at the time of our visit, but we were able to find plenty of great runs for all levels of skiers, even without shuttling over to Bear Mountain. The scenery, overlooking Big Bear Lake, is just gorgeous. We’ll definitely be back to check out the night skiing. Lift lines weren’t too long, but food options were surprisingly limited–though, like I said, this was their first big snowfall of the year.
[/one_half][one_half_last]Snow Summit Ski Pass[/one_half_last]

[one_fifth][/one_fifth][three_fifth]Like at most ski resorts, day skiing ended around 4:00, leaving us plenty of time for other activities. Normally the shopping districts near ski resorts are something we would avoid–overpriced, name brand apparel and chintzy [YOUR SKI RESORT HERE] merchandise. But thankfully we found almost exactly the opposite at Big Bear. (Almost to a fault–I didn’t see ANYTHING with Snow Summit written on it.)[/three_fifth][one_fifth_last][/one_fifth_last]


[one_fifth][/one_fifth][three_fifth]We stopped into a cool record shop / instrument shop with a solid selection (focusing on classic rock) before walking over to the North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co., where we passed on the eponymous items for chocolate dipped cheesecake (because we are gluttons of the highest order) at a shockingly reasonable $4. Luck was with us once again as we stumbled into Jasper’s Smokehouse and Steaks, where everything we tasted was absolutely incredible.[/three_fifth][one_fifth_last][/one_fifth_last]

[one_half]The only problem with the town was that many shops closed fairly early. We had to return the next day to do some Christmas shopping at Stupidiotic, a store full of gag items (though some practical ones) that reminded us a bit of the pirate supply store we visited in San Francisco.

In stark contrast was our next destination, the Mill Creek Manor Tea Room. We mostly just dropped in out of curiosity–a tea room seemed liked it would be an experience, and it was. I’ll let the pictures do justice to the kind of setting we’re talking about, but the huge selection of delicious-smelling teas and the choice of some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted made for a satisfying afternoon. You’re supposed to make reservations if you want the real “high tea” experience, but we just popped in and added some minestrone to make it a meal, which was homemade and outstanding. This place is a bit of an expenditure, but worth the cost of the experience and the great food.[/one_half][one_half_last][/one_half_last]

[one_fifth][/one_fifth][three_fifth]Another attraction that piqued our curiosity was the snow luge at Magic Mountain, which we noticed on our way to the ski slope. A double chairlift takes you up a slope where you’re given a wheeled toboggan with a handbrake that slides you down what looks like a giant water slide. Definitely worth a couple of runs. In addition to their “Alpine Slide,” Magic Mountain has go-karts, a small arcade and a tubing hill. I didn’t expect much from tubing after the previous day’s skiing, but it turned out to be a blast. You grab a tube–real inner tubes–and ride a moving-walkway to the top of slope. Then it’s no rules. It’s liked sledding but more comfortable, faster, and without having to walk repeatedly back up the hill. Plus, it’s open at night.

There’s a lot happening at Big Bear we didn’t mention, including our lodge’s pool and hot tub, Big Bear Lake, the hiking trails… but that’s because they’re summer activities. Big Bear, we gather, is a whole ‘nother place in the summer. We had such a great time this winter, we’ll be back again, sun or snow.[/three_fifth][one_fifth_last][/one_fifth_last]

ESTABLISHMENTS MENTIONED AND RECOMMENDED:
[one_fourth]MALLARD BAY RESORT
214 Lagunita Lane
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-2526[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]SNOW SUMMIT
880 Summit Blvd
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-5766
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[one_fourth]NORTH POLE FUDGE CO.
618 Pine Knot Boulevard
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-7622[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]JASPERS SMOKEHOUSE
607 Pine Knot Boulevard
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-2434[/one_fourth_last]

[one_fourth]STUPIDIOTIC
672 Pine Knot
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(800) 548-9958[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]MILL CREEK MANOR TEA ROOM
39904 Big Bear Boulevard
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-8066[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth]MAGIC MOUNTAIN
800 Wildrose Lane
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-4626[/one_fourth]
[one_fourth_last]BIG BEAR VISITOR CENTER
630 Bartlett Road
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
800-4-BIG BEAR (800-424-4232)[/one_fourth_last]

[three_fourth]This trip was made possible with the assistance of the Big Bear Lake Resort Association.[/three_fourth][one_fourth_last][/one_fourth_last]


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