Go To: Big Bear, California

Palm trees and permanent sunshine are great, don’t get me wrong, but I come from the woods where we have four seasons, and I think I need that. Fall in Los Angeles is the hardest – where are the beautiful colors? That smell in the air? The only reason I know it’s fall right now is because of the date. Luckily, just over two hours away from dusty LA, there is Big Bear.

Big Bear, in the San Bernardino Mountains, is known as a ski town (although we heard there hasn’t been snowpack in years), so late September was low season and I got a great deal on a cabin. I found it on Airbnb, although I had searched Glamping Hub and local sites far and wide before finally settling on it. We had 15 people and 6 dogs, so finding the perfect place was a bit of a challenge. It ended up being pretty poorly kept up in the bed department, but we managed. We had a big kitchen to cook meals, a nice living room with a TV to watch the Wisconsin Badgers game, a hot tub, and a grill. It was right next to the slopes, and within walking distance of the lake and the village.

Homemade pizza for dinner on our first night

There were great walks to take along the tree lined streets in the mornings, and awesome hikes to do during the day. I wanted to be outside as much as possible to soak up the autumney goodness of this place. It really was a lot like fall back home, even if it didn’t quite reach upstate New York or Wisconsin standards. We got in the car for a ten minute drive to the Aspen Glen picnic area. A lot of trails start here, and we chose Pine Knot Trail, an easy loop that took us through a beautiful meadow and up to some great lookout points with views of the lake. Here are a million pictures, because it’s all about the scenery:IMG_7949.JPGIMG_7980.JPG

IMG_7979.JPGIMG_7965.JPGIMG_7966.JPGAfter the hike we drove over to the lake to watch the sunset. That night we grilled and hot tubbed and whatever else fifteen people do in a cabin in the woods.

In the morning we took a long walk with the dogs and then hiked the Castle Rock Trail. It’s an easy in and out trail with more great views, although not as pretty as Pine Knot. One of us got a bee sting, but it was very nice otherwise.

Greetings from Castle Rock

Afterwards, we headed into Big Bear Lake Village, a little tourist town full of shops selling tacky home decor, souvenirs, and fudge, as well as a few clothing stores with some good but expensive stuff. We ate on the patio at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company, which we chose based on Foursquare reviews, and it was good. Sandwiches come with a cheesy potato side that is awesome, and there is an “avocado bomb” appetizer that is not to be missed.

We drove back to Los Angeles that evening in under two hours. I fell asleep at 9:30pm, dreaming of ponderosa pine cones and snuggly sweaters. 100% will be back.

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