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Destination Report: Lake Arrowhead & Big Bear

For people in Southern California to experience honest to goodness autumn and winter weather, they don’t need to go away; they simply need to go up. The mountain resort areas of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake are just a couple hours from Los Angeles, but the atmosphere could not be more different.

You can feel it in the air, which has a genuine chill to it a mile above sea level. You can hear it in the calls of ducks and Steller jays. And you can see it everywhere, from the ubiquitous lookouts on the side of the road that give overviews of the Inland Empire, to the forested alpine lakes, to the chalet-style buildings that look like they belong in Switzerland rather than Southern California.

In all seasons, the outdoor activities are what draw visitors to towns where the elevation is higher than the population on the roadside signs welcoming you. The lakes are in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, and there is a plethora of hiking trails showcasing the tranquility that has made the area a favorite getaway for movie stars for decades. The natural setting also stood in for foreign locales in many movies.

Though snowfall isn’t always plentiful, Big Bear has a thriving ski scene, and snow machines fill in when natural powder falls short. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit combine to offer 400 acres of skiable terrain. In warmer times, watersports abound on the pristine lakes. Kayaking, jet skiing, and water skiing are all family favorites. The mountain terrain also makes Jeep adventures and horseback riding favorite pastimes.

Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear truly are four seasons destinations stacked on top of a place known for ever-present sunshine and warm days. Next time you’re in the L.A. area and want to experience a little quiet solitude, just head up. It’s where you go when you need a break from paradise.

Where to stay:

Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa Under the gabled roofs of Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, casual luxury meets breathtaking vistas. This is where the sun rises over majestic pines and sets over a sparkling lake. Where you can warm your spirit by a crackling fire or raise your heart rate zooming down the side of a mountain. Where rustic elegance and modern comfort converge to create an experience you can’t find anywhere else in Southern California.

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