Big Bear Lake is a resort and mountain community unlike any other in Southern California, and we wanted to share some of the local's best kept secrets, gems and treasures! Especially the food, so let's get started on some of our favorite little (or big!) secrets in town.
If you're looking for a BIG taste of BIG Bear with a hearty mountain breakfast, look no further than the famous Grizzly Manor Cafe. Offering American fare and delights, the manor has been catering to guests for years and mustering up lines a block long. We recommend you get there early. The pancakes are the true gem: cooked bigger than your head (or the size of a medium pizza!) the pancakes are smothered in syrup and butter and are large enough to serve two. One word...epic!
The Himalayan Restaurant on Pine Knot in The Village, Big Bear Lake's premiere downtown shopping and dining district, offers a unique and cultural flair to the valley. Some like it extra spicy and some don't, either way you will definitely enjoy it. One of the most popular items on the menu is made however you like: the Masala. This popular Indian curry dish is typically cooked with chicken, cilantro and creamy sauce and patrons walk away wanting more. For an extra special treat, try the shrimp masala; pour it over basmati rice with a chunk of garlic Naan bread with their special sauce and you'll never be the same!
Amangela's Café in The Village can sometimes go unnoticed with the bigger restaurants spawning around this quaint location, so if you miss it, you're MISSING out on something special located solely in Big Bear Lake. The restaurant proudly uses fresh and organic ingredients in their custom spreads and baked breads. Their sandwiches are mouth wateringly good, ranging from veggie delights with sprouts, cucumbers, onion and a green mix on your choice of bread (herb encrusted!). For the carnivore they offer everything from turkey to pastrami and a side of potato salad. Delish! The tastes are fresh and with a bevy of unique drinks and desserts, your lunch date is set! There is a nice fire pit right outside their doors for the colder days or evenings and they also offer free wifi.
Looking to see Big Bear like never before during your lunch break? Try the gorgeous, riveting views from the top of the local ski resort, Snow Summit. In winter it's a playground for boarders and skiers but in summer it transforms into a bike park and scenic sky chair ride. Take the chair lift all the way to the top where along with the views, you can enjoy their restaurant featured at 8,000+ feet offering casual food - but not a casual view! Make sure to check it out on your next trip...it's sure to impress!
It's no secret Big Bear Lake has, well...a lake. Of course, there is bound to be lakefront dining so look no further than the lakeside gem, The Pines Lakefront, a restaurant located just east of The Village. They offer gourmet food, sure, but also a super friendly happy hour for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. One of our favorite attractions they offer falls on major weekends - live piano! They also cater to the winter crowd and have a fire pit where you can cozy on up with your beer or wine when the snow's not falling. This restaurant truly is THE secret place to relax!
Of course, hidden treasures in Big Bear isn't just about the delicious food - there are adventures to be had! With a playground as large as the San Bernardino Mountain Range, you have gems-a-plenty! They can range from a unique trailhead to a tour or a special event. Let's discover some of them now:
The Pebble Plain! The Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve is a gorgeous spot for wildflower and wild life viewing. Stop by and get facts about what's in bloom and beautiful this year, plus get a chance to see the amazing pebble plain flowers found only in the Big Bear area! Baldwin Lake is a residential district just outside of the Big Bear City limits and also offers the Baldwin Lake stables and a quick and easy drive around the old lake, while currently dry, will make an awesome photo setting.
If you have kids, or maybe just are a big kid at heart, you may want to see or do an attraction that you can't find anywhere else. Big Bear Lake has that offering - with The Gold Rush Mining Adventures. Use their super accurate sleuth and bring the enjoyment of a mining experience straight to your vacation. You can obtain gemstones, rocks, minerals, fossils and geodes from all over the world to “Strike It Rich” during this unique experience. You can evenhave jewelry made from your findings! You're taking home real treasure! One of my favorite parts of the experience was Geode cracking… using a big machine to cut into the fossil, you get to take home the shiny and colorful pieces when you're done. All ages are definitely able to experience the joy of old time mining in Big Bear Lake, a true GEM of an experience!
Numerous and varied events situate themselves into Big Bear Lake yearly - such as the Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest held every Saturday and Sunday from September 10 through October 29th. Oktoberfest is in it's 46th year and there is a reason it is one of the most popular in Southern California. If you are interested in saving money, visit Oktoberfest on a Sunday where admission is only $9 for adults and kids 3-12 are FREE. Learn more...
If you are looking for lodging, Big Bear offers a variety of unique choices from B&B's to lakefront cabins (search booking widget at the top righthand side of the page for options and pricing). If you are really looking for a hidden gem, Big Bear Lake's Castlewood Theme cottages may be the rarest bunch of them all! The small cottages have different rooms set up depending on your preference: a castle garden, an enchanted forest or even an Indian Forest... complete with fireplaces and spas! Walking distance to The Village, you'll find this lodging to be a true Big Bear treasure worth at least a trip or two for your next stay.