So Michael turned turned 27 at the beginning of October (I joke that he’s an old man now). His birthday happened to fall on a holiday long weekend so obviously we wanted to get out of town for a couple days. I have soooo many places and things I want to do and see while we live here on the west coast. After hours of research AKA emotional labor I settled upon Big Bear Lake as the perfect birthday weekend destination. This was our first little getaway since moving to San Diego this August.
Okay, I’m now going to lay it all down for you guys of why Big Bear is amazing and how we made this a dog-friendly vacation. Big Bear is only 2 hours from LA and about 3 hours from San Diego — of course that’s if traffic isn’t horrible. Once you get past San Bernardino you enter the San Bernardino National Forest where you’ll spend the last 45 minutes of your road trip traversing the mountains. There are lots of scenic views and scenic overlooks so wear an Insta-worthy outfit.
For lodging, you essentially have three options. You can stay at a hotel, a motel type situation, or a cabin. I HIGHLY recommend a cabin. More specifically, an Airbnb or HomeAway cabin. IMO, cabins/homes owned by individual people are always much better taken care of than cabins owned by large rental agencies. We decided to stay at a cabin because it meant we could take Shadow with us! Big Bear is a PERF dog friendly get away. Honestly what sounds better than cuddling up in front of a fireplace with your dog and a spiked eggnog??
The “downtown” section of Big Bear is super cute. At night they have little fire pits along the street and the sidewalks are bustling with people shopping and going out to eat. There are tons of local restaurants. For our first night at Big Bear we got takeout from this restaurant. Michael was craving Indian food and this restaurant didn’t disappoint. We had dinner at our cozy cabin in front of the fire place with wine. We got our dinner to-go because we had Shadow! The second night we grilled steaks on the patio of our cabin. Soooo good and I think Michael was in heaven.
As far as activities go, Big Bear is primarily an outdoor activity destination. We hiked Grays Peak Trail and the Pine Knot Trail. Both were very dog-friendly and scenic but bring water. Funny story, we were starting the Pine Knot Trail and Shadow saw two German Shepherds ahead of her on the trail. They came around the bend and suddenly Michael and I recognized their owners as some of our friends from Virginia Beach who are now stationed up North a little bit! What a small world this is. Obvi we stopped and said hello and had a reunion.
There are a lot of activities you can do on Big Bear Lake. We wanted to give Shadow the opportunity to run around and play in the water. We found the easiest way to access the lake shore was to park near the Alpine Peddle Path (it’s a cement bike path that goes along the lake). There were lots of impromptu trails that then lead you to the lakeshore from the roadside parking. If your dog plays well with others there’s a dog beach.
Our FAV part of the whole trip was all the off-roading trails. Do you have a 4×4 vehicle and feel jipped there aren’t enough off roading trails where you live? OK come to Big Bear. Seriously, it’s an off roading dream. Our current jeep is hella stock so we took the most mild trails. If you’re an off roading newbie or are still feeling out your vehicle, try the Holcomb Valley trail. Very scenic and easy but there are subtrails that branch off of it that are more difficult. One night we were out on the trails while it was dark and we just cruised along with our KC lights on (which we never get to use) and it felt like we were in a country music video TBH.
Andddd that’s it! I’m linking the exact cabin we stayed at below. Cannot recommend it enough, it was so perfect. Socal peeps — where should we go for our next getaway?