By Denise Ortuno Neil

One of the great things about living in the desert is our close proximity to the beach and mountains. Within less than a couple of hours we can be beachside playing in the surf, or mountain high, enjoying sprawling forests and breath taking altitude. The go to desert mountain playground is none other than the relaxing and quaint destination of Big Bear. Just a twisty mountain road away sits this perfectly accessible getaway, and with seriously cooler weather, it is a great summer desert heat escape.

It may be an arduous trek, but actually the road to this mountain retreat is quite accessible. The best way from our Coachella Valley to the mountain top of Big Bear is via Yucca Valley through Old Woman’s Springs Road. It is a long and freakishly lonely road….but the driving effort will eventually bring you to a mountain getaway, far removed from the deserts unforgiving summer heat.

At 7,000 ft, Big Bear is a haven of mountain extreme fun for every season. Summertime amusement is everywhere on the mountain, whether if you’re looking for a relaxing respite where you can read lakeside, or ride the inviting waves of the lake….Big Bear is there to help you achieve your vacation goals.


The activities that are available on the mountain are endless. The lake provides many activities from fishing to water skiing. If you are a land lover, try the popular sport of hiking or mountain biking. The mountain’s Snow Summit provides summertime chair lifts where the brave can go hiking or mountain biking on the terrain of Big Bear. The village offers the other sport of shopping. You can visit cozy village shops such as ReJoyce boutique, or shop early for all of your Stagecoach needs at Cowboy Fancy.

After your vigorous activity, it may be time to unwind at one of the mountains best eateries. The best place to go if you’re looking for some beef to beef up your strength for the next day’s action is Captain Anchorage. The restaurant, which was built back in 1946, has a very haunting history…however the steaks and prime rib are modern in their succulence and flavor, known to be the best on the mountain (

Another Bear Mountain favorite is the Peppercorn Grille in the village. The locals’ favorite highlights specials such as Artichoke Ala Romana and excellent hand crafted pizzas. The Peppercorns Swiss chalet style offers an intimate and classy setting for mountain visitors (

If you’re looking for a waterfront view, try the newly opened restaurant The Pines. The restaurant sits lakeside and offers an enchanting view while you dine (
After your hardy meal, it may be time to unwind at one of the local bars, for some mountain flavor check out Whiskey Daves. The long established watering hole, offers live music, pool and well….ghosts. The bar is said to be haunted, but maybe that’s just the spirits talking (

By any chance you’re in the mood for some rugged dive bar action, check out Murray’s Saloon. It is Big Bear’s equivalent to our prized Red Barn but with food and….dare I say it…Karaoke (

After all that activity, food and mountain high highs, it’s time to rest. There are a myriad of places to stay on the mountain. Renting a cabin is optimal, but if you haven’t had time to do so, you can check in at several spots including the North Woods Resort Hotel in the Village ( or if you want to wake up with the sound of water lapping at your window try the Marina Riviera on the lake (

As the summer temperatures in the desert stay steady in the mid 100’s, why not take a quick jaunt up the mountain to Big Bear where you can feel the crisp cool air with about a 30 degree difference. It is a refreshing and vastly different environment from our desert valley floor, as well as a close and convenient getaway, making it a perfect summer desert heat escape.
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