Big Bear, Stargazers Inn
By Arrissia Owen-Turner
Why You Must Go: It’s usually 20 degrees cooler in Big Bear than the rest of the Inland Empire. Enough said. But beyond that climate glory, Stargazers Inn is an inimitable Bed & Breakfast that has an observatory in the backyard and an indoor heated, salt water pool. Did we mention you get a $50 gas card at check-in with a two-night stay (three nights during holiday periods)? Innkeeper Dorren Wiggins is always at your service, whether it’s organizing a day of boating, kayaking or Seadoo rentals, or if you’re looking for the area’s best hiking trails. Wiggins is on it. The B&B’s casual elegance has the cabin chic vibe you’re looking for in the mountains, but with an out-of-this-world uniqueness. If it’s a romantic getaway you’re after, Wiggins can organize a special retreat topped off by a deep-soak, candlelit tub for two. If you’re looking to relax, hit-up the sauna after a game of pool or ping pong, or tickle the ivories before singing some karaoke in the game room or curl up with a book in front of the fireplace in the library. And when it’s time for lights out, each constellation-themed room fills with dimly lit constellations that help you feel like you’re sleeping under the stars, but without any pesky critters—there’s a time and place for the literal birds and bees. In the morning, Wiggins serves up freshly baked goodies, pancakes, or biscuits and gravy while you wile away your morning watching squirrels nibble on pinecones. Or get up close with the woodpeckers and Stellar’s Jays on one of the three decks while taking in the view. Spend the day out on the lake (most of the marinas offer a different type of tour—from a pirate ship to a steam engine to parasailing) or hitting the trails by foot or bike, but save up your energy for stargazing in the observatory, where one of the inn’s knowledgeable star guides will help you get to know the skies a little more intimately.
Stargazers Inn, 717 Jeffries Rd., Big Bear Lake, (866) 482-STAR, www.stargazersinn.com. Rates are $200-$275 per night; Fridays and Saturdays require a two-night minimum; book three nights and save 25%; 5 rooms
Where to eat: The nearby Sweet Basil Bistro, Peppercorn Grille or Mandoline Bistro all serve California cuisine in an upscale, rustic environment.
What else to check out: Hit up the Village for retail therapy or for rec search out the golf course, bowling alley, ’80s arcade, Alpine zoo and waterslides near or in the Village, as well as horseback riding in Baldwin Lake outside of Big Bear proper.
–Arrissia Owen Turner