Outdoor Adventures / Snow Play

Snow Play, Sunny Skies, and a Cozy Cabin in Big Bear

Snow play, sunny skies, and a cozy cabin in Big Bear

With less than a month before mini Garden Betty makes her debut, the countdown has begun. I’ve made a list of chores to tackle in the coming weeks, from laundering all the baby clothes to decluttering the house top to bottom. One might say I’m beginning to nest, but I would counter that’s hardly the case; I’m cleaning because I have to, unfortunately, not because I want to!

But before all of that’s checked off, Will and I decided to take one last getaway as a family of two (four, if you count the furbabies) to our local resort of Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains.

A popular destination for Angelenos, Big Bear has a lot going on for a small community. In summer, there’s boating on Big Bear Lake, climbing in Holcomb Valley Pinnacles, and hiking and biking throughout Big Bear Valley. In winter, there’s snow tubing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing at several resorts, including the quaint little resort of Snow Valley where we were married three years ago.

We actually hadn’t been up to Big Bear in a few years because of lack of snow; the drought really took a toll on our local mountains. But with El Niño bringing some big storms this winter, we were happy to see the return of snowcaps from our house on the coast.

We’d been itching to make the drive and spend a mellow weekend up there as a little breather after our baby showers. Around the same time, Big Bear Boarding House kindly offered us a complimentary stay in their vacation rental, so we turned it into a mini babymoon!

Big Bear Boarding House vacation rental

Pug in the snow

Over the years, I’ve stayed in my fair share of cabins in Big Bear, big and small. But the folks at Big Bear Boarding House have got that hospitality thing down pat. We were welcomed with a handwritten card and an assortment of goodies that really gave the cabin a homey feel, from the toiletries in the bathroom to the pancake mix and maple syrup we used the next morning.

A welcome gift from Big Bear Boarding House

The home itself was adorable, a two-bedroom wooden cabin ideal for a small family or a group of friends. It was cozy and comfortable, completely pug-friendly, and I found myself on the couch every evening in front of a fire, sipping bottomless mugs of spiced cider.

Most comfortable couch ever

An inviting living room

Pug coaster

(By the way, how cool is this LED-backlit coat rack? The hubby wants to steal the idea for our own house!)

Snowboard coat rack

For part of the weekend, I finished writing out thank you notes for our showers and catching up in my journal. I don’t know why, but I’m always more motivated to do these quiet, thoughtful tasks when I’m in someone else’s home. I guess it’s having that release of responsibility — nothing to clean, no laundry to fold, and because I’m “on vacation,” I’m free from the guilt of answering emails. I really need more mountain retreats in my future!

Morning tea in the dining nook

Doggie door

Cozy bedroom

Pet-friendly accommodations


We spent one of the afternoons taking a walk around Boulder Bay, which had completely frozen over with chunks of ice floating around the dock. It was such a beautiful and surreal scene with winter in full effect.

Big Bear Lake in winter

A frozen Big Bear Lake


The next afternoon, we ventured to the neighboring town of Running Springs to explore Rim Nordic, the only cross-country ski area in Southern California. We’ve driven past it plenty of times before but never stopped to see what it was all about. The mom-and-pop ski operation sits across the highway from Snow Valley Mountain Resort and offers groomed cross-country trails for skiing, skating, and snowshoeing in winter, and mountain biking in summer.

The day was warm and sunny, the snow was soft and forgiving, and we had a lot of fun sliding down the tracks as well as going off the trails. It seemed we were the only skiers there, so it really felt like we were in the middle of some faraway winter wonderland.

Cross-country skiing along a creek

A warm and sunny winter day in the mountains

Break time with our robot cairn friend

We made it to the top of Lone Pine, a winding trail with views over the Mount San Gorgonio crestline. Anderson Peak gleamed white in the distance, but the owner of Rim Nordic told us the warming weather meant we were likely one of the last skiers they could accommodate this season. The snow was starting to melt and the trails would soon be groomed for mountain biking.

Cross-country ski outing with the hubby

Cross-country skiing at Rim Nordic

A beautiful day in Running Springs, California

It was hard to believe that spring was on the way as the snow crunched beneath our skis and boots. I’m so glad we were able to squeeze in one last getaway while the gettin’ was good. And, I’m feeling a little sappy that this trip was also our last adventure with Sprout in utero. By now, she’s experienced three seasons of adventure with us and we’re anticipating many more this year once she’s out in the world.

I’ve also been reading that endorphins are passed through from the mother to the fetus, and I love thinking that she’s already a happy baby. I hope she can feel my utter excitement and joy these last few weeks while we await her arrival!

Sliding downhill on my cross-country skis

This post is brought to you by Big Bear Boarding House. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Garden Betty.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

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