In July, we decided to celebrate Andy’s birthday up in Big Bear, California. Having only visited that particularly area for brief visits, we did a fair amount of research before heading up the mountain, and then picked a place that not only worked for us financially but also in terms of comfort. Now, I’m passing that info on to you!
Let’s talk lodgings.
We aren’t CouchSurfers – it seems too awkward as a couple, and I haven’t gotten to the point where I’d feel comfortable as a solo female traveler to try it. I know it’s the cheapest option but ruled it out immediately for this trip. Airbnb exists up there, but if you want to be near the lake, it tends to cost you, particularly during the high summer months and the peak winter skiing season. So, we ruled that out pretty quickly, too.
Is camping an option in Big Bear? Yes! Loads of RV and tent spots are available in the parks, though most of the ones near the lake are on the north side (which we liked quite a bit, but most of the restaurants, etc. are on the other side). Here’s the trick – while Andy might have been willing to grab his camping gear, I’m a pain in the ass. I camped a lot as a kid, but as an adult, I really enjoy things like beds and flushing toilets.
What did that leave us?
Once we ruled out those options, we reviewed the hotels, inns and cabins. We had stayed in a cabin down in Crestline the year before and really liked them, so we were hopeful we would find something that could accommodate us for three nights and not break our budget. Happily, we did just that.
Quail Cove Lakeside Lodge (in the community of Fawnskin) caught our attention right away. They have five cabins. Most can house up to four people; the others can accommodate two (we chose one of those). We loved having a full kitchen, as well as a barbecue grill and front patio – we made good use of both. It was also very handy having an inside kitchen table that doubled as a desk space, and we found ourselves relaxing in the comfy living room every evening. It was very warm while we were there, but starting even in early fall, the fireplace at night will take the chill out of the air and bring a touch of romance. We had ample closet space, and we had a full, very clean bathroom. Bonus points! Parking is free. Double bonus points!
All of the rooms technically have water views off the back of the cabins. Here’s the trouble – most have views of Grout Bay (though you can see Big Bear Lake and the slopes in the distance depending on your angle). Grout Bay has been deeply impacted by the drought. So impacted by the drought that it and the creek that ran directly behind the cabins are completely dry. And I mean completely. We walked the creek, and all that remains is sand and vegetation. Hard to believe that people used to fish and kayak there. This is not to dissuade you from staying at Quail Cove Lakeside Lodge – we really enjoyed it, but you should be aware that you may be facing much drier conditions than anticipated.
What did we love?
- Because we were staying off of N Shore Drive, it was quiet, secluded and had far less tourist action than the other side of the lake.
- The full kitchens and living rooms make these cabins good writing destinations. I would go back when I’m looking for a writing retreat.
- It was super clean.
- The bathrooms were well stocked.
- Even staying on N Shore Dr, the “downtown” is only a 7-9 minute drive.
- We were close to hikes and camping – so it’s easy to meet up with people.
- It was inexpensive during the week. We paid $119 based on two people occupancy. It seemed like a steal given how many amenities the cabin had.
What should you keep in mind?
- A lot of light filters in through blinds in the bedroom, so if you are light sensitive, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep if you are in a cabin facing the security lights. After all the hiking we did, this ended up not being a problem for either of us.
- If you are cooking, beware of the super sensitive smoke alarm in the kitchen. Breakfast potatoes and bacon will set it off. Trust.
- It’s not right on the water anymore. It is still lovely and relaxing, but if your goal is to walk out your door and immediately launch your kayak, this is not the spot.
- Big Bear is a rise of about 7,000 feet, so winter comes early here. Watch the weather if you are coming up after mid-October.
Would we return?
Yes! Quail Cove Lakeside Lodge was comfortable, clean and affordable. The owners were lovely, and we very much enjoyed our time there.