While we often talk about the laidback beaches and cool urban getaways of Southern California, this region is more diverse than you might think!
Tucked away just between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, you find the rugged mountain treats and renowned ski resorts of Big Bear Lake. An easy morning drive from LA or San Diego, this place is the perfect weekend escape.
Like so many of us, I’ve been enjoying the great outdoors more than ever these days and jumped at the chance to check out the Knickerbocker Mansion in Big Bear.
This rustic mountain lodge was made for everything from weddings to family retreats to girlfriend getaways.
It’s a prime place to escape with the whole crew and disconnect from urban life for just a while. Looking to breathe in that fresh mountain air while getting in some quality time with your nearest and dearest?
Here’s what you should know about staying at the Knickerbocker Mansion in Big Bear!
About the Property
Nestled in a quiet 2.5-acre space in the heart of Big Bear Lake, the Knickerbocker Mansion has a total of four buildings on the property.
There are three main lodgings: The Mansion, The Residence, and The Carriage House. There’s also a fourth building that’s a dedicated Game and Recreation Room.
The spacious property can accommodate up to 33 people comfortably. Rather than splitting up the space, you will always get access to all three houses and have a fully private area.
To ensure that every guest truly experiences the tranquil get-away-from-it-all beauty of the mansion, the property is always rented out in its entirety.
History of the Knickerbocker Mansion
Curious about the history of the Knickerbocker Mansion?
In the early 1900s, William (Bill) Knickerbocker made his way to the West from Pennsylvania. He settled in Pine Knot—the area now known as Big Bear Lake—and landed a job as the first dam keeper.
In 1920, he, along with his wife and five children, built a log mansion. Using tons of the available pine and cedar in the area, Bill felled the trees for the home himself.
In the 1980s, the Mansion and Carriage House were converted into an Inn. Unfortunately, they soon fell into disrepair. In 1998, the property was restored and ran as a Bed & Breakfast until 2017.
It’s become a private residence once again and was heavily renovated in 2017 and fitted with modern amenities.
Here’s the breakdown of the different sleeping arrangements:
The Mansion: 5 Master bedrooms, 6 Master bathrooms, large living room, a dining room that seats up to 43, playroom for the kids, a large kitchen with double ovens, and a “Man Cave” in the basement with a bar.
The Mansion is the main house and the main floor is the best communal living space; regardless of which house you’re sleeping in, most of the time you’ll likely hang out in the Mansion.
The Residence: 3 Master bedrooms, 3 Master bathrooms, large living room, large kitchen, dining area, laundry, private deck, and a patio with a jacuzzi.
The Carriage House: 6 Master bedrooms with a private entrance — not accessible by any other room; each room has a Master Bathroom, too.
The Game Room/Recreation Building: Large bar, pool table, ping pong table, movie theater, and small gym.
The Yard: The property is 2 1/2 acres and has a large courtyard with seating for up to 25 people along with a variety of lawn games and an outdoor fire pit. For the little ones, there’s a playhouse and a stainless steel slide, and there’s access to a nearby hiking trail.
The thing I absolutely adore about this property is that it really does comfortably accommodate a large group.
You are not going to be asking grown-ups to climb up ladders and sleep in the top bunk. It is all king-size and queen-size beds!
There are two separate kitchens so you’re not bumping elbows when you want to cook. The two full-sized kitchens are fully equipped with stoves, ovens, fridges, and all of the basics that you could have at home.
Outside of the homes, you will find two large parking lots that can accommodate up to 30 cars. Meanwhile, the gorgeous garden space has everything for kids, dogs, and anybody else you might want to bring along.
There’s a fire pit in the yard, so everyone can gather around for cocktails and stories. Oh, and there are even sleds for snowy days!
Planning for Family Trips
It isn’t easy to find a property that can house the entire family, along with their kids, partners, and other plus-ones. What makes the Knickerbocker Mansion truly stand out is the impressive array of little touches they’ve added to make it comfortable for everybody.
Send the kids out to run around in the playground (and be sure to try out the huge slide for kids of all ages!). Spend your evening telling stories and roasting marshmallows around the fire pits.
When it’s time to go inside, you’ll have an expansive dining room, playroom, and an entertainment center that will keep you entertained for days.
And, just as importantly, when you need to get some solo downtime, there is plenty of room to spread out.
Rather than being jammed together with 24/7 never-a-quiet-moment bonding, you can enjoy your own private area after a long day.
Bringing the fur-babies? This pet-friendly property is entirely fenced with a dog run underneath so your pup will be living it up in style on the trip.
In fact, I would highly recommend bringing your dog along with you. There is a hiking area right behind the property that is perfect for long walks.
Planning for Wedding Weekends
This place is popular for wedding weekends. Not only can you entertain 75 people on the property, but you can have 33 of them spend the night. It’s a perfect retreat for the wedding party along with close friends and family.
Why just spend one day celebrating when you can create an unforgettable weekend (and have that downtime to recuperate and really relish the experience)?
COVID Planning Note: This is especially great for COVID-era weddings because you can socially-distance while staying under the same roof. If you are thinking about having a small wedding with just your nearest and dearest, this is a dream locale.
The town is just about two blocks from the mansion!
Exploring Big Bear
It’s a five-minute walk to town—which is a dream! Plus, there’s access to a hiking trail from the property.
And it’s about a five-minute drive to the lake and around 10 minutes to the ski slopes, so it’s truly in an ideal location.
This four-season destination is known for its ski resorts (with good learner slopes if you just are just getting started), gorgeous hiking paths, and, of course, the sparkling Big Bear Lake.
While you can easily have a perfect trip without ever leaving the property, there is plenty to do in the area.
Want to book your stay at the Knickerbocker Mansion in Big Bear? Check out their site for more info!
Hotel: Knickerbocker Mansion
Location: Big Bear Lake, California
Accommodation: Rustic Mountain Retreat, Great for Big Groups
Price Range: $$$$