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LA’s mountains are glorious year-round, but they’re especially magical in fall and winter, when temperatures drop and snow falls. Three dominant mountain ranges—San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto—stretch behind LA, putting a handful of alpine towns within a three-hour drive of Downtown. The ones suited for a weekend getaway are Idyllwild, Big Bear, and Lake Arrowhead.
In these towns, it’s easy to find modern conveniences like grocery stores and Wi-Fi, but those seeking solitude can be easily satisfied too. Despite their proximity to the city, they can feel a world away. It’s not just the starry skies and sugar pines. The laid-back mountain villages maintain their own offbeat charm and identities.
High above Palm Springs, Idyllwild is the farthest from Los Angeles but the least commercial, with art shops and a quaint bakery and chocolatier. Lake Arrowhead is the closest and most populous. Big Bear, a former gold mining boomtown now best known for skiing, has a spa and steak house. All are within a three-hour drive, and vacation rentals are plentiful.
This shingled little dwelling is perfectly simple, ideal for a no-frills getaway for two. It has a knotty pine-lined interior and a petite kitchen. For more space and privacy, it can be rented with the connecting unit downstairs. The top portion rents for $102 nightly, plus fees.
Equipped for six guests, this popular A-frame (an Instagram favorite that has been featured in Sunset Magazine) was built in the 1960s and is outfitted with two patios, a hot tub, a wood-burning fireplace, and a “fun” spiral staircase. A seasonal stream runs through the property. The nightly rate is $289, plus fees.
“A completely unique architectural wonder,” this handsome cabin is perched atop boulders and boasts dazzling nighttime views of city lights. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom minimalist residence features soaring ceilings, a “protruding granite wall,” fireplace, “hand-built lighting,” and a hot tub. It rents for $195 per night, plus fees.
This classic cabin was built in 1922 and has stained glass windows and a native rock fireplace. It shares two acres—populated with “seasonal roses, lilies, sweet peas, [and] wild strawberries” and a “burbling creek”—with a full-time residence and a rentable trailer. The nightly rate is $221, plus fees.
Furnished with midcentury-modern inspired pieces, this sweet and stylish little A-frame with a vintage oven, knotty pine, and exposed brick gets lots of natural light. On the wood deck, soak in the hot tub and peep a little view of the lake. It rents from $183 per night, plus fees.
This two-bedroom cabin is freshly remodeled but retains some vintage touches, including a floating Malm fireplace and its original stained glass front door. A little private deck has a hot tub and a barbecue. The cabin is walking distance to a market, bakery, brewery, and Mexican restaurant. The nightly rate is $223, plus fees.
This 1870s cabin retains the look of a vintage homestead, and its owners claim it’s the oldest wooden building in Southern California. Inside, there’s a typewriter, 1930s oven, clawfoot tub, and “a hand-built stone hearth.” It rents for $143 a night, plus fees.
“This isn’t your Aunt Sally’s stuffy cabin,” reads the listing copy. Agreed. It’s more like your hipster brother Chet-with-a-mustache’s retro-inspired cabin. The two-bedroom home in Big Bear is filled with midcentury modern-inspired furniture and a stone fireplace. Plus, it provides super easy access to a couple of different forest trails. The nightly rate? $325, plus fees.
A two-acre compound of 1920s-era housekeeping cabins were given a very unfussy overhaul this year. Constructed almost entirely of Baltic Birch plywood, the little dwellings range in size from studios to two-bedrooms and are available from $73 per night.