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The Knickerbocker Mansion Country Inn

Big Bear Lake California

by Nick Anis

In the 1920's Big Bear Lake's original damkeeper, Bill Knickerbocker, built a magnificent three-story log mansion that now sits majestically on two and a half acres of land above Big Bear Village.  The Knickerbocker estate backs up to the San Bernardino National Forest.  The property has a 360 degree view of the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear village and lake, and the San Bernardino Mountains that's very beautiful.  This "cabin" is quite unique.  It's not only an historic mansion, it's also the largest virtical pole log cabin west of the Mississippi.

When Stan R. Miller and Thomas Bicanic discovered this historic property was vacant and for sale, they were elated.  It took quite a bit of imagination, talent and, of course, hard work and capitol to restore the estate.  They were careful in preserving the mansion's rich history like the marks made by a bullet creasing the doorway in the kitchen when Mr. Knickerbocker got into a gun fight over a card game one evening.  For other glimpses into the past, there is a painting of Mr. Knickerbocker seated in his favorite chair in the dining room back in the 1920's that now hangs about where he used to sit nearly 70 years ago.  

Stan and Thomas are hands-on owners but innkeeper Linda Ford is also an important part of the team. Stan, Thomas, and Linda are gracious hosts who really know how to make their guests feel comfortable. Proprietors and innkeepers with their professionalism and pleasantness really make a difference when staying in a B&B.   You'll enjoy meeting them as much as you will enjoy the comfortable and beautiful furnishings, the delicious food, and the striking panoramic views.

Thomas is quite an accomplished chef with culinary credentials that include stints as the executive chef of gourmet restaurants in Beverly Hills and Europe. 

Each morning you awake to fresh bread, coffee and a gourmet breakfast served on the spacious outdoor deck during the summer and the elegant dining room during spring and fall.  In the winter, the dining room has a roaring fire in the hearth.  The china, linen, ambiance, and cuisine make you feel like you are at someplace like the Hearst Castle overlooking your empire while being served breakfast by your private chef.  

The main house is quite large, well laid out, and comfortably adorned with period pieces and antiques.  There are four spacious bedrooms with private baths, European style featherbeds with down comforters, TV & VCRs, telephones, datajacks, original cedar paneling, and beautiful views.  The main floor has a spacious living room with a large river rock fireplace, cozy dining room, kitchen, and a wrap around deck with stunning views of the national forest, village, and lake.  The Carriage House Suite is on the main floor of the adjacent building, aptly named The Carriage House.  This suite has one enormous room with a sleeping nook, a huge private bath with a Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, wood burning fireplace, large screen TV and stereo, and a king size feather bed with down comforter.

The Knickerbocker Mansion Country Inn is only 3 blocks away from Big Bear Village with its quaint shops and variety of restaurants, but you find it difficult to leave the Knickerbocker's comfortable furnishings, delicious food, and the beautiful scenery.  You can go for a stroll through the nearby forest or just relax on the wrap around verandas in a hammock.

If you get the urge to go off exploring, Big Bear Lake has a variety of year-round recreational activities.  There are two wonderful ski resorts, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.  In the summer, Snow Summit has quite a few mountain bikers.  During the winter, the skiing can be quite good.  Both resorts have snowmaking and night skiing.  There are two movie theaters.  The town has hundreds of restaurants, including fast food, family eateries, and elegant bistros.  The Big Bear Lake Discovery Center, which has a theater, interactive exhibits, and naturalist guides, draws thousands of visitors from all over California including may groups of school children.  There is an ice rink, two arcades in the center of town, a year-round slide and fun center on the outskirts of town (with snow and roller slides, go-carts, arcade, and snack bar).  You can take lake cruises or rent a variety of boats.  You can rent and pilot a boat yourself from your choice of four marinas.   You can go antiquing, window shopping, hiking, swimming, skiing, etc. or just chill out on one of those delightful hammocks with a fresh cup of coffee, or tea, or soft drink served to guests throughout the day.  Between 5 and 5:30, guests are served fresh hors d'oerves or as Mr. Knickerbocker would say, canapés.

The Knickerbocker Mansion Country Inn is an ideal place for a romantic get-a-way, wedding, or corporate retreat.  The rates range from $110 to $225.  Holiday and weekend rates are slightly higher.  Check out time is 11:00am.  Check in is between 3 and 9:00pm.  Rates include breakfast, light refreshments throughout the day, afternoon hors d'oeurves, and free use of books, magazines, and videos from the library.  The estate is easy to find, just follow "Knickerbocker" Road South for about 3 blocks from Big Bear Village until you see a beautiful log cabin mansion on the left side of the road with a backdrop of the San Bernardino National Forest.

The Knickerbocker Mansion Country Inn
P. O. Box 1907

869 Knickerbocker Road
Bear Bear Lake, CA  92315

Phone:  800-388-4179 or 909-878-9190

For Big Bear Lake Information and central reservations call 800-4-BIGBEAR or see

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Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's articles have appeared in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.  His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment, family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.  He is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published by the Long Beach Press Telegram.  Nick is an accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver, and when he's not sitting on his butt goofing off, enjoys a variety of active recreation including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines, horses, skeet and trap shooting he's also taken a stab at riding camels, donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls, mechanical bulls, and buffalo.  Nick is a member (A Secretary/Treasurer) of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.  You can reach Nick at

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