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Perhaps one of the greatest love affairs I’ve had has been with this beautiful state I call home.
I have been to most of the states. I haven’t seen all of them, but I’ve seen enough to know that most of the landscapes you will find scattered around this huge country can also be found alongside highways of California.
In California, we have the ocean, farmland, desert, prairies, big cities, suburbia, tiny towns, foothills, lakes, rivers, and some of the prettiest mountains around.
(I might be a little biased about our mountains…)
To start off my series of posts on California and its hidden and not-so-hidden gems, I figured I might as well start here at home – in our little town of Crestline, CA.
It’s an odd little town by Southern California standards. It sits on top of a mountain, in a forest and it is the first stop on Highway 18 as it winds up into the San Bernardino Mountains.
We have Lake Gregory, hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, shops and restaurants. Best of all – there are four defined seasons with flowers, sunshine, colorful autumn leaves, and snow.
Weekenders drive up the mountain to trade the city smog and choked traffic for some clean air and quiet.
Crestline is only 73 miles outside of Los Angeles and only a 20-minute drive up the mountain from San Bernardino, yet it feels like a magical world, far secluded from the bustle of the city.
Since we moved here in October of 2015, things have changed a little. City dwellers are catching on to the fact that we have
At the time we bought our home, we were looking at studio apartments in our old neighborhood of Highland Park. The studios cost at least as much as our mortgage is here. Crestline is one of the last affordable places to buy a house in California, yet we are within easy driving distance to restaurants, museums, and all the city stuff that we love.
Our proximity to LA makes for a strong connection to the city’s culture. Crestline and the mountain communities are known as “the backlot” of Hollywood.
Movies that require a forest are often filmed in the San Bernardino Mountains. Our friends have told us stories about running into celebrities on their morning run around Lake Gregory.
Crestline is made up of two distinct areas that are both fun to visit and shop. The Top Town section is a historic shopping district with charming old mountain buildings that house new, hip shops. The other shopping area is at the Lake Gregory area of Crestline and has a variety of attractions, from antique shops and coffee houses to the local grocery store.
I recommend both experiences to visitors looking for a caffeine-fueled, mountain shopping adventure.
If you are looking to get out of the city for some fresh air and seasonal weather, here is a list of stuff you might want to check out.
Hearth & Sage is a modern general store located 5,000 feet up in the mountains of Southern California, right in the heart of Crestline’s historic Top Town district.
This charming mountain shop is a go-to place for unique, handcrafted goods. It offers a tightly curated collection of creations by local artisans and makers from all over the US. It’s the perfect place to find a gift or a little luxury for your own home. For stunning kitchen tools, clothing, bath goods, and home decor – stop by here to find something different and beautiful.
Located in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California, Fort Gregory Outdoor Company is a boutique Camping, Backpacking and Hiking Store.
Fort Gregory is the latest addition to the historic Top Town district. They offer high quality camping gear and outdoor themed decor. If you are looking for a quality tent or a rad vintage camping lantern, this shop has them!
Fast Eddies’s is a traditional burger and shake joint with a 1950s vibe in Crestline’s Top Town. Stop by Fast Eddie’s when you’re hungry after a day at the lake or just want to grab fries and a game of foosball. They don’t have indoor seating but there is an outdoor patio amongst trees where you can enjoy your meal. They have some excellent chocolate shakes, piled high with whipped cream, of course!
Before checking out the shops at Lake Gregory, you’ll definitely want to stop by Higher Grounds Coffee House for a cuppa whatever it is that keeps you happy and energized. They have coffee, tea, cookies, vegan brownies, avocado toast, and more. Higher Grounds is worthy of a spot on the hippest block of the city, but it’s nestled peacefully in the mountains with an outdoor patio where you can enjoy the fresh forest air with your espresso.
Encompass is a lovingly curated cabinet of curiosities. The shop is owned by nature enthusiasts and features a reliquary of natural treasures, such as an insect taxidermy collection of butterflies, giant beetles, and other gorgeous creatures. Alongside sparkling rocks and beautiful antiques, you’ll find hand-poured candles and unique gifts for guys. The shop is located in the Lake Gregory portion of Crestline.
Espie Bakes is a sweet cupcake and custom cake shop at Lake Gregory. When you enter the shop, you are likely to meet the owner, who will be waiting behind the counter to make your cupcake dreams come true. I can personally vouch for the carrot cake and my five-year-old loves the rainbow sprinkles, of course. This shop is definitely worth a visit to satisfy your cupcake desires!
Mystic Mountain Music is the latest addition to our rad little mountain town. In this digital age, we long to have a physical connection to our music collection and vintage vinyl fits the bill. Mystic Mountain Music is housed in a groovy a-frame storefront, nestled in the Lake Gregory shopping district. Be sure to stop by this shop for some music to remind you of your mountain adventure.
If you are looking for a relatively easy and short hike, be sure to check out the Heart Rock Trail. It will lead you to a little waterfall and, as the name suggests, a perfectly shaped heart rock. The hike is only about a mile round trip and the scenery is gorgeous. Check out this site for driving and parking directions.
Every Friday night in the summertime, you will find the town gathered at the Lake Gregory North Shore parking lot for a farmer’s market and live music. It’s the perfect place for drinks and dancing, overlooking Lake Gregory and underneath the starry mountain sky! The first market and concert of 2019 will be Friday, May 25th and it will run until September 14th.
Lake Gregory is, perhaps, our little town’s biggest attraction, especially during the warm weather months. There is a trail that leads all the way around the lake that is perfect for walking or running. It is about 2.3 miles long. If your dog is along for the fun, there is a dog park on the south shore. During the summer months, the lake is also open for swimming with waterslides and other water fun!
If you want to know what it’s like to live in Crestline, I’ve written an additional post with more information for locals.
If you have more questions about what to do on a San Bernardino Mountain vacation, please feel free to comment below. I would love to help you out!
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