The Julian Drug Store and Soda is a place where you'll find both locals and travellers. They have a decent selection of grocery and drug store items, including bread, snacks, and oftentimes famous Julian pies. You'll often see people sitting outside the store on the bench and relaxing, enjoying the mountain air.
I stored my stuff here over a couple of summers when I had to move out of the dorms. The staff was really kind and helpful, and I was satisfied with the amount we paid. The storage units were kept up well and I felt confident that my stuff would be safe there. Would recommend.
Sugar Bowl is a ski resort that I've been to several times and have always enjoyed. There are a wide variety of runs, and the most difficult runs tend to attract some real ski experts. There's also a good terrain park here for the adventurous types. When I broke my arm while snowboarding down a run, the staff were very helpful in getting me medical attention. I felt well cared for here. The food should also be mentioned- the lodge food here is of much higher caliber than other resorts (although it does come with a hefty price!).
Diamond Jim's Restaurant is located on the Highway running through Mi Wuk Village, and thus has an interesting mix of customers, both travellers (usually families heading up to Dodge Ridge) and locals living on the mountain. The atmosphere was rather dark and dingy, and the food was only alright. Had higher hopes for Diamond Jim's, but would not be opposed to going back as there are not many dining options in the area.
I had high hopes for the Christmas Tree Inn, but in the end it was rather disappointing. The rooms were a bit old and out-dated, the hot tub wasn't working, and staying in Mi Wuk Village wasn't all that interesting afterall. I'd recommend bringing extra clothes and blankets if you do choose to come here, as it can get awfully cold.
I have been coming here for years with my family. Its a great place to come for the day and toboggan, build snowmen, have snowball fights, and relax with a cup of hot chocolate. There's also an arcade, pool tables, and a cafe inside the lodge for those who need to warm up and do something different for awhile. When there is enough snow, playing outside is really fun; the giant hill is perfect for long slides on the toboggan. However, if its too early or late in the season (or if its just not a good snow year), patches of mud and dirt make tobogganing down the hill a dirty and dangerous venture.
I have been coming to Dodge Ridge with my family for years. Its a less crowded, but still high-quality, ski resort option for those coming from the Bay Area, like myself. Its a very family-friendly place. The runs are good too- my personal favorite is the ridge run that extends across the whole ridgeline. Its got fantastic views and is great for coasting on my snowboard. Would recommend!
Heidi's is a popular choice for people who want to rent ski or snowboarding equipment on the way up to Dodge Ridge. Prices are cheaper here than they are at the actual resort, and the lines are far shorter. In addition, you get better service and more professional know-how at Heidi's. Would recommend.
While Bear Valley does not have nearly the hype and the popularity of the Tahoe ski resorts, it still has plenty to offer Bay Areans looking for a weekend away at the snow. The lifts are in good condition and there are a wide range in difficulty in the ski runs. The lodge is also kept in good condition. Prices are decent for a ski-resort.
I came here with my family while staying up in Arnold. We wanted to get a quick bite to eat and stopped at the Pickle Barrel. We had soup and coffee to get warmed up (it was in December!). The staff was a very friendly woman who made sure all the food was good. We enjoyed the hospitality and the chance to re-energize!