We only usually think of Big Bear as soon as winter begins, when Southern Californians like us are looking for a place to hit the slopes. But the truth is, Big Bear is a great staycation destination year round.
We headed out to Big Bear Lake for a quick weekend overnight getaway recently and had such a blast that we hope to visit again soon even before snow starts to fall. From Orange County, it’s supposed to take about two hours up the mountain but delays on the 210 made our trip longer. (However, other routes to consider are Hwy. 38 (through Redlands) or Hwy. 18 (through Crestline), which is only five miles difference from Hwy. 330.)
Heading up the curvy mountain roads we rocked out to music, as we marveled at the scenery. The trees and elevation were so inspiring that my boys even dropped their digital devices to look outside!
When we got to Big Bear, our first stop was the Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit, where we had lunch. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was pretty good and the view was not too shabby. From the chairlifts, we watched mountain bikers navigate the terrain. At Snow Summit, we checked out the BMW Motorcycle Festival Powered by MotoQuest to the delight of my motorcycle-loving husband. Big Bear is an ideal destination for adventure riders! We passed so many motorcyclists along the way. My kids who weren’t as interested in the bikes, ended up geo-cacheing in the area with success.
Our accommodations for the night were courtesy of Gold Rush Resort Rental, which pays homage to Big Bear’s gold mining history! The Chipmunk Cabin was our home for the night and it was awesome. It was very spacious and clean (with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, it can sleep up to 15 people!) My kids loved the décor! (Yes, they were REAL stuffed animals.)
But what was even more exciting to them were the Mining Adventures at the front office next to the gift shop. Basically, the kids get to crack open geodes and pan for gold and other precious rocks and minerals. Gold Rush Resort Rentals/Mining Adventures/Gift Shop, is located at 40016 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, Ca. 92315
One of the family-friendliest spots in Big Bear is the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain! It’s basically a small amusement park, the main attraction being the alpine slide luge track. We all enjoyed it so much that my boys went down the luge track several times. We also played mini golf and raced go-karts. Another family-friendly place is the Big Bear Funplex.
By the time the sun began to set, we were hungry for dinner so we headed into the village and strolled along the quaint streets. There were fireplaces along the street and singers on street corners. It was a lovely evening. We ended up having dinner at Teddy Bear Restaurant, with its laid-back atmosphere and home-style comfort food.
The next day, we visited the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which actually started as a rehab center for injured animals. Today, the zoo is still a rehab facility for injured, orphaned and imprinted animals and a home for those who cannot be released back into the wild to care for themselves.We viewed an arctic fox, some bald eagles, black bears, bobcats and even a pack of wolves! The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is located at 43285 Goldmine Dr., Big Bear Lake, CA.
For the grand finale of what had turned out to be a totally awesome Big Bear getaway, we sailed Big Bear Lake aboard a pirate ship! The 16th century galleon ship replica (named “Time Bandit”), the wench (!) and pirate captain lent to the atmosphere, which the kids aboard the ship loved! Grown-ups, on the other hand, appreciated the cold beverages on the ship, the good humor and the history of the Lake, as narrated by our Captain.
The tour was about 90 minutes long but it went by fast as it was pretty relaxing sailing on Big Bear Lake on a fall day. Current rates are $22 for adults and $14 for kids 12 and under.
Before long it was time to head back home. But we promise to visit Big Bear Lake again, maybe even go fishing and hiking, before the snow starts to fall.