I love nearby getaways where you feel miles away from Los Angeles. As the summer was coming to an end, I decided to take a little getaway to Big Bear Lake. A little over 2 hours away, the scenic drive along the mountain is a great way to start a vacation. We drove straight to the Snow Summit Scenic Chair to take in the beauty of Big Bear Lake by taking the scenic chair on a 15-minute ride from the base elevation of 7000 feet, to the summit elevation of 8200 feet.…what a view. Many people brought their bikes up there to ride down. We had a wonderful BBQ lunch at The View Haus at the top of the mountain. Great tri-tip. They also had a wonderful cheese plate with a bottle of wine but since I didn’t have anyone to share it with I figured I had better pass. After Snow Summit, we headed to Big Bear Discovery Tour for an educational guided 2-hour canoe tour ride. It was fun trying to guide the canoe where you wanted it to go, while you learn the history of Big Bear Valley and the inhabitants. You may want to give your kids a little history beforehand so they will be more into the discussion while sitting on the lake learning about the history.
Next we visited the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. They have go carts, miniature golf, water slides, and an alpine slide. The alpine slide is California’s only bobsled experience. You start by taking a scenic chair lift ride to the top, that includes a beautiful view of Big Bear Lake. From there you ride a sled down one of two quarter-mile long cement tracks. You control the speed of the sled by pushing forward on the handle to speed up or pulling it back to slow down and stop. There are 2 tracks, so you can race your friend if you want. The cost is $4.00 for a single ride or $18.00 for a 5 ride book (children 2 – 6 years of age and under 48” ride free with an adult 18 years or older). So much fun for kids and adults. We also enjoyed riding the go carts, playing miniature golf, and going down one of two water slides. We were starving by the time we finished everything so we went to Captain’s Anchorage for dinner. I called first at 5:30 and they were already crowded but we decided to head down there anyways and have appetizers in the bar while we waited for a table (be sure to call ahead of time for a reservation). We had the prime rib, which includes a salad/soup bar, and it was all very good. After dinner we went to The Village to go to North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream for some dessert….we all walked out of there very happy.
It was a long day and time to finally go to our condo. We stayed at Mountain Vista Resort where they have 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom condos, each with a kitchen and fireplace. Mountain Vista Resort is located directly across the street from Bear Mountain Ski and Golf Resort and was conveniently located near all of our activities and 2 miles off of Big Bear Blvd. The office has games and videos you can borrow and they have free wi-fi and parking is included. A great place for a family to stay.
We got an early start the next morning and went Jet Skiing at North Shore Landing. It was great because they had a jet ski that accommodated three people so we were all able to go on one together and the girls got to take turns driving it. It was so much fun. We went at 9:30 in the morning so the water was very calm and there were not too many people out then so it was very easy to maneuver in the lake. My girls kept shouting out, “This is awesome!” After jet skiing we visited Moonridge Animal Park, which is a cute little zoo right near the condo where we were staying. The zoo has over 160 animals and 80 species, including grizzly bears, mountain lions, coyotes, grey fox, and so much more.
The girls wanted to rest after the zoo so I decided to go and explore the lake to relax. I drove out to Juniper Point Marina; however, when I got there I realized I needed an Adventure Day pass to park there. You can get the Adventure Day pass from the Big Bear Discovery Tour, so I drove there to get the pass ($5.00 per day and you just scratch off the day you use it). While there, the woman suggested I visit Meadow Park (which was right near my condo) so I went back there. This is a great place to bring the family. It costs around $5.00 per person. There is a nice grass area and shaded area (bring a beach chair if you want to sit comfortably). They have 2 inflatable water slides in the water and they play great music. You need to take a swimming test and I believe that even if you pass you still have to wear a life jacket (which they provide). They are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It was very relaxing hanging out there.
Our next adventure was fishing with Lucky Bear Fishing Charter. We had only been fishing twice before (once at Alisal Ranch and once on the dock at Lake Arrowhead), so this was going to be our first real fishing experience--and what an experience it was. Lucky Bear is owned by a husband and wife team (Mike and Trish) who have such a passion for fishing and they love what they do. They work so well together (married for 20+ years) and have such respect for each other. It is so nice to see that. The boat is loaded up with snacks and drinks so you just get to hang out and fish all day and listen to great music on the boat. They are very reasonably priced and if you have 3 or more of you going fishing, you can have a private charter for 3 hours. You should have seen the girls' reactions every time they caught a fish. I never knew my girls would enjoy fishing as much as they did. We caught 14 rainbow trout…pretty good for our first time real fishing. They will either clean the fish for you to take home or you can catch and release. It was definitely a highlight of our trip and something we will do again.
After fishing we went to dinner at the Peppercorn Grill in the Village. What a wonderful meal. The restaurant has very nice ambience, wonderful martinis, and delicious food. They start out by serving warm bread with soft butter. We ordered the Caesar salad, which was very good, and then we enjoyed the steak and lobster, as well as the lobster ravioli. They don’t have a kids' menu, but they had grilled chicken for $5.00 as a side dish so that was Jasmine’s dinner. What a great way to end the day. Be sure to call ahead of time and make a reservation, as this is a small restaurant and one of the most popular in Big Bear.
Our last day we got up early to go ziplining at Action Zipline Tours. We have ziplined in Catalina and Maui but this one in Big Bear was quite different than the others and so much fun. You meet at the office on Big Bear Blvd. and then they drive you in a van to your next spot 17 miles up the mountain, where you switch vehicles and go on an off-road ride for 2 miles. After your first zipline you navigate across a fun suspension bridge to your next zipline. There are 9 ziplines total and you use your hand (wearing a glove) on the cable to brake. The guides were fun and had great personalities. They did some amazing tricks on the ziplines. One thing that I really loved was how smoothly everything was run. The guides would be running two ziplines at the same time so you didn’t have to wait for the entire group to complete one line before venturing out on your next one. It was a really fun adventure.
After ziplining we went to Sonora Cantina for lunch. They have great Mexican food, as well as excellent margaritas. Our next stop was Pleasure Point Marina to take a ride on the fun boats at Johnny’s Ski & Board. The fun boats are motorized little boats that you ride in the lake while shooting water at your friends (or kids) from the motorized water shooter on the boat. It was so much fun trying to hit each other and not get hit at the same time. My kids were able to ride in their own boat (but I'm not sure of the minimum age).
I want to thank Big Bear Lake Resort Association for arranging this trip for me and allowing me to discover a wonderful place to vacation with my family. Big Bear is so close to home, yet it feels like another world. When you are looking for a desirable vacation destination close to Los Angeles, Big Bear is a great place to visit in any season.