My Mother loves to be outdoors and the fresh air in Big Bear is unreal! There isn’t pollution anywhere in sight, clear blue skies and views as lovely as any. Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner on Sunday, May 8, 2016, I wanted to write about a VERY special trip I took my own Mother on a few years ago for Mother’s Day weekend. Even if your Mother is into the finer things in life, likes to relax or is into exploring the outdoors, you’ll find a little something for everyone in this town.
As parents, we raise our children with the hope that they will remember the lessons we have taught them and hope they never forget our love for them and they for us. Many mothers are showered with presents or wine, handmade cards and fancy dinners. If you have never visited the small, alpine town of Big Bear Lake in Southern California, then this holiday may be your best chance! I knew I wanted to stay the weekend with my Mom and treat her to a few nice meals and activities. We live “off-the-mountain” as the locals say, in Riverside. Big Bear Lake is a short drive compared to most popular destinations. About two hours from Los Angeles or San Diego, you’ll soon be in the good company of fresh pine trees, a gorgeous lake and a friendly mountain community with plenty of charm. You’ll want to return for every special occasion!
We made a point when we arrived in town to stop at the local Visitor’s Center in the Big Bear Village, located on 630 Bartlett Road. The very nice visitor specialists gave us a local map and guide, along with a few restaurant choices as well. We then checked into our hotel down the street, and my Mom was in love with the rustic charm of the place. Being vegetarian, we opted for dinner at The Himalayan restaurant, which was within walking distance. My Mom remarked that the town was so quaint and cute – definitely far from the “LA Vibe” that many like to take a break from now and then. We enjoyed our dinner and the service, taking a walk down to the lake and bundling up. When we got back to our room, we definitely used the fireplace after some initial help from front desk. We stayed warm and toasty, falling asleep among the stars above us in a vacation spot like no other.
That next morning, we checked out the continential breakfast and decided we wanted to see some good views and spend the day hiking. Mom loved “The Woodland Trail” which is a hike across the lake, about ten minutes from downtown without traffic. We applied extra sunblock that morning, and after tackling the loop, we walked up to The Discovery Center which is also where the Cougar Crest trail starts. Infamously, it leads up to The Pacific Crest Trail that was featured in many books, and most recently the movie, “Wild”. My mom loved the book and enjoyed pretending she was taking the trail for the long haul. Some other hikers and locals told us to check out “Castle Rock Trail” back toward and past downtown. Apparently, you could see a view that was unmatched. We stopped at local-favorite “Amangela’s” and bought a couple sandwiches and drinks for the top of the hike. We found the turnout and parked with little difficulty for this trail. Over an hour later, we proudly reached the top destination. Wow! You could see the local ski resorts, the giant lake, the mountains… everything! It was the best view in town (or so I thought)! We nibbled our sandwiches and toasted each other on our success. This was turning out to be a weekend not just to celebrate Mom, but one of new experiences for me as well. Before we settled into the evening, I had secretly booked Mom into a private spa package! We walked to the “Village Spa” and she was appropriately pampered by the staff for over an hour while I visited the little shops in The Village, also finding the perfect necklace for her OTHER Mother’s Day gift. In my family, you give your Mom gifts AND you do your best to take them someplace nice. As her only daughter, I get that honor every year! After her massage she was nicely relaxed as we strolled up to The Cave Events Center where they have the best in cover bands, comedy and even magic shows. We decided to go back to the room thst night, but keep in mind that this upcoming 2016 Mother’s Day Weekend will offer the “Hollywood U2″ tribute Saturday night that will get Mom ready to party and celebrate HER big day! I’m sure any Mom loves to recall her pre-kids, full of energy concert days! She adored the necklace, by the way.
The next morning, I had arranged the main event: a helicopter tour over Big Bear Lake! At around 9 AM I got Mom into the car and we took the short drive into Big Bear City, the more industrial part of town, with a hometown feel in the air and a car repair shop on almost every corner along with a couple of thrift stores we stopped at later in the day. I pulled into the Big Bear City Airport (for private use only, commercial flights are not supplied) and was directed to the office of Captain Roy and company. All very chatty and kind, we learned that they are the only secure company doing the tours in the area. After a short safety video and instructions, we loaded into the small helicopter. My Mom needed reassurance, and Captain Roy gently talked her fear of flying right out of her! The views we got to see were beyond spectacular – the world was still waking up all below us, and we could see as far as our eyes would carry us. After landing, the staff wished us a very happy Mother’s Day and my Mom was exhilarated! Of course, there are more than one ways to give Mom an adrenaline rush in Big Bear Lake: go on zip lining adventures, or she can sharpen her car-pool-skills with a whirl around the go-Karts or taking a tour in an off-road Jeep. You can even climb trees in Big Bear Lake! If your goal is to get away from the screaming children or just to get a moment to yourself, perhaps take a look at any of the fine dining locales, such as Evergreen or The Pines, both of which offer bars and excellent views. Local favorites such as “The Discovery Center” offer wildflower tours as well as water tours with Canoes or Kayaks to bring her back to nature.
You’re Mom. You’re special. Take some time for yourself and take a break from cleaning up those messy lunches and forget for a few minutes all the traffic to reach the big game. It’s your day. It’s time to have your day be in Big Bear Lake.