Music in the Mountains at Big Bear Lake 2017

Secrets to saving a forest lie in Big Bear!

Where do you love to go on a hot summer weekend to escape the heat, getaway to a land less traveled with clear air
and people are actually friendly and plugged in to creating family memories? And, what if you could escape, decompress, enjoy some of the best classic rock music outdoors under the stars while helping to save and protect the very land you affectionately think of as your favorite mountain playground?

Take a seat under the stars at the Big Bear Discovery Center Amphitheater and enjoy the best in classic and contemporary tribute rock, 7,000 feet above Southern California! A ticket to Music in the Mountains summer concert series not only gets you into a great outdoor show, it supports your nonprofit friend, the Southern California Mountains Foundation, and its powerful conservation, recreation, and education programs serving and protecting the San Bernardino National Forest.

So the secret is out; come discover the mountain magic we planned for you throughout this summer at six packed Saturday concerts featuring the best tributes to Elton John, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Doobies, Journey, Eagles and Led Zepplin; those are just the headliners. The opening bands are also headliners, they line up to play our concert series to also give back and help protect their favorite public lands.

Check your calendar; our dates are June 24, July8, July 22, August 5, August 19 and the finale on September 2. We’re rockin’ and rollin’ every two weeks once we get our classic rock mojo going. Tickets are easy to purchase; click here. Youth 12 and under and dogs on leash admitted free.

Make it a weekend; check out BigBear.com for lodging; so many option to fit any budget; or, check accommodations offered by our presenting sponsor, Big Bear Vacations, #1 agency for private home and cabin rentals on the mountaintop. They have a 2-FREE ticket offer wit ha 2-night stay and minimum billing; see offer here.

Be a part of the magic; join the movement of 40 volunteers who help make these concerts happen along with 800 guests showing the same support. If it’s been a while, rediscover Big Bear or come back this summer for the love of classic rock music like you have never experienced; and, for the love of our treasured lands. Get to know us better at MountainsFoundation.org

Your friends at Southern California Mountains Foundation

Bass Fishing in Big Bear Lake

Spring is here and is it time to get out on beautiful Big Bear Lake. Most people who have been up here and fished the lake know that Big Bear is a great Rainbow Trout lake. What a lot of people do not know is Big Bear Lake is also a great Bass fishery. Big Bear gets overlooked by most bass fishermen because they think it’s a trout lake and does not have big bass in it, well they are missing out. Bass Boat The bass on this lake do not see as much fishing pressure as other Southern California Lakes so you get more bites and opportunities to catch some. We have two species of bass in the lake, the northern strain of Largemouth and Smallmouth. Both species handle the cooler water temperatures well and are doing great in the lake. The largemouth average size is 2 to 4lbs and it is not uncommon to catch a 5 to 6lber. The smallmouth average 2 to 2.5lbs and every year that average is going up. The bass fishing is good in April through November but the spring is when it is at its best. Here are some quick tips for bass fishing on Big Bear Lake this spring.

When the water temperatures get to 45-50 degrees the bass start moving out of their deep winter hiding spots and start looking for warmer water and food. I focus on two things in the spring; docks and rocks. During the warm spring days the docks and rocks retain a lot of warmth from the sun and are attractive hiding spots for the bass.

Location on the lake is also important, the fish will start moving shallow on the main part of the lake and as the weather and water warms they will start moving back into the bays. All the bass don’t move at the same time and will be in different stages in different parts of the lake.

Many different lures will work this time of year but here are my top two choices: Skirted bass jig and a drop shot with a finesse worm. For colors, browns with orange or red work great this time of year and my favorite soft plastic color is green pumpkin.

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Smallmouth Bass

Bass like shallower water which makes it easier to target from the bank but if you want to get out on a boat and cover more water Big Bear Charter Fishing provides guided bass fishing charters. You can find more information on their trips as well as current fishing reports at http://www.bigbearfishing.com/ or call 909-866-2240. Big Bear Charter Fishing also hosts bass fishing tournaments on Big Bear Lake, tournament dates and results can be found at BigBear.com.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Please remember to catch and release when bass fishing. The lake does not get stocked with bass so by practicing catch and release you allow the fish to get bigger and reproduce. This is very important in maintaining the bass population in Big Bear Lake so everyone can enjoy catching them. The bass fishing is the best I have seen in years so head up to Big Bear and I will see you on the water.

Spring is Around the Corner

Growing up in Los Angeles, I never appreciated the change from one season to another especially springtime.  Sure, at school there was Spring Break and there seemed to be an overabundance of lighter food and daylight started to last longer but, it wasn’t until I took a visit to Big Bear Lake, did I actually feel what spring was.

In this region of mountains and lakes, life sprouted up from all around the area -flowers, pine tree needles, grass and wonderful gems in nature I did not yet have a name for. This was spring, a world of new beginnings! During spring, Big Bear Lake is an inspiring place to be around and enveloped by. There are endless places to visit, hike around or swim to. My spring adventures have continued decades later, and as spring rises in Big Bear Lake, I continue to be surprised and amazed at the wondrous beauty all around.

snowboarding lessons in Big Bear

Snowboarding lessons at Snow Summit Resort for kids.

You don’t notice spring in the city like you do in the mountains or countryside, where new life is blooming all around you among wide, open skies and not stifled by the city limits. When it comes to activities and choices, Big Bear Lake is high on my list of entertainment value, a place where I can take my kids or my parents to enjoy the events and fun or just to relax and take in the scenic byways. The advantage of spending springtime in Big Bear Lake also means snow but in warmer Southern California weather than typical ski resort areas. Where else can you experience both major seasons in one beautiful place? In most temperate zone locations, spring months are March, April and May. Typically in Big Bear Lake, snow in one form or another exists until the end of April when the two major ski resorts – Bear Mountain and Snow Summit – tend to close their doors and prepare the grounds for their summer hiking and bike park. But fear not, there are plenty of fun activities to do and be seen in Big Bear Lake this spring!

I’ve spoken about Big Bear’s hiking trails before but, let’s explore them a little more! If you’re looking for a view to end all views than look no further than “Castle Rock” – situated at the top of boulders and tall pines, you can see EVERYTHING this gorgeous mountain-top city has to offer, including the lake the small town is named after. You can get directions and a map to these hikes from the local Visitor Center at 630 Bartlett Road in the Village area.

Biking on the Alpine Pedal Path

Biking on the Alpine Pedal Path

If you’re looking for a trail with a little less exertion, you will want to look at taking a walk along “The Alpine Peddle Path” or “The Woodland Trail” which will bring you up close to nature but not so out-of-breath. You can even bring a stroller or wheelchair along the paved Alpine Path so everyone of any age can enjoy the surrounding beauty. Here’s a tip: Try going at sunset and bring your camera! The colors that play off the water are gorgeous all year round.

Another exciting way to see and enjoy Big Bear during Spring is by taking a helicopter tour. Located at the Big Bear City airport, “Helicopter Big Bear” is the #1 aerial touring agency in town. You can choose a trip starting at 15 minutes or more – and if you have a fear of heights – it’s worth having your heart jump into your mouth for this spectacular view! You’ll experience the excitement of a life time from prices starting only at $35 per person. Your family and friends will definitely be able to witness the way Spring sprouts up among the Valley from views you can only find at this very unique and liberating Big Bear Lake attraction.

Something the kids will love and enjoy beyond springtime, is the “Gold Rush Mining Adventures” located in the heart of Big Bear Lake. This enjoyable little adventure for young and old-er is likely to be the new favorite spot in town and on your next itinerary. You’ll have the chance to mine for gold, gems, rare fossils and geodes during your mining adventure with an expert guide – and you even get to keep your treasures! The shop even includes a wooden water-wheel and sluice. Some minerals are large enough to have cut and primed into your very own jewelry!

kids spring activities Big Beara

Kids mining for treasure in Big Bear.

If you want to see nature bloom and springtime pop with new colors, look no further than taking a tour on a zip line! Action Tours are located in the heart of Big Bear Lake and offer various tours depending on the time of season. In spring, their zip line tours prove to be the most popular and more scenic adventures around. Participation on a tour requires general training and spending 2-3 hours suspended on a zip line among the trees and pines in the San Bernardino forested areas. The tree colors and flowers in nature will never look better up close and personal during a zip tour as you suspend high in the air and bounce from track to track. As you make your journey, your helpful guide will teach you the history of nature as you explore the beauty that Big Bear has sprung during this up close and personal tour.

The Discovery Center is a forest institution that upholds the wildlife and nature statistics from years past and for years going forward. The Big Bear Discovery Center offers a hands-on approach to teaching future generations the importance of preserving and respecting the beauty of Big Bear Lake’s forests and the nature worldwide in an effort to keep the earth healthy and plentiful for generations new and old. That being said, the Big Bear Discovery Center offers a children’s play and learning park, free nature walks, guided outdoor tours and a in-door mini museum for anyone whom passes through the doors. They take donations that will help support Big Bear’s Spring and other seasons, along with helpful guides to help map out your forest adventures.

Those beautiful shores of Big Bear Lake will be calling to you! Before the summertime hits and the popularity of fishing blooms, take advantage now by grabbing or renting some gear and start fishing! Spectacular views are not your only treat – without a larger amount of fisherman occupying the shoreline means there’s a better chance that you could catch a bass or trout. If you don’t care to fish there’s still the popular snow sports available! Not only does the Springtime weather give you a boost from the city heat, but at cooler temperatures, you can also enjoy skiing and wearing minimal gear to stay warm – I’ve even spotted a tourist our two snowboarding in a t-shirt before! Spring weather is just so great – and if you are up visiting for a day of hiking – keep your eyes peeled for the blooming wildflowers and animal life throughout your forest adventure.

Big Bear Lake is one of my favorite places to visit – during springtime or otherwise – and I hope it’s yours too!

Let’s Go Camping in Big Bear Lake!

marshmallows-fire-SS-580x400Spring is here and summer is just around the corner so it’s time to make your reservations for camping in Big Bear Lake. Mild temperatures on the mountain make it perfect weather for fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Each campsite includes a picnic table and a campfire ring for roasting marshmallows and keeping warm on cooler nights. Firewood is available to purchase at each campground. For the ultimate hassle-free experience, Big Bear RV Rentals can have everything ready at your site.

Serrano Campground is on Serrano-Campground-Signthe North Shore just steps from the lake. With more than a hundred sites for tent and RV camping, this is definitely one of Big Bear Lake’s most popular camping locations. A couple dozen sites provide full
utility hookups for RVs and a dump station is located within the campground. Showers and restrooms are available to all campers. Paddles and Pedals is nearby and offers bike rentals, paddleboard rentals and kayak rentals. The Alpine Pedal Path and Cougar Crest Trail are nearby and provide access to the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

 

Pineknot Campground is nestled in a dense forest of fir, pine and oak trees. This campground is a favorite for all levels of hikers and mountain bikers who want to explore the mountain trails. Buy a ticket for the Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit right next door for a ride to the top with some of the most panoramic views in the valley. This campground offers 47 tent and RV sites with no hook-ups.

Hanna Flat Campground copy_edit2Hanna Flat Campground is off the beaten path. This campground is on the North Shore, just under 3 miles from Fawnskin. A portion of the road to the campground is dirt but the roads are paved within the campground. Over 80 campsites are available for tent and RV camping, but there are no hook-ups. Popular for the seclusion and the dense pine forest in the campground, you can easily hike over to Gray’s Peak where you can view the lake from the top of the mountain. If you want to rent a boat, kayak, canoe or paddleboard, just drive over to Captain John’s Marina in Fawnskin.

For year-round RV camping in Big Bear, try Holloway’s Marina and RV Park. Lakefront location with boat rentals, kayak rentals, canoe rentals and home of the Big Bear Pirate Ship Tour.

Big Bear Lake Opens for the 2017 Season!

2A3K4039Family Has a Good DayBig Bear Lake is open and the 2017 season promises to the best we have seen in years. The lake is up over five feet from last year and we still have a lot more snow in the mountains that will produce good runoff, filling the lake even more.

We have already had our first Big Bear Bass Tournament and the catches were really impressive. There are plenty more ways to reel in big bucks this 2017 fishing season. Check out the schedule here. The Public Launch Ramps are open for all vessels, motorized and non-motorized. Both ramps are located on the North Shore. The East Ramp is close to Stanfield cutoff, near the Discovery Center and the West Ramp is closer to the Big Bear Dam, west of Fawnskin. Launching your vessel is free, but your vessel will need to pass inspection for the Quagga mussel. You will also need to have a Lake Use Permit. Permits can be purchased daily, multiple days or annually. For launching information in day use and permits visit Big Bear Municipal Water District.

Kayak01-CathleenCalkinst.ashxThe six marinas have everything you need to have a great time on the lake. Get your fishing license, fishing gear, bait and more. Rent a pontoon boat for family fun on Big Bear Lake or try a fishing boat for adventure exploring the fishing cove in Big Bear.

Spend an afternoon canoeing or kayaking in the fresh mountain air. Enjoy sweeping views of the mountains as you paddle along the shoreline. See the early blooms of local wildflowers and budding oak trees. If you’re a bird enthusiast you’ll see pelicans, cranes and maybe even bald eagles along the shore.

New to fishing or new to fishing Big Bear Lake? Schedule a guided fishing charter to find all the secret spots where the bass and trout are biting. We have some amazing ‘fish whisperers’ up here. These guys know every nook and cranny of Big Bear Lake and guarantee that you will hook a fish on your charter.

End your day on one of our relaxing 90-minute narrated tours of Big Bear Lake on the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel, Big Bear Queen, or Big Bear Pirate Ship.

5 Hot Tips For Enjoying The Snow In Big Bear Lake

Get out of the grind and back to nature when you visit Big Bear Lake, one of Southern California’s favorite winter destinations. We are expecting more snow throughout the season, so be prepared to have fun! Here are five tips on how to have fun and stay safe during your visit to Big Bear Lake this winter:
 
Warm clothes are a must in colder mountain temperatures, especially for  little ones who will want to tumble, slide and run through the soft, white powder. Wear layers such as turtlenecks, thermals or long sleeved shirts, sweaters or hoodies, a warm jacket and snow pants. Snow boots and thermal socks are a good idea if you plan on playing in the snow and gloves and beanies are recommended for everyone. Bring extras of everything so you can shed the wet clothes and slip into something warm and dry when you’ve had your fill of snow play.

 

Be Safe – Bring Chains. Tire chains or cables for your vehicle help you drive safely on snowy or icy mountain roads. The law requires you to carry chains in your car throughout the winter months in the mountain areas of California. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for tire sizes and any special instructions, then buy a pair of chains or cables at your local auto supply store before traveling. If you need stop to put on chains while driving up the mountain, please be safe and pull over to the side of the road so cars with chains can safely pass your vehicle. Tip: Practice putting them on in your driveway before reaching any mountain checkpoints. It’ll make your trip to the snow much easier on you! Don’t forget that there are three ways to drive to and from Big Bear.

 

Bring Your Imagination! Seeing soft piles of snow tends to remind people about the beauty of nature and the nature of playfulness. It stirs the imagination. Visions of building snowmen, snow angels and snow castles  are all fun family activities that become possible during your visit to Big Bear’s wonderland of snow. You can stop by the Big Bear Visitors Center at 630 Bartlett Rd. for maps, area suggestions and a $5 Daily Adventure Pass, if needed.

 

Snow Tubing In Big Bear. Who loves sliding down hills of sparkling snow? We do! Belly up and bum down… just jump on one of the over-sized inner tubes and slide. The Alpine Slide and Big Bear Snow Play offer a safe and fun snow tubing experience. For $30 per person, per day, you’ll have an unlimited pass for winter fun. Children 6 and under ride free with a paying adult. Forget trudging up steep hillsides or rocky terrain – these snow play areas offer a “magic carpet” to reach the top. The less time you spend walking up hills, the more time you have to sled! Both locations offer an indoor area where you can warm up with hot cocoa and snacks for your whole family. Or if you like, pack your lunch and use one of the picnic tables in the viewing area for a fun family outing. When the sun goes down on Friday and Saturday nights, so do the prices. Only $25 per person for a night session. Open daily from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.  Weekend night sessions from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. The Alpine Slide is located on 800 Wild Rose Lane and Big Bear Snow Play is located next to Motel 6 at 42825 Big Bear Blvd.

 

So Cal Ski Resorts.  Snow Summit and Bear Mountain offer skiing and snowboarding for all ages. Both are full service ski resorts with lifts, lessons and equipment rentals, restaurants and snack bars, and even a sport shop with a wide array of  clothing and accessories. Whether you’re here for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain should be at the top of your must-see list. From opening day until the end of March you can treat yourself to an awesome day on the mountain. Your lift ticket allows you access to both ski areas so you can double your fun by taking the complimentary shuttle between the resorts. Bear Mountain attracts avid snowboarders and is known for their Freestyle Park that includes freestyle jumps and jibs, a superpipe, half-pipes and other fun features for all levels. Snow Summit has more of a family atmosphere, with a new Children’s Ski School to get kids 3 years and up ready to conquer the mountain. You can drop the kids off for lessons, take a couple of well deserved runs, grab a bite to eat or have a drink at the Skyline Taphouse and pick your little ski pros up when you’re done. Snow Summit is also the home of Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park and there’s a Rock Climbing Wall in the Basecamp for the truly adventurous. Reservations for both resorts are strongly recommended, especially if you plan on scheduling lessons. Big Bear Mountain Resorts is the perfect place to have big fun in the snow!

 

Want to have the ultimate Big Bear experience? Call the Big Bear Visitors Center at 800-424-4232 to get referrals on for Big Bear lodging, dining, activities and special events. We can help make your winter getaway a memorable one!

Winter Guide | Affordable Things To Do In Big Bear

When you think of a snow-filled winter vacation in Southern California  the activities that come to mind are skiing and snowboarding. The ski resorts are great, but I want you to know  there is so much more to discover when the snow flies in Big Bear! Here are some affordable winter activities to help make your next vacation even more memorable!

 

Snowshoe In Big Bear! Get outdoors and spend a day in the quiet solitude of nature. Snowshoeing is a wonderful winter activity for couples, friends or the entire family. There are off-the-beaten-path forest trails like Town Trail or Bristlecone where you can snowshoe at your own pace surrounded by the beauty of the forest in winter. It’s affordable winter fun at $15 per person, per day for snowshoe rentals and there is NO lift ticket! Rent snowshoes with poles at Goldsmith’s Boardhouse & Ski Rentals or Bear Valley Bikes. Ask your rental company if they can point out the best trails and maps for your new adventure. Please Note: Snowshoeing is weather dependent. Please call 1-800-424-4232 for information about snow depth and trail locations.

 

Winter Hiking in the San Bernardino Mountains. There are four beautiful hiking trails on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake that are perfect for all ages in the winter.  Alpine Pedal Path (Very Easy, 5 miles, RT), Woodland Trail (Easy, 1.5 mile loop), Discovery Center Nature Walk (Very Easy, ½ mile loop) and Cougar Crest Trail ( Moderate – Difficult, 4 miles, RT).  Just remember to wear layered clothing and good walking shoes, bring plenty of water, use sunscreen and always check the weather forecast if you are planning to be in the forest during winter months. Hiking is fun – Hiking is free.

 

Snowballs and Snow Forts in Big Bear. Get rowdy with a good old-fashioned snowball fight and help the kids build a snow fort to protect their territory!  This is one of the best free activities for all ages! Snow is easy to find in picnic areas, parks, in your yard, or even the parking lot in the Village… especially after a storm hits the valley! One of the favorite free snow play areas is Aspen Glen Picnic Area off of Mill Creek Rd. just west of the Village. Make sure to purchase a $5 Adventure Pass for parking at Aspen Glen Picnic Area.  Adventure Passes are available at the Big Bear Visitors Center at 630 Bartlett Rd.  Look online for current snow conditions or call Big Bear Visitors Center at 1-800-424-4232 for an update.

 

Snow Tubing in Big Bear Lake. Winter vacation memories are made here!  At Big Bear Snow Play and Alpine Slide a ‘magic carpet’  takes you, the kids and their tubes to the top of the snow-covered runs… a parent’s dream! An Unlimited Day Pass is only $30 per person and children 6 and under ride free with a paying adult. Enjoy hours of fun snow tubing, then take a break to warm up indoors with a hot cocoa and snacks. Or, pack a lunch and use one of the picnic tables in the viewing areas for a fun family outing. Alpine Slide and Big Bear Snow Play are the safest snow tubing areas and have plenty of snow all winter long! Caution: Snow sledding in the forest may have hidden obstacles like fallen tree branches or rocks. Please be careful if you choose to sled in the forest.

 

Off-Peak Ski and Snowboard at Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Want a more affordable option for skiing and snowboarding this season? Check out the prices at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain for off-peak, half-day or night skiing. Off-peak is usually during the week and non-holiday periods and offers lower rates. Half-day starts at noon and goes until 4 p.m. daily. Night skiing is available only at Snow Summit and starts December 23, 2016. Night skiing hours are 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. daily.  Take a “snow” day and bring the kids up during the week. Shorter lines, less traffic and big savings!

 

Take a stroll through Big Bear Lake Village. It’s always a fun place to be on a cold, wintry day. Let the scents of fresh brewed coffee and sweet cinnamon rolls surround you as you browse through quaint boutiques and shops getting inspirational  ideas for your next crafting project. Maybe you’ll find a souvenir or two to take home. Outdoor fire pits attract visitors looking for a warm spot to take a break while others dart into one the local pubs for a bite to eat and a cold-weather cocktail.

 

Big Bear Discovery Center provides hands on learning for all ages with Guided Nature Walks, Nature Crafts, Children’s Story Time, Animal Tracking and more. Most of these activities are free or very low cost. In the winter, weather providing, they offer Eco-Snowshoe Tours for about $30 per person. An experienced guide will lead a tour group to one of our forest trails for a few hours of snowshoeing and a little bit of forest education. Snowshoes are provided by the Mountains Foundation. Check their calendar for upcoming tours and book early to reserve your spot.

 

Big Bear Alpine Zoo is the only zoo in the U.S. devoted to alpine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Big Bear Alpine Zoo offers wild alpine animals a safe place to heal or permanently stay if they are unable to make it in on their own. I love seeing Hucklebeary, the famous 3-legged bear and all of the other grizzlies! The snowy owls, majestic bald eagles and playful raccoons are just a few of the other beautiful animals you will see during your visit. Admission is $12 per adult (11 yrs. and up), $9 per child (3 to 10 yrs.) or seniors (60+) and free for ages 2 and under. Admission fees go towards the care of the animals and operation of the Big Bear Alpine Zoo.

 

Affordable Night Life in Big Bear.  Are you a night owl? Friday nights you can listen to free, live country western music and line dance at Wyatt’s Saloon or check out The Cave to grab a burger and beer and hear local bands playing for free. Thursday night go to The Pines Lakefront for cocktails, appetizers and free Jazz. If bars aren’t your thing try glow bowling at the Bowling Barn or lazer tag at Big Bear Funplex for big fun with low prices.

Lodging in Big Bear is plentiful, but book early for weekends and holidays because everyone wants to be here once it snows! Come see us at the Big Bear Visitors Center, 630 Bartlett Rd. or call 1-800-424-4232.

 

Creating A Family Winter Tradition In Big Bear – One Mother’s Tale

My family keeps the holiday spirit going into January each year with a trip to Big Bear Lake! We live in Carlsbad with family scattered throughout the San Diego area. For the past 10 years we have been making Big Bear Lake our winter vacation destination. For one weekend in January, my husband and I pack up the kids and all our winter gear and head up the mountain to play in the snow.

We started this tradition before the kids were born, so they’re growing up with heads and hearts filled with memories of winter in Big Bear.  Ethan is 8 years old now and Emma is 5… 5 and a half if you ask her. They both love Big Bear and are super excited about our upcoming trip.

We always get a cozy cabin through one of the local cabin rental companies. A fireplace is a must for s’mores and storytime on a cold Big Bear night. Most years it snows while we are there, but even if it doesn’t there are places like the Alpine Slide to take the kids snow tubing. This year the kids are looking forward to trying the nighttime glow tubing at Big Bear Snow Play on our first night. We’ll be bundling up with extra warm clothes for night conditions!

My husband Mike and I both ski, so Snow Summit is a must. Last year we took the free shuttle over to Bear Mountain to check it out. Lots of changes since we were there last! We had so much fun watching the snowboarders at the Freestyle Park that my husband wants to take  a lesson this year. The kids will both be at the Children’s Ski School at Snow Summit. YAAAYYYY! If I can schedule lessons for Mike and the kids at the same time, maybe I can slip away for a little ME ski time. Skyline Taphouse and Hog on the Rocks are at the top of Snow Summit. A burger and beer with an awesome view sounds pretty good to me!

Another family tradition is visiting Hucklebeary, the three-legged bear at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. We always try to go at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon so the kids can see the zookeeper interacting with the animals and hear stories about how the different animals came to live at this beautiful little rescue zoo. So good to hear that construction has started on the new zoo site at the end of the Bear Mountain Golf Course…  more space for rescue and rehabilitation of these wild alpine animals. That reminds me, I want to make a donation while we’re there!

Breakfast at Grizzly Manor is a must every time we’re in Big Bear. There is always a wait, but well worth it. If it’s snowing, Mike and the kids have snowball fights in the parking lot while I wait under the shelter by the door. Nottinghams and El Jacalito Grill are two of our dinner favorites. Both restaurants are kid friendly and are right in The Village. Before dinner we like to walk through all the little shops. We each get a new Big Bear hoodie and the kids choose a souvenir. I always get a Christmas Tree ornament to add to our tree at home for the following year. We have quite a collection! The streets in The Village are so pretty in the evening. It looks like a magical fairyland of lights, especially when there is freshly fallen snow. The outdoor firepits and benches are nice for a brief stop to warm up on a chilly night and add a lot of charm to the street scene.

If the kids can stay awake after dinner, we’ll go to the Bowling Barn to do some glow bowling. None of us are very good at it, but it sure is fun trying. They have alley bumpers for Emma, flashing colored lights on all the lanes and Mike and I can grab a beer from the sports bar while we’re bowling.  My sister told me the laser tag at Big Bear Funplex is a lot of fun too. We’ll try it next time, I think Ethan will love it.

Sunday morning is check out time, so Mike gets up early to build a fire in the fireplace. I make breakfast at the cabin while we start packing up all of our gear. There is nothing like waking up on a cold mountain morning with the scent of wood smoke from the fireplace and bacon frying on the stove. The kids are happy and looking forward to our last day. Our final family traditions before heading home are going over to the petting zoo at Baldwin Lake Stables to visit the animals and then the Big Bear Discovery Center for the Guided Nature Walk at noon. After the walk we’ll drive around the North Shore of the lake, stopping near the Big Bear Solar Observatory for some family photos along the lake.  Our last stop is always at the dam to say goodbye to our favorite spot in Southern California, Big Bear Lake,

Tip: Always check in at the Big Bear Visitors Center before you start your Big Bear adventure to find maps and information on activities, dining, shopping and more. They’ll help you plan the perfect weekend. 630 Bartlett Rd. or 800-424-4232.

Unique Holiday Shopping in Big Bear

The holidays are finally approaching! Let’s remember when the time changes and the chill begins to reveal itself and the wind howls – and in the case of Big Bear Lake – it may even be time for snowfall!

Mother Nature certainly likes to remind us that a Christmas holiday and a New Year are fast approaching! Big Bear Lake will likely give you a chance to test out a fireplace or two if you visit over the next few months for a holiday celebration or just a weekend get-a-way from the bustling city life and job. If you live in San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area or even among the sun in Las Vegas, you truly aren’t far from the San Bernardino mountain range or spending your holiday vacation amongst tall pines. Big Bear isn’t short on accommodations either, featuring everything from a hostel and B&B to a mansion or cabin tucked into a quaint neighborhood. Of course, Big Bear is a popular winter destination, so always book lodging in advance to avoid a spoiled vacation plan before you barely get out the door! You can start looking for upcoming holiday lodging on this website (bigbear.com) that hopefully fits your budget and your expectations for yourself and your guests.

If you and your loved ones celebrate the upcoming festive holidays, than most likely you may be accustomed to giving and receiving gifts at this time of year. Celebrations aside, every gift for someone you care about starts with a hunt; typically at a very crowded suburban mall or even with a (impersonal) online eBay listing in a last minute rush to find a clever gift. However, if you’re busy being a Mom or Dad or just busy working nine to five – you’re not alone! Millions of people each year find themselves leaving their workplaces early in the rush of the final 24 hours before Christmas Eve to locate gifts.

…Who wants to put up with all that?! The longer lines? Computers crashing? Sold out items?

We’ve all been there; the last person in line of a line.

Do you think it’s time to install a little change to your routine? After all, many times the most thoughtful gift is the time spent behind giving it. In passing, you may have thought that Big Bear Lake was strictly a resort town with two ski resorts and lodging built on every corner – however – this friendly mountain community also harbors a wonderful Village with a collection of shops where you may just find inspiration instead of frustration this time of year. Shopping for gifts in Big Bear is unique enough alone; but everyone really will notice the quality or unique gift you present them with. You can even find the children their gifts on your shopping trip in Big Bear Lake – check out “The Toy Galley” located on Village Drive. This toy store features both classic and modern toys, memorabilia and candy. If you’re raising a kid or you’re still a big (bear) kid at heart, you will find yourself shopping at “Typhoon Toys and Collectibles” for every cool kid on your nice list this year. They sell only the best quality scale figures detailed to match the original counterpart of their most beloved heroes from Yoda to Real Steel. Multiple shops downtown cater to the expanding world of women’s fashion – from “Del Lago’s” affordable styles – all the way to a store such as “O Koo Ran” which offers brand name clothing and lifestyle items galore. You can find clothes for men and gifts at “Bear Skins” or local favorite “Hunter Halls” and “The Shirt Shanty”. Many stores in the area will be so glad to help you find exactly what you are looking for in a gift, especially since you’ve smartly arrived before the holiday rush. If you’re looking for gems and jewelry, be sure to visit “Gems of the West” and “Crafts to Treasure” for a unique shopping adventure.

All that shopping is bound to make you hungry! The Village is more than shops and a lovely landscape to look at; it is also home to a variety of restaurants in every direction. You’ll find numerous selections from Indian food and sushi to casual American dining. Once you start shopping again, take a peek inside the 100+ stores end to end in The Village of Big Bear Lake.

Perhaps, you’re trying to find unique cabin décor that would make a stellar gift…?

The Village shops offer “Home Warehouse Design” and “Artisans INC.” to help you decide what’s perfect for your loved ones this holiday season. As of this writing, only two months remain before Christmas – have you started shopping yet? Big Bear’s unique location and beauty will get you into the holiday magic of shopping and planning ahead. After you take a day or overnight trip to Big Bear Lake, and purchase your gifts, you’ll soon be celebrating a return trip on the next major holiday. You can also get your shopping list completed at the 32nd Annual Mountain Christmas Boutique at the Big Bear Convention Center, held on November 25th to 27th, which hosts a bevy of vintage treasures, woodwork, art, crafts and crafters for this popular weekend event open for viewing at 10 AM and will feature not only items for sale, but distinct foods and drinks.

Shopping ahead of time directly in Big Bear Lake will help keep gift costs down, experience positive people and join a unique club to benefit charity arises.

Final local tip: If you are planning to shop in Big Bear Lake for unique holiday gifts be prepared for some great eye candy in the form of decorations. Just before Thanksgiving, the popular “Village” in downtown (featuring shops, lodging and restaurants all located near Big Bear’s namesake lake) is decorated in shiny garland and sprawling lights of red and green shine as the festive shops and eateries follow soon after with their own unique decorations and joy!

Parking is free in Big Bear Lake; the downtown shopping parking lot is located at 630 Bartlett Road. Please visit bigbearlakevillage.com for a complete directory.

Big Bear’s Featured Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

Winter season and the wonderful holidays it brings with it is almost upon us!

Courtesy of Big Stock

Courtesy of Big Stock

With the holidays and merriment arriving so soon, you and your family may already be in discussions over where to spend it, what to do, what to see, and of course, what to eat! I must say… that last part is my favorite part about the holidays: the grub, the sweets and the drinks! Within these discussions with your family, I hope to shed some light on a wonderful place and setting for not only the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations but beyond: Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. This beautiful location is just a couple hours’ drive from most Los Angeles cities, and relatively close to Las Vegas dwellers as well. Even if you’ve visited in the past, there are plenty of fun adventures and events to keep you coming back for more! Just pick a season! Big Bear has all four!

This year, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 24th 2016. When celebrating the holiday, new traditions begin all the time, especially concerning the feast! For many people, the holidays are viewed as precious family time, bonding time and plentiful memories to match along with their plentiful belly on this special day! Big Bear Lake is a splendid holiday and memory-making location that will simply take you away from the grind of work and the city life as you embrace nature in this scenic destination you can only find in Southern California. Renting a cozy cabin or lodge will cement this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as one to remember! BigBear.com offers competitive “book direct” pricing for your lodging needs. Big Bear Lake’s surrounding beauty coupled with lovely old fashioned charm of this mountain community will surely tempt you to return again and again.

I’ve spoken about Thanksgiving food above, and if you’re staying in Big Bear Lake during the holiday, it is always best to plan ahead. Big Bear is a resort community that caters to the tourist, traveler and family units. If you are planning on staying at a cabin with a large group or just for two at a cozy lodge, Big Bear Lake has numerous restaurants that will please any palate on the famed “turkey day” by serving traditional dinners for your enjoyment. Check out BigBear.com Thanksgiving Holiday page for featured restaurants open on Thanksgiving Day. If you’re looking to set back and relax this Thanksgiving hire a personal chef to do all the cooking, serving and cleaning in the comfort of your vacation rental. With one phone call to Chef Allan, all the arrangements from menu planning to food preparation through clean up are handled for you. Chef Allan takes care of every aspect of your special event while you relax and enjoy your own party.

Another tip, if you have food allergies or require a special diet, please call ahead to your chosen restaurant of choice to see if they can accommodate your needs; always plan ahead as much as possible with your party before arrival and keep in mind that popular weekends and holidays may prove busier than you expected at your eatery of choice. Typically, many restaurants open on Thanksgiving in the Big Bear area only serve traditional holiday meals with a limited menu.

…However, there is always Plan B: Cooking in your cabin! All private rentals come fully equipped with a kitchen and modest cooking ware. All you need to do is provide the food! Please keep in mind the supplies in the kitchen will likely not be the same supplies you have in your own home. If you are preparing a turkey, bring a larger pan that works for your cooking should you need it. You can also choose to shop upon arrival for any necessities that the cabin may not come equipped with – Big Bear Lake stores and major suppliers include: Vons, Stater Bros., K-Mart, The Dollar Tree, CVS and Walgreens. You may want to avoid mess all together by providing your guests with paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid a heavy amount of cleaning during the trip. Of course, I suggest shopping ahead of the holiday, as locations either close or close early similar to any other community during this popular family holiday. As always, plan ahead!

Now, you may be thinking that this is your vacation too, and you want to cook and clean as little as possible to better enjoy family time and the wonderful outdoors Big Bear Lake has to offer. If you don’t want to book a restaurant meal and you definitely don’t want to cook from scratch, there is another route to filling your belly without all the cook books or dinner reservations to uphold. Barnstorm Cafe, a popular family dining location in Big Bear City (near the airport), is offering pre-cooked traditional style Thanksgiving meals to take home and make, heat and dine upon! You will have all the holiday food favorites without all the mess! Barnstorm can be reached at (909)-585-9339 and I strongly suggest booking meals in advance should you wish to have carry-out on November 24rd. You may also be interested in the traditional meal carry-outs that grocery provider Vons offers each year. Their website states that for under $40 you will receive: a fully cooked 10-12 pound turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, cornbread stuffing and a pumpkin pie. They also offer other meal options depending on what you’d like to spend or eat, including spiral ham or prime rib. Again, selecting Barnstorm Café or Vons to provide you and your guests with a wonderful dinner to take back to your lodging will bring your family closer together during this wonderful celebration. If you or your guests are meat free, there are plenty of famous holiday dishes to make or buy at our local grocery markets such as a green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and roasted garlic. No matter what you eat, or what you don’t, celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones is what truly matters this year and always.

Don’t forget, you can also visit the Big Bear Visitor’s Center at 630 Bartlett Road (9 AM to 5 PM daily; 11 AM to 5 PM on Thanksgiving) and pick-up a map and get friendly activity and event advice from a local professional. Need advice now? Call 1800-424-4232 to speak with a Big Bear expert!