Just 99 miles east of Los Angeles is Big Bear, which provides innumerable opportunities for fun and excitement. It is the perfect weekend getaway for those with a hankering to walk on the wild side or just explore nature. Calling itself a “four-seasons resort” summer, spring and early fall are actually great times to visit, before the onslaught of cold, snow and masses of people set in.
ACTIVITIES – Fly like a Bird
Catering to all levels of thrill-seekers - the ability to walk on water! Action Aqua Flight definitely offers up the “wow” factor with Flyboarding.
A hose connected to a waverunner shoots you 5 to 15 feet up in the air above Big Bear Lake, and the feeling of flight is exhilarating – as if the future of jet packs and soaring cars has finally arrived.
The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain in Big Bear is just good, old-fashioned fun. Anyone from age 2 to infinity will enjoy the scenic chairlift ride up the side of the hill that offers breathtaking views of the lake and forest below. You sit on a “sled” that’s fitted with wheels, and you race down the quarter-mile track, resembling a half-pipe. I dare you not to scream.
The Alpine Slide also has a water option – twisting and turning flumes, reminiscent of the old-school rides in this summer’s indie hit movie The Way, Way Back. Super fun.
There are also complex sports go-carts and a miniature golf course. Pretend you’re in high school, and take someone on a date.
Action Zipline Tours keeps hearts pounding with a three-hour-tour, which includes nine high-speed runs. The adventure takes you deep into the forest by jeep, so the feeling of rugged adventure summons Indiana Jones. The setting, with a suspension bridge and the panoramic Johnson Valley, promises to take your breath away.
Finding a beach on Big Bear Lake is not difficult. Both rocky and sandy stretches rim the water. One great option is Swim Beach, part of the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District. This clean, flat area boasts lifeguards and a snack bar so you can lounge all day if you wish. The best part? Two floating bounce structures sit on the water, beckoning you to swim to them. They include a slide and a trampoline for added amusement. The venue also rents canoes and kayaks if you want to explore the lake further.
Clearman’s North Woods Inn
A fabulous place to stop on your drive up or down the mountain, Clearman’s North Woods Inn in San Gabriel serves up a healthy dose of kitsch with its meat and potatoes. Dark and cool with log cabin walls and red leather banquettes, the decorations range from Renoir paintings to rifles to bear hides. The outside even sports snow to get you in the mood for an alpine adventure. I especially loved the two-salad combo of iceberg lettuce with bleu cheese dressing next to shredded red cabbage in vinaigrette. Accompanied by their famous cheese bread, this makes for a relatively light meal. Add a stiff drink, such a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, and you just might feel like you’ve traveled through time.
There are more and better options than you might think in this small mountain town. For one thing, I definitely did not expect authentic Asian food. The Himalayan features curries, rice and other scrumptious offerings such as Tandoori Chicken with homemade yogurt, mint sauce and lemon that manages to be both healthy and filling. The food resembles Indian cuisine with lots of choices, including vegan and vegetarian options, and super spicy entrees if desired.
Get the Burger
Sometimes, after a day in the woods, the only thing that hits the spot is a juicy hamburger. Get the Burger provides fresh and delicious quarter-pound beef patties with options such as grilled onions and a yummy special sauce. They even serve a veggie burger and a hearty Icelandic Codfish (the Codfather) so those eschewing red meat can be easily sated. The traditional French fries on the menu, which are delicious, are augmented by onion rings, sweet potato fries and phenomenal tater tots dripping in cheese, sour cream, bacon bits and chives. Good luck making a choice.
Wolf Creek Resort
Central and cozy, the rooms in Wolf Creek feature fireplaces, quilts and assorted art evoking wild animals and trees to make you feel right at home. The amenities include a swimming pool, enclosed spa and outdoor Adirondack furniture so you can lounge in between flights of fancy. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the adjacent wine and cigar lounge for a terrific selection of vices, as well as craft beer on tap. Many nights also showcase musicians and entertainers so you can stick close to home after a day outdoors.