Getaway to Big Bear – No Airfare Necessary
By Christine Rolfe
The last time I was in Big Bear, my friend Diana and I had our first argument. We were hiking up an open trail when she insisted on turning back because she was afraid of being furiously attacked by a bear. I assured her we were safe but she was insistent as she kept reminding me we were in “Big Bear”…where there must be big bears! Well, Big Bear was named after the grizzly bear but the last one seen in the area was after 1908. Today there are only black bears, or as I reminded her…the “friendly” bears. Nevertheless, we didn’t see any bears unless you counted the ones in the souvenir shops.
It had been over two years since that hike and I was finally back visiting Big Bear. Driving up the winding highway, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to live so close to the mountains (and how easy it was to forget about visiting). Just over an hour and a half from the Ontario Airport, it is a close drive to truly get away from the city. No airfare. No flight delays. No pat downs.
Depending on the season, there is hiking, boating, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking or skiing. If you are up for something a little different, you can even try ziplining, tree climbing, ride a Segway or schedule an aqua flight. I was quite enthusiastic about tree climbing, but this trip was more about relaxing. Good eats, shopping, a boat tour and a night at Oktoberfest reeled us in.
We checked into our townhome rental reserved through Snow Summit Townhouses. We were given unit #37 which had the perfect rustic feel of a cabin. The upstairs living and kitchen area was quite spacious. I could easily imagine coming back with the entire family and friends. There was even a foosball table in which we quickly started a competitive match to test our gaming skills. I am proud to say that I won…barely. To celebrate my win, it was off to Big Bear Village.
While I have visited Big Bear countless times, I have never shopped the streets of Big Bear. Expecting not much more than bear motifs, I was delighted with the shopping. Small boutique stores lined the Big Bear Village along with restaurants and a few sweet shops. While on vacation, everything looks so shinny and pretty. I will attribute it to the body unwinding because my willpower was waning and my shopping bags were getting heavy. Some scented body oils, a new jacket, bracelet and chocolate covered Twinkies for the kids were among the purchases made. To assure we left enough shopping treasures for other visitors, we finally left the racks and headed to the marina for our scheduled boat tour of the lake.
We arrived just in time to board Miss Liberty, a 64’ long Skipperliner that offers 90 minute guided tours of Big Bear Lake. The weather was beautiful as we relaxed on the upper deck and enjoyed the narration highlighting Big Bear’s history. The lake stretches seven miles and we motored across it all, admiring the waterfront homes and waving at the fisherman and people on shore. Miss Liberty offers public cruises and is also available for corporate events and private parties.
Soon the sun was setting and we headed over to Oktoberfest. The hall was packed with people and the music was booming. Contests are held throughout the day wherein participants challenge their skills in log sawing, stein holding, beer slamming and pretzel eating. While I didn’t win, I did work up a sweat in the log sawing event. Lumberjacks across America gained my respect as it is much more difficult than imagined. To cool down, I headed outside and jumped on the mechanical bull. Let’s just say that bull riders also earned my respect. With all the beer slamming going on, it is good to know that you can catch a complimentary shuttle. The shuttle offers pick-up service from the downtown Big Bear Lake area on Saturdays every 30 minutes from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The pick-up stop is in the Bartlett Parking Lot in the village (behind the Visitor’s Center). The shuttle will also provide door-to-door service when leaving Oktoberfest beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Come the next morning, we headed to Copper Q for a pumpkin-flavored latte. The Copper Q is a cute coffee shop to grab a premium coffee drink or pastry. I especially enjoyed the pumpkin flavored whip cream that topped my not-so-low calorie latte. There are also a few kitchen-ware items for sale that you can browse while waiting for your order.
And just as fast as we arrived, it was time to head home. With so much to offer, I promised myself I would be back with my son to give the mountain biking at Snow Summit a try. And maybe he would like the tree climbing adventure. And while we have our active gear on, a hike or two would be great too. And of course we’d have to see the lake, shop, eat and…..perhaps stay a week!
Snow Summit Townhouse Rentals
861 Thrush Drive #44
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
(909) 866-2223 / (800) 445-2223
Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Tour Boat:
Pine Knot Landing, LLC
439 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
For Reservations call 909.866.8129
Adults (13+): $20.00
Seniors, Military: $18.00
Children (5-12): $13.00
Kids under 4 are free
Between all the activities, we did have a chance to nourish the body with some good grub.
Nottinghams Restaurant is the perfect place to watch a game while having a great meal. The Butternut Squash Ravioli, Stuffed Salmon and Barbeque Chicken Pizza are all recommended. For dessert we ordered the Brownie Sundae which was definitely enough for 2-3 people to share.
40797 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
The Copper Q
645 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
O Koo Ran for unique clothing and jewelry
40780 Village Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Stupidiotic for stupid, amusing and even some thoughtful and useful novelty items!
40700 Village Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
The Bath Workshop where you can blend your own scents and make perfume, bath scrubs, oils and linen sprays. (After several blends, I finally choose French vanilla and pecan.)
47029 Village Drive, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co. for well…ice cream, fudge and those chocolate covered Twinkies.
618 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315