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Snow covers a bear statue

Creating A Family Winter Tradition In Big Bear - One Mother's Tale

Posted: 12/07/16 | By Hannah K

Read about one mother's family winter tradition up in Big Bear Lake where she tells us all the best spots, activities, and tips for your next vacation.

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.

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