Western U.S. Travel: Creating Memories at California's Big Bear Lake

The Club at Big Bear Village offers all the amenities of home -- and more!

By Kathy Eggleston, publisher of Macaroni Kid Arcadia, Calif. October 2, 2020

My daughter has been going through many changes in the past year. Her schedule recently has been loaded with responsibilities -- from schoolwork to extracurricular activities, which makes it seem as if she's running from one commitment to another without a break. She has also officially entered her “tween” years, which has been a challenging time in both of our lives. 

After a few weeks when it seemed like both of our moods were fluctuating like a crazy barometer, I came to the conclusion that the two of us needed time to "chillax."

Please note: This story originally appeared in Macaroni Kid Family Travel in November 2019. As of October 2020, all attractions mentioned in this story remain open, with COVID precautions in place. We urge you to check with locations for the latest information before traveling to that area.

I decided to schedule some “mommy/daughter time” on our calendar and took her on a weekend getaway to Big Bear Lake in Southern California with four other Macaroni Kid publishers and their kids. It turned out to be a priceless mother/daughter trip -- and just what we needed. 

Big Bear Lake is a prime year-round vacation spot. It is home to winter adventure sports and summer outdoor recreation and known for its year-round beauty.

The Club at Big Bear Village

We were invited to stay at The Club at Big Bear Village and enjoy all of the property’s amenities. Bluegreen Vacation Club, which operates the Club at Big Bear Village, has a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan that includes access to numerous clubs, club associate resorts, and hotels. You can also make a reservation at Big Bear Village on popular travel sites.

The 5-star resort surpassed all of my expectations the minute I walked on the property. The clubhouse was stunning, with a knowledgeable staff ready to provide exceptional service. We could find drinks, popcorn, and coffee in the clubhouse, along with a billiards room, fitness center, and game room.

The Club at Big Bear Village reminded me of the picturesque rustic mountain lodges of the past,  but with all of the modern amenities of today.

Its location is ideal too: It is located right at the entrance of the famous Big Bear Village, just steps away from fine restaurants and charming retailers. It's also just minutes away from the marina. 

I’ll never forget my daughter’s exuberant reaction as we entered our three-bedroom suite. What a privilege it was to share this “first” mother/daughter trip with her in such a lavish and spacious suite. The resort offers expansive Presidential suites designed to pamper up to 10 guests, each complete with a fully furnished kitchen, large flat-screen TV,  fireplace, and washer and dryer. Each of the properties on site also comes with either a balcony with majestic mountain views or an outdoor patio with a BBQ grill. Each suite also has an oversized jacuzzi tub -- guaranteed to help guests unwind. 

Our suite at the Club at Big Bear Village was spacious, comfortable, and complete with everything we needed while we were away from home -- which made the experience a relaxing one right from the start! Some of The Club at Big Bear Village’s top-notch family-friendly amenities include:

  • Connected 2-car garage 
  • Over-sized bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs 
  • Heated pool and hot tubs with mountain views
  • Game and arcade room 
  • State-of-the-art fitness center
  • Private balcony or patio with mountain views 
  • Fully furnished gourmet kitchen
  • Extensive DVD and book library and billiard room for entertaining
  • Expansive living areas in all suites
  • Plush bedding
  • Multiple fireplaces in every suite 
  • Washer and dryer 
  • Large flat screen TV with DVD player 
  • Daily fruit infused water, fresh popcorn, coffee, and hot chocolate bar in the lobby

Gold Mining Adventures at Big Bear Lake

Did you know that Big Bear was where the largest gold strike in southern California took place? The Gold Rush of the 1860s brought many people to Big Bear. We learned about that time at an attraction called Gold Mining Adventures.

Our group of kids, all 7 to 10, just adored Gold Mining Adventures. Walking into its shop is like stepping into a museum full of an eclectic display of gems and minerals. The interior is decorated like a cave, with plenty of souvenirs and stones. 

The kids got to choose the type of treasure they wanted to pan or dig for (activity ranges from gemstones, fossils, pearls, crystals, to gold) and then “search” for their treasure in the water wheel or sand using a sieve-like tray called a “sluicer” submerged in the water. The staff poured the contents onto the sluicer and, as the dirt was sifted out with the water, it revealed their treasures.

The kids loved the discovery process of digging and panning for the treasure themselves and learning about the beauty of nature’s gifts. I loved watching their reactions once their treasures were revealed. My daughter was eager to store her treasures in a safe place and has since talked about starting a hobby of collecting gems and minerals. There was a plethora of themed mining activities here for all ages.

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain 

Big Bear is known for its gorgeous fall foliage, so we were sure to include some outdoor adventure into our trip. We visited the world-famous Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, Southern California’s only authentic bobsled experience. We started with a 15-minute scenic chairlift ride to the top that offers panoramic views of Big Bear Lake. I loved that this time gave me an opportunity to have some one-on-one conversation with my daughter away from all the distractions of home. I could see her really taking in and processing everything I said. 

Then it was onto our adventure: Once we arrived at the top of the mountain, we found two quarter-mile long cement tracks to choose from. We controlled the speed of our own sleds. 

For the thrill-seekers there is also another ride here called the Soaring Eagle, a ride similar to a catapult. Riders rise up 100 feet in the air and then are pulled back 500 feet to a launch tower and -- after a slight dramatic pause -- thrown forward at speeds up to 28 mph. This ride received rave reviews from my daughter.

Between the Big Bear Village and our fun adventures nearby, we found  Big Bear Lake to be a perfect weekend getaway destination for us. The  cool, crisp, mountain air, sunny skies, and forested meadows of Big Bear Lake make this an ideal location year-round for visitors and locals alike. We are already planning to make this an annual trip for the whole family!

The author received complementary lodging and meals in exchange for a review. All opinions are her own.