By Brad Lofland, Assistant General Manager for SkyPark at Santa’s Village
Planning a trip to the mountains is a time-honored tradition for families across the country. Planning socially-distanced vacations, however present a bit of a logistical challenge.
Fortunately, the Lake Arrowhead region of the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California provides many family-friendly socially distanced activities for visitors. If you’re planning a Southern California trip, Lake Arrowhead is a great place to get some alpine air high above the hustle and bustle of the valley.
Here are some of the more popular, mostly outdoor, socially distanced destinations in the area.
1. San Bernardino National Forest
The San Bernardino National Forest is the place for sweeping scenic views. The forest covers 823,816 acres, most of which is federal land. The forest is home to 440 wildlife species and thousands of plant species. The forest offers camping, hiking, backpacking, OHV riding and camping, fishing, and even target shooting.
For more information and to make reservations, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf/
2. SkyPark at Santa’s Village
Looking for whimsical adventures for the whole family? SkyPark at Santa’s Village is a fantasy adventure park that caters to thrill-seekers of all ages. The year-round, mostly outdoor, park features a world-class mountain bike park as well as fantasy forest-themed attractions, self-powered rides, rustic restaurants, and shops nestled in the historic Santa’s Village. SkyPark’s Northwoods offers up-close and personal time with nature as you bike, hike, fish, and climb. For the full SkyPark Santa’s Village adventure experience, guests can stay overnight in the SkyPark glamping RV resort and campground next door to the park.
For more information, visit: https://skyparksantasvillage.com
3. McKenzie Water Ski School
If you’ve never been water skiing and want to learn, McKenzie Water Ski School is the place to go. From beginner to expert, there’s something for everyone to learn. The school teaches one ski, two skis, and wakeboarding.
They offer a 2 mile course and personal instruction with over seventy years of experience.
For more information visit: https://mckenziewaterskischool.com
4. Enjoy the Mountain, 4WD ATV
Ever wanted to ride an ATV through the mountains? Enjoy the Mountain in Lake Arrowhead lets you do just that. You can book 1 or 2 hours for a mountain trail joyride. You can rent single quads and SBS for yourself or your whole family or pod. This is a private trip, no one else will be in your group. Choose your trip’s difficulty level and away you go! There is a maximum of 4 atvs per group. The minimum age is 14 for ATVs. Younger kids must ride as passengers in SBS ATVs.
To book your trip, visit: https://www.enjoythemountain.com/lake-arrowhead
5. Willow Creek OHV Trail
Looking for more adventure off the beaten path? The WIllow Creek OHV Trail is a 6.3 mile “moderate level” out-and-back trail offering great views of nature in the San Bernardino National Forest.
For more information, visit: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/willow-creek-jeep-trail
6. Big Bear Alpine Zoo
Want to see the wildlife of San Bernardino up close and personal? The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is the place. This rehabilitation facility offers injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; temporarily while they heal or permanently as they are unable to survive on their own. Every animal at the zoo has been rescued from some sort of human interaction. You will find every type of animal that lives in the Big Bear Valley, and some additional ones that respond well to this environment such as Grizzly Bears and Wolves. The zoo is open daily through Labor Day Weekend.
For more information, visit: http://www.bigbearalpinezoo.org/
7. Big Bear Pirate Ship Lake Cruise
Ever wondered what it’s like to sail on a pirate ship? This is your chance! The Big Bear Pirate Ship Lake Cruise offers daily tours of the lake featuring live entertainment, and our own authentic pirates. Each captain who drives the ship has their own personality and style, and you always get a fantastic tour around the lake.
Time Bandit, the Big Bear Lake Pirate Ship, is a 1/3rd scale replica of a Spanish Galleon and was built by a Father and his Son from the late 60’s through the 70’s in their backyard. It was then used in the 1981 release “Time Bandit.” Later it was used as a tour boat in LA Harbor, and Newport Beach at the Fun Zone.
For more information, visit: https://www.bigbearhollowaysmarina.com/thepirateship.html
8. Lake Gregory Regional Park
Located in the community of Crestline, the Lake Gregory Regional Park is a “hidden gem tucked in the cool cedar and pine forest of the San Bernardino Mountains.” The 84 acre lake offers swimming and water sports; a cool place to play in the summer heat.
For more information, visit: https://parks.sbcounty.gov/park/lake-gregory-regional-park/
9. Alpine Pedal Path
Bike, hike, walk, or run along the Alpine Pedal Path Trail. This scenic 5.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Big Bear City, California features a lake and gorgeous views. The trail is best used from May until November. On-leash dogs are also able to use this trail.
For more information, visit: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/alpine-pedal-path-trail
10. Exploration Trail
Looking for a good hike with breathtaking views? Check out Exploration Trail; an 8.7 mile out and back trail rated as moderate. You can hike, run, horse-back-ride, or mountain bike on this trail, which is best used from April to October.
For more information, visit: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/exploration-trail
11. Silverwood Lake State Recreation Camping
Silverwood Lake Recreation Area is a wooded area on the shores of Silverwood Lake that offers day use, family campsites, campfires, fishing, and boating. The area offers a 13 mile trail network with wonderful views. The area is open daily from 6am to 9pm. Be sure to book reservations ahead of time.
For more information and for reservations, visit: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=650
There are lots more exciting things to do near Lake Arrowhead and we’ll feature more of them soon, but for now, stay socially distanced and safe as you vacation into the Summer of 2021.
Need a Place to Stay?
The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa is the must-stay destination for Lake Arrowhead travelers. The resort has luxury accommodations as well as its own private beach on the lake, a pool, hot tub, spa, and fine dining options. The park is centrally located near the Lake Arrowhead Village with plenty of shops and additional attractions.
For more, visit: https://www.lakearrowheadresort.com
About the Author, Brad Lofland:
Brad Lofland is the Assistant General Manager and head of marketing for SkyPark at Santa’s Village. Brad has worked on hundreds of projects for the park from marketing, to park management, and even TV and film productions. Before joining the team at SkyPark, Brad was a U.S. Army Combat Medic and Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. His love for business and agriculture is what launched his own local gourmet mushroom farm, Mountain Family Farms. Brad, along with his wife Jamie and three children, love to go for RV vacations and have called the San Bernardino mountains home for six years.