BigBear off_roadAdventuresOne of California’s best places for snow much family fun is Big Bear Lake, California. We love it more each time we go. There’s so much to do once you arrive on “Big Bear time.” It took awhile this season, but Big Bear recently got dumped with lots of fresh powder, so they are in full swing ski season now, the perfect time to plan a trip.

Even though Big Bear has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in California, with virtually no lines, the pinnacle of our most recent trip was a 8 wheel drive off road adventure. It was more than spectacular to experience the back country of the San Bernardino mountains from a heavy duty off-road vehicle. Our tour with Big Bear Off Road Adventures was nothing less than fabulous and absolutely unforgettable, taking us to breathtaking vistas and allowing us a behind the scenes perspective on the beauty that is so unique to Big Bear.

We even got to “off-road it” and explore an area where Bonanza was filmed many years ago. The abilities of the off road vehicle allowed our family to traverse thick, virgin powder and to see winter wonderland sights that were literally inaccessible to anyone else. It’s not just a ride; it’s an adventure!

Right before we went off-road, we even stopped at Maggio’s Pizza and got the best “to go” salads and calzones we could have ever dreamed of. Fresh, delicious ingredients made our lunch stand out as truly memorable.


BigBearLake 1We love skiing at Big Bear. Friendliness and no stress are what make skiing at Big Bear a sheer delight. Much more than just a skiing and snowboarding destination, it has all the bases covered when it comes to an all inclusive snowy family destination that rivals Tahoe or Vail. Snow Summit and Bear Mountain visitors will appreciate the unique flavor with beautifully manicured slopes, friendly and competent instructors, and the feeling that you’ve stepped back in to a simpler day when a family could spend more time skiing and less time waiting to have fun.

Moonridge Park is a wonderful zoo/animal park open all year so a family can really enjoy seeing animals in their natural winter environment. It’s exhilarating to actually see a snow leopard romping in the snow. or a bear family frolicking in fresh powder.

Try a beginner’s snow shoe tour at the Big Bear Discovery Center, or an afternoon on the Alpine Slide or tubing. The “snow much fun” options are virtually endless.

Before you retreat back to a comfy cabin, you’ll want to explore the wonderful dining in Big Bear. Again, lots of choices. Sonora Cantina serves great food and great family ambiance at reasonable prices, and with good portions.

The Himalayan is the only restaurant in Big Bear to offer Indian and Nepalese food. It is outstanding. With delicious sauces, warm and delicious Naan, Tandoori entrees, and using only the freshest herbs and ingredients, this place is healthy and wonderful. Even our tween loved every bite. It’s family operated and provides great family food with exotic flavors. It’s the perfect place to warm up with remarkably good and filling food after a day in the snow.

Mountain West Vacation Rentals provided us the ideal location from which to get the most out of our delightful Big Bear Adventure. Our cabin was clean, cozy, well-appointed and central to all the fun.

We enjoyed games, movies, a telescope, a wonderfully stocked kitchen, extra blankets, and nice, rock fireplace. It truly felt like a home away from home. That’s so important when you travel with a family and are go, go, go with lots to do and see. The folks there were friendly and helpful. It’s a top notch vacation rental operation.

Take note that Big Bear Lake is less than two hours from Disneyland and LAX or Orange County airport. With the great specials Southwest airlines is offering along with some fantastic specials Disneyland is running, its easy to combine the two into an affordable and frugal all-in-one southern California family vacation.

When visiting Big Bear Lake in the winter, remember that mountain weather can change quickly so stay informed of chain control warnings. For road conditions call: 1-800-427-ROAD

Plan your next Snow-fari to Big Bear Lake!

Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of, an online travel magazine. Carmel co-hosts a travel radio show every Sunday at noon on KJAY 1430 AM in Sacramento. Her family travel column can be read in California Kids Magazine at: You can follow her on Twitter: @roadtriplover or Facebook. Carmel is also the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, a non-profit that trains and places Autism Service Dogs. You can read her service dog blog at: Twitter: @Dogs4AutismKids and Facebook: