Well, I happen to like Arrowhead better for a few reasons. I actually think it's prettier, since the forest seems closer to the lake. The drive is easier since Big Bear is much further up.
As for things to do for first graders, I don't know if there is that much. Big Bear has more outdoor activiites, but I don't know if first graders would be into those. Lake Arrowhead has a couple of boats that tour the Lake (the lake is not used for recreational purposes in order to keep the water pure). One boat is a speed boat type and the other is something like a small riverboat and that tour includes a narrated history of the lake and forest. The ride would be nice for first graders, but the narrated history would not be that interesting. The last time I was in Lake Arrowhead Village was around 2002 and there were some go-cart or remote controlled cars there at the dock that kids can play with for a fee. They may have been removed. We noticed that they made a lot of noise and so I'm assuming that there would have been complaints from people enjoying the restaurants overlooking the lake. Lake Arrowhead Village is nice to walk around, but I guess the only thing kids might like there (beside the carvings of bears here and there) is the candy store (same with Big Bear's Village).
I'd like to suggest instead, if I may, that you consider a visit to Oak Glen. Oak Glen is a apple farming community in the hills above Yucaipa. Yucaipa is just east of San Bernardino and Redlands. One plus is that, although it is a mile high up, the roads are not as tight and winding as they are on the way to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.
It's now harvest time in Oak Glen. The kids can pick apples off the trees at the U Pick farms and you can buy them to take home with you. There is also a pumpkin farm where they can pick out a pumpkin. (at Los Rios Rancho, the furthest farm up Oak Glen road). There are shops with barrels of apples on display and apple tasting. The kids can watch cider being made (also at Los Rios).
Oak Glen Village has a little petting zoo which includes a tiny little lake that is pre-stocked with fish for kids who want to fish. Laws Coffee Shop in the Village has good sandwiches and potato salad and serves fresh baked apple pie. There is a candy shop/ice cream shop.
Sometimes at harvest time there is entertainment such as a cowboy act, but I can't vouch for that since I have never been there at the right time I guess. Usually on the weekends the Parrish Farm has their outdoor barbeque set up at Los Rios, since there is a large picnic lawn there. There's also an easy walking trail that is part of the Wildlands Conservancy, including apple trees, tall pines and a small lake with ducks. Riley's Farm has tours that show kids how farming used to be done. There is a charge for that.
Usually you can see the leaves turn colors on the trees in the fall in Oak Glen. Last year it stayed warm too long and that didn't happen. Since we had that storm and little dip in temps, maybe that will help this year.
The fall weekends in Oak Glen get super crowded with locals, but if you go up early in the day, or on a Friday, it's not so bad. The other bad news is there's no place to stay up there anymore. There was a bed and breakfast that I stayed at in 2002, but it closed. You could consider camping at the Yucaipa Regional Park, right down the hill. If you can afford it, there is the historic Morey Mansion in Redlands, a bed and breakfast with nice views. Not sure if childen are welcome, but I don't see why not. If you want any more ideas of where to stay, maybe I can help you look.
I'll post a website for Oak Glen to help get you familiar.
Also, in Live Oak Canyon, just off the 10 freeway in Yucaipa is the Pumpkin Patch. That has an awesome petting zoo, a variety of sizes and colors of pumpkins to look at and buy, and "hay rides" out to the large pumpkin farm. It's a tractor pulled wagon with no hay in it. Also, a place that sells snacks and a gift shop with Halloween/Fall items. You could do both places on one weekend.
Information about Yucaipa Regional Park can be found on the Oak Glen website. I checked and the Morey Mansion website states that children must be 12 years old. The San Bernardino Hilton is quite nice and in the best area of San Bernardino for visitors, on Hospitality Lane. Although near a freeway, it is also across from a Coco’s Restaurant where you can get a nice and affordable breakfast. The Trip Advisor reviews for the Hilton are mixed.
There are also a few little hotels that a motel-like, in Loma Linda and Redlands, most near freeways. There is one on a quiet street near the Loma Linda University Medical Center. There is also the Dynasty Suites, which always looks so sweet when I go by them on Redlands Blvd.
Thank you so much Redlands Redhead. That was a world of information! I think the kids would love to go apple-picking! I need to sit down with a map and see what I'm up against. I admit I am not a camper-type; I had my day for that and I can't do it anymore particularly since I'm married to a urban New Yorker with no outdoor skills. I think we are more like hotel people, with 2 young kids B&Bs make me nervous. The ones I've been to have not been kid-friendly.
The kids would love a boatride and the boy in particular is actually quite good when it comes to listening to history and geography information. So we could probably do well with a boat ride tour.
Are there any harvest / farm activity things within a short drive of Lake Arrowhead? (I have to go look at a map!)
Really, I can't say enough how much I appreciate your post.
I just got off the phone with a farm at Oak Glen. She said they are about 45 minutes away from Lake Arrowhead so I think I could just about do a field trip down there going to both places. Sounds like a plan.
I'm glad I could help. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to Oak Glen from Colton (where I live). That sounds like a good idea to stay up in Lake Arrowhead and do your trip from there. That gives you a nice variety. I'm not sure how you get to Oak Glen from Lake Arrowhead, but I'm sure if you are a AAA member you can get a trip tic for the whole trip. Also, as I remember the boat tours offer AAA discounts.
Let me know how your trip goes and if you have any more questions.
Just a bit more info that I hope will help!
Here is information about the boat tours in Lake Arrowhead.
I just noticed there is a free Octoberfest in Lake Arrowhead Village every Saturday and Sunday in October. Don’t know how kid friendly, though. I’ve never been. Guess you could stop by to see.
Also, I should add that if you would like to leave LA in the early morning and visit Oak Glen first, it’s very easy to get to from the 10 freeway. After you pass through Redlands, exit Yucaipa Blvd. Follow Yucaipa until it turns into Oak Glen Rd. and then follow Oak Glen Rd. up the hill. The road then forks, both sides going into Oak Glen with the nicest approach from the left road.
Thank you RR (if I may shorten your name)! I looked at the boat tours and I think that's going to be fun. It says "daily" so I hope they mean Sunday too. Right now my plan is to drive up Sunday, hang out in Lake Arrowhead, then do the apple picking on Monday or Tuesday. The farms seem to be closed on Sunday.
Oktoberfest? Whew, I think my lederhosen doesn't fit anymore. LoL. Thanks again!
Big Bear Lake is by far a more family friendly place. The entire resort area in Big Bear caters to family and tourists. Not only are there wonderful water sports on the 3000 acre lake(whick is over 4 times larger than Lake Arrowhead) but Big Bear Lake is user friendly not restricted to private owners. The Big Bear Lake village has a great deal more shops and restaurants. There is a water slide, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, great fishing, 3 great ski resorts, lots of private and resort cabins for lodging and the #1 Oktoberfest in California. Now, why do you think more people visit Big Bear than even Lake Tahoe every single year!!! Good luck with your trip and God bless.
l say big bear. much more family friendly. the zoo, water sports...
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