Glide through a forest on a zipline, try out mountain bikes on well-maintained trails, or maybe even sit down for tea with Mrs. Claus. Located near Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino National Forest, SkyPark at Santa’s Village offers both a quaint backstory and family-friendly outdoor adventure.
The park started out in 1955 as the Santa’s Village amusement park, first opening within a month of Disneyland Resort. The park was dotted with log cabins, kiddie rides, a toy shop, a bakery, and a bobsled attraction. The park closed in 1998 and flirted with ghost-town status along the Rim of the World Scenic Byway until it expanded and reopened in 2016 under new owners. The 230-acre SkyPark at Santa’s Village added a lot of outdoor appeal, with hiking trails, fly fishing, archery, ziplines, an ice/roller skating rink, and rock climbing. Guided hikes are also available along the property’s Henck Meadowlands Conservation Trail.
Admission also includes access to the year-round Bike Park (weather permitting), which offers four levels of professionally designed and maintained trails—from the mellow Lady Bug Pond to the expert Black Diamond Mountain Bike trail. Rent bikes and other gear, take orientation seminars, or practice your new techniques in the designated skills area. Come on Demo Thursdays, and for just $15 (along with admission), you can try out any of the park’s new mountain bikes.
During the holiday season (from mid-November to early January), you can fully tap into the vibe of the original attraction. Each year, the Santa’s Village festivities include Breakfasts with Santa or Teas with Mrs. Claus, along with ice skating, a Christmas Puppet Show, and rides on the Northwoods Express mini train, which was part of the original amusement park.
Throughout the year, you can soak up some North Pole ambience at the park’s cafes and restaurants, from the burgers at St. Nick’s Patio & Grille to the pastries at the Gingerbread House or the sweets at K’s Kandyshoppe & Creamery.
With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.
Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 meters.
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