California travel expert Veronica Hill visits the Big Bear Discovery Center in this episode of "CaliforniaTravelTips." This children's discovery center is packed with activities, from gold panning and hatchet throwing to bird house and feeder crafts. The discovery center also offers weekend guided tours in Big Bear Lake, from kayaking and canoe trips to snow shoe hikes in the winter.
Veronica: You can't visit the mountains without getting in touch with nature and I know just the place to go. Big Bear Discovery Center offers a variety of hikes and activities throughout the year, and today, we’re going gold panning. Okay, the river near Holkom valley has now dried up, though there are still several claims. But panning in this loose is the next best thing, and it’s great fun for the kids. So you just kinda sip the sand like that? Art: Wash the sand off, gold being heavier will stay in the pan; see how much gold you got there now. Veronica: Oh, yah. Art: Keep all that out then you can wash them off sand, you’ll gonna get more gold underneath there. Veronica: Very cool. Every summer weekend the center offers a variety of family activities. If you enjoy hiking, you can access the famous Pacific Crest Trail here as well. They even have a mountain style petting zoo. Isn’t he cute? At the mountain man continent, you can make your own jewelry or try a bit of hatchet throwing. Almost. I couldn’t resist getting up close to this beautiful wolf owned by mountain man Tom Skalka. Is this a real wolf? Tom: Well he ain't a fake one. He’s got a little bit of husky in it. Veronica: And what type of wolf? Tom: Timber. This mother’s wolf is Mckinley valley Alaskan timber wolf, he’s father’s wolf is Mackenzie valley Canadian timber wolf. Veronica: Oh, okay. Great. And what’s it name? Tom: Anubis. Veronica: Anubis. Tom: Anubis was the Egyptian god that had the body of a man and a head of a jackal. Veronica: Wow. Neat. Tom is here to share his collections of treasures found in the local mountains. Tom: Now this is a called a Cap and Bolt, the cylinder actually comes out, you load it with powder and then rodding and caps, and then you stick it back into the gun and put the balls in it and the plunger here is how you pack the cylinders. Veronica: After enjoying the outdoor programs, I head inside to check out the natural history exhibits and learn more about the center from director Dennis Thomas. Dennis: We have canoeing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We have kayaking every Saturday and Sunday, and these are all paid programs that you can come in, you don’t have to know how to canoe or kayak and we actually take you out into Grout bay with one of our naturalist and we go ahead and we get together out there and we show you beaver dams and the fish and the fowl and a lot about the history. It’s an hour and a half program, it is incredible. Veronica: Next time you’re in Big Bear Lake, check out the Discovery Center, there’s a little something for everyone.