SkyPark at Santa’s Village Hosts Pumpkins in the Pines

I vividly remember the commercials for Santa’s Village growing up. If you were a 90’s kid living in LA, I’m sure you do, too. Although I always wanted to visit, I never made it. And thought I never would. After some hardships that resulted in a closure, Santa’s Village sat abandoned for quite a few years. In 2016, it reopened under the name SkyPark at Santa’s Village and is thriving. Now that we have Mabel, is it any surprise we went for the opening weekend of their Pumpkins in the Pines?

Despite 2020’s “friendly hiccup” (as Marshmallow the Face Painter called it), the park has returned to its beloved holiday traditions. I was thrilled that we were invited to experience all things FALL at the annual Pumpkins in the PInes. Everything we love about Christmas and Santa is still there, but with an added boost of this beautiful season.

Over the River and Through the Woods (or Something like That)

As always, it’s an adventure to plan a long day with Mabel. Santa’s Village is nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest. Lake Arrowhead is next door and Big Bear is just 30 miles away. Even though we planned a day excursion, I’d love to return for an overnight trip. We got out of the house by 10 am and arrived around 12:30 pm. Remember when I learned my lesson to always pit stop in Claremont? We did this time, and it was, as predicted, a great choice. We made it without any further stops since Mabel was a trooper.

Santa’s Village is off Highway 18 up a very loop-de-loop ride. It was breathtaking and I loved being in the forest again. There are several viewpoints to pull off for beautiful pictures. It’s easy to get absorbed and stay past dark, but make sure you’re comfortable driving back down the mountain. We left by five and it eased my anxiety since the sun was still shining.

SkyPark at Santa’s Village

As we approached the entrance, I felt like a kid on Christmas. Life-size gingerbread houses and a huge candy cane greet you from the parking lot. It was a comfortable 55 degrees with plenty of sunshine. It brought Solvang to mind with its architecture and surroundings.

The Admissions and Waiver Stations await you. Each guest to Santa’s Village must complete a short and sweet waiver. This made sense once we were inside. There’s an abundance of sporting options and games to enjoy. More on that later. We opted to fill out our waivers online in advance. If it’s more convenient, there are kiosks to get to fill it out there.

The Admissions Office is the first of many cozy cabins you’ll visit. The atmosphere instantly gets you in the holiday mood. Here, visitors can either show their online tickets or purchase them. For the Fall weekends, visitors are given a trick-or-treat bag and map to take advantage of the fun. We set by example, right?

Arriving at SkyPark at Santa’s Village. (c) Mary Farah
Mabel can’t decide where to look first. (c) Mary Farah
Alpine cabins galore. (c) Mary Farah

Enjoying the Atmosphere at Santa’s Village

It seemed like every which way you turned there was something to see or do. We decided to get the lay of the land first around the park. I was quick to start taking advantage of any photo opportunity. Our first was, fittingly, at Santa’s house. The cute cabin is all decked out with pumpkins, fall leaves, and hay barrels. Since Santa was not home, the doorway makes for a great picture.

As we strolled, I loved the “Renaissance Faire” environment. There was folk-like music playing, and even the chance to try our hands at some sports fit for a Jester and Fair Maiden. Included with admission, we tried our hands at archery, BB gun shooting, and even ax throwing. It was about now that I realized this is not your average “theme park”!

Mountain Biking at SkyPark

Although back in the day Santa’s Village had carnival-like rides, their makeover gave Santa new digs. SkyPark at Santa’s Village takes advantage of its surroundings. A 200 plus acre forest is the playground. There are several “rugged” opportunities along with the hot chocolate, alpine homes, and getting a glimpse at the North Pole. A popular attraction is the Bike Park and for great reason.

SkyPark has numerous bike trails for all levels. Within the village, there are beginner trails and options for little ones. For us big kids, there’s the Bike Shop to rent one out and explore or bring your own. This is when the waivers began to come into place. All riders must abide by rules within Santa’s Village, so no worries of getting run over by a thrill seeker (or reindeer).

Who doesn’t love a gingerbread house? (c) Mary Farah
Fun shows at the SkyPark Pavilion. (c) Mary Farah
Try your hand at archery. (c) Michael Farah

Pumpkins in the Pines

Each weekend now through October 31st it’s all about Pumpkins in the PInes. Visitors will be treated to Santa’s Village at its Fall best. Everywhere you turn, there’s a good chance to encounter an impressive pumpkin display. Best part? All of the ones I encountered appeared to be real!

Beginning at three PM during the event, take advantage of trick or treating. At Admissions, we were given a bag and map directing where the trick or treat stops were. The turnout was hefty, and of course, I appreciated it was “legit” candy like mini Hershey’s bars and M&M’s. For guests three and over, there’s even complimentary face painting until four PM. Also at four, check out the costume contest and guess the weight of the giant pumpkin. Although the times didn’t align to attend, the SkyPark Pavillion is hosting magic acts and Sleepy Hollow puppet shows.

If you Go

Pumpkins in the Pines is a terrific event for families to enjoy the Fall season in the utmost perfect setting. A few takeaways: parking is free, the one restroom we used (near the giant CAT tractor) only had a changing station in the women’s, and Santa is only in town on the weekends. Guests will not have the chance to visit him on weekdays (the village is open Wednesday through Sunday). If a place to warm up and rejuvenate (or give baby a bottle) is needed, we loved taking a break at Kringle’s Coffeehouse. It was a nice, toasty break after some wind chills and the aroma of coffee was heavenly.

We also encountered some miscommunications. Some candy stations were allowing trick or treating before three PM while others were insistent it’s only after. The Pedal Pub, which was listed on the map, told us they were not participating. There was also a cute Bingo card on the back of our map. A station mentioned if we get a full line stamped, we’d get a prize. We did get stamps as we collected candy and scored a bingo. Admissions nor the shop next door knew anything about it or where to redeem for a “prize.” Perhaps because it was opening weekend there were still some tidbits to learn.

We did not dine during our adventures but had we, I would have checked out Billy’s BBQ. The staff was extremely hospitable during our trick or treating stop, and their rice bowls are gluten-free.

Thank you to SkyPark at Santa’s Village for having us. We cannot wait to return when Mabel is older! xo

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