Participating in a family party, the Weiss family retreats to San Dimas Canyon Park to enjoy a family celebration. / photo by Naoko Yokota

Participating in a family party, the Weiss family retreats to San Dimas Canyon Park to enjoy a family celebration. / photo by Naoko Yokota

by Angelica Martinez
photography by Naoko Yokota

On weekends, school and work take backseat to entertainment. But, in La Verne, where can one go for an outing that is low in cost and high in excitement? The answer: plenty of places.

For a family interested in wholesome fun, La Verne and its bordering city of San Dimas have several avenues of entertainment. Following are 10 ideas for family fun.

During a weekend in La Verne, one can bring her loved ones to the Weber House, administered by the La Verne Heritage Foundation. Used as an old girls home for many years, it features a pumpkin patch and orange groves. A barn and a windmill grace the grounds. The house has been part of La Verne history for many years. Children can enjoy hay rides and orange picking during the autumn season. “The revenue from the oranges is used to maintain the house and its surroundings,” says Marianne Loncar, employee of the Heritage House Foundation.

If one’s mood dictates a natural science ambiance, then a great place to visit is the San Dimas Canyon Nature Center, with its trail side museum. Children and families can view sights of coyotes, fox, raccoons, birds of prey and reptiles — all animals that are indigenous to Southern California.

A recent addition to the museum, the Children’s Petting Zoo, offers domestic animals like rabbits, sheep and ducks with which children can interact.

Suited comfortably near the San Gabriel Mountains and the Angeles National Forest, the San Dimas Canyon Nature Center has historical evidence of California Indian inhabitancy. The 50-year-old park offers a large grass picnic area for a nice day out. Camping and trail areas are designated in the park.

Both the park and the Nature Center are open for the public’s use, and trained volunteers are available to guide groups along the Nature Trail and through the Wild Life Zoo.

Minutes away, the Frank G. Bonelli Regional County Park and Puddingstone Lake have offered many Southern Californians several outlets of entertainment, all within a few minutes’ distance.

Boat rentals, horseback riding, golfing and picnic areas are available to the public. “We live in Montebello, but we come to Bonelli because it is a nice area, and there is plenty to do. It is worth the drive,” says Joe Veneziano, park visitor.

Puddingstone Hot Tubs, adjacent to Bonelli park, is also minutes away. Hot Tubs facing Puddingstone Lake can be rented at an hourly rate. The gardens are nicely groomed and kept looking fresh, along with their gazebos.

For couples looking for some sizzle in their life, smaller Hot Tubs are available. All are independent and are surrounded by three walls for privacy, with only a portion of the fourth wall open for viewing of the lake. A radio, candles and a changing room are included in the tubs.

To use the park, visitors pay a parking fee of $6 for each vehicle; $10 for RVs and $20 for buses. However, the prices for boat rentals, horseback riding and use of the hot tubs are independent of the park and vary from time-to-time.

Need a little cooling down? Raging Waters is also another outlet of recreation. The hot summer days can be refreshed by dozens of pool rides and slides at Raging Waters. The water park is very popular among families and youths during the summer months.

“It is a really safe environment. Parents can drop their children off during the summer. It was a fun place to work at,” says Mauricio Ramirez, former Raging Waters employee.

Another new wave of entertainment, differing from parks and lakes, museums and historical sites, is the Wayne Gretzky Roller Hockey rink, which is a new addition to the La Verne community. Located on Puddingstone Drive, the rink is suited to fit the interests of young children, teens and adults fascinated by the sport of roller hockey.

Long gone are the days when children used to simply skate on roller skates. Today’s children are geared up with pads, helmets, roller blades and a hockey stick. The rink, primarily opened for the public during the weekends, costs a low $6; skate rental is $2.50, and children under the age of 3 are free. People can join a league and pay $139.99 plus a $40 membership fee. The rink is open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. on the weekends for the public’s use. Most of the week, the rink is used by leagues.

Also opening during summer ’99 is the San Dimas Skate Park that will relieve frustrations caused by the no-skate laws enforced within the community. Located in Pioneer Park, it is designed to provide skateboard and in-line skaters a place to go. The park is free of cost and open to the public during the regular Pioneer Park hours.

For a relaxed mode of recreation, families can stroll down to downtown San Dimas on Wednesday nights and find the San Dimas Marketplace. Welcoming smiles from owners and customers alike describe the happiness found when businesses bring forth their best wares. Passers-by gain a glimpse, smell or taste of what each business has to offer, all just inches from them as they promenade through the area.

If exercise and gym fees do not work into your monthly schedule or budget, there are alternatives. On a sunny day or starlit night, a brisk walk near Brackett Airport can make your experience more complete. The airport gives walkers an incredibly close view of small, usually private-owned airplanes arriving and departing.

Small planes landing on a black sea of asphalt, guided by tiny little blue lights, can give a short walk a touch of relaxation during the evening hours.

Old Town La Verne is also a quaint area to visit during those hot summer months when a breath of fresh air in the evening is all that is needed. Window shoppers can view antiques and knick knacks sold in shops in the area.

Blocks away rests Bonita High School that beckons family bonding through small competitive games of basketball. Bonita High School has done its part by opening its gym to the public at no cost.

At the end of the week, both La Verne and San Dimas, with their small picturesque neighborhoods and their charmed hide-aways, give families the chance to enjoy some time together.

Top Family Eat-Outs

2307 D St., La Verne
A small Japanese restaurant on the corner of Third and D Street. The price is right, and a small patio allows people to eat while enjoying the view of Old Town La Verne. Teriyaki bowls, combo meals, lunch or dinner $7.95. Sushi available.
Hours: 11 a.m. -9 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends.

1615 McKinley Ave., La Verne
With an incredible view facing Brackett Airport’s runway, customers eat while they see their very own air show. Side orders can run as low as $1. The steak and eggs platter, the most expensive meal on the menu, is only $5.75.
Hours: Open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., everyday.

301 S. Garey Ave., La Verne
A simple Mexican style restaurant with low prices and plenty of rice and beans to go with your order. Price ranges are $.95 for sides and $6.75 for a large combo plate with beans, rice and tortillas.
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends.

1912 Foothill Blvd., La Verne
The local hang-out for after business hours, the bar and grill restaurant gives customers the opportunity to catch a meal or relax with a mixed drink.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight, Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sundays.

2086 Foothill Blvd., La Verne
For lovers of orange chicken, this restaurant offers large quantities of great food, served in a relaxing restaurant atmosphere. Lunch specials are $4.25, and dinner specials are $8.95.
Hours: 11:30 a.m- 9:30 p.m., all week.

2232 D Street, La Verne
New to the area, Roxy’s prepares Mexican style food in large quantities while having it ready to eat within minutes. The average dinner is $6.
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday; closed on Sunday.

3191 N. Garey Ave., Pomona
Los Jarritos offers its most elaborate and large plate at $8.50 with rice, beans and tortillas aside from the main meal. A sit down Mexican style meal restaurant, Los Jarritos prepares food similar to the way it is prepared and presented in Mexico.
Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Sunday.

2340 D Street, La Verne
The place to go with friends, family, teams and groups, Warehouse has earned the title of the top family restaurant by university students and locals alike. Sandwiches, Italian food, pizza and side orders are available. A couple of bucks can buy a salad, garlic bread or cheese bread. Sandwiches are $4.50, and the most expensive pizza is $17.50.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Saturday; Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.