Things to Do in Big Bear Lake, CA

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Experience the unique small-town charm of Big Bear Lake

Nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains only 100 miles northeast of L.A., Big Bear Lake is the ideal winter getaway for the entire family. This small but charming town provides a vast range of all-year-round activities everyone can enjoy. Its great location, relaxed atmosphere, cobbled streets, and diverse attractions make Big Bear Lake a favorite among the residents of Southern California. Why not stay at our luxury family cabin in Big Bear and see for yourself what makes this small Californian town so special? Read on to find out why visiting Big Bear Lake is definitely worth your while!

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

As one of the only two alpine zoos in the country, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is an absolute must-see. The best thing about it is the fact that it’s not even a typical zoo but a rehabilitation center for wild animals. Believe it or not, around 90% of the animals in Big Bear Alpine Zoo are released into the wild.

Big Bear Zoo is located right next to Bear Mountain Ski Resort and can be easily accessed if you take Highway 18 and turn right at Moonridge Road. The zoo is currently home to over 85 different animal species, most of which are native to the area.

Big Bear Discovery Center

A great first stop for visitors, Big Bear Discovery Center is a nature center and visitor center all in one. Here, you can get invaluable information about the area, whether you want to find out what the best things to do in Big Bear, CA are or learn how to avoid bears.

The center strives to enable visitors to learn more about the San Bernardino National Forest and teach them how to stay safe while exploring the natural beauties of Big Bear Lake. This is why stopping by Big Bear Discovery Center is the perfect way to start off your visit.

San Bernardino National Forest

A favorite among visitors who are into hiking, horseback riding, biking, and wildlife viewing, the San Bernardino National Forest encompasses 660,000 acres of the San Bernardino Mountains. It features thirty miles of the highly popular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail known for its scenic views and rich wildlife.

You can enjoy the beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest all year round. Even the drive to the forest is enjoyable as it features the famous Rim of the World Scenic Byway as well as Palms to Pines Scenic Byways.

Snow Summit Ski Resort

Snow Summit is a premium ski resort nestled in the center of the San Bernardino National Forest. It features a whole range of all-year-round activities, including a gravity fed bike park, downhill trails for all skill levels, cross country trails, a zipline, a climbing wall, as well as some of the most popular hiking trails in the area.

The resort was established all the way back in 1952 and has remained one of the most popular skiing destinations in the L.A. area. That’s not to say that Snow Summit is worth visiting only during the winter – on the contrary, its great biking trails and basecamp activities make it one of the best summertime destinations in all of California.

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain is an all-year-round recreation area that features California’s only authentic bobsled ride. You can take a chairlift ride to the top and enjoy the scenic views and then go on a thrilling sled ride down a ¼ mile long track.

The fun at The Alpine Slide doesn’t stop once winter is over. During the summertime, you can enjoy a ride on a double Water Slide, as well as a golf course and go-karts. The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is the ideal recreation area for the entire family, so make sure to check it out when you visit Big Bear.

Panoramic trails

Big Bear Lake is truly a hiker’s paradise. It offers hiking opportunities for all skill levels and ages. One of the best vantage points in Big Bear can be found on the Castle Rock Trail, a popular hiker’s destination that features unforgettable panoramic views.

In addition to Castle Rock, you can also check out a variety of other trails, including Bertha Peak Trail, Skyline Ridge, and Pine Knot Trail. Just make sure to stay away from bears on your hike!

Water activities

Big Bear Lake offers a whole range of exciting water activities. Whether you’re into jet skiing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and boating, or want to immerse yourself in a more relaxing activity such as fishing, Big Bear Lake has it all.

You can book water sports lessons and equipment at one of the lake’s six marinas during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. The lake is a favorite among water sports enthusiasts from all around the state and beyond, so make sure to dip your toes in.

Picnics at Boulder Bay Park

If you’re looking for a place where you can bask in the sun and enjoy some quality time with your family, look no further than Boulder Bay Park. Since its opening in 2010, the park has been a favorite spot among visitors and residents alike.

The park features numerous amenities and relaxation areas, including fishing docks, restrooms, and picnic tables. During the colder months of the year, Boulder Bay Park turns into a snow-play area loved by kids of all ages.

A photographer’s paradise

If you’re into photography, you are sure to love Big Bear Lake and its surroundings. In addition to the fantastic variety of trails that the area offers, you can also find a number of incredible photography spots by driving through the backcountry.

You can choose from a wide range of scenic drives and byways in the Big Bear Lake area. The most popular options include the Holcomb Valley Scenic Drive, Moon Ridge Road, Cougar Crest Trail, Alpine Pedal Path, Snow Summit chairlift, and so much more.

Learn more about the charm of Big Bear Lake!

Where is Big Bear in California?

Big Bear Lake is a picturesque winter getaway located in the San Bernardino Mountains in the heart of Southern California. It is surrounded by the majestic San Bernardino National Forest and is a short drive away from most coastal cities in Southern CA.

How far is Big Bear Mountain from San Diego?

It takes around 2 and a half hours to get to Big Bear Mountain and Big Bear Lake from San Diego. However, you may want to make a couple of stops along the way as the area you’ll have to pass is known for its magnificent views.

Are there bears in Big Bear Lake?

Although Big Bear Lake was named after the grizzly bears that once populated the area, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll run into one today. After 1908, grizzly bears were not seen in the area. However, there have been reports of black bear sightings in residential areas, so keep that in mind while exploring the region.

What can you do for free in Big Bear?

Considering that the area is known and loved for its magnificent nature and rich wildlife, there’s a lot you can see and do in Big Bear Lake without breaking the bank. Even if you don’t want to explore one of the many trails in the area, you can simply stay at Boulder Bay Park and enjoy a nice picnic with your family.

Other free activities in Big Bear Lake include visiting the Big Bear Discovery Center, exploring Pine Knot Village, as well as engaging in magical snow play during the winter.

What is the best month to go to Big Bear?

Big Bear Lake is a fantastic vacation destination during all four seasons. If you are a winter sports enthusiast, December to mid-March is definitely the best time to visit. Once the snow melts, the area turns into the ideal hiking and mountain biking destination, so consider visiting Big Bear in spring, summer, or fall if that’s what you’re looking for.

How much does it snow in Big Bear?

Wam, dry summers and snowy, cold winters are characteristic of Big Bear Lake. In winter, the area tends to receive moderate amounts of snow with the first snowfall sometimes happening as early as October and November. If you’re planning on skiing, you can expect the snowy season to last until March and early April.

What month does it snow in Big Bear?

Typically, Big Bear Lake gets the heaviest snowfall in December, January, and February. However, if you plan to visit Big Bear during the Christmas season, keep in mind that snow is not always guaranteed outside of the ski resorts during this time.

Are chains required for Big Bear?

Chains are required on all mountain roads in the Big Bear Lake area, except for vehicles with four-wheel or all-wheel drive that have snow tread tires on all wheels. All vehicles must carry chains. Some roads require chains for all vehicles, without exceptions.

What should I wear to Big Bear?

The temperatures at Big Bear Lake can drop down pretty low, so layered clothing is a must when visiting Big Bear during the winter. If you plan to participate in snow play, make sure to equip yourself with a warm, water-resistant jacket, a hat, gloves, and waterproof boots. During the summer months, temperatures in Big Bear can go as high as 94 degrees, so make sure to dress accordingly.

When can you ski in Big Bear?

The ski season in Big Bear lasts throughout the winter, but most skiers and snowboarders prefer to visit in the period from late December to late February. Interestingly, February at Big Bear often gets quite heavy snowfall. In 2019, Big Bear Mountain Resort received as much as 81 inches of snow.

Can you ski in Big Bear in March?

March can be a great time for skiing thanks to the soft snow that usually remains throughout the month and the smaller number of skiers and snowboarders on the mountain. However, you shouldn’t count on too much snow in Big Bear Lake in March as it’s the last month of the colder season.

Does Big Bear have night skiing?

Looking for an opportunity to cruise the snow slopes beneath starry skies? You can do so at Snow Summit’s Night Sessions available during the holiday season at Miracle Mile, Summit Run, and Westridge Park.

Can you still snowboard in Big Bear?

Sure! You can snowboard on either Snow Summit or Bear Mountain Resort. Both resorts offer a wide array of features, as well as equipment rentals and snowboarding lessons. The conditions at Big Bear Lake are ideal for snowboarding with a wide variety of runs for all skill levels.

Beginners tend to choose Easy Street and The Gulch, while intermediate snowboarders usually pick Upper Park Run, Boneyard, and Gambler. Expert snowboarders love the challenging runs such as Rip’s Run, Outlaw, and The Wedge.

What ski resorts are in Big Bear?

Both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are very well-loved among skiers and snowboarders who visit Big Bear Lake. No matter the time of year, both of these resorts are some of the most popular destinations in the Big Bear area, offering unique experiences for snowboarders and skiers of all ages and skill levels.

Which is better, Snow Summit or Big Bear?

Which skiing resort you pick will depend mostly on your personal preference. Each of these resorts boasts fantastic runs and a full range of amenities. The main difference between the two is that Bear Mountain has more obstacles, boxes, railings, and jumps on the slopes while Snow Summit Resort has more traditional runs.

What is there to do in Big Bear Lake in the summer?

Big Bear Lake is an all-year-round vacation destination, meaning that there’s always something fun to do in the area. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy during the summer months:

  • Participate in a diverse variety of water sports
  • Enjoy one of the excellent hikes the area offers.
  • Go on a segway tour
  • Explore Pine Knot Village
  • Ride the Scenic Sky Chair
  • Have fun at the Alpine Slide
  • And so much more!

Where can I kayak in Big Bear?

Yes, kayaking is the ideal activity to enjoy at Big Bear Lake while the sun is out. You can kayak in the Big Bear Lake and enjoy the magnificent scenery that surrounds it as well as the perfect weather that’s typical during the summer months in Big Bear.

You can rent your kayak in one of the lake’s marinas. The most popular kayak rental companies are the Pleasure Point Marina, Big Bear Marina, Getboards, and  Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina Big Bear.

Can you paddle board in Big Bear Lake?

Paddle boarding is one of the favorite activities among visitors of Big Bear Lake. You can paddle board just about anywhere on the lake, enjoying the stunning scenery and relax in the warm sun. Paddle board lessons and rentals are available in most of the lake’s marinas.

Can you swim in Big Bear Lake?

Of course! Swimming is allowed in Big Bear Lake within designated swimming areas and no farther than 50 feet from the shore. Lifeguards are on duty on;y at Swim Beach, so make sure to wear a life jacket to avoid any accidents.

Where can I find a luxury cabin for rent in Big Bear, CA?

If you’ve decided to experience the magic of Big Bear Lake this year, we have the perfect place for you to stay! At Evergreen Lodge, you’ll get to enjoy your Big Bear visit in a comfortable, chic environment. Our luxury cabin boasts a variety of amenities, including an indoor hot tub, fully equipped kitchen, as well as a fenced backyard with cozy lounges.

Learn more about our amazing getaway retreat and start packing for an unforgettable trip to Big Bear Lake today!