If you’re looking for an awesome destination spot that will allow you to experience family fun while also giving you the option of seeing some beautiful sights, then you need not look further than Big Bear Lake in Southern California.
Big Bear (fully called Big Bear Lake) is a city based in San Bernardino County, near the San Bernardino mountains. Read on to learn about some of the fun things to do in Big Bear Lake, California, that you and your family will love.
BIG BEAR LAKE
Big Bear Lake in Southern California is a great addition to the entire San Bernardino area. It refers to both the city and the lake!
When it comes to the city, some might say that Big Bear Lake, California is a treasure since it offers so many fun experiences no matter the time of year. There are beautiful, snowy vistas if you’re looking for activities in the winter and there are equally fun, family-friendly activities in the spring and summer.
Looking to explore the city in a unique way? Consider the Big Bear Jeep Experience and explore the canyons, meadows, and mountains in the area with a guide at the helm. They even offer tours that are specifically family-friendly, and include mining for the kids.
Big Bear Lake (the lake) is a snow-fed lake in the San Bernardino Mountains; it is home to the Old Bear Valley Dam, which is officially a California historical landmark. If you and your family go to visit the lake, make sure to check out this beautiful feat of construction prowess and learn a bit more about California’s history at the time.
If you go in the summer – although the water will still be very cold – you can have fun going fishing, waterskiing, pleasure boating, etc. However, there are many underwater dangers near the shore here, so lake swimming is not advised, unfortunately.
BIG BEAR ALPINE ZOO
If your family isn’t particularly excited about outdoor activities such as skiing or fishing, that’s all right. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo specializes in the rehabilitation and care of local alpine creatures native to the area.
It is located across the street from Big Bear Mountain Resort and is open every day from 10 am to 4 pm. Tickets are affordable, and discounts available for some.
This zoo features 25 different species, including sandhill cranes, snow leopards, coyotes, Canada geese, fallow deer, black bears, arctic foxes, mountain lions, grizzly bears, snowy owls, and many others.
Details: 747 Club View dr., Big Bear Lake, CA 92314 | Website
BIG BEAR MOUNTAIN RESORT
When it comes to Big Bear Mountain Resort, depending on the time of year, you can rent out a mountain bike or two and have a fun day trip cycling through the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.
Also, Big Bear Mountain is split into two different main mountain spots— both are premier California locations for skiing and snowboarding. One of them is Bear Mountain, and it tends to be more popular with experienced visitors since it focuses more on terrain parks.
If you’re not thrilled by the idea of snow-filled escapades, there are still many family-friendly activities in the warmer months of the year. There are hiking trails that wander up and down the mountain – ranging in difficulty so that everyone in your party can enjoy them. If you have any questions about the trail you can always check in at the visitor’s center to get more information.
For those of you who want to experience more sunlight without having to participate in potentially long hikes, you can check out the golf course (opening back up in May of 2022) and make your way around the green. You certainly don’t want to try and golf in the winter, unless you think it’ll be fun to try and find your ball in the snow!
Details: 880 Summit Blvd Suite A, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 | Website
Snow Summit is the other mountain that is part of Big Bear Resort. Although both exist under the Big Bear Resort banner, this mountain offers more traditional types of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. You can even go snow tubing if that tickles your fancy!
If you’re a new skier or snowboarder, Snow Summit offers beautiful vistas, even if you’re only comfortable enough to go on the bunny slopes. You can always ride the chair lift to check out the sights and then return to ground level with a memory full of amazing views of the lake and surrounding town that you would never see otherwise.
When you’ve had your fill of fun in the snow at Snow Summit, you and your family can head down to the lodge. Relax with some hot chocolate and sit next to the warm fire while you talk about all the amazing things you’ve seen in Big Bear.
Details: 880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 | Website
CASTLE ROCK TRAIL
No matter the season, Big Bear is open for hiking, and they offer many trails for the intrepid explorer. One of the most popular trails is the Castle Rock Trail, but it’s listed as an intermediate or difficult course, so take care not to overestimate your abilities.
However, once you make it up to the top of the trail, it offers a view of Big Bear that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. As long as you have a camera on hand, you’ll be able to take a picture and immortalize it forever.
Castle Rock is only 2.4 miles (round trip), but don’t take this to mean it’ll be an easy one, even if you’re experienced. Make sure that you’re prepared for some difficult terrain and that you have some form of survival training just in case.
COUGAR CREST TRAIL
If you hike Castle Rock and feel like you need a greater challenge, the next one to tackle is Cougar Crest. This trail is also listed as intermediate/difficult, but it stretches over double the length of Castle Rock (5.5 miles round trip).
This trail will take you through more natural environments, meaning that you’ll be able to see a lot of wild flora and fauna. If you’re into nature and exercise, this trail will give you smatterings of both so that you can make a perfect day of your outdoor experience.
We cannot stress enough that this trail is marked as intermediate/difficult. The hiking trail starts quite gently but you’ll soon start combating altitude and difficult terrain. However, stunning views will greet you once you meet the top.
ALPINE PEDAL PATH
Before you start to wonder if any paths are meant for beginners – there are! The Alpine Pedal Path is a must-do when it comes to things to do in Big Bear. This beautiful trail will take you along the northern shore of Big Bear lake, meaning that you’ll be able to see amazing sights year-round.
If you’re worried that your party might be too big for this route, don’t be. The route allows for hikers, bikers, strollers, wheelchairs, and strollers. This means that no matter the mobility of members in your party, everyone in the family will be able to enjoy it.
This is also one of the numerous paths that is part of the San Bernardino National Forest. No matter the season, you’ll see meadows, lots of plants, local animals, and you can also check out the numerous campgrounds and picnic areas along the trail.
BOULDER BAY PARK
Boulder Bay Park is a fun one for summer activities. Boulder Bay Park sits along the side of the Big Bear Lake, meaning that you and your family can have more days filled with nautical-themed family fun. At Boulder Bay Park, you can kayak, canoe, or just play in the water.
If you want to make a day of it, bring a picnic basket. As with many things in Big Bear, the views will take your breath away and you’ll want to spend time examining them. If you bring a leisurely meal and your loved ones, you can create a fun day full of discovery and food.
Additionally, Boulder Bay Park sometimes hosts events, so if you time it right, you might be able to check out some live music and other recreational activities. It’s a phenomenal park that offers lots of accessibility and attractions, such as a pier from which you can do some fishing or even a large bandstand for the aforementioned live entertainment.
Details: 39080 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
BIG BEAR DISCOVERY CENTER
Although the Big Bear Discovery Center was only established in 1998, it has quickly become the biggest visitor center in all of Big Bear Valley. They offer eco-tours so you can learn about the local flora and fauna.
Additionally, you can check out their weekly programs (check the schedule) and exhibits to learn more about the area and all the Big Bear can show you. The Big Bear Discovery Center periodically hosts unique events that you won’t want to miss.
Some of the events in the past have included interpretive programs, theater productions, and outdoor concerts within the stunning amphitheater that is a part of the Big Bear Discovery Center.
Details: 40971 North Shore dr. Hwy 38, Fawnskin, CA 92333 | Website
ALPINE SLIDE AT MAGIC MOUNTAIN
The Alpine Slide is a world-famous recreation area that provides the family with activities and enjoyment year-round. Winter or summer, they invite you to come and play!
If you and your family come in the summer, you will be treated to an experience filled with water-slide shenanigans. In the winter, you can try your hand at snow tubing down the large slope. The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is also one of the only places where you can experience authentic bobsledding in Southern California.
The Alpine Slide can be enjoyed by children of all ages and in all different types of weather. However, if you’re not feeling the snow tubing or water sliding, you can try your hand at the many other offered attractions. We’re talking go-karts, miniature golf, and even a spacious lawn for sitting and having a picnic.
Details: 800 Wildrose Ln, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 | Website
BIG BEAR SNOW PLAY
Another place that offers year-round, fun-filled extravaganzas is Big Bear Snow Play. Big Bear Snow Play was once a ski hill called Rebel Ridge – it used to sport the longest ski and snowboarding runs in all of Southern California.
Those runs have now been repurposed for other activities. To experience all that Big Bear Snow Play offers, take a relaxing ride on their uphill magic carpet lift machine.
Other fun activities that Big Bear Snow Play offers are; a ropes course, a speedway with go-karts, all-day snow tubing, and even a fully-stocked base lodge with video games and a snack bar for everyone to enjoy and warm up in after the outdoor activities. No matter your party’s energy level and excitement, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Details: 42825 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 | Website
PINE KNOT VILLAGE
For the shopaholics reading this, don’t worry. You’ve not been forgotten. When it comes to the plethora of things you can do in Big Bear, missing out on Pine Knot Village would be a real shame.
Pine Knot Village offers boutique shopping, meaning that you’ll be able to find that one-of-a-kind thing that’ll impress your mother-in-law. You can check out the many stores and clothing locations and take comfort in the fact that a lot of what you find will be unique.
No shopping experience would be complete without delicious food outlets. Pine Knot Village boasts dozens of eateries in a variety of cuisines, so whatever your stomach is hungry for, you’ll be able to find it. Once you’ve filled your stomach and emptied your wallet, why not sit back, relax, and check out some of the exciting entertainment offered there?
ACTION LINE ZIP TOURS
If walking through the San Bernardino National Forest isn’t your cup of tea, how do you feel about ziplining through it? Action Line Zip Tours is a recreational activity that allows you to zip line through the San Bernardino Mountains at high speeds, seeing sights that you’ll never see again.
Action Line Zip Tours offers tours for everyone of all ages, meaning that you can do this as a fun experience with the entire family. You all can check out the beautiful mountain and forest sights while ziplining down numerous paths and feeling the thrill of adrenaline.
No matter when you’re visiting Big Bear, they’re open year-round. Additionally, they will cater your time at Zip Tours to your family, meaning that each tour you go on will be unique. You’ll be placed with a certified tour guide and taken on an unforgettable journey while also learning interesting information about Big Bear and its natural beauty.
Details: 40957 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 | Website
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
- NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: 18+ Magical Things To Do In Northern California Everyone Needs To Experience
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- REDWOOD HIKING: 12 Best Hikes in Redwood National Park (+2 Nearby Gems)
- JOSHUA TREE: 15 Things To Do In Joshua Tree (In & Out of the Park)
- MORRO BAY: Kayaking To A Desert & Other Amazing Things To Do In Morro Bay, CA
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WHERE TO STAY IN BIG BEAR LAKE
Best Luxury Cabin Option. 1200 Wolf Creek Court is a gorgeous, expansive 3,800 square foot 4-bedroom cabin right at the resort. Check out the photo’s of this place in all of their breathtaking glory. This is great for large families or friends on vacation.
Best Lake Resort Option. Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge at Big Bear Lake is a gorgeous lakeside property within walking distance of shopping, restaurants, the Lake Boardwalk and local specialty shops.
Walk to Lift Option. This Five Star Rated Townhouse is a short walk to the ski lifts, and sleeps 8 comfortably with it’s 2-story, 2-bedroom, 2-bath layout. This serene setting is nestled by the trees and adjacent to the National Forest and Snow Summit Adventure Park.
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