What to Do in Big Bear

What to Do in Big Bear: Year-Round Adventures Await!

Are you thinking of going to Big Bear, but are at a lost of what to do when you are there? That’s normal, allow me to help give you ideas of what to do in Big Bear when you get there.

Big Bear is a year-round adventure destination that offers fun experiences in the heart of Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. From water sports to hiking trails, and from local events to wildlife encounters, Big Bear has something for everyone.

Key Takeaways

  • Enjoy the lake life at Big Bear Lake with fishing, paddle sports & high-speed thrills

  • Explore hiking trails, mountain biking & family-friendly hikes in San Bernardino National Forest

  • Experience the shops and restaurants plus outdoor activities like zip lining & skiing at Big Bear Mountain Resort

What to Do in Big Bear: Big Bear Lake

Panoramic view of Big Bear Lake with surrounding mountains

Big Bear Lake California is the top four-season outdoor spot in Southern California. This lake offers several activities to escape from heat of the valley and immerse yourself in the cool mountain air. From paddle sports to high-speed thrills, Big Bear Lake has something for everyone to enjoy.

Surrounding the lake, you’ll find several rental options for water sports equipment, such as Pleasure Point Marina. If you enjoy fishing, don’t forget to bring your fishing license, as Big Bear Lake offers excellent fishing opportunities from April to October. For a truly unforgettable experience, take a ride on the Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit for beautiful views of the lake and mountains.

Paddle Sports

Big Bear Lake is big on paddle sports, offering a variety of options for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Rental options are available at Get Boards, Big Bear Kayak Rentals, and Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina. So whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s a paddle sport for you to enjoy. If you prefer to bring your own equipment and paddles that also an option!

To optimize your paddleboarding experience, it’s advisable to:

  • Set out in the morning before the strong winds and power boats become more active

  • Wear a life jacket

  • Follow state and local regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable time on the water.

High-Speed Thrills

For adrenaline junkies, Big Bear Lake offers high-speed water sports like water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. With plenty of rentals and marinas available, you’ll have no problem finding the right gear and location to get your heart pumping.

If you prefer to stay on land, you can visit Summit Bike Park, which offers a range of ticket options and thrilling downhill races for bikers as young as 5 years old. So gear up and prepare for an exhilarating adventure on the water or the trails!

Hiking and Biking in Big Bear

Family hiking adventure with panoramic views in Big Bear

The San Bernardino National Forest is a massive wilderness area, offering lots of hiking and biking trails perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. Some popular trails in the area include:

  • Pine Knot Trail to Grand View Point

  • Castle Rock Trail

  • Cougar Crest Trail

  • Bertha Peak Trail

These trails provide breathtaking views and diverse terrains to explore.

Make sure to be comfortable by wearing suitable footwear and listening to the advice of seasoned hikers. Whether you’re a casual hiker or an avid mountain biker, the San Bernardino National Forest promises an unforgettable outdoor adventure. So put on your best hiking or camping shoes and get ready for some fun!

Family-Friendly Hikes

Big Bear offers several family-friendly hikes to explore and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Pine Knot Trail is a 4.2-mile out-and-back trail with an easy to moderate difficulty level, suitable for families with children. Castle Rock Trail is a challenging 2.7-mile out-and-back hike. It is classified as moderately difficult. The beautiful views of Big Bear Lake from the top of Castle Rock make it worth the effort.

Another popular choice is the Cougar Crest Trail, a 6.2-mile out-and-back trail with a moderate difficulty level. With a variety of trails to choose from, families can enjoy quality time together while exploring the great outdoors in Big Bear.

Mountain Biker’s Haven

Thrilling mountain biking experience in Big Bear

Big Bear is a mountain biker’s paradise, with over 100 miles of trails, downhill races at Snow Summit Bike Park, and gear rentals for all skill levels. Skyline Ridge, Grand View Loop and Plantation Trail are popular trails for mountain biking. Enjoy the views while you ride! To gear up for your adventure, check out Potter’s Mountain Sports Bike Tours and Rentals.

The prime time for mountain biking in Big Bear is from June to October. So grab your helmet, hop on your bike, and hit the trails for an unforgettable biking experience amidst the stunning scenery of Big Bear!

Enjoying Big Bear Village

Big Bear Village is a shopping and dining destination, offering unique shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlors for a delightful day out. Walk through the village and discover a variety of stores, from the Brown Bear Gift Shop to Bear Essentials.

Hungry? Big Bear Village has you covered with a range of dining options, including the Teddy Bear Restaurant, Fire Rock, and The Brewery. Don’t forget to treat yourself to some ice cream at The Village Sweet Shoppe, North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co., or An Ran Ju Gelato and Teahouse.

Big Bear Village, located in the Big Bear Valley, is a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the local flavors after a day of adventure. It also has restrooms you can use while you relax. However, if you want a portable toilet you can invest in one as well.

Tee Off at Bear Mountain Golf Course

If you love golfing, don’t miss the opportunity to play a round at the Bear Mountain Golf Course. Located at the base of the Bear Mountain Ski Resort, this golf course offers beautiful views of the San Bernardino Mountains and a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the sport.

Advance booking is recommended to enjoy your golfing session, especially in the summer when the course tends to be busier. So pack your clubs and tee off at the Bear Mountain Golf Course.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

For animal lovers, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a must-visit destination. This unique zoo is not only a sanctuary for indigenous wild animals but also a rehabilitation center that focuses on treating and assisting injured, orphaned, or endangered animals before releasing them back into the wild.

From wolves and grizzly bears to arctic foxes and ringtailed cats, there’s a diverse range of animals to see at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. By visiting the zoo, you’ll not only have a chance to learn about these animals but also support the zoo’s conservation efforts and programs.

Soar Above the Trees with Action Tours

For thrill-seekers, Action Tours offers an unforgettable adventure in the San Bernardino forests. Experience the excitement of zip lining, off-roading, and other exhilarating activities.

Action Tours’ zip lining course, for example, takes you on a high-speed ride through the trees, reaching speeds of up to 35 mph. If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Big Bear’s natural beauty, soaring above the trees with Action Tours is an experience you won’t want to miss.

What to Do in Big Bear: Snow Time at Big Bear Mountain Resort

Exciting winter activities at Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Mountain Resort is a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities, attracting visitors from around the world to its snowy slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a trail and activity for you at the resort.

During warmer months, the resort transforms into a hub for outdoor activities such as:

  • zip lining

  • rock climbing

  • trampolining

  • golf at the Bear Mountain Golf Course

With something for everyone, Big Bear Mountain Resort is an ideal destination for outdoor adventurers year-round. If you enjoy camping in the winter, be sure you have the best tips on how to stay warm, due to Big Bear at times becoming very cold. Lastly, if you plan to go camping in the winter, I also recommend bringing a portable heater.

Sunset Rides and Equestrian Excitement at Baldwin Lake Stables

Experience the beauty of Big Bear on horseback with a visit to Baldwin Lake Stables. Offering different trail options, the stables cater to riders of all skill levels and provide a unique way to explore the surroundings.

The highly recommended sunset ride at Baldwin Lake Stables takes you on a beautiful journey through the mountains. Saddle up for a fun equestrian adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Big Bear Discovery Center

Immerse yourself in nature at the Big Bear Discovery Center, which is an educational and informational hub for the San Bernardino National Forest. The center features exhibits, eco-tours, and outdoor programs for all ages, making it an ideal destination for families and nature lovers alike.

Learn about the local flora, fauna, and history of the area through interactive displays and activities. The Big Bear Discovery Center’s programs are not only fun but also provide valuable insight into the importance of preserving our natural environment.

Unwind with Pontoon Boating

Serene pontoon boating on Big Bear Lake

Relax and take in the views of Big Bear Lake on a pontoon boat rental. Perfect for a leisurely day on the water, pontoon boats offer a comfortable and spacious way to explore the lake and its beautiful surroundings.

Numerous marinas, including Big Bear Marina and Holloway’s Marina, provide pontoon boat rentals, making it easy for you to find a boat that fits your needs. So grab your friends and family, and set sail on a relaxing trip across the beautiful Big Bear Lake.

Adventure on the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain

For year-round family fun, head to the Magic Mountain Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. Here, you can experience:

  • Alpine slides

  • Go-karts

  • Mini-golf

  • Water slides

  • And more

The Alpine Slide takes you on a fun ride down two quarter-mile-long cement tracks, providing an exciting adventure for all ages.

In addition to the Alpine Slide, Magic Mountain offers a range of activities to keep everyone entertained, whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking for a more relaxing experience. Some of the activities you can enjoy at Magic Mountain include:

  • Go-kart racing

  • Miniature golf

  • Bumper boats

  • Water slides

  • Rock climbing

  • Laser tag

  • Arcade games

Cultural Highlights: Local Events and Festivals

Big Bear is not just about outdoor adventures; it’s also a place where you can attend local events and festivals that showcase the area’s rich culture, history, and community spirit. Big Bear constantly has a variety of activities, from car exhibits and sports competitions to festive celebrations.

Some traditional events and festivals in Big Bear include:

  • Oktoberfest

  • The Big Bear Lake Antique Car Club Fun Run

  • The Big Bear Cowboy Gathering

  • The Big Bear Renaissance Faire

  • The Big Bear Lake Troutfest

By attending these events, you’ll have the chance to experience Big Bear’s vibrant culture and make lasting memories.

Culinary Delights

Savor the flavors of Big Bear by eating in a variety of delicious cuisine options. From traditional American food to international flavors, Big Bear offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to all taste buds. However if you are more traditional, you can also prepare your own food when you’re camping.

Popular local eateries in Big Bear include:

  • Fire Rock Cafe

  • Tropicali

  • The Old German Deli

  • Himalayan

  • Sweet Basil Bistro

  • 572 Social Kitchen & Lounge

  • Grizzly Manor Cafe

Seek Thrills Off-Road with Big Bear Jeep Experience

Start an off-roading adventure with Big Bear Jeep Experience, exploring trails and historical spots in the Big Bear mountains. With fully built Jeeps and top-of-the-line Can-Am Maverick X3 UTVs, Big Bear Jeep Experience provides a thrilling way to discover the area’s rugged beauty.

Guided tours are offered to provide a secure and fun off-roading session for adventurers of all skill levels. So buckle up and prepare for a heart-pounding adventure as you traverse the landscape of Big Bear on one of our big bear hiking adventures.

What to Do in Big Bear: Gaze at the Stars from Big Bear Solar Observatory

For a unique stargazing experience, visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory. Here, you can:

  • Take free public tours during the summer months

  • Learn about the sun’s anatomy and behavior

  • observe the world’s largest aperture and highest resolution solar telescope housed at the observatory.

Touring the Big Bear Solar Observatory not only educates but also offers a unique chance to view the cosmos and marvel at the beauty of the night sky.


In conclusion, Big Bear is truly a year-round adventure destination that offers a wide range of activities and experiences for all ages and interests. From water sports on the pristine lake to hiking and biking in the majestic San Bernardino National Forest, and from cultural events and festivals to thrilling off-road adventures, there’s never a dull moment in Big Bear.

So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and start your unforgettable journey to discover the countless wonders that await you in this enchanting mountain paradise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular water activities at Big Bear Lake?

Popular water activities at Big Bear Lake include paddleboarding, pontoon boating, sailing, wakeboarding, and kayaking.

What are the recommended safety measures for paddle sports at Big Bear Lake?

Stay safe on the water and make sure to wear a life jacket, have appropriate flotation devices, abide by regulations, and avoid windy conditions for paddle sports at Big Bear Lake.

What are some popular family-friendly hikes in Big Bear?

If you’re looking for family-friendly hikes in Big Bear, Pine Knot, Castle Rock, and Cougar Crest are great choices.

Are there any seasonal events or special promotions at the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain?

Yes, the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is offering a special promotion for its 40th anniversary – free rides for anyone born in 1983!

What’s the best time to visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory?

The best time to visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory is on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of June, July, and August.

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