Crisp mountain air, towering pine trees, and the gorgeous snow-fed lake make Big Bear Lake one of the world’s best destinations for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike. Thanks to its unique location, this mountainous area is also home to some of the most incredible flora and fauna in all of California. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, you’ll find a way to enjoy Big Bear Lake, whether that’s sipping a glass of wine by the water or filling your belly at one of the many cozy dining choices.
Your trip to Big Bear Lake is not complete without spending some time on the water itself. Big Bear Lake is home to multiple marinas and tons of rental shops, allowing you to enjoy yourself however you like. Hit the water with a pontoon boat, go kayaking, ride a jet ski, or even try some tubing lessons. The lake also has multiple points where anglers can stock up and try their luck.
One of the most popular routes near Big Bear Lake, Castle Rock Trail, provides a great workout without being too tiring for less-experienced hikers, children, or canine companions. The final stop on this trail feels like you stepped into a painting. Even if you don’t manage to make it all the way to the top of this trail, you’ll still find plenty of spots with unforgettable views of the lake below.
The world-famous Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is a must-see when visiting Big Bear Lake. Your ride starts with a short chairlift journey that provides panoramic views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains. Each rider then pilots their own individually controlled sled down two quarter-mile tracks that are sure to excite. Beyond this bobsled experience, the Magic Mountain Recreation Area also has water slides, mini-golf, a double water slide, and the new Mineshaft Coaster.
Animal lovers will adore Big Bear Lake as they watch eagles soar through the sky as foxes dart across the nearby trails. However, if you want to see all of the incredible critters that call this region home, the Alpine Zoo is the prime destination. This rehabilitation facility cares for injured, orphaned, or imprinted wild animals and does its best to return them to nature. Make friends with lumbering bears, majestic eagles, impossibly cute deer, and many other creatures, all while knowing that you are helping support their rehabilitation.
Like all scenic locales, Big Bear Lake has plenty of trails and waterways for you to explore. However, Big Bear Jeep Experience lets you enjoy the beauty of nature in a way you may not be used to by off-roading in durable and exciting all-terrain vehicles. It all starts with renting a Jeep and picking a route. Using a two-way radio, a tour guide will teach you how to drive across different types of terrain while also talking about the local area and its flora and fauna. Chill, smooth drives are available for the more casual visitor, while hardcore, bumpy routes exist for the more adventurous.
One of the favorite trails near Big Bear Lake, Cougar Crest Trail, is a short day hike that gives you one of the best views possible at the top. While this hike is decently tricky due to the climb, the trail is well-maintained and dog-friendly, so experienced hikers will have no trouble enjoying the trek with their furry friends. For a different trail experience, rent a horse and conquer the mountain with an equine companion.
Make some lifelong memories with your family at Big Bear Snow Play. This former ski area is now a destination for a variety of family-friendly activities. Natural and man-made snow combine to create the perfect spot for snow tubing. Visit at night to go glow tubing under the psychedelic illumination of red, blue, green, and even blacklights. You can also take your family on a jaw-dropping aerial adventure thanks to the nearby rope course or let them live the life of an F1 champ with the mini-race cars on the Speedway.
Along the north shore of Big Bear Lake lies the beloved Alpine Pedal Path. This asphalt path winds across San Bernardino Mountains and is a perfect place to see the bald eagles that visit between November and April. This path is available for anyone, not just cyclists, despite its name. On particularly nice days, you’ll come across skaters, joggers, hikers, and even families with strollers. Most of the path is also wheelchair accessible and doesn’t involve an intense workout.
Snow Summit is the premier destination for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. During the summer, visitors can tackle over 60 miles of cross-country trails at the Bike Park or test their abilities on the climbing wall, zip line, or massive trampoline. In the winter, Snow Summit provides 240 acres of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels.
Big Bear Lake has no shortage of romantic places to spend some quality time with a loving partner. Enjoy some fine dining alongside cozy lamplight and a stone fireplace at The Pines Lakefront, which also happens to offer a perfect view of the lake. Couples who want to unwind with a glass in hand should visit the Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room, which has samples from numerous local wineries. If you want to hit the water, the historic Skipperliner, Miss Liberty, features a shaded upper deck and a heated main salon so you can enjoy the surrounding scenery in absolute comfort.