Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Our first Christmas living in California was at Big Bear Lake, and it was so unforgettable that we keep on coming back over and over again! A short drive from the beach cities in LA and OC and you get to a totally different climate and vibe. From the beach to the mountains in just 2 hours, that's SoCal!
Big Bear offers plenty of activities year round - yes, not just on winter – but I will limit this post to winter related activities as I haven’t been able to visit Big Bear on summer or spring just yet.
With a little over 5000 residents, Big Bear Lake is a small town yet a very popular all season destination to local SoCal residents. Located only 2 hours away from Los Angeles, it is an easy and worthwhile road trip to everyone in the area and beyond. If you are like me and love the outdoors, hiking and sports, this is THE place to be!
"During winter time, please carry snow chains or you will not be allowed up in the mountains in case it snows. It’s a small city but it gets packed with tourists on holidays so do plan on some extra travel time."
Boulder Bay Park - Best views of the lake for pics!
Big Bear Lake Village: Find everything from restaurants, gift shops, boutiques, bars and night clubs. The Village is the main spot to hang out in Big Bear.
Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit: Known as the best view in the valley, this is a 15-min chairlift ride. All ages can ride, from infants to seniors and disabled. No reservations required. You can call to buy your tickets or purchase them online.
Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain: Opened throughout the year, in summer it features a cool water slide and in the winter there is plenty of snow. Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm and Friday & Saturday evenings from 5 pm to 9 pm. Cash only guys.
Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve: Great place for a walk and to observe the area's wildlife. I went there around sunset time and it was simply gorgeous!
Castle Rock Trail: This is a hard level 2.6 mile loop hike that also brings breathtaking views of the lake to those who climb the rock formation up to the summit. I wouldn’t recommend doing it with kids, especially in the winter when the trail gets extremely icy!! Tons os people were falling (including me) but the rewarding views made it totally worth it!
TIP: Make sure to drive around the lake! It's a beautiful, beautiful drive and you'll find several view points and lakeside parks to stop and enjoy the scenery. Walking paths and hiking trailheads are all over!
Skiing / Snowboarding - Mountains:
Snow Summit & Bear Mountain Purchase one pass and get to visit/ride both mountains. It is usually recommended Snow Summit for skiers and those looking for more of a family experience. Bear Mountain leans more towards snowboarders for its terrain parks and the Red Bull Plaza. There is a shuttle that can take you from one mountain to another. There is also free parking – with limited space, as well as paid parking.
To Eat: The Pines Lakefront - Nice views of the lake Skyline Taphouse: At the top of Snow Summit Notthinghams Tavern: Reservations available Sweet Basil Bistro: Excellent Italian food To Drink: Big Bear Lake Brewing Co: Located at The Village, they brew many types of beer and offer American style food as well. 572 Social Kitchen & Lounge: I just loved this place. Great environment, cozy décor, large variety of drinks and good food. A must go. Whiskey Dave’s – They had live music when we came in, and it was really good. Also, pool tables are available.
- On winter, please carry chains or you will not be allowed to drive up in case it snows.
- Also, Big Bear is a small city but it gets packed with tourists on holidays so do save yourself some travel time.
- Big Bear Blvd is the "main street", so if you are located near it, you are close to everything. - Rent a log cabin, there are hundreds of cozy cabins available via AirBnb and Home Away at accessible prices (on holidays it can get expensive with limited options – book in advance).
You can also request or view Big Bear’s official Visitor’s Guide here: https://www.bigbear.com/travel-tools/visitor-guide/ With Love, Bella.