There are tons of things to do in Big Bear, regardless of the season or weather, so there’s no excuse to miss this fabulous destination! Check out the best activities you can enjoy.
Big Bear is a small city on the banks of Big Bear Lake with plenty of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed both in summer and winter, and the seasons in between.
It’s a great destination for adventurous travelers, looking to enjoy thrilling watersports or hiking trails, and also for those seeking some quiet time by the lake to recharge energies and relax.
Let’s find out all the things to do in Big Bear Lake, CA, so you get a notion of what your trip will look like!
12 Things to Do in Big Bear Lake
Explore Big Bear
Big Bear is not only a very charming city but it’s surrounded by mountains and forest, and offers gorgeous scenery from pretty much every spot, so you should definitely go out and explore the area to see all the opportunities it has to offer, from gorgeous hiking trails to spectacular viewpoints, lake activities that you’ll witness people enjoying and pretty streets where you can go for a stroll.
If you’re not up for walking much (yet!), you can rent a bike and make your first activity all the more enjoyable! You can also join a bike tour to learn a bit more about Big Bear as you take in the views.
➤ The Big Bear Bike Tour offers a guided 2-hour bike trip visiting landmarks such as Eagle Point and Meadow Park, all the while you learn about each place through an audio headset. Equipment, water, and snacks are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Get a Thrill at Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
Alpine Slide is doubtless among the top activities in Big Bear, for children and grown-ups, especially because it can be enjoyed all year round (and because it’s pretty exciting!)
The enjoyment will start from the very beginning, as you ride the chairlift to the top with scenic views all around you. Once at Magic Mountain, it’s time to slide down! If you’re visiting in summer you’ll get to use the water slides that end with a splash in a heated pool; in winter, though, you’ll go down snow tubing.
Alpine Slide is one of the only places in California where you can also enjoy bobsledding any time of year, and if that’s too exhilarating for you, there’s also a miniature golf course, go-karts, a Mountain Coaster, two sun decks, and a spacious lawn to relax. It’s for sure a favorite among Big Bear family activities!
There’s also the Soaring Eagle Ride, which offers panoramic views of the forest and lake, so you’ll be spoiled for things to do at Big Bear’s Alpine Slide.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Saturday & Sunday is open until dusk.
Entrance Fee: Single Ride $9. 5-Ride Book $40
Go Hiking in Big Bear
Another thing you’ll be spoiled for is hiking trails; there are so many! And more importantly, they offer gorgeous views all around, so even if you’re not an avid hiker you’ll enjoy the experience.
One of the most popular hiking trails is Castle Rock. However, even though it’s only 2.4 miles roundtrip, it’s a difficult terrain and said to be a rather strenuous hike, so I’d suggest only those experienced or in good physical condition attempt it.
For beginners, a great trail is the Alpine Pedal Path, located in the San Bernardino National Forest. The path is walkable (or great for cycling!) any time of the year, and the 3.2-mile trail offers scenic views, sightings of bald eagles, and plenty of benches along the way to catch your breath or take in the scenery. Being a paved path, skating is also possible, as well as access by wheelchair.
Those looking for some more challenging hikes head to 6.9-mile Pine Knot Trail. Don’t be surprised to pass by people horseback riding or mountain biking! A great way of exploring these nature trails is with a knowledgeable guide that will take you to the best paths.
➤ The Private Hike with Lake Swimming Experience takes you to one of the least-known viewpoints over the lake, and then to the harbor from where you’ll get to jump into the water and refresh (one of the must Big Bear summer activities!) You can also take your picnic or request a to-go lunch beforehand. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ You can otherwise go on the Private Hiking Tour to Bluff Lake Reserve, so you combine your exercise with a visit to the beautiful Bluff Lake. You’ll get to choose which trails you want to follow around the lake, and learn about the area’s vegetation and fauna. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Get your Adrenaline Pumping with Ziplining
We’ve already established that Big Bear boasts an enormous amount of adventurous activities, and outdoor incursions. Now it’s time to combine both in one of the ultimate thrilling things to do in Big Bear summer, winter, and any season for that matter: ziplining!
Adventure parks in Big Bear feature incredible adventures, from segway tours around town to snowshoe adventures in winter. There’s also a spectacular high-speed, 9-zipline circuit from which you can admire the scenery of the lake while gliding over it at 45 miles per hour.
After nine zipline rides you’ll surely be wanting to have your feet on the ground, and that’s what the suspension bridge is there for!
If you’re in the area for some unforgettable Big Bear attractions, ziplining can’t miss the list.
➤ This Zipline Tour takes you to the site and includes all 9 ziplines, as well as the incredibly fun suspension bridge, and all equipment for security measures. You’ll also get water and snacks, and lockers to leave your stuff while you’re up in the trees! ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Enjoy Watersports at Boulder Bay Park
Boulder Bay Park is one of the places to visit in Big Bear. This peaceful park is the perfect destination for a picnic and leisurely afternoon, in which you’ll surely include some kayaking or canoeing in the lake, try your balance on a paddleboard or go for a swim.
Fishing is allowed, and be sure to take a close inspection of the incredible rock formations as well! During the warm months, you may find events, concerts, and fun activities, so you shouldn’t miss checking it out if you’re in Big Bear Lake in summer.
During the winter, Boulder Bay Park offers some of the greatest snow activities in Big Bear, from sledding to glorious amounts of snow for snowball fights and sculpting snowmen.
Visit the Big Bear Discovery Center…
The Big Bear Discovery Center is a visitor center located in the heart of Big Bear Valley. It was founded to provide education about the San Bernardino National Forest, so that visitors can heighten their knowledge of the area and learn to take better care of it.
The center offers nature programs, exhibitions, and eco-tours that you can join to appreciate the natural surroundings. You’ll be led by knowledgeable guides, and learn more about the flora & fauna of the forest. Throughout the year there are also concerts and theater productions that you can enjoy.
Opening Hours: Thursday to Monday from 9 AM to 4 PM
…And the Big Bear Valley Historical Museum
A visit to Big Bear Valley Historical Museum is also among the best things to do in Big Bear, as here you’ll get to discover the city’s history by wandering its galleries and surveying the artifacts on display.
There’s a strong emphasis on the gold rush history and life during the Wild West days which will surely enrapt even those with little interest in days gone by.
Visitors will also learn about the formation of Big Bear and travel back thousands of years to the arrival of the first inhabitants of the area, the Native Americans. A trip to the museum will really enrich your stay in the city, and it’s one of the great Big Bear activities in winter, when the rainy days don’t allow you to be outdoors.
Opening Hours: Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM
Have Fun at Big Bear Snow Play
One of the absolute most fun things to do in Big Bear for kids is taking them to Snow Play! As Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, Snow Play features a whole resort for amusing children and adults.
The Ropes Course is likely the most popular attraction, one in which you’ll have to balance on ropes and climb dozens of obstacles as you’re suspended over 20 feet off the ground.
Racing karts, snow tubing, and glow tubing, an after-dark thrilling experience, are also part of the deal. Be sure you have a hearty breakfast before your packed day! (Or not, on second thought…depending on what you plan on doing!)
If you ever feel the need for a break, there’s a heated lodge with a snack bar and video games.
Opening Hours: Daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. Glow Tubing is on Friday, Saturday & Holidays from 5 PM to 9 PM
Entrance Fee: General Admission $40. Children 36’’ to 42’’ tall pay $25. Find out here the individual prices for each activity
Enjoy Some Shopping in Big Bear Lake Village
Big Bear Lake Village is the commercial area of the city, filled with boutiques, restaurants, and souvenir shops where you can spend an afternoon (or a whole day) shopping, collecting gifts for the family back home, or indulging in snacks.
Even if shopping is not your thing, this is the place you’ll come for a nice meal, to grab a beer after an adventurous day, or enjoy the nightlife of Big Bear!
It’s also the perfect area to go for a stroll at any time of year. It turns into a lovely winter wonderland during the cold months, and it’s in full bloom during the spring, colorful in the fall, and bright and green in the summer months.
If you’re visiting during the holidays you’ll find plenty of activities to enjoy in The Village.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
If you’re already set for visiting Big Bear in the summer, skip this one. If you were indeed looking for things to do in Big Bear in winter, though, you can’t possibly miss its glorious slopes for some skiing or snowboarding, whichever sport you master (or are looking forward to learning!)
Big Bear Mountain Resort features two amazing ski areas, Snow Mountain and Bear Mountain. They boast 55 runs on over 400 acres for you to enjoy. While you need to book your ticket in advance, you can choose between day or night-time experiences, and even book a lesson to gain some confidence before you hit the slopes.
Unless you travel with your own gear, you can also rent the equipment on-site. There’s an outside bar and an indoor Sports Bar in Bear Mountain, so you can take a break (and a beer) to recharge your energies. There’s also a lovely eatery with a fire pit and live music on the weekends at Snow Mountain, where you’ll also find a speakeasy to serve your shots.
Snowtubing is an alternative to skiing, and the resort also offers lodging if you feel like waking up in the mountain.
Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve
This wonderful preserve is home to an array of animals and birds that have found a safe haven in this land. You’ll start your visit at the wooden gazebo, where the information boards displayed provide tons of details about the creatures you’ll get to see.
It also informs of the workings of the wildlife preserve, ensuring a healthy and safe habitat for the growing population of ducks and fish. There are several boardwalks to walk around, and a man-made island built to provide a refuge for the waterfowl.
While visiting the preserve is enjoyable at any time of day, it’s particularly special in the early morning or late afternoon, when the fish and waterfowl are looking for food and provide a spectacular show of movement and activity.
It’s one of the most rewarding Big Bear outdoor activities, and it’s especially beautiful if you visit during the warm months. You’ll feel compelled to relax and witness the wildlife, possibly the best thing to do in Big Bear during summer for nature enthusiasts!
Eat at These Restaurants
Food is a vital part of every trip, so eating in the very best places is also one of the unmissable things to do at Big Bear Lake. Check out some of the top restaurants in the area.
Grizzly Manor Cafe: For breakfast head to Grizzly Manor Cafe to indulge in giant pancakes, waffles, filled omelets, ham and eggs, french toast, and any other breakfast item you can think of to start your day energized and fueled.
Expect to find a line outside, but don’t be discouraged by it! The popularity of this cafe is well deserved, and you’ll be glad to have waited when you’re served your goodies with a cup of coffee.
Address: 41268 Big Bear Blvd.
Opening Hours: Daily from 7 AM to 2 PM
Peppercorn Grille: This restaurant offers casual, all-American meals in their cozy dining room or heated outdoor setting. Besides their fine cuisine, they have an extensive beer, wine, and cocktails menu to pair your dinner.
From appetizers to salads, soup of the day, seafood, and meat dishes, Peppercorn Grille boasts quite the menu. It also offers pasta and other Italian-cuisine alternatives like lasagna or canelloni. You’ll certainly find something to warm you up and restore your energies. Don’t forget to leave some room for dessert, though!
Address: 553 Pine Knot Ave
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 11 AM to 9 PM, Friday & Saturday opens until 10 PM.
Big Bear Lake Brewing Company: If you’re in the mood for a beer to take a break in the afternoon, or revive after a day of hiking, you’ll find the best at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company. There are several craft beer options to satisfy, including seasonal ales like the Hazy Pumpkin Nights, red, blonde, and brown ales, and a spectacular apricot beer.
You can get a pint to enjoy on-site with some food, or take a 4-pack or a growler with you for a picnic by the lake.
Address: 40827 Stone Rd
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday from 11 AM to 9 PM
Amangela’s Sandwich and Bagel House: Amangela’s is the perfect place for grabbing quick bites in between adventures, and their bagels and sandwiches (there’s a reason they’re part of the restaurant’s name!) have a reputation to die for!
The Breakfast Bagel sandwich especially, which is only for those with a big stomach (or incredibly hungry!) They also have salads, soups, and a kids’ menu.
Address: 40729 Village Dr.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 5 PM
Where to Stay in Big Bear Lake
To enjoy all the things there are to do in Big Bear at night or be well-rested for your day on the slopes, you’ll need a place to crash. These are some of the best hotels in Big Bear for all budgets.
LUXURY: Hillcrest Lodge – This 4-star hotel features wooden, cozy bedrooms with fully equipped bathrooms, a dining area, and a kitchenette. There’s also a patio with BBQ facilities, and it’s pet friendly.
MID-RANGE: Best Western – Big Bear Chateau – The hotel features a swimming pool and a restaurant, as well as a fitness center and a jacuzzi for relaxing. Breakfast is included, and there’s a game room with ping-pong and pool table.
ON A BUDGET: Vintage Lakeside Inn – The cozy rooms come with tea&coffee making facilities, a microwave, and a refrigerator, as well as a private bathroom and seating area. There are also family rooms, a garden with a BBQ, and accessibility for disabled guests.
For more unique accommodation near Big Bear, check out my post about the best treehouse rentals in California!
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