Big Bear is pretty much our go to place when we want to get away from it all. We love to visit the mountains of Colorado and Utah, however being so far away we hit up a much closer destination. Big Bear is our most often visited spot when we head to the mountains.
The ability to get out in nature and enjoy the fresh air and being so close to our home has us visiting all the time. In both the winter and summer, there is a ton of things to do in Big Bear. So, if you are looking for a southern California vacation away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, head up to the beautiful San Bernandino National Forest
Things to do in Big Bear in the Winter
Wintertime is by the most popular time to visit Big Bear. Being such a short drive from San Diego and Los Angeles, you will see a ton of weekend visitors coming to enjoy activities in the snow
1. Hit the Slopes on Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain, otherwise referred to as Big Bear Mountain, is one of the most popular winter destinations for the people of Big Bear. It is one of the closest skiing and snowboarding spots to Big Bear Lake. Skiiers love the steep mountain runs while snowboarders enjoy the Superpipe facility.
2. Do Some Sledding – FREE
Big Bear is filled with great hills to grab your sled and just slide on down the mountain. We had some great hills right next to our Big Bear cabin that were a blast.
3. Enjoy Some Snow Tubing at Magic Mountain
Magic Mountain is a super fun tubing park in the winter time. You can race down hills. This park gets very busy, so get up early to avoid long lines.
Things to do in Big Bear in the Winter & Summer
4. Say Hi to the Animals at Big Bear Zoo
The Alpine zoo is definitely one of the things to do in Big Bear. There aren’t very many alpine zoos in the U.S., meaning the Big Bear Alpine Zoo is something special. This permanent zoo includes a wide range of mountain animals.
We highly recommend taking the time to visit Moonridge Animal Park, which is a small section of the zoo that helps rehabilitate animals that are sick and injured so that they can eventually move back out ino the wild.
5. Take a Zip Line Tour
While you’re staying in big bear, make sure to check out the Action Zipline Tours. This full-certified zipline company provides visitors with zipline tours of Big Bear’s first and a number of high-quality rope-climbing workshops. Each workshop lasts three hours and you get to enjoy all of their top-notch equipment.
You’ll find an amazing view of Big Bear as you sail through the skies. This is an awesome experience and should be on everyone’s bucketlist.
6. Ride Down the Alpine Slide & Coaster
Magic Mountain is probably one of the most popular things to do in Big Bear. This family friendly park is filled with fun activities in the winter and summer. Magic Mountain is a beloved local spot that features rides, slides, and mini-golf.
One of the biggest attractions at Magic Mountain is the Alpine Slide, which people of all ages can enjoy all year long. This is another prime option for families with young kids. I highly recommend getting to this place early as it gets very busy, especially on the weekends.
7. Get In Touch With Nature at the Discovery Center
Within Big Bear Valley lies the Big Bear Discovery Center. This educational facility provides people of all ages with engaging activities and shows to enjoy. It’s the perfect stop for families with kids.
They have cool nature walks during the warmer seasons, where visitors can look at the local animals and plants.
8. Big Bear Snow Play
Big Bear Snow play sounds like a winter activity only but there is so much more to do at this fun play area. You can go snow tubing, glow tubing, plus there is a ropes course and a go kart track which is super fun for the whole family.
9. Take a Helicopter Tour
When it comes to taking in serious views, there is no better way to do so than with a helicopter tour.
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to Big Bear’s Helicopter Tours and most of the passengers that fly are flying for their first time!
10. Hit A Strike at The Bowling Barn
Cruising down Lakeview Drive, it’s hard to miss the massive red barn on the side of the road. The Bowling Barn is a great place to bowl, whether you’re just trying to practice or you’re ready to compete with some of the locals.
They have weekly glow bowling as well, which turns the entire barn into a glow-in-the-dark bowling extravaganza.
11. Gear Up For Excitement at the Funplex
If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activities, we recommend heading on over to the Funplex. The Funplex is an indoor park that sits on the shores of the lake.
Here you’ll find laser tag, a skating rink, an arcade, and so much more. They have a conveniently-placed pizza parlor for when the munchies creep in as well.
12. Enjoy the Night Sky With Some Late-Night Stargazing [FREE]
One of my favorite free things to do in big bear is stargating. Thanks to the fact that Big Bear sits separate from the lights of Los Angeles and other larger areas in San Bernadino County, it is a prime spot for stargazing. Make sure to pack some blankets and head up to some of the city’s best stargazing spots.
13. Dig Into History at the Big Bear Historical Museum
The Big Bear Historical Museum was established back in 1881 and has a wide variety of fascinating artifacts and exhibits that date back to the early development of Big Bear.
Walk into a fully-furnished log cabin exhibit that shows you how settlers in 1875 lived. If you want to get a better sense of California’s frontier lifestyle, there is no better place to go than the museum.
Things to Do in Big Bear in the Summer
14. Hike The Castle Rock Trail [FREE]
If you’re ready to get your workout in while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness, then you should break out your hiking gear and spend a day traversing the Castle Rock trail. This popular hiking trail runs through the mountainous terrain that surrounded the lake. It’s an excellent spot for those who enjoy outdoor climbing and bouldering.
There are plenty of hiking trails in big bear to explore. I recommend checking out the all trails app to see which one is best for your level of hiking.
15. Get Out on the Water
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the clean and calm waters of Big Bear, including swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and more. There are plenty of places to rent lake equipment too, though we recommend hitting up Captain John’s Fawn Harbor Marina for great deals and high-quality equipment.
If you head over to Boulder Bay Park, you can take your kayak or canoe and head right in the water and begin paddling away.
16. Go Mountain Biking
This is probably the most popular activity in the summer in Big Bear. People come from all over Southern California to mountain bike through the San Bernardino mountains.
There are numerous trails for people who love to mountain bike downhill at those high speeds as well as your classic mountain biking adventures.
17. Get Some Goodies at the Local Farmer’s Market
On Tuesdays between April and October, Big Bear holds a local farmer’s market at the Big Bear Convention Center. It’s the best way to enjoy local produce from Big Bear growers and artisan pieces from local artists and craftsmen. You can find tons of souvenirs to take home with you too!
18. Big Bear Jeep Experience
If you want to race through the San Bernardino Forest than you have to check out the Big Bear Jeep Experience.
They have a wide variety of trails from beginner trails to squeezes and even rock bouldering trails. You choose the level you are ready for and then enjoy as this is a super fun experience.
19. Enjoy a Picnic at Meadow Park [FREE}
Take a stroll down from your hotel or rental to enjoy a family picnic at Meadow Park. This wide-open green space lies within Big Bear’s city limits and includes well-maintained picnic spots, sports courts, and a playground for the little ones.
20. Paddle Around the Lake
Miss Liberty is the resident boat tour on Big Bear Lake, perfect for those who want to experience the water without any physical labor involved. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to experience the history of Big Bear.
This calm, easygoing tour takes visitors around to different parts of the lake for 90 minutes and comes complete with a full tour-guide narration.
18. Cruise Through Holcomb Valley
One of the best spots for hiking and camping in San Bernadino County is Holcomb Valley. This region is a historical spot for California Gold Rush enthusiasts as well. We recommend getting a map ahead of time and driving through the many key spots to see traces of Gold Rush excavations.
21. Enjoy the Views from the Sky Chair
When the slopes aren’t open, you can take a ride on the Scenic Sky Chair to get a view of the entirety of Big Bear. You can reach up to 8,200 feet in elevation. Make sure to bring a camera to capture the views of the surrounding mountains. Plus, the Sky Chair is a great option if you decide to hit Snow Summit’s Bike Park.
22. Snow Summit Bike Park
The Snow Summit Bike Park is great for both avid cyclists and beginners. There are plenty of trails to enjoy and the minimum age is 5, meaning even the little ones can come and enjoy the fun! There are plenty of ticket options for the park depending on how long you want to revel in your downhill adrenaline rush.
23. Hit a Hole-In-One at the Local Golf Course
Bear Mountain Golf Course proudly participates in the Southern California Golf Association, meaning they provide golfers with the best golfing experience possible. While they have everything you might expect from a typical golf course, they also have nighttime Glow Golf, open to people of all ages and skill levels.
24. Ride a Horse at Baldwin Lake Stables
Baldwin Lake Stables allows visitors to enjoy a wide range of terrain and trails on horseback. There are spectacular views to take in and a moment of peace that could only come from the countryside of Big bear. We personally recommend the sunset ride if you truly want to bask in the magic the city has to offer.
25. Relax in your Big Bear Cabin
You might be thinking we ran out of things to do in Big Bear, but this is one of my favorites. Just waking up in the morning, sitting on the balcony with a hot cup of coffee and enjoying the beautiful nature surrounding the cabin.
Pin for Later: 25 Amazing Things to Do In Big Bear [5 are FREE]
Is Big Bear worth visiting
Absolutely, this charming little ski town has so many activities to enjoy. You will find the town bustling with activity, from skiing and snow tubing in the winter, to mountain biking and fishing in the summer.
What is the best time to go to Big Bear?
It really depends on what activity you prefer. I love the summers in Big Bear as there is so many fun activities to enjoy and the weather is perfect. In the winter you get to enjoy all the beautiful snow activities.
Can you swim in Big Bear Lake?
Yes, there are several areas where swimming is allowed. These areas are not lifeguarded so you do swim at your own risk