Big Bear Lake is one of the most alluring destinations in Southern California, with lots of things to do on and off the water. While you could always just relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air and the scenery you might want to take advantage of a few of the opportunities it offers. These are just a few of the options when you visit Big Bear.

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Hit the Trails Big Bear Lake from the Cougar Crest Trail,
Big Bear Lake from the Cougar Crest Trail,

Hit the Trails (Nearby Hotels)

Visiting Big Bear you’ll have miles and miles of trails for enjoying a scenic hike around the lake or in the San Bernadino Mountains, with everything from short and easy treks to more lengthy outings. The Woodland Interpretive Trail is an easy 1.5-mile loop that includes 16 posted stops where you can learn about the area’s wildlife, geology and botany along the way. It offers picturesque views of the lake and boulder outcroppings kids like to climb on. The Castle Rock hike is one of the most popular, running 2.4-miles round trip starting from Boulder Bay, meandering through dense forest and passing a seasonal waterfall.

Picnic at Boulder Bay Park Boulder Bay at Big Bear Lake
Boulder Bay at Big Bear Lake

Picnic at Boulder Bay Park (Nearby Hotels)

Boulder Bay Park is located a couple of miles from Big Bear Dam. It offers an ideal spot for a picnic where you’ll be surrounded by spectacular natural beauty year-round. Spring turns the area to a lush green with vast swathes of blooming trees, flowers and plants, while fall transforms the landscape with vibrant foliage. Even in winter, its gorgeous dusted with snow, although you’ll have to bundle up as it can get quite chilly. In the summer, the park’s bandstand hosts a concert series too.

Visit the Zoo Big Bear Alpine Zoo
Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Visit the Zoo (Nearby Hotels)

Located just across from Big Bear Ski Resort, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo opened in 1959 to rehabilitate animals that were injured during a forest fire. Today it rescues, rehabilitates and re-introduces injured and vulnerable wildlife back into their natural environments. Those that can’t make it on their own are provided a permanent safe place to live out their lives. Today, visitors can see more than 85 different species, including wolves, bobcats, black bears, arctic fox, owls and much more. Docents can be found throughout the zoo, providing hands-on artifacts and tools to teach visitors about the animals, and you can even take a docent-led tour to learn more about them too.

Enjoy Snow Sports Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Big Bear Lake, CA
Credit: wikimedia.org
Bear Mountain Ski Resort in Big Bear Lake, CA

Enjoy Snow Sports (Nearby Hotels)

Other than playing on the lake, Big Bear Lake is well-known for its surrounding mountains that offer outstanding skiing opportunities. Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort is made up of two ski resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. The former offers the largest learning area for beginners in Southern California and is especially popular with snowboarders, home to the only superpipe in the region. The latter has more than 18 skiable miles across over 240 acres of terrain and 31 trails for all ability levels. Snow Summit is also home to plenty of other winter activities, including tubing at Grizzly Ridge Tube Park and après activities near the warmth of the fire pits in the meadow area.

Cycle the Alpine Pedal Path Woman making downhill with mountain bik
Woman making downhill with mountain bik

Cycle the Alpine Pedal Path (Nearby Hotels)

The Alpine Pedal Path is a really a must do, and while it’s possible to walk or bike, be sure to bring yours or rent one to explore this paved path that’s suitable for cyclists of all fitness levels. It begins at Serrano Campground and stretches over three miles to the Stanfield Cutoff with benches to stop and rest along the way, gazing out at the gorgeous views and keeping an eye out for bald eagles and other birds.  Juniper Point offers picnic tables and barbecue grills if you want to bring some food and enjoy an entire day of fun.

Get Out on the Water Couple kayaking on Big Bear Lake, California
Couple kayaking on Big Bear Lake, California

Get Out on the Water (Nearby Hotels)

The opportunities for water sports at Big Bear Lake are practically endless. If you like to fish, you can test your skills and luck at hooking trout, bass and catfish. This lake truly offers it all, from pontoon boating, sailing and power boating to windsurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and canoeing. Smaller vessels like canoes, paddle boards and kayaks are ideal for getting into hidden coves, inlets and bays larger vessels can’t reach. You can rent your preferred option at any one of the marinas around the 23 miles of shoreline.

Whiz Across a Zipline woman zip lining
woman zip lining

Whiz Across a Zipline (Nearby Hotels)

Big Bear offers zip lining too, through Action Zipline Tours. You’ll be able to fly across nine high-speed zip lines, ranging from 140 to 860 feet long, racing through the tree tops and over rocky canyons while taking in stunning mountain vistas at an elevation of up to 85 feet, and at speeds as high as 45 miles an hour. The first few are  ideal for beginners who want to get comfortable first, then they get progressively faster and longer as you go along. There’s also a suspension bridge to add more thrill to the ride. Expert guides facilitate the whole tour and you’ll be outfitted with all the necessary equipment, including gloves, helmet and harness.

Big Bear Mountain Brewery

Big Bear Mountain Brewery (Nearby Hotels)

If you’re a brew enthusiast, after all those activities one of the best things you can do is sample the local craft beer. Big Bear Mountain Brewery is a top pick as a must-visit for craft beer lovers. It hosts an onsite brewery and tap room for tasting a selection of hand-crafted beers and there’s also a kitchen serving up outstanding dishes to pair with it – starters like the wings and deep fried avocado bomb are two of the favorites. You can enjoy a flight of miniature sized beers to decide which one you like best.

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