Best Things to Do in Big Bear Lake, California: 12 Top Attractions

by Emil Backup
Best Big Bear Lake Things To Do Featured Image
This post may have affiliate links, where I receive a commission if you purchase through them. Here's our Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more info.

Are you considering visiting Big Bear Lake, CA this year? Here are some of the most fun, exciting, and adventure-filled things to do in Big Bear Lake for all travelers to enjoy. These attractions, sites, and activities are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

If you’re planning a trip to Southern California and looking for an unforgettable experience, look no further than Big Bear Lake. This charming mountain town offers a plethora of fun, scenic, and unique things to do that will make your vacation truly memorable.

Known for its stunning natural beauty, Big Bear Lake is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s not just about the great outdoors, though. This town is steeped in rich history and offers a vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination on any Southern California itinerary.

From the pristine waters of Big Bear Lake to the snow-capped peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains, from the charming village shops to the exhilarating ski slopes, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Big Bear Lake. There truly is something for everyone. That’s why it’s crucial to know which places are best suited to your interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite Big Bear Lake attractions. Get ready to explore!

With a wealth of breathtaking landscapes and a variety of activities, there are countless things to do at Big Bear Lake. Surely appeals to adventure seekers, nature lovers, history buffs, and foodies alike.

Experience the charm of the village, go fishing, stargaze, and unwind.
Experience the charm of the village, go fishing, stargaze, and unwind.

Best Places to Visit in Big Bear Lake, CA

Ready to discover all of the best things to do in Big Bear Lake? As mentioned earlier, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Big Bear Lake. Keep reading to discover why it’s one of the best places to visit in California.

If you’re looking for adventure-filled outdoor experiences or tranquil hikes with panoramic views of the local landscape. Big Bear Lake can accommodate your needs. Here are all the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake that you should know about for your next vacation. 

Snowy slopes and thrilling adventures. A must-try to do in Big Bear Lake.
Snowy slopes and thrilling adventures. A must-try to do in Big Bear Lake.

1. Bear Mountain Ski Resort

Are you looking for the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake this winter? Look no further than the Bear Mountain Ski Resort, the crown jewel of Southern California’s winter sports scene. Nestled in the heart of the San Bernardino Mountains, this resort is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies alike, providing adventure for all to enjoy.

With over 700 acres of skiable terrain, Bear Mountain boasts a variety of trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether in gentle slopes for beginners to challenging runs for seasoned skiers and snowboarders. The resort is renowned for its freestyle terrain, featuring Southern California‘s only halfpipes. Not to mention an assortment of jumps, jibs, and a dedicated learning area.

If you’re not a passionate skier or snowboarder, don’t fret! Bear Mountain offers a range of other fun and exciting winter activities, including snowshoeing and sledding. And when you’re ready for a break, you can relax at the resort’s restaurants and bars, which offer panoramic mountain views.

Whether you’re carving up the slopes, enjoying hot cocoa in the lodge, or simply taking in the breathtaking mountain scenery. The Bear Mountain Ski Resort offers an unforgettable winter experience and is one of the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Wild wonders roam at Big Bear Alpine Zoo's nature sanctuary.
Wild wonders roam at Big Bear Alpine Zoo’s nature sanctuary.

2. Big Bear Alpine Zoo

A visit to Big Bear Lake would be incomplete without a trip to the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. This unique wildlife sanctuary is home to over 85 species of animals and birds, many of which are rehabilitated after being injured or orphaned in the wild.

From grizzly bears and snow leopards to bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. The zoo offers an up-close and personal encounter with some of the most fascinating creatures of the wild. The zoo’s mission is not just about rehabilitation but also education. Through their interactive exhibits and educational programs, they aim to inspire visitors to respect and protect our beautiful wildlife.

The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a place where you can learn about the importance of conservation. At the same time, enjoying the beauty of these magnificent creatures in a stunning alpine setting. Whether you’re an animal lover or a nature enthusiast, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a must-visit attraction. On your next trip, this is one of the best things to do for families in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Explore nature's beauty at Big Bear Discovery Center's outdoor adventures.
Explore nature’s beauty at Big Bear Discovery Center’s outdoor adventures.

3. Big Bear Discovery Center

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts should not miss a visit to the Big Bear Discovery Center. This educational center is the gateway to the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest. It offers a wealth of information about the local flora, fauna, and hiking trails. Coined by many as one of the best things to do in Big Bear Lake. It’s an activity that all travelers should add to their list of places to visit in CA.

Start your visit with the center’s exhibits. You can learn about the area’s rich biodiversity and the importance of conservation. Then, join one of the guided nature walks or eco-tours that will take you deep into the forest. You can witness the area’s natural beauty first-hand.

If you’re up for a challenge, the center offers access to several hiking trails. Ranging from easy walks to strenuous hikes. One of the most popular is the Cougar Crest Trail. Which offers fantastic views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains.

The Big Bear Discovery Center also hosts various events throughout the year, including music concerts, art shows, and nature workshops. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a curious traveler, the Big Bear Discovery Center offers a unique and enriching experience.

Hiking heights with breathtaking views, the best adventure awaits!
Hiking heights with breathtaking views, the best adventure awaits!

4. Castle Rock Trail

Are you looking for the best hiking trails in Big Bear Lake? The Castle Rock Trail is a must-try. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a memorable hiking experience, this popular trail is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It offers a moderate hike with some of the best views of Big Bear Lake in the area.

The trail, which is about 2.6 miles round trip, starts with a steep climb through a beautiful forest of pine and oak trees. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to increasingly stunning views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding San Bernardino Mountains. The highlight of the hike is reaching Castle Rock, a large granite outcrop that provides a panoramic vista of the area.

The Castle Rock Trail is one of the best places to visit in CA for nature lovers. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to spot local wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, and a variety of bird species. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring above.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner looking for a bit of a challenge, the Castle Rock Trail offers a fulfilling outdoor adventure. Remember to bring your camera, as the views from the top are truly photo-worthy. The trailhead is located on Big Bear Blvd, 1 mile east of Big Bear Dam.

Nature's playground, offers the coolest outdoor adventures in Big Bear Lake.
Nature’s playground, offers the coolest outdoor adventures in Big Bear Lake.

5. Big Bear Lake

No visit to Big Bear Lake would be complete without spending some quality time at the lake itself. One of the best places to visit in CA, this stunning body of water is the heart and soul of the area. Offering a wide range of exciting activities for all ages and interests.

In the summer, the lake is a hub for water sports. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the lake at your own pace or get your adrenaline pumping with some jet-skiing or wakeboarding. If you prefer a more relaxed experience, you can rent a pontoon boat for a leisurely cruise. Best try your hand at fishing for trout and bass.

The lake is also surrounded by beautiful beaches and picnic areas, making it a perfect spot for a family outing. And don’t forget to take a walk along the Alpine Pedal Path, a scenic trail that follows the lake’s north shore.

Big Bear Lake is not just a summer destination. In the winter, it transforms into a serene landscape, with the surrounding mountains often capped with snow. There’s something to ignite a sense of adventure for everyone in all seasons. Meaning, you’ll never run out of exciting things to do in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Gaze at the sun's secrets, the best adventure in Big Bear!
Gaze at the sun’s secrets, the best adventure in Big Bear!

6. Big Bear Solar Observatory

For a unique and educational experience, make sure to visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory. Located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, this observatory is one of the leading solar observatories in the world, providing fascinating insights into our closest star.

The observatory is home to the world’s largest solar telescope, which allows scientists to study the sun in unprecedented detail. While the observatory is a working research facility, it also offers public tours where you can learn about solar science. See the equipment used by researchers, and even get a glimpse of the sun through a specially designed solar telescope.

Whilst the Big Bear Solar Observatory is one of the best things to do for science lovers in CA. It also provides fantastic vistas of the local landscape. Its location on the lake offers stunning views of the surrounding area, making it a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in astronomy or simply looking for unique places to visit in Big Bear Lake.

Boulder Bay Park: Tranquil shores, nature's beauty. Family fun to do in Big Bear!
Boulder Bay Park: Tranquil shores, nature’s beauty. Family fun to do in Big Bear!

7. Boulder Bay Park

For those seeking to connect with nature, Boulder Bay Park is one of the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake that you should know about. For a peaceful retreat in the heart of nature. This beautiful park located on the south shore of Big Bear Lake, is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

The park is named for its distinctive large boulders, which are scattered along the shoreline and in the water, creating a unique and picturesque landscape. These boulders are not just for admiring – they also provide excellent opportunities for climbing and exploring.

The park offers a variety of amenities, including a picnic area, a fishing dock, and a kayak and paddleboard rental shop. There’s also a lovely walking trail that winds around the bay, offering stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Whether you’re to relax and enjoy the scenery, or for a place to visit in Big Bear Lake for families, or embark on a relaxing water adventure, Boulder Bay Park is a must-visit.

Charming retreat in Big Bear Lake's heart, a delightful experience.
Charming retreat in Big Bear Lake’s heart, a delightful experience.

8. The Village

For a change of pace from outdoor adventures, head to The Village, the heart of Big Bear Lake’s shopping and dining scene. This charming area, with its quaint streets and alpine-style buildings, offers a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Spend an afternoon browsing the local boutiques, where you can find everything from unique souvenirs. Plus, handmade crafts, outdoor gear, and trendy clothing. When you’re ready for a break, choose from a variety of eateries offering everything from gourmet cuisine to casual comfort food.

The Village is also home to several art galleries showcasing local and regional artists, as well as a cinema for those rainy or lazy days. And don’t miss the regular events and festivals that take place throughout the year. Including farmer’s markets, art walks, and holiday celebrations.

Whether you’re a shopaholic, a foodie, or just looking for a leisurely stroll, The Village offers a delightful experience in the heart of Big Bear Lake. It’s one of the best things to do in Big Bear Lake on a rainy day.

Snow Summit: Winter wonderland, thrilling slopes, endless snowy adventures.
Snow Summit: Winter wonderland, thrilling slopes, endless snowy adventures.

9. Snow Summit

A must-visit in Big Bear Lake for winter sports enthusiasts is Snow Summit, a premier ski and snowboard destination in Southern California. Located just a short distance from Bear Mountain, Snow Summit offers a different but equally thrilling winter sports experience.

With over 240 acres of skiable terrain, Snow Summit caters to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced riders. The resort features a variety of runs, from wide-open cruisers to technical steeps, ensuring a fun and challenging experience for everyone.

Despite its name, Snow Summit isn’t just for winter sports. When the snow melts, the resort transforms into a summer playground, offering activities like mountain biking, hiking, and scenic sky chair rides. The resort’s bike park is particularly popular, featuring over 60 miles of cross-country and downhill trails. It’s a place for adventure and excitement and one of the best things to do in Big Bear Lake across all seasons.

Whether you’re carving down the slopes in winter, biking through the mountain trails in summer, or simply enjoying the stunning views from the sky chair, Snow Summit offers a year-round adventure.

Big Bear Historical Museum: Rich past, a must-visit in Big Bear.
Big Bear Historical Museum: Rich past, a must-visit in Big Bear.

10. Big Bear Historical Museum

Step back in time and explore the rich history of Big Bear Lake at the Big Bear Historical Museum. This charming museum is dedicated to preserving the area’s heritage, from the Native American era to the gold rush days and beyond.

The museum features a variety of exhibits, including antique farming tools, vintage photographs, and artifacts from the mining era. One of the highlights is the collection of historic log cabins, which have been meticulously restored and furnished to reflect the lifestyle of the early settlers.

The museum also offers guided tours, where knowledgeable docents share fascinating stories about the area’s past. Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about the local heritage, the Big Bear Historical Museum is one of the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake, offering a unique and educational experience.

The museum is a testament to the area’s rich history and a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the past of Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Queen Lake Tours: Cruising serenity, scenic delights, unforgettable memories.
Big Bear Queen Lake Tours: Cruising serenity, scenic delights, unforgettable memories.

11. Big Bear Queen Lake Tours

For a unique perspective of Big Bear Lake, hop aboard the Big Bear Queen for a narrated tour of the lake. This paddlewheel boat offers a relaxing and informative journey, providing stunning views of the lake and its surroundings.

The 90-minute tour is led by a knowledgeable captain who shares interesting facts and stories about the lake’s history, wildlife, and celebrity homes along the shoreline. You’ll also get a close-up view of the lake’s many bays and the solar observatory.

The Big Bear Queen operates from May through October, with several departures daily. It’s a great way to learn about the area while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time local, a cruise on the Big Bear Queen is a memorable experience. As such, a tour aboard the Big Bear Queen is something I recommend everyone visiting Big Bear Lake to do.

The Big Bear Queen departs from the Pine Knot Marina, located at 439 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315.

Hiking paradise in Holcomb Valley, the best things to do in Big Bear Lake.
Hiking paradise in Holcomb Valley, the best things to do in Big Bear Lake.

12. Holcomb Valley

For a taste of the great outdoors and a glimpse into California’s gold rush history, make your way to Holcomb Valley. Located just north of Big Bear Lake, this area was the site of the largest gold rush in Southern California in the mid-1800s.

Today, Holcomb Valley is a popular spot for hiking, off-roading, and camping. The area is crisscrossed with trails that take you through beautiful landscapes, from rolling meadows to pine forests. Along the way, you’ll find remnants of the gold rush era, including old mines and ghost towns.

One of the highlights is the 3.4-mile Gold Fever Trail, a self-guided tour that takes you to several historic sites, complete with interpretive signs that tell the story of the gold rush.

Whether you’re exploring the trails, camping under the stars, or simply soaking up the history, Holcomb Valley offers a unique and enriching experience. It’s not difficult to see why it’s one of the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Things to Do in Big Bear Lake, California

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Big Bear Lake? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Big Bear Lake, CA:

Is Big Bear Lake worth visiting?

Big Bear Lake is worth visiting for its stunning scenery and endless outdoor activities. Located in Southern California, Big Bear Lake is surrounded by lush forests and picturesque mountains. This provides the perfect backdrop for active hobbies like boating, fishing, hiking, and skiing. Whether you visit in the summer or winter, the lake and its charming village offer a peaceful escape from city life, while also providing family-friendly activities, diverse wildlife, and various events and festivals throughout the year. As such, this making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

What are the top attractions in Big Bear Lake, California?

Big Bear Lake offers a variety of attractions for all interests. Some of the best places to visit in Big Bear Lake include Bear Mountain Ski Resort, Big Bear Alpine Zoo, Big Bear Discovery Center, Castle Rock Trail, Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Solar Observatory, Boulder Bay Park, The Village, Snow Summit, Big Bear Historical Museum, Big Bear Queen Lake Tours, and Holcomb Valley.

What outdoor activities can you do in Big Bear Lake?

Big Bear Lake is a haven for outdoor activities. Depending on the season, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. There are also several beautiful trails for walking and bird watching.

A scenic road journey through Big Bear Lake's picturesque landscape.
A scenic road journey through Big Bear Lake’s picturesque landscape.

What are some family-friendly activities in Big Bear Lake?

There’s a wide variety of things to do for families in Big Bear Lake. These include visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, exploring the Big Bear Discovery Center, taking a boat tour on the Big Bear Queen, enjoying water sports on the lake, hiking on family-friendly trails, and exploring The Village for shopping and dining.

What are some historical sites to visit in Big Bear Lake?

The Big Bear Historical Museum is a great place to learn about the area’s history. You can also visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory for a glimpse into the world of solar science. Holcomb Valley, the site of the largest gold rush in Southern California, offers a self-guided tour of several historic sites.

What is Big Bear Lake famous for?

Big Bear Lake is famous for its scenic beauty and outdoor adventurers. This includes activities like boating, fishing, and skiing. It’s also known for its charming village with shops and restaurants and its role as a filming location. Additionally, the Big Bear area hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including those covering the town’s significance during the gold rush era. As a result, this makes it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a range of recreational experiences.

What are some unique dining experiences in Big Bear Lake?

The Village in Big Bear Lake offers a variety of dining options, from casual eateries to gourmet restaurants. You can find a range of cuisines, including American, Italian, Mexican, and Asian. There are also several breweries and pubs where you can enjoy local craft beers.

Big Bear Lake: The Adventure Awaits

Big Bear Lake, California, is more than just a beautiful mountain town. It’s a place where adventure, relaxation, and discovery intersect.

From the adrenaline rush of skiing down the slopes of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit to the tranquility of a boat ride on the lake. From the fascinating wildlife at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to the rich history preserved at the Big Bear Historical Museum. There are things to do for everyone in Big Bear Lake, CA.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or someone simply looking for a scenic getaway, Big Bear Lake promises an unforgettable experience. Pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure. Get ready to create some memorable moments in Big Bear Lake, California.

Feel free to pin this for your next dream vacation plan!
Feel free to pin this for your next dream vacation plan!

You may also like

Leave a Comment