How To Have The Perfect Weekend In Big Bear
Big Bear Village is a mountain escape from the fast pace life of Southern California where there is no shortage of fresh air and wilderness. There are numerous adventure-filled things to do in Big Bear as it is a nature lover’s playground. Keep reading to find out how to have the perfect weekend in Big Bear!
California is an enormous state that offers up so many regions to explore and most within a days drive away. The landscape ranges from gorgeous beaches, arid deserts to marvelous mountains.
It is amazing that you can reach all three within a day if you are really motivated.
To relax and enjoy the mountain paradise of Big Bear Lake, I recommend staying a 3 day weekend to unplug and have some fun.
Because everyone’s interests vary, I have listed the best things to do in Big Bear that range in various activities of fitness, shopping, food, and love of nature.
No matter what combination of Big Bear attractions you choose from below, you will have a spectacular weekend.
Whether you are visiting for a romantic getaway or a fun girl’s weekend, there is something for everyone!
Where Is Big Bear?
Big Bear is located in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. It is between 2-3 hours from both Los Angeles and San Diego, making it a wonderful weekend getaway.
Of course, there is enough to do for much more than a few days if you are keen on relaxing in a tranquil paradise.
Big Bear Village is where most people hang out when visiting as it is right next to Big Bear Lake. The Village is further away from the town of Big Bear City.
Big Bear City is about 20 minutes from Big Bear Village and Lake. For the most part, most of what you want to see and do are near the Village and Big Bear Lake.
Are you flying into San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles? Then start exploring the best flight deals here!
Once you land, you will need to rent a car to get to Big Bear. Book your car rental to get the best rate today!
Tip: The road up is very curvy which can lead to motion sickness for some. Carry a reusable water bottle with you, ginger chews, and close your eyes if you aren’t driving of course! That can help alleviate nausea.
Climate in Big Bear
As I mentioned, Big Bear is located in the mountains at an elevation of 6,754 feet (2,058 meters).
Because of the high altitude, you might experience a headache and feel dehydrated which can be symptoms of altitude sickness.
To avoid the effects of altitude sickness, drink extra water, ramp up physical activity slowly, get plenty of rest, and avoid alcohol.
In the spring through summer months, make sure to dress in layers as the temperatures can drastically change throughout the day.
In the spring temps will range from 52 F to 70 F, summer temps will range from 70 F to 80 F, and fall will bring temps between 62 F to 75 F.
Now keep in mind that no matter the time of year, the temperatures will likely drop about 30 degrees at night. If you are visiting in the winter then expect cold temperatures and snow that is perfect if you are hitting the slopes!
Tip: Stay hydrated and make sure you have good drinking water with a filtered water bottle that is excellent for hiking!
Where To Stay In Big Bear
There is a range of places to stay from a hotel, a cabin or camping depending on what your preference is.
Personally, I would choose to stay within walking distance of Big Bear Village that way it is convenient to get a meal and a few cocktails.
Or close to the base of Snow Summit. No matter where you pick, they are all relatively close. Staying near Snow Summit is great if it is ski season and something to consider if visiting in winter.
The drive from Snow Summit to the Village is a 7-minute drive or a 30-minute walk. And there are plenty of cabin rentals if staying in a hotel isn’t for you.
The Lodge at Big Bear Lake – just steps from Big Bear Village
Big Bear Frontier – close to Big Bear Lake and the Village
Eagle’s Nest Bed and Breakfast – near Snow Summit
Best Western Big Bear Chateau – near Snow Summit
Best Things To Do In Big Bear
1. Big Bear Visitor Center
Getting the lay of the land and info of a new area can kick off the best weekend in Big Bear!
Located in Big Bear Village along the lake is the Big Bear Visitor Center that is an excellent spot to get local info on the best attractions in Big Bear to see during your stay.
You can get maps, info on hiking trails, and road conditions in the area (important in winter). You can also purchase a day ($5) or year ($30) Adventure Pass at the visitor center.
The funds from the Adventure Pass goes to the maintenance of the National Forest, trails and recreation areas. Do you need it? Yes, if you plan parking anywhere off the road, at trailheads, lake, etc…
Across the lake from Big Bear Village is the Big Bear Discovery Center (40971 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin, CA 92333) that is much larger, has exhibits, a shop, tours, and events. You can also get an Adventure Pass here too. It is currently scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2020 after months of renovations.
Big Bear Visitor Center Address: 40824 Big Bear Blvd, CA 92315 and open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm except for Mondays (closed).
2. Hiking In Big Bear
There are numerous Big Bear hiking trails with varying distance options. The best time to hit the hiking trails is from March to November and skip the snowy winter months obviously.
You could easily spend many weekends venturing on new hikes but here are a few favorites for your first visit.
Castle Rock Trail: A short but steep 1.3-miles for a gorgeous view of Big Bear Lake and definitely worth it. If you only have time to trek one of the Big Bear hiking trails, this should be it.
The trailhead is on State Highway 18 located 3-miles west of Big Bear Lake Village. The parking area is small and on the opposite side of the road, so be careful of oncoming traffic when crossing the highway.
Skyline Trail: A 7.7-mile trail that is considered moderate and takes you up on the mountain near Snow Summit Ski Resort.
Cougar Crest Trail: 5.2-miles roundtrip (on the opposite side of the lake from Village). The trail starts near the Big Bear Discovery Center.
Pine Knot Trail: 6.2-mile roundtrip, easy to moderate, and very scenic trail takes you up to Grand View Point. Parking is at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area.
Note: Make sure you have an Adventure Pass if you plan to park at any of these trailhead parking areas or off the highway. You don’t want to get a ticket!
Tips: Download the AllTrails app for detailed info on hiking trails and maps.
For more tips on hiking explore my post 15 Ultimate Solo Hiking Tips For Women!
Carry a filtered water bottle with you to stay hydrated and make sure you always have clean water no matter the source.
3. Sky Chair @ Snow Summit
This might be one of my favorite Big Bear attractions as it is fun to ride up the Sky Chair (lift) to enjoy spectacular views on the way up the 1-mile ascent to the top.
Once you get to the top, enjoy an incredible panorama view of Big Bear Lake, the valley, and the forest around you.
The elevation at the top is 8,200 feet (2,499 meters) so you are high up! You almost feel like you are at the top of the world with vistas for miles. If you do only one thing, make it this!
The ride in the Sky Chair takes you up and over some of Snow Summits ski slopes. Don’t be surprised to see hikers and people with their bikes.
It is popular for adventurers to take the lift up with their bike and bike down the dirt paths (ski trails in the winter).
If you happen to be up on the mountain around lunchtime (11:00 am to 3:00 pm), grab a bite to eat and drink at the Skyline Taphouse that has killer views.
Tip: For adults, the price is $25 but if you book online 72 hours in advance you get a 20% discount!
Address: 880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315. Open from June – October months.
4. Wander Big Bear Village
Big Bear Village is an adorable mountain community that oozes charm and tons of fresh mountain air.
If you didn’t feel like you were in the mountains yet, you will immediately as you wander the village.
The décor of log cabins and bears are everywhere. Don’t worry, when I say bears I mean carved wooden statues and figurines.
Big Bear Village is one of those places that is perfect for strolling from one shop to the next mixing in a great meal here and there. There are so many unique and fun shops that you can’t help but enter into them.
You can find the usual touristy trinkets but there are exquisite art, handcraft items, and gifts that you can’t get anywhere else.
The Village is pretty small consisting of a few blocks by a few blocks. Maybe that is part of its appeal as it is easy to navigate on foot.
And if you are a bit thirsty and over 21 years old, wander into Barrel 33 (40754 Village Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA) for some wine tasting! And if you find some you like, you can buy a bottle or two to take back to your cabin or hotel.
5. Delight In Ice Cream
Anytime is good for some ice cream, right? Well even better on a nice day walking around in the village with a yummy scoop or two of sweet delight. The best place to get a cone or bowl is at the North Pole Fudge & Ice Cream Company.
On a summer weekend, you bet there will be a long line but it is worth it! It is in the heart of town so you can’t miss it. And if ice cream isn’t your thing, they have other treats like fudge and candy apples that you might fancy.
Address: 618 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
6. Boulder Bay Park
Boulder Bay Park is one of the most popular spots on Big Bear Lake as it has a beautifully manicured park and access to the water.
It is a great area for fishing, taking off on a kayak or just enjoying the picturesque landscape.
There are numerous large boulders jutting out from the lake and the surrounding area. Hence its name!
Depending on the amount of rain the year you visit, you can walk out to some of the boulders if the water levels are lower. They are a hit with kids climbing them.
And if you would prefer a more relaxed activity, I suggest walking along the bay and having a picnic. It is also a spectacular place for taking landscape photographs!
If you are entering town from the west, then you will pass Boulder Bay Park (on left) before you reach the Village.
Address: 39148 Big Bear Blvd (CA-18), Big Bear Lake, CA
7. SUP or Kayak On Lake
Want to get in a workout and enjoy the gorgeous beauty of being outdoors and on Big Bear Lake? Kayaking and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) are not only easy to do but a fun way to navigate the shores of the lake and idyllic coves.
There are various marinas and shops around Big Bear Lake where you can rent a kayak or SUP board.
After you rent your board, you can launch into the water and begin your lake adventure! The most popular spots to head out onto the lake are from Boulder Bay (mentioned above), Grout Bay, and Veterans Park.
Grout Bay is on the opposite side of the lake from Boulder Bay and has a park as well. If you are lucky, you might even see beavers or bald eagles as you meander your way around Grout Bay! Veterans Park is the closest launch area to Big Bear Village and next to Pine Knot Marina.
If you are interested in going for a swim instead, an excellent spot is in Kidd Cove off of China Island (also referred to as Garstin Island). A few companies that you can get rentals for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs are:
8. Cocktails With A Lake View
Who doesn’t enjoy a happy hour when you get to kick back and enjoy a delicious cocktail? I chose Laguna Grill based on reviews and the fact that it is right on Big Bear Lake.
But after trying their spicy Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita, I was blown away and in love with how tasty it is!
It might be my new favorite drink and have gone back just for this drink. Oh, and did I mention that they have great Mexican food? That is if you leave room after the perfect combo of a few cocktails with chips and salsa!
Address: 40844 Big Bear Lake Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
9. Alpine Pedal Path
If you are looking for a peaceful area to stretch your legs in nature then the Alpine Pedal Path is for you! Plus, it is free to walk, run or bike along this path that hugs Big Bear Lake for 3.2-miles (one way).
The path or trail is on the opposite side of the lake from Big Bear Village so you will need a car to get over to the start. Begin at Stanfield Cutoff and make your way along the paved nature walk on the north shore of the lake.
You can go all the way or turn around whenever you please. Round trip the distance is about 6.4-miles and makes for an excellent way to start your morning with a run or walk.
You will also find benches and picnic tables in case you want to take a break and have a snack to enjoy by the lake. And for photography lovers, going at sunset is a beautiful time to capture the lake and maybe a bald eagle!
Tip: If you want to rent a bike, you can rent from Paddles and Pedals or Getboards.
Address: 740 Stanfield Cutoff, Big Bear City, CA 92314. Make sure that you have an Adventure Pass purchased before you park anywhere along the path. You can get an Adventure Pass at the Visitor Center.
10. Go Ziplining
Have you ever wanted to try ziplining? If you have never heard of ziplining, it is when you wear a harness that is securely clipped to a cable that is suspended over the ground.
At times it feels like you are flying fast over the terrain below as you can get up to speeds of 35 mph! At this location, you get to fly over the forest for 9 action-packed ziplines on this excursion.
For a great ride, I recommend wearing pants, sneakers and bring your GoPro if you have one. You can always rent a GoPro if you don’t.
Action Tours – They will pick you up and take you in a van to the start of zipline fun! Expect the experience to take about 3 hours.
11. Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to bobsled then a ride down the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain is a must.
You take the lift up the mountain and hop on a sled with wheels that you attempt to navigate down the concrete bobsled track!
You not only get to enjoy the spectacular views going up on the lift but also as you slide your way down the mountain. Just at a much faster pace going down… If too much speed scares you, rest assure that you can control how fast you go.
Tip: You can purchase one ride ($7.00) or if you can’t get enough adrenaline, you can purchase a 5-ride ticket ($30.00).
Address: 800 Wildrose Lane, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 that is just a few minutes drive from Big Bear Village.
12. Yoga with Goats
You might have seen on social media people combining yoga with goats. You might be thinking what in the world???
I have not done this one myself but I am not so sure I would get the best workout in as I would be having too much fun playing with the goats!
If the weather is good, you can experience yoga outdoors in the company of adorable goats at Bear Valley Farms. The cute goats might even jump up on you for some extra assistance if you should need it…
Address: 1601 E Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear City, CA 92314
13. Attend A Festival
If you are visiting in the fall, attending a festival is a really fun activity on a weekend in Big Bear. The two most popular are the Village Fall Walk and Oktoberfest.
The Village Fall Wine Walk is in the middle of September but check their website for exact dates.
With your entry, you get 12 tickets, a map, and a wine glass to walk throughout the village to try wines and bites to eat at 24 of the shops, bars, and restaurants in town.
Some of them are excellent and some were ok. Regardless, it is a bunch of fun! I ate enough bites that I didn’t need to worry about dinner after.
Also, in the fall is the Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest that runs several weekends from mid-September through October. You get to celebrate with some German beer, bratwursts, and fun music.
Note: Check the websites for both festivals as I am not sure they will be held in 2020.
14. Hit The Slopes
I haven’t been up to Big Bear in the winter for years as I have preferred visiting in the warmer months more recently. But in the winter, Big Bear is a popular place to ski, snowboard or go tubing on the snowy mountain.
Snow Summit and Bear Mountain are the two locations where you can hit the slopes in Big Bear.
Depending on where you are staying might influence which ski resort to use. Snow Summit is closest to Big Bear Village and Bear Mountain is located in the community of Moonridge.
Note: It is only about an 8-10 minute drive between the two resorts so they are not far apart.
Snow Summit Ski Resort: 880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Bear Mountain Ski Resort: 43101 Goldmine Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Best Restaurants In Big Bear
I have eaten at many of these restaurants and those I haven’t come highly recommended from locals. I have yet to have a bad meal in Big Bear, in fact, quite the opposite!
Here is an assortment of places to eat for all times of the day starting with donuts and coffee to a delicious dinner.
- Grizzly Manor Café – A hearty breakfast/ brunch to start your day.
- Moonridge Coffee – Great coffee in a cozy atmosphere.
- Dank Donuts – Who doesn’t love a good donut?… Oh, and they have awesome breakfast burritos!
- Peppercorn Grille – Fine dining American dishes such as steak, seafood, and pasta.
- Big Bear Lake Brewing Company – A fun casual brewery setting with excellent burgers, sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads.
- The Pines Lakefront – Fine dining with a lakefront view.
- Laguna Grill – Mexican food, right on the lake with the best margaritas!
- Skyline Taphouse – Take lift up to the top of Snow Summit for lunch.
- Saucy Mama’s Pizzeria – Great pizza and pastas!
- North Pole Fudge & Ice Cream Company – Ice cream and fudge that is a hit.
- Himalayan Restaurant – Delicious Indian cuisine.
- Paoli’s Italian – The name kind of gives it away, Italian food…
- Oakside Restaurant – Excellent food and sister restaurant to Peppercorn Grille.
- Murray’s Saloon – A great dive bar if that is your thing…
Enjoy an adventure filled weekend in Big Bear!
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Big Bear Lake looks so beautiful! I totally need to go there next time I make my way to California!
It would definitely be a treat to visit on your next stay in California! 🙂
Wow these views are just incredible. I cant believe we missed this last time we were in California!! Im so gutted. boulder bay park looks incredible! what a sight to see! I also want to jump on that zipline haha. Definitely making our way back to the states to visit for sure!
Awesome, I’m glad to inspire a visit back to California! Yes, the views from the Sky Chair are epic! 🙂
Wow your photos are lovely, I can’t wait to start travelling again and to go back to California. Definitely adding Big Bear Lake to my travel list. x
Thanks Portia! I hear ya, I’m itching to travel again and Big Bear is a great spot to start. 🙂
The first time I trekked in high altitude, I was so excited that I just started running and climbing, not caring to take a break or drink some water to slow everything down; and pretty soon my heart was almost at my mouth! Would also like to visit Boulder Bay & rest beside that very calming looking water body.
High altitude is no joke. Glad you were ok! I always battle with headaches and fast heart rate and have to ramp up. Yes, resting along Boulder Bay is idyllic… 🙂
Looks like so much fun! I can’t believe I lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and never made it to Big Bear. Definitely saving your tips for a trip this year!
Thanks Laurel! Oh that is a shame you never got the chance to visit. Now you have a great excuse to come back as it is such an easy weekend getaway from LA. 🙂
Can you believe, I’ve never been to big bear?? I thought it was just winter sports – I had no idea there was hiking and jalapeño margaritas and goat yoga!! Sign me up 🙂
Oh you need to go then! For the jalapeno margaritas at least! Lol. Of course after a day of hiking to earn those calories… 🙂
Woops sorry accidentally pasted a comment from an old post instead of submitting the correct one! Wanted to say that this looks like an incredible part of California. I have spent time in San Fran, LA, Fresno and Palm Springs but would love to visit this area. Your photos are great and it looks like an outdoor-lover’s paradise 🙂
Haha no worries! At first, I was like huh? Lol. Big Bear is a wonderful getaway that is super close to pretty much anywhere in Southern California. I hope you get the chance to visit the next time you are in California!
I love the mountains in California. Your hikes look very similar to what I used to do in Lake Tahoe. The mountain air is so exhilarating in the summer.
The mountains in California are so diverse and I agree, quite stunning. I’ve been to Lake Tahoe but only did one hike. I would love to go back and really explore it. Nothing more refreshing than the mountain air for sure! 🙂
I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Big Bear so it was wonderful to read all about it. Those views are worth the risk of motion sickness! I’d definitely look forward to a jalapeno margarita at the end of my hike, especially paired with some delicious Mexican food 🙂
I’m so happy and honored to introduce this mountain paradise to you! Yes, the margarita and some tasty Mexican food is the perfect way to end the day… 🙂
Big Bear looks like an amazing place. We are not skiers but we will definitely be going up on the sky chair, taking lots of walks and would love to camp out. Though the village looks like it has a great vibe too! oh those cocktails!
I’m the same, I prefer hiking and warmer weather than skiing. You would love the nature, hiking and of course ending the day with an awesome cocktail! 🙂
Great post, now I’m dying to visit Big Bear!
Thanks Sue! It is a fun place to explore. 🙂
Yoga with goats sold it for me! I’ve not explored as much of California as I would have liked, so Big Bear is on my radar! I honestly don’t do well with heights, but I’d love to see the views from the sky chair; I’ll just grab onto my partner when I feel wobbly!
Haha, I’m scared of heights too and just tried to look forward than down and of course was gripping the chair! Lol. Big Bear is a really pretty area to spend some time in and hopefully you make it there one day! 🙂
We visited Big Bear for the first time last autumn and loved it. We were in the motorhome and found a great campsite. We used bikes to get around and explore, including that pedal path you mention! Love seeing all your pics as they reminded me what a fab time we had there, although I also realised that we missed quite a few things which you mention here. Return visit required! Would love to ski there in winter some day too.
Thanks Jane! Isn’t the pedal path so nice? I have never camped there but would like to try it one of these days. Yes, a return visit is necessary as there is lots to do in Big Bear! 🙂
This place honestly seems so awesome! I’d love a refreshing cocktail with a lake view, and yoga with goats?! That’s beyond cool 😀
Haha yes, a nice cocktail on the lake after taking a goat yoga class is a great way to spend a day in Big Bear! 🙂
Wow, Big Bear looks like an amazing spot that offers great views! It’s my 1st time hearing about it and I’m interested to see it. Adding to my bucket list that’s for sure.
I’m glad to introduce Big Bear to you and hope you get to visit it one day as it is a beautiful mountain retreat! 🙂
I love bears! The name itself may urge me to visit this place 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing, never heard of it before! Yoga with goats sounds intriguing too, but not really effective lol
Haha I agree, that goat yoga is more of an experience than a workout! 🙂
Wow Big Bear has all the outdoor adventures I’d love to do. My fav would be to take my bike up the lift, have a brew and view at the top and then fly downhill.
Big Bear definitely has so many awesome outdoor activities. Biking down would be so fun!
I love Big Bear! Kayaking and enjoying the luge are my favorite activities. Somehow I didn’t know that there was hiking. But, that makes total sense. Thanks for sharing!
That’s so great to hear that you love Big Bear too! Yes, lots of great hiking trails in the area that you can try next time. 🙂
This is such an informative guide! I’d love to do these hiking trails and visit the brewery there! Definitely an awesome spot for a weekend trip
Thank you so much Helena! Big Bear really is an excellent weekend getaway. 🙂
This place looks like a great place to spend a weekend! So much to do and so beautiful!! I’ll keep it in mind when I’m in California 🙂
Big Bear is perfect for any nature lover and very relaxing in the mountain air. Hope you enjoy visiting when you make it to California again! 🙂
This place looks so beautiful! I have wanted to visit for such a long time. I will be saving this for when I eventually get there 🙂
It is a gorgeous mountain area and one I hope you get to explore soon! 🙂
You had me sold at goat yoga to be honest! Awesome post!
Haha, that is great! Yes, it is a unique way of getting in some exercise. 🙂
This looks like such a fun weekend! I went to college in Claremont and one of my roommates was from Big Bear, but I had no idea there was so much to do up there!
That is so cool! It is so nice that it is a mountain retreat that is so close to the city. Now you have a great excuse to go back and experience it. 🙂