Big Bear Lake

Things to Do for a Weekend Getaway to Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Mine Beyaz / Getty Images

Back in the early 1900s, the journey from Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake was an adventure in itself, a bone-jarring ride an open-sided stagecoach, bouncing along winding mountain roads, and keeping a lookout for grizzly bears.

Nowadays, you can make the trip in a couple of hours by automobile. Read on to find out all of the things to do in Big Bear once you get there.

What Makes Big Bear Special

Sunny skies, mountains, year-round activities and a lot of cute places to stay make Big Bear Lake a family-friendly destination. The town may have "Big" in its name, but the area is small, making it easy to find whatever you're looking for.

Big Bear Lake rates high on small-town charm, with cobbled streets in the city center (known as simply "the village") where you'll find small coffee shops, restaurants, and other local shops.

With its proximity to Los Angeles and 75 inches of snow per year, Big Bear Lake is also very popular with Southland skiers

illustration of Big Bear lake with tips of things you can do there
 TripSavvy / Ashley Nicole DeLeon

Seven Great Things to Do

Zip Line Tour: If you have the need for speed, try zipping down a hill at 45 mph. But don't worry, you'll be strapped safely into a harness while doing it. Tour operators make you feel at ease, providing instructions and distracting from your worries with chatty conversation. It may also help to know that you descend in stages, nine small zips that last approximately 20 seconds each.

Segway Tour: You've probably seen a Segway personal transporter and thought "Gee, that looks like fun." With Action Segway Tours, you'll learn how to ride a Segway and soon will be zipping along through a scenic park with a wide grin on your face.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo At Moonridge: Where do bad Big Bears and wayward Wiley Coyotes go? If they're lucky, they end up at Moonridge Zoo. More of an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center than a zoo, they care for and display rescued animals - and a few that ran afoul of law one too many times. It's a great place to take kids, especially during animal feeding tours when they can ask questions.

Take an Off-Roading Tour: Though you can take this tour with Offroad Adventure year round, it may be more fun in the summer.

Winter Snow Play: Snow Summit is an all-in-one resort where you can find lodging, rent ski gear, and take skiing or snowboarding lessons. It can be crowded in peak season, but you can buy your tickets before you leave home.

If you prefer not to ski or snowboard but would still like to play in the snow, go tubing at Big Bear Snow Play, a fun family activity.

Spring, Summer & Fall: Boating and biking play a significant part in Big Bear summers when you can enjoy water sports or go fishing on the lake. Big Bear Lake also offers steep, winding roads that can even challenge world-class cyclists. If you don't have a bike, there are many bicycle rental companies to choose from.

Do Nothing: While everyone else is busy skiing, fishing or biking, you might be in the mood to do absolutely nothing. Big Bear Village offers relaxing activities like people watching while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.

Best Time to Go

Big Bear Lake tends to be busiest during skiing season which runs from late December through late February. It's also busy during Oktoberfest. 

Summer season runs from early July through Labor Day weekend.

Annual Events 

  • June: JazzTrax Summer Music Festival
  • July: 4th of July fireworks
  • August: Art on the Lake, Fine Arts Festival
  • Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest is a beer drinkers' festival celebrated here for more than 40 years. It begins mid-September and goes on every weekend until the end of October

Tips for Visiting

At more than 6,000 feet elevation, Big Bear can present challenges you won't experience at sea level.

Be prepared for snow in winter and get some tips about when you need snow chains.

Where to Stay

Use this guide to find Big Bear Lake lodging that's best for your trip.

Where Is Big Bear Lake?

Big Bear Lake is located 100 miles from Los Angeles and 90 miles from Palm Springs.

The nearest airport is in Palm Springs, approximately 90 miles from Big Bear Lake.

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