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What to Do on a Weekend Trip to Big Bear Lake, California

Planning a trip to Big Bear? Then read on to find a list of the best things to do in Big Bear, both in summer and in winter, to create your perfect Big Bear itinerary.

While I have spent a large part of the past year in California and have heard Big Bear Lake being mentioned several times, I never really made any effort to learn more about this place or plan a visit to the mountains…

Why not? Maybe it’s because I come from the Netherlands, one of the flattest countries in the world, so planning a trip to the mountains is not something that comes to mind?

Well whatever it is, this past weekend I learned that spending a few days in a log cabin by a mountain lake actually makes for a great weekend getaway!

So, I want to share my tips and create a practical weekend itinerary for Big Bear Lake.

Note: even a day trip to Big Bear is well worth it! And you can use my tips below for that as well.

Things to Do in Big Bear

Big Bear Lake is a small town in California, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The town is located in the San Bernardino Mountains along the south shore of the eponymous lake and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest.

With its cute log cabins, cozy village atmosphere and stunning nature Big Bear Lake is the perfect place to escape hectic city life.

Big Bear is loved by outdoor enthusiasts all year round but even if you are not into the outdoors there is plenty to do in and around Big Bear Lake.

And although I’d recommend staying for several days, a day trip to Big Bear is definitely an option as well.

These are my recommendations for things to do in Big Bear.

1. Try Some of the Water Sports on Big Bear Lake

Docks on a lake with several boats, and mountains in the background

The lake is the main attraction here.

From sailing to fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding or a tour on a pirate boat… there really are countless options!

2. Or Any of the Other Adventure Sports & Activities

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake - adventure sports
source: actiontreeropeclimbing.com – things to do in Big Bear

With just over 5,000 inhabitants Big Bear Lake really is just a small, sleepy town. Or so you would think… I was very impressed by how much there is to do in Big Bear Lake!

Whether you are into go-kart racing, zip-lining, tree climbing (yes, really) or you’d rather go to the zoo or a bowling alley… you can find it all around Big Bear Lake.

Check out this website for a list of activities in, on and around Big Bear Lake.

3. Hike Around Big Bear Lake

hiking on a day trip to Big Bear

Another of the many fun outdoor things to do in Big Bear.

There are a good number of hiking trails around Big Bear Lake ranging from easy walks to very intense hikes.

With the amazing scenery here it is definitely worth at least exploring some of the area on foot!

Visit Alltrails.com for a list of trails and reviews. Their app is really useful on hikes to help you find your way.

Tip: if you love hiking and the outdoors, also read this guide: Things to do in Redwood National Park, California.

4. Cycle or Ski at Snow Summit

Big Bear Lake mountain bike park - weekend in Big Bear
source: latimes.com

Out of the long list of things to do in Big Bear we chose to go for the downhill mountain biking experience at Snow Summit. Not being much of a daredevil I have to admit this scared me but I am happy I did it because it was a great experience!

You take the ski lift up to the top of the mountain where you find a wide selection of professionally built and maintained trails.

Of course I went for one of the easier trails and even there I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to me if I would make one mistake and plunge down that cliff that was constantly next to me.

Thankfully somehow I never made that one mistake, I made it down the mountain and the adrenaline rush was amazing!

But skiing is probably what Big Bear Lake is best known for.

Although only a two hours drive from the sunny Californian beaches, Big Bear offers two ski resorts: Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

It might not be the best skiing in the world, but the fact that you could spend the morning enjoying the slopes and the afternoon sipping a cocktail on the beach makes this place quite unique!

Also Read: Things to do in San Diego and Things to do in Los Angeles

5. Eat Out & Enjoy Big Bear’s Nightlife

Things to do in Big Bear Lake - visit The Village

Big Bear Lake has an adorable looking shopping and entertainment area called “The Village”. Do check this out when you are taking a trip to Big Bear!

It’s definitely the best place to go for dinner and a drink or for some shopping and entertainment.

Big Bear Lake Village has a good number of restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining so just walk around and pick your favorite. Or visit the Big Bear Lake Village Facebook page for more information about the restaurants, bars, shops, and other facilities.

We were recommended to have dinner at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company, a lively restaurant with an on-site brewery. This is clearly a popular restaurant because on Saturday evening it was packed, and for good reason. The service was great, the food good value for money and having a view of the brewery from your table is a really cool feature! I loved their cocktails and if you don’t have time to go here for dinner, just stop by for a drink!

Although you might not expect great nightlife options when going to a mountain village, Big Bear Lake actually does have a nice nightclub as well. So if you want to make it more of a late night, check out the AV Bar & Nightclub.

6. Stay at a Cozy Cabin

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake - rent a cabin

I was lucky enough to be able to stay at a friend’s house for my weekend trip to Big Bear Lake but otherwise renting a cabin is what I would do to explore and enjoy this area.

Alternatively, there are many good hotels catering for every budget. Booking.com offers a good selection of both.

I hope this article showed you that there really are plenty of things to do in Big Bear that make it a great weekend break or day trip!

Thinking About Traveling to California?

Also check out my other articles about California.

And if you love trips to mountain lakes and stays in cute mountain towns, then definitely check out my travel guide for South Lake Tahoe.

Or for a different but equally unique trip away from city life, check out this guide for visiting Death Valley.

Like this article about planning the perfect Big Bear trip? Pin it!

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear, California. #bigbearlake #travelcalifornia #bigbear

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Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. I spend most of my time living and working abroad and visiting destinations all over the world. I use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

15 thoughts on “What to Do on a Weekend Trip to Big Bear Lake, California”

  1. It depends on what you want to do. It still often freezes at night in mid April. Big Bear Mountain Resort doesn’t start its summer operations until May (depending on weather). Ideally I would say go earlier to ski or later to enjoy warmer weather and summer outdoor activities. But Big Bear Lake is a beautiful place no matter what and you will always find things to do!

  2. People often forget we have lovely mountains in California! And of course hiking and outdoors plus a log cabin is one of the best possible trip ideas. I’m from Cali and I go up to the mountains every Spring for hiking and wildflowers!

  3. Love the idea of a Cozy Cabin in Big Bear Lake. What a gorgeous place! I’ve traveled all over California, more times than I can count and wish I would have know about this place, will have to check out. I love how quaint and relaxing it looks and can’t believe how close it is to the city. Tree and zip lining is right up my ally, so much fun!

  4. Big Bear sounds amazing! We didn’t realize that there was so much you could do there. Thanks for the tips. We will definitely be adding Big Bear Lake to our itinerary next time we’re in the area.

  5. Hiking and cycling are two big favorites of mine, so those look like the activities for me! The scenery looks beautiful. The cabin looks great too, and I agree it’s the thing to do when you’re staying in a place like this 🙂

  6. Big Bear Lake Sounds like an awesome place to Trek. How many hours does it take for the Trek? Is it okay to visit in winters?

    • Yes, winter is actually high season in Big Bear Lake because of the ski resorts. And the hiking opportunities are quite diverse here: you could go for an easy walk around the lake or a full day hike into the mountains: there are good options for every level

  7. Such a picturesque spot but despite that, still plenty to do. As a bit of a watersports addict, I’d certainly be taking advantage of the kayaking there while the skiing sounds a lot of fun too. And of course, can’t miss those breweries!

  8. Wow! I never knew there was so much to do at this place. The cabin also looks beautiful!! Will definitely try when I have an opportunity

  9. Relaxing on the lake, water sports, hiking, shopping, lazying in cute cabin…those are a lot of different options for people with different tastes! And I love the name..Big Bear Lake


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