from short trips to traveling the world
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from short trips to traveling the world & living abroad

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 Holland, 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 decided to share my tips and create a practical weekend itinerary for Big Bear Lake.

Things to Do in Big Bear Lake

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 Lake 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. These are my recommendations for what to do in Big Bear.

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

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake - water sports

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


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 very useful list of water sports, adventure sports and other activities in, on and around Big Bear Lake.

3. Hike Around Big Bear Lake

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake - hiking trails


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 for a list of trails and reviews

4. Cycle or Ski at Snow Summit

Big Bear Lake mountain bike park - weekend in Big Bear


Out of all the activities we could choose from we decided to go for the downhill mountain biking experience at Snow Summit. Not being much of a daredevil I have to admit this wasn’t my choice 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… But 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 Lake 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 slaloming down the slopes and the afternoon sipping a cocktail on the beach makes this place quite unique!

5. Eat Out & Enjoy Big Bear Lake’s Nightlife

What to do on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake - The Village

Big Bear Lake has an adorable looking shopping and entertainment area called “The Village”. Do check this out when you are in Big Bear Lake! It’s definitely the best place to go for dinner and a drink or for some shopping and entertainment.

Big Bear Lake Village has got a good number of restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining so just walk around and pick your favorite or visit The Village’s website for a list of restaurants, bars, shops and other facilities.

It was recommended to us to eat at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company, a lively restaurant with an on-site brewery. It 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 there for dinner just stop by for a drink!
For more information visit Big Bear Lake Brewing Company’s website

Although you might not hope for great nightlife options when going to a mountain village, Big Bear Lake actually does have both a nightclub: AV Bar & Nightclub and a concert and comedy venue: The Cave.

During our weekend in Big Bear we decided to visit The Cave to see one of their cover bands. And I have to say, I was very impressed! It’s a very nice, well-maintained venue and the band we saw was great. So if you are looking for some nighttime entertainment do check out what shows are on!

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. offers a good selection of both.

So, when you find yourself in California and want a cool alternative to the beaches, head for the hills and visit Big Bear Lake!

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.

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

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

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and 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.