Big Bear Lake

Brimming with fish, outdoor adventure and perfect weather, this woodsy lake and village is a year-round California favorite.

Situated in the heart of San Bernadino Forest, Big Bear Lake is one of Southern California’s biggest and most popular recreational lake. The lake and forest serve up water sports, outdoor activities, festivals and a family-friendly atmosphere. With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Big Bear Lake is the perfect holiday destination no matter what the season. 

Start your visit at the Big Bear Visitors’ Center located in the heart of the village (open daily). The knowledgeable staff will help you plan your adventure. While you’re in the village, check out Big Bear Boulevard’s sports rental and outfitter shops that offer everything from snowshoes to mountain bikes. The locals are happy to share tips and advice about the area’s hiking trails, ski slopes and water sports. 

Big Bear Lake is at its busiest in the warm and balmy months of April to September. Rent a boat and pull on water skis. Head to one of the lake’s quieter spots to fish for the abundant trout, bass and catfish. Check out the miles of trails by Segway, zip line, horseback or on foot in the surrounding forests and mountains. Join a guided tour or pick up a trail map at the Vistors’ Center and head off solo for some solitude. 

When the weather gets cooler around November, Big Bear Lake transforms into a snow-covered winter getaway. Snowshoe walks, snowboarding and cross-country skiing are favorites to check out the scenery and wildlife. Winter activities such as snow fort building, tobogganing, ice-fishing and singing around a campfire are sure to keep the kids entertained. Visit the Baldwin Lake Stables & Petting Zoo, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo and the water slides at Magic Mountain for other family-friendly activities. 

Accommodations are plentiful with lodges, hotels and campgrounds dotted around the area. The grizzly bears for which the lake is named have long gone, however, if you’re lucky you might spot a black bear. Birds, moose and deer are also local residents. 

Big Bear Lake is 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Palm Springs. Driving is the best way to reach the lake and village. Parking around the town is free but within the forest areas requires the purchase of and Adventure Pass.

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