Big Bear Lake is a year-round destination, an icicle-decorated wonderland in winter, and a gorgeous wilderness retreat in summer. No matter when you go there is so much to do out-of-doors in the area that you’ll be spoilt for choice on your vacation.
First off, head for the lake, the water tempts you in, and there are so many activities to enjoy on (and under!) the glittering surface. Renting a covered pontoon from Holloway’s Marina is a great way to make your day on the water comfortable no matter what time of year you are visiting. Pack up a picnic, bring your own crew, and you can meander around the lake at your own pace enjoying the views, fishing, or swimming.
If you feel like being a little more active, then try one of the many water sports options available at the lakeside.
Things To Do On Big Bear Lake
You can try your hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking or canoeing if your idea of fun is a chilled out cruise under your own steam. Or if you prefer your water sports with more of an adrenaline kick, then head for the jet ski rentals or have a wakeboarding lesson to up the tempo of your day.
Be sure and chart a course for Captain John’s Marina and enjoy the Tarzan Boat, with its water slide, trampolines, and six-foot swing-out. This super fun water-park on the lake is a hit with all ages.
Fishing On Big Bear Lake
Of course, if your idea of a good time is simply relaxing on the deck of your pontoon, chilled drink in hand, and a rod in the water, then you can do that at Big Bear Lake too.
It is a great place to fish for rainbow trout, but you may also land bass or channel catfish. If you don't have your own gear, or you just want a few hints and tips from the locals, then the Cantrell Guide Service will take you out and give you the local secrets on the best spots.
If you’re visiting between June and October, you might be lucky enough to see what the experts reel in one of the fishing tournaments that Big Bear hosts.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail runs for more than 2,650 miles from Canada down to Mexico, and part of the trail cuts through California near Big Bear Lake. It is a real treat to get back to nature and be amongst the pine trees with their heady perfume listening to the birdsong.
If you love to hike, there are more than enough trails to enjoy no matter your age or skill level. If you have a stroller or wheelchair users in your party, the Happy Hills Trail is a great way to check out the area. The route is ADA friendly and begins right in town, and you can stroll the 0.2-mile route and admire the historical buildings and local wildlife.
If you’d prefer to go wild, then the Woodland Interpretive trail is a fun option. The nature experience has 16 stops, which you circle around, with the help of the brochure on a self-guided 1.5-mile hike learning all about the flora and fauna of the area as you go. This is an excellent option for kids as there are lots of picnic spots with boulders to clamber on and fantastic vistas of the lake. This trail is part of the US Forest Service Trailhead, so you’ll need an Adventure Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass, which you can pick up at the Big Bear Visitors Centre.
There are plenty more trails to walk, run or bike, so pick up a map while you’re in the Visitors Centre to see all the options.
Riding the alpine slide is a blast, whatever your age and whatever the season! To get up to the top of the slide, you’ll take a chair lift and get a panoramic overview of all the attractions and the surrounding area. Hop in your sled and hold on tight as you whizz down the quarter-mile-long slide, twisting and turning as you go. Don’t worry, you control the speed of your run, so if you prefer sedate to speed demon, you’re in the driving seat.
Snow Summit on a Sunny Day
Taking the Scenic Sky Chair up to Snow Summit is a great summer adventure. Travel a mile up to the mountaintop in a chairlift that makes you feel as though you are swooping through the treetops. Enjoy a birds’ eye view of the San Bernardino National Forest as you reach the summit height of 8,200 feet.
When you get to the top, you can experience views of the lake and forest far below and grab a bite to eat at one of the three cafes and restaurants before heading back down into town. If you feel like working off a big lunch, you can hike back down the mountain, or rent a bike and ride, or if you prefer to relax and enjoy the views, hop back on the chair lift.
Big Bear Discovery Centre
There is so much to do in Big Bear; it can be tricky to pick just a few activities for the time you’re visiting. A great idea is to head down to the Big Bear Discovery Centre when you arrive in town and check out the program of events for your stay. There are fantastic wildlife tours on foot or in a kayak, and people have even been known to see a bald eagle take a fish on the wing at close quarters. There are some fun activities for kids, such as crafts and a campfire program and the outdoor Nature Discovery Zone.
No matter how you choose to spend your day in Big Bear the chances are you’ll be tired after your busy day out on the lake or hiking the trails in the region. You’ll be ready for a chilled out evening - head on back to your Digs By Dan vacation rental and chill out in our hot tub. Listen to the sounds of nature all around you and plan tomorrow's adventure.
Be sure to check out our customized itinerary of things to do in Big Bear in summer to get more ideas.