I personally love visiting Big Bear and there are so many things to do in Big Bear! The ranch is only a half hour away so we often pop up there to get a coffee at the Copper Q and walk through the shops at the Big Bear Village.
Big Bear in California is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in Southern California. It is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest and is super close to Los Angeles-only 99 miles east of the city.
The mountains, forest trails and lakes are home to various adventurous and relaxing activities. Be it hiking, biking, ziplining, skiing, fishing, or camping – you will always find yourself among nature and wildlife.
The Big Bear mountains area remains covered in snow in the winter months and sometimes as far as July! You can see wildflowers throughout spring, while summer remains best for lake and water activities. During fall, you can see the forest changing in different hues. You can pick your visiting time depending on what you want to do to spend your stay.
These are the best things you can do in Big Bear:
1. Castle Rock trail
Passing through the mountains and forest, this forest trail offers a spectacular view of the Big Bear Lake and the surroundings. The trail is fairly short, only at 2.7 miles but steep and a bit hard to climb at some points. You can wander on this trail by horseback or biking, but walking is the best way to visit the trail. As one of the easier trails, it does tend to get busy in the afternoons.
2. Big Bear Discovery Center
If Castle Rock seems like too much of a challenge, try the Cougar Crest Trail (even I can handle that lol) or for a very beginner trail check out the interactive Woodland Trail located at the Big Bear Discovery Center.
The Discovery Center is worth visiting just in and of itself. It has all sorts of fun exhibits about local wildlife-including a stuffed bobcat that I used to stare wide eyed at when I was a kid. It’s a fun short visit for adults, but really entertaining for kids. And don’t forget that trail where you can learn a lot about the local plants!
3. Big Bear Alpine Zoo, Moonridge
The Big Bear zoo remains open regardless of the season so that you can visit it at any time of the year. Established in 1959, the zoo used to keep injured or lone animals due to forest fires. It now serves as a center to rescue injured animals and, after rehabilitating, relocate to their natural habitat. In some instances, the animals can’t go back to the wild. Hence the zoo authority keeps them. So far, it’s home to over 85 species of local animals and birds, including an arctic fox, bobcats, grizzly, black bears, eagles, owls, etc.
We even once caught an injured pelican in the middle of the desert and brought it up to them for rehabilitation. Random, I know!
3. Butler Peak
Butler Peak is one of the seven fire lookout posts in the San Bernardino National Park. Visit this peak to get spectacular views of the mountains and the Big Bear Lake as well as gorgeous wildflowers in the late spring. A fire lookout post is a high-altitude place at an elevation of 8535ft, which can be pretty steep and difficult to climb. Moreover, this place remains covered in heavy snow during winters, even sometimes, till July.
Butler Peak trail is 10 miles long so it’s rated as moderate. Definitely stop in at the ranger station for information before tackling this trail and never go on any hike without letting people know where you are! Even one rated as easy.
4. Big Bear Snow Play
The Big Bear Snow Play park was formerly known as Rebel Ridge, but now it’s a fun place to spend time with your family in the snow. It offers one of the best snow tubing runs in the USA, and the Magic Carpet uphill lift doesn’t require you to drag your tube to the top of the run. During warmer months, you can have your share of snow as they turn on the fan snow machines for equal fun. When there’s no snow, there’s still the ropes course and speedway!
5. Bluff Lake Reserve
The Buff Lake Reserve is a fantastic place for families as it is great for beginners and is even flat enough for small kids. It’s located at 7600ft and is surrounded by tall pine forest and flower meadows. It a protected place, and you can visit rare, endangered species of plants, birds, insects, and amphibians. The place remains less crowded, allowing you to spend a calm afternoon and even enjoy your picnic. Your pets are allowed, too! Hiking and birdwatching are the specialty of this location.
Lodging in Big Bear
There are all sorts of hotels and vacation rentals in Big Bear. If you’d also like the fun of staying on a farm, why don’t you consider staying at Flip Flop Ranch! We’re 30 minutes outside of Big Bear, but we’re also centrally located between Big Bear, Joshua Tree National Park and Calico Ghost Town. Plus we have kittens so…it’s a win win.
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