Big Bear Lake Area Guide

Big Bear Lake Area Guide

Big Bear is one of California’s most-beloved vacation destinations. Tucked in amidst the stunning San Bernardino National Forest, a stay in a Meredith Lodging Big Bear Rental home offers endless recreational opportunities, year-round. 

Looking to hit the slopes? Love to hike or bike? Fancy a dip in an alpine lake? With 22 miles of shoreline, a golf course, and plenty of family-friendly activities, Big Bear truly has something for everyone…and we have the accommodations to serve as your perfect home-base. Discover Meredith Lodging’s Big Bear Vacation Rentals Collection! We offer vacation rentals of all sizes and all budgets, from cozy cabins to mountain chalets.  

To help make your planning easier, we have made a list of some of our favorite things to do, see, and eat when staying in a Big Bear, CA vacation rental. 

Family Friendly Activities near Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

A favorite stop for any true animal-lover, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a rehabilitation facility and sanctuary for orphaned, injured, or imprinted animals. Come meet the VIP residents and learn how we all can help sustain our precious wildlife.  

Gold Rush Mining Adventures

Head to this unique and immersive attraction that pays tribute to the Big Bear Valley’s gold mining history. The whole family can pan for gold, mine for treasures, dig and excavate, and crack open geodes. Any precious loot you find is yours to keep!  

Baldwin Lake Stables and Petting Zoo

Enjoy the breathtaking surroundings of Big Bear on horseback. The stables are open year-round, and offer rides to suit all levels. Do not miss their Petting Zoo where you can visit alpacas, goats, pigs, rabbits, and more! 

Big Bear Historical Museum

Big Bear Historical Museum is a fantastic way to discover the rich history of the area. Step back in time as you watch live blacksmith demonstrations, observe over 1 million artifacts on display, explore nine restored buildings, and pan for gold. 

The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain

The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain Recreation Area offers fun-filled activities for the whole family year-round. In the summer, take a ride on their waterslide, and in the winter, head for the hills for some snow tubing. Other attractions include bobsledding, go-karts, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and two rides – the Soaring Eagle which takes you backwards for 200 yards before zipping you down high above the forest at 26 mph, and the new Mineshaft Coaster, the first and only Mountain Coaster in California.  

Hike Snow Summit

Looking to the hit the trails? Head to Snow Summit for some of the best hiking trails in Southern California. Snow Summit offers trails for all abilities and ages. Check out Bobsled Trail, an enjoyable 2-mile, top-to-bottom trek with picturesque views of Southern California’s tallest mountain, Mt. San Gorgonio, or Mountain Top Trail. This family favorite trail is a one-mile, intermediate loop that offers spectacular views. Hiking trails typically operate from mid-May through October, but dates are subject to change based on weather conditions. 

Head to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit for a memorable day on the slopes. These two mountains offer over 430 acres, 26 lifts, and more than 55 runs combined. Experience some of the best snow conditions and most rideable terrain in Southern California at Big Bear Mountain Resort.  

Take the Family to Bowling Barn

Let the good times roll at the Bowling Barn in Big Bear. They offer arcade games, billiards, bowling, glow bowling in the evening, a full-service grill and sports bar where you can catch the game over a cocktail or a beer while the kids hit the lanes! 

Check out Big Bear Snowplay

Enjoy year-round fun at Big Bear Snowplay. This former ski hill known as Rebel Ridge, offers fun for the whole family with an aerial rope course, a speedway, snow tubing, and after dark glow tubing!  

Big Bear Lake Outdoor Recreation Activities 


Bear Mountain Golf Course offers a scenic and unique 9-hole experience for players of all skill levels. Hit the links as you play amongst Ponderosa pines with the San Bernardino Mountains as your backdrop. The course is typically open to the public from mid-May through October. Advanced reservations are recommended as tee times fill up quickly. 

Mountain Biking

Big Bear Lake has become a mountain biking mecca. Head to Summit Bike Park where they have a variety of downhill trails, and over 60 miles of cross-country tails, suitable for all levels. The park also offers breathtaking views of the sun-soaked San Berardino Mountains and Big Bear Lake as you traverse through the trails.  


Dreaming of a getaway to a Big Bear cabin rental and a weekend spent fishing? Big Bear Lake is a snow-fed, fish-filled lake perfect for casting a line to catch Rainbow Trout, Bass, Carp, Crayfish, and a variety of Sun Fish. The temperatures never get too hot in Big Bear, so the fish stay active even in the warmest parts of the summer, making this natural reservoir a wonderful place for experienced anglers and novices to enjoy this popular local pastime. Applying for an online fishing license is easy and convenient. Looking to rent a boat? The experienced crew at Big Bear Marina offers an extensive rental fleet from Pontoons to Fishing Boats, we well as a fishing charter service, a pro tackle shop, and an official weigh station. Big Bear Marina also rents wave runners, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. 


At the heart of Big Bear Lake is the charming district known as The Village, the hub for dining, entertainment, and shopping. Take a break from the trails and slopes, and stroll through the shops, where you can find everything from athletic wear, cooking and kitchen supplies, artisan foods, art galleries to mountain and cabin décor. Many of our Big Bear vacation homes are located nearby. 

Best Places to Eat and Drink in Big Bear Lake 

Grab a Coffee from the Copper Q

Start your morning with a strong cup of locally roasted coffee from The Copper Q. This beautiful, family-owned shop also serves freshly baked goods, bagels and quiche, and kitchen retail items.  

Indulge a little with a stop at Dank Donuts

This amazing donut shop serves a wide variety of traditional classics with a spin. They also offer vegan and gluten-free donuts, breakfast burritos and stuffed croissants – perfect for fueling up for a day on the slopes or trails. In the summer, every Tuesday after 5 pm, they serve the best tacos you can find in Big Bear Lake. Just ask the locals! Take some home to enjoy the sunset views from your Big Bear vacation rental. 

Grab Lunch or Dinner from the Barnstorm

Watch planes take off down the runway against a beautiful mountain backdrop at locals’ favorite, the Barnstorm. This casual restaurant, located in the airport terminal, has something for every appetite – hearty breakfast dishes, deluxe burgers and sandwiches for lunch, gourmet dinners on the weekends, and unexpected German delicacies. 

Stop by Teddy Bear Restaurant

Teddy Bear Restaurant has been proudly serving locals breakfast, lunch, and dinner since 1944. This casual, family-friendly restaurant offers classic food in generous proportions, but make sure to leave room for a slice of their homemade pie.  

Check out Big Bear Mountain Brewery

Stop by Big Bear Mountain Brewery for some brews and bites, and try their famous Avocado Bomb – an avocado stuffed with spicy tuna, lightly battered in tempura, and flash-fried to perfection. They also have a great happy hour with a dog-friendly outdoor patio.  

Treat Yourself with a Meal From The Pines

Celebrate a special occasion with fine dining and the best lake view restaurant in Big Bear at The Pines. This upscale restaurant is the perfect place for a date night, or a special celebration. Enjoy the breathtaking views as you toast to another memorable day. They also have a dog friendly outdoor patio. 

Get a Pizza from Saucy Mama’s Pizzeria

Feel like ordering in pizza after a long day of exploring? Saucy Mama’s Pizzeria is a local favorite. Their pizza is the star of the menu with a thick crust and generous toppings, but they also serve sub sandwiches, pastas, salads, calzones, and grilled paninis. This is another great option for getting take-out to take home to your Big Bear cabin rental. 

Ready to discover the beauty and magic of Big Bear Lake? We are here to help! You can view our entire Big Bear Lake Vacation Rental Collection online or call our Reservations Team at 877.778.9055 to book your stay. We hope to see you soon! In the meantime, follow us on social and please tag those vacay posts #STAYWITHMEREDITH.