If you’re looking for a Southern Californian destination away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, head to Big Bear Lake. Book a stay at a vacation rental in Big Bear Lake for a fun-filled family getaway. This small city sits on the shores of a lake of the same name. Enjoy boating and fishing on the lake during the warmest months of the year. In the winter, pack your skis and snow gear, and head up to Big Bear Mountain, which boasts a resort town atmosphere, as well as plenty of ski hills appropriate for all levels. Check out exciting things to do in Big Bear Lake.

1. Say Hello to Animals at Big Bear Alpine Zoo

One of only a handful of alpine zoos in the United States, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a permanent zoo that includes a variety of mountain animals. Visit Moonridge Animal Park within the zoo to take a tour through the specialized rehabilitation facilities that help sick and injured animals to get back to the wild.

2. Go Skiing at Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain, also called Big Bear Mountain, is the closest ski and snowboarding area to Big Bear Lake. Stay at a vacation rental during the winter to take advantage of this ski resort, which is also popular with snowboarders for its super pipe facility.

3. Experience Nature at Big Bear Discovery Center

Head to Big Bear Valley, near the lake, to check out Big Bear Discovery Center. This educational nature center within the San Bernardino National Forest offers plenty of engaging shows and activities for kids. Join a free nature walk for a fun and interesting look at the local plants and animals.

4. Take a Zipline Tour

While you’re in the National Forest, be sure to stop by Action Zipline Tours, a fully-certified company that provides rope-climbing workshops and zipline tours of the forest. Let an experienced guide show you the ropes of forest exploration — all equipment is provided for the cost of a three-hour workshop.

5. Spend an Afternoon at Magic Mountain

A vacation rental in Big Bear Lake puts you just steps away from Magic Mountain, a beloved local attraction featuring rides, mini-golf, and winter activities. Take a ride down the Alpine Slide for beautiful views of the surrounding area.

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6. Head Out on the Water

Big Bear Lake’s calm and clean waters are perfect for boating, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. Rent a canoe or kayak from a local equipment shop, such as Captain John’s Fawn Harbor Marina or Getboards, and spend a relaxing day on the lake.

7. Have a Picnic at Meadow Park

Walk or drive from your vacation rental spot to Meadow Park, a large green space within the city of Big Bear Lake. This well-maintained park includes large field spaces, sporting courts, a public picnic area, and a playground. Let the kids run around and blow off steam while you relax on the grass or at a picnic table.

8. Hike Down Castle Rock Trail

Break out your hiking gear and spend a day traversing Castle Rock Trail, a popular hiking route that goes right through the rocky, mountainous terrain surrounding Big Bear Lake. Spots for bouldering near the trail are great for those with outdoor climbing experience. Bring a camera and pack a snack to get the most out of your afternoon.

9. Visit Big Bear Funplex

If the weather is cooler, or rainy, take a trip to Big Bear Funplex. This indoor fun park on the shores of Big Bear Lake has an arcade, laser tag facilities, a skating rink, and more. When you get hungry, grab a slice at the pizza parlor conveniently located inside the Funplex.

10. Explore the Cosmos at a Stargazing Spot

The clear mountain air of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding area makes it an ideal spot for stargazing. Pack some blankets and head to one of the designated stargazing spots near your vacation rental to get a whole new perspective on the night sky.

11. Discover History at Big Bear Historical Museum

Established in 1881, the Big Bear Historical Museum boasts numerous artifacts and fascinating exhibits about the history and development of the Big Bear area. Experience a fully furnished log cabin dating back to 1875 to get a feel for the frontier days of this Californian town.

12. Shop at the Local Farmer’s Market

Take a walk to Big Bear Convention Center on Tuesdays between April and October to sample artisan wares from local produce growers, artists, and craftsmen. Support the local arts community, and find the perfect souvenir to take home with you.

13. Take a Driving Tour Through Holcomb Valley

Nearby Holcomb Valley, within the San Bernardino National Forest, is a great spot for hiking and camping — and also a historical hot spot during the California Gold Rush. A mapped out driving tour through the area takes you to areas where traces of Gold Rush excavations and structures still remain.

14. Take a Paddleboat Tour of the Lake

Book a sailing on Miss Liberty, the resident tour boat of Big Bear Lake, to experience the Southern California lake shores from a historic perspective. This calm, easy ride takes you around Big Bear Lake in 90 minutes, with full narration from an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide.

15. Enjoy Some Indoor Fun at the Bowling Barn

Located in a big red barn on Big Bear Lake’s Lakeview Drive, the Bowling Barn is the perfect place to practice your bowling, or compete against your family for bragging rights. Weekly glow bowling turns the whole space into a glow-in-the-dark wonderland. When you need a break, head to the concession stand for a delicious, fried indulgence.

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