Big Bear Travel Guide

Big Bear Valley
Big Bear Valley © jcookfisher

Located in the middle of San Bernadino National Forest, Big Bear is where Los Angelinos flock when the snow starts falling. Not far from the city of San Bernadino and greater Los Angeles, the area is a popular weekend break from the smog and rat race of city life.

Big Bear's two major ski resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, offer 33 individual pistes served by 12 ski lifts, and their position 4,920 feet (1,500m) above sea level ensures there is plenty of snow. There are a good variety of ski runs, especially for intermediates, and caters for snowboarders with a terrain park featuring more than 150 jumps and 80 jibs.

Big Bear is also an all-around resort however, drawing crowds with tempting attractions like fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, boating, waterskiing and horseback riding. The city of Big Bear has family entertainment like cinemas, bowling, and arcades, and offers a big variety of restaurants and a buzzing nightlife to keep everyone entertained off-piste.

With so many attractions so close to the greater LA area, it's no wonder that Big Bear is Southern California's most popular ski resort!

Big Bear offers both skiing and snowboarding. Bear Mountain offers visitors the largest beginner area in the region and also more than ample area for advanced skiers and riders. The Silver Mountain and Bear Peak ensures some of the steepest terrain. The 200 acre 'winter playground,' as they like to call it, offers upwards of 130 beginner to advanced features and Southern California's only Superpipe. Snow Summit also boasts a magnificent resort of offerings, giving visitors an ideal experience if in search of a relaxed and laid-back skiing holiday.

Shopping in Big Bear is certainly a must for anyone interested in a unique shopping experience. Take a break from the slopes and spend an afternoon strolling around the town in The Village, the main shopping hub in Big Bear, browsing the collections of quaint boutiques and shops, speciality stores and other gift shops in search of the perfect souvenir or take-away treasure. Shoppers will find something to their taste in this artsy space where art and decor are celebrated, as well as fashion and the natural environment.

Big Bear offers a large variety of restaurants for any tired and hungry slope-enthusiast. With both gourmet and home-style options, every taste is satisfied by the many cuisines including Chinese, Italian, Indian, Thai, American and more. The Captain Anchorage is very much an establishment, with patrons coming back for its good food time and time again. For those in search of dinner and a show, The Cave offers visitors a dinner experience and a chance to aquaint with the nightlife, indulge in a concert or comedy, or other forms of social entertainment scheduled throughout the year. With many other places to choose from, visitors to Big Bear certainly won't go hungry.

Nightlife in Big Bear is comfortable and laid-back. You won't find high-end clubs, only bars and restaurants offering entertainment. For anyone looking for a good time apres-ski, chances are Murray's Saloon and Eatery will provide it in the form of pool tables, karaoke and a well-stocked bar. Also firm favourites among visitors is Nottingham's Restaurant as well as The Cowboy Steakhouse and Saloon. For good craft beer and a chance to unwind, The Big Bear Lake Brewing Company is also a firm choice, offering gastropub food and a comfortable, relaxed environment.

There is certainly a lot to do in Big Bear, making for an ideal resort for families and patrons in search of a more varied skiing holiday. The major shopping district is The Village and offers visitors lots to see and do. Newly improved, The Village offers heated sidewalks, outdoor fire pits and beautiful decor. For those after something different, visitors can go bowling at The Bowling Bam, or can relax and retire at the Sherwood Forest spa. For those wanting a historical encounter, the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Tour Boat gives visitors a chance to learn the history of Big Bear, dating back to 1845, and those after an action-packed adventure can explore the forests with Action Segway Tours.