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Courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Escape to Southern California’s mountain wonderland

Just two hours from Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer a cool, pine-scented escape. At an altitude of 6,759 feet (2,060 meters), Big Bear Lake is a hub for alpine recreation. Known for its famed Snow Summit and Bear Mountain resorts in the winter and its seven-mile lake in the summer, Big Bear serves as a year-round Southern California escape.

“We are known for skiing and snowboarding, but there’s a lot to do up here in the summertime as well,” says Clayton Shoemaker, the marketing director for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Whether you’re a hiker or a biker, you can access 60-plus miles of cross-country trails.”

When the snow melts, Snow Summit’s Scenic Sky Chair transforms into a mile-long ride to 8,200-foot panoramic views and trails for mountain bikers and hikers. Whether you’re seeking single-track climbs or flat lakeside paths, Big Bear offers a collection of recreational trails for every level—many of which offer incredible views of the lake below.

“Big Bear Lake’s 22-mile of shoreline is highlighted by the six marinas located around the lake,” says City Manager Jeffrey Mathieu. “If you love playing on the water, you’ll love Big Bear Lake because of all the features.”

Surrounded by towering peaks and lined by Ponderosa pine forests, the shimmering lake is a popular playground for motorized- and people-powered watercraft. You can rent equipment of all kinds, including paddleboards, kayaks, or boats for water-skiing or fishing.

Looking for a unique perspective of this alpine town? Glide among the treetops on a zipline tour, fly over mountain lakes and the Mojave Desert on a helicopter tour, or get behind the wheel to take on rugged terrain on a Big Bear Jeep Experience. The lake is also home to nesting bald eagles in winter, which you can see on tours offered by Big Bear Discovery Center.

If you’re looking to anchor your trip to a specific occasion, there’s no shortage of events throughout the year, ranging from fishing tournaments and fireworks to the annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, where you can test your strength at the stein-holding competition and sample German food throughout consecutive weekends every fall.

 

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Southern California

Discover the Inland Empire

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15
November
Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
32°
High
6°
Low
Dec - Feb
20°
High
3°
Low
Mar - May
26°
High
6°
Low
June - Aug
34°
High
12°
Low

With its inviting destinations and uncrowded wilderness, this region feels like an insider’s secret amid the bustling excitement of Southern California.

Mount San Gorgonio—nicknamed “Old Grayback”—is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,502 feet/3,506 meters.

Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine-scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow flies. If you’re into action, get the adrenaline rush of seeing the world’s best NASCAR racers compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. For a dreamier escape, float in a hot-air balloon above rolling Temecula Valley wine country. 

SPECIAL FEATURE
There are tons of reasons why you might plan a winter trip to Big Bear. Here are some you might not have thought of

With plenty of groomed runs and terrain parks at Big Bear Lake’s two alpine resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, it’s easy to see why skiers and boarders head here when the snow flies. But this...

Big Bear Lake in Winter
Courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts
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Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona is home to Club Mud, California’s only therapeutic red clay mud bath.
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Kodiak Greenwood

Temecula Valley Wine Country

Taste your way through Southern California's leading wine region

For many visitors, the Temecula Valley Wine Country is still a surprise. After all, a lot of people just don’t expect to see gently rolling hills...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for child-friendly fun zones that...

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John/ Flickr
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Temecula Valley is known for its variety, growing and producing over 50 different varietals of wine; from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot to Mourvedre, Viognier to Chardonnay.
Big Bear Lake VC_HiddenGems_BigBearLake_VCA_STILLS_BIGBEAR_01_1280x640_0
Courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear Lake

Escape to Southern California’s mountain wonderland

Just two hours from Los Angeles, the San Bernardino Mountains offer a cool, pine-scented escape. At an altitude of 2,060 metres, Big Bear Lake is...

Big Bear Lake VCW_D_IE_T3_DE_Route66_Mural_Lauridsen-sized_1
Dave Lauridsen

Route 66

Get your kicks on America’s legendary highway

Back in its glory days, Route 66 began in Chicago and ended along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific, a 2,451 mile journey through farmlands,...

March

Get into the chequered-flag spirit at this big and loud NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Cheer for your favourite drivers as they zoom for the front in this five-wide race event. The action kicks...

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Courtesy of Auto Club Speedway
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Trip 3-4 days 10 stops

Route 66 - The Mother Road

Legendary Highway, California Dream
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Start your trip in this idyllic oceanfront city, surrounded by a 3.5 mile long beach, and feeling more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just a few minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Car free options, including a shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport (8 miles south) make it a...

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On your way to this park, you’ll pass through the little community of Borrego Springs. Stop in at the town’s visitor centre to get driving maps to an astounding collection of enormous prehistoric animals, metal sculptures made by artist Ricardo Breceda, that dot the surrounding desert landscape...

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The first Balloon and Wine Festival was launched in the spring of 1984 and was a monumental success for a town of only 9,000 residents. More than 4,000 people attended, as 35 balloons were launched from the Rancho California Plaza.
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Inland Empire Outlets

Find bargains on brand names at major outlet centres

The only thing better than scoring the perfect outfit or designer shoes is to get them for a bargain price. That’s why shopping in the Inland...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you are in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you will find it here. Want to sample fresh fruits and...

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Prayitno/Flickr
SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to save on Gucci, Versace, and other big name brands

With fabulous shopping places like Rodeo Drive and Union Square, California has undeniable star power when it comes to shopping. But all those fashion finds and gifts for everyone back home don’t...

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Robert Sheie/Flickr
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Brian Stevens

San Bernardino Museums

Discover local and natural history and see art from around the world at area museums

Two local museums let you experience everything from the natural side of the Inland Empire to the treasures of ancient Egypt.

The San...

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Brian Stevens

Idyllwild

Nature and the arts find a perfect balance in this quaint mountain hamlet

Backed by mountain wilderness and filled with galleries, Idyllwild is a haven for both outdoor recreation and the arts.

Steep forested...

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San Bernardino National Forest is the largest urban forest in the United States.
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Alex Farnum

Lake Arrowhead

Escape to an exclusive mountain haven

The drive from San Bernardino to Lake Arrowhead is a quick one, just 23 miles. But as you twist and climb from the busy valley and into the San...

Riverside
John Bilous/Alamy

Riverside

Visit this Inland Empire city to learn about its citrus past, stay in a world-famous inn, and tour gardens and galleries

Sixty miles east of Los Angeles, Riverside boasts a number of firsts, including...