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Big Bear Lake
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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 2,060 metres, 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 walker or a cyclist, 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 2,500 metre panoramic views and trails for mountain bikers and walkers. Whether you’re seeking single track climbs or flat lakeside paths Big Bear offers a collection of recreational paths for every level—many of which offer incredible views of the lake below.

'Big Bear Lake’s 22-miles 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 motorised- and people-powered water craft. You can hire equipment of all kinds, including paddleboards, kayaks, or boats for waterskiing or fishing.

Looking for a unique perspective of this alpine town? Glide among the treetops on a zipwire tour, fly over mountain lakes and the Mojave Desert in a helicopter 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 on consecutive weekends every autumn.

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The Off-Road Trails of Big Bear Lake
A lot of people don’t expect to find alpine scenery when they come to Southern California but the Inland Empire’s Big Bear area has plenty.
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Mountain biking in Big Bear Lake

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.

Surprising alpine scenery around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear beckons, with pine scented trails in summer and winter sports when the snow falls. If you like 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. 

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Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona is home to Club Mud, California’s only therapeutic red clay mud bath.
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.
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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,...

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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...

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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
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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...