Once a gold mining mecca and now a four-season mountain resort community, Big Bear Lake is nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest 7,000 feet above sea level and is just 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Ever wonder how Big Bear got it’s name? When this area was discovered, that’s exactly what the travelers found as they entered the valley, grizzly bear! With ample snowfall during the Winter, and splendid warm weather during the Summer, Big Bear is recognized as a recreational haven attracting year-round visitors from not only metropolises East of the mountain like Palm Springs and Las Vegas but those from the West such as LA, San Diego and Orange County.
But of course, as temperatures rise and the snow-capped summit becomes a distant memory it’s time to take advantage of the fresh water 7-mile lake and the numerous summer activities Big Bear has to offer. Now is the golden opportunity to take in the mountain breeze on a pontoon boat, throw out that fishing line and relax under the blue sky. You can rent a pontoon or bass boat or take a guided tour at one of the many Marinas. A more personal way of exploring the lake is by kayak or canoe. On a kayak you are able to get close to the water and venture into coves and places boats can’t get to. A new lake activity called “paddleboarding,” similar to paddle surfing, also allows you to see the lake in a more intimate way. It has become such a sensation that it is included in the yearly Big Bear PaddleFest. The PaddleFest takes place at the beginning of every summer at Swim Beach and is described as a Festival of Clinics and Races for kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards.
If you’re looking for something a little more fast-paced than kayaking or paddleboarding, then rent a speed boat or go waterskiing, wakeskating, kneeboarding or tubing. Big Bear Lake has all the options for water sports and lake activities including sailing, power boating, windsurfing, sailboarding, wakeboarding and the new sport worth checking out called “flyboarding.” It’s also Southern California’s prime fishing location and remains one of the best for catching trout and bass.
Alderwood’s very own Big Bear Lake Resort partner, Lagonita Lodge recently joined the paddleboarding frenzy. Located right on the lake, you can now try this popular activity on the Lodge’s marina. Take a look at their Facebook page for fun pictures of guests testing the calm waters, and visit their calendar of events for other recreational activities. The Lodge hosts lakeside BBQs, lake cruises, movie nights and nature walks. After all, Big Bear’s Lagonita Lodge is designed around the ultimate family and friend experience.
Surrounding the lake, Big Bear’s incredible pine and oak trees call out for adventure. Start with a hike on Big Bear’s most popular trail Castle Rock where you end at a 360° view atop a granite rock. Cougar Crest Trail is a bit more challenging and leads you to the world-famous 2,600-mile long Pacific Crest Trail juncture. Visit the Big Bear Visitor’s Center to find out more about hiking trails for every level. The Snow Summit Adventure Park opened this year with activities for everyone including the Scenic Sky Chair, hiking trails, biking trails and rentals for all levels.
Also new to Big Bear is the Nature Discovery Zone at the Discovery Center. This is an interactive addition to the Discovery Center that combines nature and art and great for the whole family. The Big Bear Discovery Center educates the public about the natural environment and wildlife, and offers free 30-minute Nature Walks on Saturdays at 1pm and 2 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 12 noon. Another terrific place to learn about local wildlife is the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. There you can visit the grizzly bear family, a three-legged bear named Hucklebeary grey fox, coyote, and a bald eagle habitat.
There is so much to do in Big Bear with the family. One of the spots kids love is Southern California's only bobsled at the Alpine Slide. To cool off there’s also a double water slide, and not to mention the Putt 'N Around Can Am go-karts and miniature golf course. If sharing the beauty of Big Bear is on your family’s priority list take them on a horseback or pony ride, try ziplining over the treetops or take a sunset offroading tour. One of Big Bear’s newest attractions is an aerial scenic adventure. Helicopter Big Bear offers sightseeing flights over the countryside, landmarks, lakes, deserts and mountain ranges for a truly memorable experience.
Looking for a slightly unusual way for the family to explore the area? Then try the Amazing scavenger hunt adventure. This is smart phone guided scavenger hunt where you solve clues and complete challenges while learning about the history of Big Bear Lake. You can sign up online at www.urbanadventurequest.com. The hunt includes a walking tour of the charming alpine Village. At the Village you’ll find a picturesque mountain setting with one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, mom & pop diners and full service restaurants. Take the kids for a game of bowling or check out what’s playing at the movie theater. Now open in the Village is Le Dolce Vita Tasting Room. Le Dolce Vita wine bar is a wonderful addition to the Village ambiance and features award winning wines, micro-brewed beers and a wide range of music in an elegant setting. Be sure to check their calendar of events for updates.
Special to summer and starting in June is the Big Bear Farmers Market. Every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. you can find delicious heirloom tomatoes, fresh asparagus and artichokes, nuts and dry fruit, jewelry, antiques and several local food vendors. You can try different flavored hummus and delicious pita bread, fresh preservative free baked goods and amazing Mexican food. Be sure to check out the infamous carved wooden bears that have become a staple in household and business décor. New to Big Bear’s list of summer events for 2013 is the inaugural Big Bear Yoga Festival taking place August 23rd through Sunday August 25th.
If you haven’t already, you must experience Big Bear Lake’s 4th of July fireworks. Big Bear Lake’s fireworks show is one of the grandest in California. One can pick a spot on the shore early in the day and set up a picnic for free with family and friends. Or take advantage of reserved seating and enjoy the show from the shore and partake in the games, music and BBQ from the Rotary Club of Big Bear Lake. There’s also the option of renting an individual boat or embarking on a Fireworks Cruise aboard the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel and Big Bear Queen tour boats.