Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is located in the middle of the San Bernardino National Forest. Parking within city limits does not require a permit. Parking in the forest areas surrounding the city requires the purchase of an Adventure Pass. Adventure Passes can be purchased at the Big Bear Discovery Center (see below) or any sporting goods store within the city.
Big Bear Lake, previously known as Yuhaviat, was discovered back in 1845. Benjamin Davis Wilson and a crew of twenty men rode into Yuhaviat Valley chasing Native Americans that had been raiding their ranches in Riverside, CA. While in the valley, the men discovered that it was teeming with grizzly bears. Thus, Wilson came up with the name "Big Bear Lake" for the valley.
Before Big Bear Lake became a popular vacation spot, it was known as a gold mining mecca. In 1860, a bear tracker named William Holcomb discovered a creek filled with flakes of gold while tracking a bear’s blood trail. Word soon got around that there was gold in the valley. From 1860 to 1875, Big Bear Lake was swarming with prospectors in search of gold.
The average maximum annual temperature for Big Bear Lake is 62.2 degrees Fahrenheit and the average minimum annual temperature is 31.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual snowfall is 62.1 inches. During the winter months, temperatures usually range from 20 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. And during the summer, it is anywhere between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Big Bear might be a two or more hour drive from Orange County, but it is worth it. You can just drive, walk, or ride a bike around the place to see new and cool stuff. There are many places to go like restaurants and trails to walk on. There are plenty of fast food places when you first enter because, really, when you are in a car for two hours you want to eat something. Even if there are fast food places, there are nice restaurants, but I'm not sure if they're all still in business.
HWY 330 Through Redlands - Easiest route from most Southern California locations.
HWY 38 Through Redlands - It is a bit longer, but is the most scenic.
HWY 18 Through Crestline/Running Springs - Shortest way if you are coming Hwy 210 Eastbound.
HWY 18 Through Apple Valley/Lucerne Valley - Less mountain driving and least amount of traffic.
The nearest large airports are LA/Ontario International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport.
Big Bear City Airport  is a general aviation airport on the east end of the lake. Tie-down rentals are available. Car rentals are also available.
It is very easy to navigate Big Bear Lake by car. The city is very good about keeping the roads clean and free of snow in the winter. Big Bear Lake also has an incredible amount of hiking and biking trails available for public use. This can be a great way to explore the outdoors and also get where you need to go. The public is also free to use boats, jetskis, canoes, and other water apparatuses on the lake itself. The Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority (MARTA) is the primary public transportation provider for Big Bear Lake. It provides local and off-the-mountain bus services for its patrons.
In the main town that I knew was a fun place with a lot of food like Ihop and other meal places like that. There are dollar stores, theater that is a little small when I was there. There is wildlife somewhere, on land, air or under water, but there is life almost everywhere. One of my favorite things to do in Big Bear is to feed the wild ducks that are on the lake. Seeing the ducks race to the bread is funny and sometimes you get to see a duck family
When it is snowing there is a small slope for snow tubing and it is really fun if you are bad at skiing or snowboarding. If you are the type of person that likes skiing or snow boarding then there is a mountain area for you. In the summer you can swim, water tube, jet ski and much more if you have a boat or lake house. Also if you want to or not you can go fishing. If you don't have a fishing rod or bait, don't worry. There is a fishing store for a rod and bait.
Arcade indoor fun, camping, RV parks, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, discovery center, hiking, horseback riding, laser tag, indoor fun, off road tours, skiing and snowboarding, snow play, tours, trails, ziplining, and zoos.
Alpine slide, arcade in-door fun, biking, boating and water sports, camping and RV parks, discovery center, fishing, golf, hiking, horseback riding, jet boat rentals, jet skiing, kayaking and canoeing, laser tag in-door fun, marinas, mountain biking, museums, off road tours, paddle-boarding, parasailing, tennis, trails, wakeboarding and waterskiing, ziplining, and zoos.
Adventure Outpost at Bear City Discovery Center, 40971 Hwy. 38/ North Shore Dr. Fawnskin, California 92315. 909-866-3437. Located in the Big Bear Discovery Center, you will find maps, field guides, books on hiking, biking and camping, Native American items souvenirs and more.
Gallery of the American Landscape, 40722 Village Drive. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. (909) 878-9214. Visit the world’s first green gallery of master landscape photographer, Timothy Wolcott.
Blauer’s Board Shop, 41177 Big Bear Boulevard. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. (909) 866-5689. Top brand clothing, footwear, eyewear and wakeboards, inner tubes, bikes, and accessories for purchase or rent.
Goldsmith’s Boardhouse and Ski Rentals, 42071 Big Bear Boulevard. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. (909) 866-2728. Goldsmith's has outstanding lines of quality boards and skis for both sales and rentals. Snowshoe rentals and trail maps also available.
Bear Mountain Resort, 43101 Goldmine Dr. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. 909-866-5766. Whether just learning to ski or ride, refining skills or bringing professional style to the slopes, Bear Mountain has something for everyone. This nearly 200-acre winter playground offers the region's largest beginner area and the most progressive teaching terrain, equipment and techniques.
Sugarloaf Mountain Traders, 439 West Big Bear Blvd. Big Bear City, California 92314. 909-584-8451. Small boutique located in Bear City sells vintage and new linens, trims, fabric, beads and buttons.
Bear Valley Bikes, 40298 Big Bear Blvd. Big Bear Lake, CA 92315. 909-866-8000. Bear Valley Bikes is a full service bike shop, which means you can rent from us, or we can fix your bike, find the part you're looking for, or just pick up some last-minute gear or trail maps.
Snow Summit Mountain Resort, 880 Summit Blvd. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. 909-866-5766. Whether it's wide open runs or fun terrain features, Snow Summit has it all. Ideal for everyday skiers and riders in search of a friendly, laid back winter playground.
Yarn Designer’s Boutique, 439 West Big Bear Blvd. Big Bear City, California 92314. 909-584-9715. Beautiful yarns to knit and crochet, classes, books, free patterns with yarn purchase and accessories.
The Little Green House, 559 Bonanza Trail. Big Bear Lake, California 92315. 909-866-5352. We offer wedding and event coordinating. Specializing in custom bridal bouquets, custom ceremony and reception decorations, gourmet gift baskets and romantic in room set-up with roses and other romantic touches.
Gold Pan Restaurant, (909) 866-4310. Location: 39204 North Shore Dr (Fawnskin). Cuisine Type: American. Amenities: Takeout, Bar
Evergreen International,(909) 878-5588. Location: 40771 Big Bear Blvd. Cuisine Type: Steak/Seafood. Amenities: Takeout, Bar, Reservations Accepted, Banquets, Outdoor Seating, Pets Welcomed
Bill Knick's Cafe, (909) 866-1870. Location: 40971 North Shore Dr. Fawnskin (@ Discovery Center). Cuisine Type: American/Deli. Amenities: Outdoor Seating, Pets Allowed
Captain's Anchorage, (909) 866-3997. Location: 42148 Moonridge Way. Cuisine Type: Steak/Seafood. Amenities: Bar, Reservations Accepted
Big Bear Mountain Brewery, (909) 866-2337. Location: 40260 Big Bear Blvd. Cuisine Type: Continental/American. Amenities: Takeout, Bar, Entertainment, Outdoor Seating, Pets Welcomed
Teddy Bear Restaurant, (909) 866-5415. Location: 4583 Pine Knot Ave. Cuisine Type: Continental/American/Pie. Amenities: Takeout, Open 7 Days a week, Cash Only.
Grizzly Manor Café, (909) 866-6226. Location: 41268 Big Bear Blvd. Cuisine Type: American. Amenities: Takeout
Bistro at the Mansion, (909) 878-9190. Location: 869 Knickerbocker (@Knickerbocker Mansion in Village area). Cuisine Type: Continental/Seafood/Steak. Amenities: Open Fri & Sat only, Reservations Recommended, Catering, Banquets, Outdoor Seating
Noble Romans Pizza, (909) 866-7499. Location: 40679 Big Bear Blvd. (@ Big Bear Funplex). Cuisine Type: American. Amenities: Takeout, Bar, Entertainment, Banquets
Tiffany Lounge at Best Western, (909) 866-6666. Location: 42200 Moonridge Rd (@ Best Western Big Bear Chateau Plus). Cuisine Type: Continental. Amenities: Bar, Catering, Banquets, Outdoor Seating, Pets Welcomed
Diamond Lil's Saloon, (909) 585-2005. Location: 501 Valley Blvd (@ Big Bear City Airport). Cuisine Type: American. Amenities: Takeout, Bar
Maggios Pizza, (909) 866-8815. Location: 42160 Big Bear Blvd (in Vons Shopping Center). Cuisine Type: Italian. Amenities: Takeout
Sugar Pine Bake Shop, (909) 866-2300. Location: 40191 Big Bear Blvd. Cuisine Type: Bakery. Amenities: Takeout, Online Orders, Catering, Delivery
Himalayan Restaurant, (909) 866-2907. Location: 672 Pine Knot Ave #2 (Village Area). Cuisine Type: Nepalese/Indian. Amenities: Takeout, Bar, Delivery (within Village area)
Sweet Basil Bistro, (909) 866-9212. Location: 40629 Big Bear Blvd. (Village area). Cuisine Type: Fresh Italian. Amenities: Takeout, Bar, Catering
Bear Belly Deli, (909) 585-4266. Location: 42530 Moonridge Rd. Cuisine Type: Deli. Amenities: Takeout, Catering, Outdoor Seating, Pets Allowed
Nottinghams Restaurant, (909) 866-4644. Location: 40797 Lakeview Dr. (in Village Area). Cuisine Type: American/Steak/Seafood. Amenities: Bar, Entertainment, Outdoor Seating
Wildfires sometimes occur during the summer, when it is dry.
Drought conditions have affected Big Bear City dramatically, as the drought that is now severe statewide has been present in Big Bear's diminished snowpack since 2005. Hotels, restaurants and resorts are under strict water usage ordinances in city limits, as can be seen by Big Bear Lake's receding shoreline. (And Baldwin Lake is entirely gone.) If camping/RVing in the area, remember to pack in, pack out, leave no trace, and follow all conservation guidelines issued when paying fees.
If you are sensitive to chlorinated water, bear in mind that Big Bear's water system chlorinates their tap water when ordering drinks.