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Family Fun at Big Bear Lake

by Eugenia Lazaris

Aug 29, 2018

© Chon Kit Leong | Dreamstime.com

North America

When people think of Southern California vacations, crowded beaches and big-ticket amusement attractions often come to mind. For families looking for a more down-to-earth adventure that still make the most of the great climate and endless sunshine, Big Bear Lake is the ideal vacation destination.


Located high in the San Bernardino National Forest, it only takes about two hours by car to get there from Los Angeles. This beautiful mountain lake offers tons of fun, action and even plenty of relaxation so families of any age or activity level can find something they will enjoy. It is even a pet-friendly community — many of the area’s lodgings, restaurants and activities are happy to welcome and accommodate your pets so there’s no need to leave fur babies at home.


Big Bear offers three main draws for tourists. There is an endless supply of hiking trails to keep you busy wandering the mountain. The deep blue waters of the lake invite guests to enjoy numerous water sports. During the winter months, the mountain is home to incredible skiing, snowboarding and more. No matter when you visit, your family will find a reason to love Big Bear and come back year after year.


When you are visiting a lake town, getting outside and enjoying the fresh air is a necessity. The Castle Rock Trail is a great way to experience the outdoors in Big Bear. The trail, which requires some mildly strenuous hiking, takes you through the trees and rewards you with beautiful views of the lake. Mountain biking trails are also in abundance in Big Bear, a popular place for races in the summer months. Shops like Bear Valley Bikes have plenty of bikes and gear to rent so you can work your muscles on the trails during your trip.


No trip to Big Bear would be complete without spending some time on the lake. It is a great place to do some fishing — rainbow trout and largemouth bass are common trophies for seasoned fishermen, but the lake also attracts smaller panfish (any fish small enough to fill a frying pan), it an ideal place for kids to learn to test their skills. The lake has plenty of great fishing spots whether you are fishing from the shore or from a boat — just make sure you bring your fishing license. Licenses can easily be purchased online before your visit.


Big Bear Lake Kayaking © Monkey Business Images |


If fishing isn’t your idea of enjoying the lake, don’t worry — there are still plenty of great options. Kayaking and canoeing, paddleboarding, jet skiing and wakeboarding are all great activities that get your family out on the water for some fresh air, exercise and Vitamin D. Parasailing also lets you enjoy the water along with a great view of the whole area as you soar through the air high above the lake. Big Bear Kayak Rentals can help you find the activity that suits your family’s tastes. The more adventurous members of your family may want to try flyboarding, the newest addition to the family of water sports. This activity involves wearing a pair of boots that use water pressure to elevate you above the surface of the water.


If you prefer to plan your trip during the winter months so you can enjoy one of those picturesque. White-mountain Christmases, Big Bear still has plenty to offer. Of course, skiing and snowboarding are wintertime favorites, but family fun is a priority in this town so there are great opportunities to hit the slopes no matter how old you are. Several snow parks are designed specifically to let kids of all ages enjoy sliding down the slopes on inner tubes or sleds. Alpine Slide, where you get to hop on an inner tube and take it on an actual bobsled run, is the only authentic bobsled course in Southern California.


When you need a break from all of Big Bear’s adventures, relax and hang out in The Village for awhile to take in the local ambience. The quaint downtown area has plenty of shopping to keep you busy and tons of inviting restaurants that serve up delicious foods to satisfy the hungry appetites you and your family will work up after a day of hitting the trails or playing on the lake. Fun shops like Big on Bears or the Brown Bear Gift Shop are great for picking up gifts or mountain-themed home decor while The Village Sweet Shoppe satisfies your sweet tooth. A visit to the Gold Rush Mining and Gift Emporium lets you enjoy more themed shopping and try your hand at gold panning. The Cave, a favorite hangout for locals, hosts great musical performances so make sure you catch a show while you are in town.


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