We took a much-needed break from New York City life and went camping in Big Bear. We love New York, but sometimes you just need a break from the hustle and bustle, and our favorite way to do that is to get outside.

7 POPULAR THINGS TO DO IN BIG BEAR LAKE CALIFORNIA

Although we’ve lived in SoCal for two years, Big Bear was one of those places we’ve never been to, so we were excited to explore the area for the first time. We flew to Los Angeles, met up with our friends and piled everything into the back of our Toyota Rav4 Adventure Class, and hit the road. It was a short trip, but we were so happy to get some fresh air.

1. HOTELS NEAR BIG BEAR DISCOVERY CENTER

We always try to start a trip to a park or forest at the information center or visitor center. We do a lot of research before visiting, but the rangers are the local experts and always know more about the area. Get tips on what to do, learn about current road and trail conditions, and learn how to avoid and deal with grizzly bears. They even organize concerts and shows throughout the year.

2. BIG BEAR ALPINE ZOO

There are only two alpine zoos in the United States, and one of them is right next to the Bear Mountain ski resort. In the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, you can see black bears, bald eagles, arctic foxes, and a snow leopard. Most of the animals are native to the region.

3. SKIING IN WINTER

Although it is only during the winter, Big Bear is a popular skiing spot for Southern California residents. It has the only super pipe in SoCal and offers options for all levels. Snow Summit is family oriented and a great place for beginners and Bear Mountain is popular among snowboarders.

4. GET ON THE TRAILS

Guests can go hiking or mountain biking in the San Bernadino Mountains. Regardless of your fitness level, there are many options to choose from. The Castle Rock Hike is one of the most popular trails due to its beautiful panoramic views and easy access. The trail starts in Boulder Bay. Then check out the Pine Knot Trail and the Bertha Peak Trail. If you’re a mountain biker, check out Skyline Ridge. Snow Summit also turns into downhill mountain bike trails in the summer.

5. GET ON/OFF AT BIG BEAR LAKE

Big Bear Lake offers many water activities. Hop on a kayak, jet ski or boat to get out on the water. If you are looking for something more relaxing, try hand fishing. You can catch trout, perch and catfish.

6. PICNIC AT BOULDER BAY PARK

This is one of the most popular places in Big Bear. The huge rocks are perfect behind the lake. There are picnic tables and plenty of space to stretch your legs. You can also bring a picnic blanket.

7. DRIVING THROUGH THE HINTERLAND

There is an extensive network of dirt roads that will lead you to various trails and campsites. We drove along the Holcomb Valley scenic byway and were excited to look for some beautiful photo spots. If you visit in winter, be sure to check the condition of the roads. Most of the time they won’t even let you go without a 4WD vehicle and snow chains.

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