Explore Big Bear, California: Winter Wonderland

Up in the mountains of San Bernardino county is a special place as it’s a winter wonderland in colder months and paradise in the warmer months. Visiting Big Bear is always an adventure because there’s so much to do. But, at the same time you can enjoy doing nothing and soak up the quiet on a cabin porch. Some things to do while you explore Big Bear are discussed below. It can be an expensive trip, but there’s ways to make it more affordable with some tricks I learned. 

I have four ideas that you can use to fill up a few days of your vacation. To truly explore Big Bear, spend time at the ski resorts, eating at local gem spots, hiking and appreciating the nature of the mountains, as well as shopping and watching movies at the theater.

Explore Big Bear: outside activities 

Snowboarding

If you ski or snowboard, this is a must in Big Bear. Not only because it’s one of the main reasons people visit, but it’s a lot of fun with gorgeous views. This winter activity can add up in prices so if you want to do it on a budget, here are a few tips I have.

Explore Big Bear through snowboarding
Snowboard day in Big Bear

First, when you book a trip to Big Bear, check out the ski resort prices for ski lifts for when you are there. Most of the time when you book ahead, the ski resort prices will be cheaper. Check out this link to find prices. When you book a month in advance, it’s about $40 cheaper compared to if you bought the week you are there. There’s also other ways to save, like if it’s your birthday, military status, etc.

Next, check out local shops that rent snowboard/ski gear off the resort location. We did this and it cost $45 for board, bindings, boots and helmet. We headed to Blauer the night before we went to get everything so in the morning we went straight to the mountain to get the day started. Depending on what gear you need, do your research and see if it’s worth it to go somewhere off the resort. If you need all the gear like I did, I suggest going off the resort and heading to a place like Blauer which is not far from the resort. 

Finally, there is food and bars in the lodge and at the top of the mountain. If you don’t partake in winter activities, sit by the lodge and people watch. The views are relaxing and you can people watch all day.

Hiking

All around the lake and up in the trees are hiking trails. You can download the app “All Trails” to help figure out which type of hike you want. We went on the Castle Rock trail while it had snow on it, and soon figured out it was closed. The views that we did see were beautiful. AllTrails helps you navigate which trail you want. You can see the difficulty level, the pictures of the views you’ll see, as well as the duration and length of the trail. This is a great way to explore Big Bear from within and see the views from above.

Explore Big Bear: eatery

Tropicali

If you want a yummy Hawaiian Poke bowl, look no further. The service, food, cleanliness, and vibes are amazing. You will not regret eating here. It can get busy so try to go on a weekday. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, so check it out here.

Teddy Bear Restaurant 

Big Bear eats: Teddy Bear Restaurant
Teddy Bear restaurant

One morning, we stopped by Teddy Bear Restaurant for breakfast. The wait was about 30 minutes so try to get there earlier in the day if you are going to eat here or explore the shops while you wait. I ordered the Denver omelet with the cinnamon cornbread- yummy! It has a nice home feel to it that makes it enjoyable. Everyone who ordered loved the food and the Top ten food items are worth trying like the pot pie. Look into it more here!

Explore Big Bear: inside activities

Movies in The Village

After spending time outside, another fun thing to do is support the local movie theater. Tickets are only $5 and if you buy a large popcorn, you get a free soft drink! Check out the movies and deals online before you go for the most up to date information. It’s a small theater so try to get there early to find good seats.

Quiet night in the village
The Village at night

Enjoy Big Bear

There’s so much to do when you explore Big Bear. I didn’t even mention the local zoo, lake activities, other spots to eat at, bars to check out, and more. A few reminders are to check out the activities in advance to try save money, check the road conditions before you drive up and see if chains are needed, and most importantly, have fun!

If you’re heading to Northern California before or after this trip, check out what to do in Napa here!

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