Big Bear Lake, CA

Big Bear Lake, CA

Big Bear Lake, CA

July 8, 2014 // In California

“The mountains are calling… and I must go…”
… to Southern California’s “Little Tahoe,” Big Bear Lake.

It’s amazing what a change in 6,500 ft can do. As you wind up The Rim of the World Scenic Byway, the palm trees quickly wain. The scene turns to deep grey boulders and thick forests of towering evergreens. Snow flakes begin to fall, whisking away all thoughts of LA traffic. Soon, you find yourself weaving past quiet little mountain towns and stopping at wood carving shops. The air is cleaner, the pace is slower… and the townie karaoke can’t be beat!


Be prepared – the weather is no joke, and highway patrol won’t let you up the mountain without proper tires or chains. Also, check weather and road conditions if it’s a particularly blustery day. While it may be 80 degrees in Los Angeles, it could be white-out conditions in Big Bear. There are 3 routes to tackle the trek, choose accordingly!



If you can afford it, GET A CABIN ON THE LAKE. And when I say “cabin,” I really mean alpine mansion. Hot tubs! Pool tables! Chandeliers made out of deer antlers!

Check out VRBO and airbnb first (here, you work directly with the owners), but be quick! These lakeside masterpieces go fast, often booking up months in advance. Don’t let the prices scare you – these houses are made for vacationers, and are ready to sleep even dozens of your buddies and snow bunnies. Split the cost between a large group, and you’ll be paying about the same as a standard hotel room.

For a full list of other options (including other cabins, hotels, hostels and camping), visit Big Bear’s Lodging page.

No Skis Required!

Big Bear is not just for skiers/snowboarders! In fact, over half of the crew that usually joins me don’t step foot on the slopes. With a hot tub on the lake and a continual supply of mulled wine and beers, who would need to? Other fun activities include a nearby snow tubing hill ($10) and alpine slides ($5/run), snow shoeing the Nordic Rim ($35), and getting sloshed at the local mountain townie karaoke bars!

Hit The Slopes!

Big Bear Mountain & Snow Summit are open for skiing typically November – April.

Ski passes are $75 day pass, $65 half day pass, $45 night pass.
Ski/Snowboard rentals are $17-$25/day at local rental shops.

Summer Fun!

Big Bear Lake is nearly just as popular in the summer! Their 4th of July Fireworks celebration is rated one of the best in Southern California. The sparkling spectacular is free, and can be seen from any park along the lake. Fireworks are shot off from a barge near the Rotary Club at the Marina Resort. If you’re looking to party, there are also ticketed such as Captain John’s Independence Day in Fawn Harbor, and the Big Bear Lake BBQ at Marina Resort.

Of course the best way to enjoy the lake is by boat. No boating license required, just a valid drivers license.

Big Bear Marina boating rentals:(prices may vary depending on time of year)

  • 6-person pontoon: $70/hr, $270 for the whole day
  • 12-person pontoon: $95/hr, $340 for the whole day
  • 3-seater Jetski rental: $125/hr
  • Kayaks: $20 hr, $35 for 2 hrs, etc.

Fawn Harbor boating rentals: (prices may vary depending on time of year)

12-person Pontoon Boat: 2 hrs $150, 3 hrs $220, 4 hrs $270, 8 hrs $430
10 person Delux Tripoon: 2 hr $200, 3 hrs $290, 4 hrs $350, 8 hrs $500
6 person speed boat: 2 hr $200, 3 hrs $290, 4 hrs $350, 8 hrs $500
Kayaks: $20 hr, $35 for 2 hrs, etc.

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