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THE ULTIMATE WEEKEND IN BIG BEAR, CALIFORNIA

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You may be wondering, why is this local San Diego girl writing an article on a weekend in Big Bear? Especially an article focused on a winter weekend in Big Bear? This born and raised, sun-loving, beach-going girl can’t handle the cold weather. Well, I agree with you for the most part.

I am in love with the sun, but sometimes it is nice to get away for a bit and enjoy a change of weather. I mean come on everyone wants to experience a little snow in their life at some point during the winter months right? 

Well, lucky for you, this local San Diego girl has visited Big Bear many a times in her life and I am here to share my ultimate guide to a weekend in Big Bear with you. My husband and I visited this quaint mountain town this past month for my birthday and I am excited to share my experience with you below!

Read on for everything you need to know for spending your next winter weekend in Big Bear.

Snow near San Diego

WHERE IS BIG BEAR?

Big Bear is located in San Bernardino County, California high up in the mountains of San Bernardino. Located about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles and just a mere 2.5-3 hour drive from the city of San Diego. I know I know, why am I writing an article on a place that is 3 hours from San Diego when this is a San Diego based blog? 

Well, how else are the San Diegans supposed to experience some real winter weather without visiting Big Bear? Big Bear is probably one of the closest places where you can see and play in a decent amount of snow. So, that’s why this article made the cut for the blog. 🙂

Anyways, Big Bear sits at an elevation of 6,752 ft so thankfully you should not experience any altitude sickness as you may in other ski towns. 

HOW TO GET TO BIG BEAR

Let’s talk about how to get to Big Bear from San Diego because of course, this is a San Diego based blog. There are essentially two main routes to get to Big Bear from downtown San Diego. 

Route one: This route takes you along Hwy 330 to Hwy 18. Begin by taking the I-15 N to the I-215 N to the CA-330 N. Finally, you will take CA-18 to end up in Big Bear. This is probably the shortest and quickest way to get there; however, it can get very crowded and congested on the weekends. 

***Please check the weather and road closures before you take this route. This route will tend to close if there is too much snow. Be safe and don’t get stuck on the mountain roads. 

Route two: This route is a bit longer, but it is typically less congested than the route mentioned above. This route is also a bit less windy of a way up the mountain. Start by taking the I-15 N to the I-215 N then take exit 40A to merge onto the I-10 East. You will then get on the CA-38 East which will ultimately take you into Big Bear. 

***This route is probably the safer route, especially if you are new to driving in the snow or want to avoid the windy mountain roads. I recommend families take this route. 

BIG BEAR WEATHER

Big Bear, California is perfect because it offers all seasons. If you are a local San Diegan and want to see some seasons then head to Big Bear. If you are from out of town, expect to find the four seasons when visiting Big Bear mountain. 

Winter months average: 34 degrees F 

Summer months average: 80 degrees F 

Spring months average: 55 degrees F

Fall months average: 48 degrees F

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BIG BEAR.

Big Bear is actually a popular year-round destination! Both the winter and summer months offer a multitude of activities. You won’t be able to fit it all in one weekend! So, with that being said make sure to look for a post come summertime on the best summer activities in Big Bear. 

However, for now, we will be discussing the best times to visit Big Bear during the winter season. If you are like me and looking to see some snow, then your best bet is to visit in December, January, and the beginning of February. On average, these months have the most amount of snowfall. 

Check out this article if you are looking for another fun place to visit that is close to San Diego and gets snow.

WHERE TO STAY FOR YOUR WEEKEND IN BIG BEAR?

There are a lot of options for where to stay in Big Bear. There are Big Bear cabins, Big Bear hotels or you can choose to stay in any place in Big Bear as we did! The place we stayed at was almost like a bed and breakfast and I would highly recommend it!

Airbnb in Big Bear, California

It was perfect for the two of us! There are six hotel-like rooms on top of a restaurant. It had all the amenities we needed too. The room was on the smaller side, but honestly, we did not need much-just a place to rest our heads. The best part about our stay at Lenny’s Lodging is that it included a credit for breakfast at the restaurant below! 

If you want to stay at Lenny’s Lodging you can check out the Airbnb link here. If you have never used Airbnb before feel free to use my discount code to get $55 off your first trip! Just use this link to book your next stay!

Breakfast in Big Bear

If you are an avid Airbnb user and are thinking about becoming a host like me then use this link to start earning and get your first $40!

WINTER ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES!

Looking for what to do in Big Bear in the winter? You have come to the right section! We were not able to do every single activity, but really the options and things to do in Big Bear are endless. Big Bear can be a place for anyone of all ages. 

1. SNOWBOARDING AND SKIING IN BIG BEAR

There are two main mountains in Big Bear. You can either go to Snow Summit or Big Bear Mountain. If you are looking for a more family-friendly mountain than I suggest going to Snow Summit. (This is the ski resort I grew up going to.) 

Girl skiing in Big Bear

This trip though, my husband and I visited Big Bear Mountain. This mountain is definitely heavy on the snowboarders. There is lots of freestyle terrain here. So, if you are a skier then I recommend heading to Snow Summit. 

Check out this map of Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit trails and lifts. Head here to buy your next lift ticket.

2. HIKING IN BIG BEAR 

Now, you may not think hiking in the snow would be fun, but trust me it is! To be honest, this is the first season I have ever attempted hiking in the snow and I LOVED it. Yes, it may be cold, but the views and scenery are just so different. You feel accomplished and not gonna lie the pictures turn out pretty great too!

We decided to check out Castle Rock Trail. This is considered to be a moderate hike that is 2.6 miles out and back. Unfortunately, we did not make it the whole way. Or at least we don’t think we did ha-ha.

There was no definitive trail, so we made our own. We hiked up quite far, found a cool lookout rock and then headed back down. It was still super fun! 

Hiking in Big Bear

If you choose to go hiking then you are probably someone who hikes elsewhere. Check out my article on some of the best hikes in San Diego.

I purchased some snowshoes just before this trip and they were perfect for this hike! My feet tend to always go numb when it is cold out and these boots kept my little toes so warm! I purchased the Keen Terradora ankle waterproof boots in gray! 

Get a discount for KEEN products here! Discounts starting at 25% OFF

3. GO SNOW TUBING

There are a lot of different snow tubing spots in Big Bear. Unfortunately, we were not able to get around to this activity, but I am hoping that next time we go up we can! In the past, I have gone to the Grizzly Ridge Tube Park and have had a blast!

4. GO SLEDDING

Go out and buy a cheap sled from the local market and head out to the back-country or pull off the side of the road and hit the hills! Make sure to stay safe out there!

Things to do in Big Bear

5. RELAX AT THE SPA

For those of you who are looking for a more relaxed experience than you will want to check out Altitudes Spa and Massage at Big Bear Lake. This is the perfect way to warm up and relax a bit after a long day of skiing or sledding out in the cold. My husband and I wanted to get some back massages however we ran out of time. Maybe for our next visit!

WHERE TO EAT IN BIG BEAR, CALIFORNIA

The town of Big Bear has a lot of places to offer for eating. You can find every cuisine possible. For this trip, we went with the basic/classic snowboarding trip food and we weren’t disappointed. My husband and I are not ones to fine dine. We love saving money on feeding and bringing our own snacks. 

BREAKFAST 

We ended up eating breakfast at the place we stayed at. It was perfect we rolled out of bed, got dressed, and headed right on downstairs to the Country Kitchen.

LUNCH ON THE SLOPES

We ended up eating lunch at the restaurant located at the base of Big Bear. I got a big juicy hamburger, which is always delicious after hours of skiing.

Pro Tip: Where a camel-back backpack while skiing and carry some snacks/sandwiches for some fuel on the go. 

DINNER IN THE TOWN

We headed into downtown for dinner and had planned to eat at the 5-star pizza place called Saucy Mama’s; however, the wait was two hours! So we said no way! Instead, we chose to eat at the Village Pizza and I would say it was just as good. You can’t go wrong with pizza. 🙂

Dinner in Big Bear

END WITH DESSERT

We finished our night by walking around downtown and going into all the cute little shops. I headed in the candy store and got some Laffy taffy and Dan got the cutest little ice cream cone from North Pole Fudgeand Ice Cream for $1.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO A WEEKEND IN BIG BEAR BREAKDOWN

Saturday

530 am- Head out from San Diego, CA up the mountain to Big Bear

830am- Arrive at Big Bear Mountain or Snow Summit for a day of skiing/snowboarding

900am-grab your rental gear or use your own gear

930am-400pm ski/snowboard your heart out

400pm-return rental gear

430pm-head to your hotel or cabin, check-in and shower and relax

630pm- head out to downtown Big Bear city for dinner

700-800pm- eat dinner in the town

800-900pm- walk around the cute downtown and maybe get some dessert?

915pm-head back to your rental and get a good night’s sleep

Sunday

830am-wake up and get some breakfast 

1000-1200pm-hike at Castle Rock 

1200-130pm- go tubing 200pm-head back down the mountain to San Diego

WINTER FAQ FOR YOUR WEEKEND IN BIG BEAR

Are chains required in Big Bear? Chains may be required at times. Please check the road conditions prior to driving up the mountain. 

Is there snow in Big Bear? Yup! There is snow in the winter months at Big Bear Lake and on Big Bear mountains.

Is it safe to get to Big Bear? Yes, please just be aware of the weather precautions. Always be extra aware of windy roads.

Are there bears in Big Bear? Yes, however, sightings of these bears are rare. You may find a black bear, but usually not during the winter months as they are hibernating. Other animals you may find could be mountain lions and bobcats. 

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM A LOCAL

Visiting Big Bear is the perfect weekend getaway-especially for those local to San Diego! I have loved getting out of town to see some snow each winter. Feeling cold and making snow angels makes me feel alive! 

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on Big Bear and your favorite places to see snow! 

If you liked this post I would love if you could share it to Facebook or pin it and save it for later!

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THE ULTIMATE WEEKEND IN BIG BEAR, CALIFORNIA

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18 Comments

  1. Never been there but sounds wonderful. I visit California as often as I can but I go for the sun! You are very lucky to live in an area where you can drive a couple of hours and change “seasons”.

  2. I am a sunshine loving girl, too. BUT, I love to sneak off and play in the snow. As long as I am covered and bundled up, I am good. This destination in California looks amazing. I will get there one day.

  3. My favorite thing about living in Southern California is the ability to sit on the beach or play in the snow on the same day. Great tips for Big Bear. Haven’t been up there in a while and this is inspiring me to go back soon!

  4. Big Bear sounds like a fantastic winter destination in California. This sounds like a great weekend. You’re definitely right that you can’t go wrong with pizza! Great suggestions and definitely someplace I will keep in mind if I ever make it to California.

  5. This sounds like a great place to visit! I enjoyed your pictures and seeing all the fun activities you can do in Big Bear. Pinned in hopes for a future visit! 😉

  6. Wow! I have been to California, but I never realized that you could go skiing there! Your pictures are so amazing, next time I will skip the beaches and go straight to Big Bear!

  7. Big Bear is one of my favorite “local” destinations…I love that we can get to snow in the morning and be at the beach in the afternoon. One of my favorite eateries in BB is the Himilayan restaurant. They have the best Indian food! I eat here yearly on an annual BB weekend with a group of my mom friends!

  8. Big Bear is such a fun place to visit while in San Diego. The are several mountains to choose from for skiing / snowboarding and we like to find that secret hideaway for sledding. We have friends who frequent Big Bea area Spring – Fall for mountain biking and they have a blast. Thanks for the article and recommendations.

  9. Found your post interesting to read. I can’t wait to see your
    article soon. Good Luck for your upcoming update.This article is really quite interesting and effective.

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