5 Things to Know For a Day Trip to Big Bear Lake, CA


Is a weekend trip or a day trip to Big Bear in your future? Here are 5 things you should know as you plan your time in Big Bear Lake.

It’s been hard being home and rarely not traveling the past several months. For some time everything was closed and slowly things are reopening again, but with restrictions.

A few weeks ago, we thought it was time we left the city of Los Angeles and took a couple of day trips. A day trip to Big Bear Lake is one of them. It was our first time there and once we got there, we wondered why it took us so long.

Driving to Big Bear alone was an adventure in itself. Surrounded by glorious mountains, scenic views, and evergreens that will compel you to pull over several times.

Once you arrive at Big Bear Lake and are surrounded by the beauty of mother nature, you’ll want to plan a longer trip for next time. We suggest renting a Big Bear cabin on Airbnb for a longer stay.

day trip to big bear lake | blog cover image

Day Trip to Big Bear Lake

1. Four Seasons of Fun

Did you know Big Bear touts itself as a four-season destination? Unlike Los Angeles that seems to basically have two seasons (winter and summer), you can enjoy all four seasons of fun in Big Bear.

Being able to experience Fall, Winter, Summer, and Spring means a great deal for those Southern California residents looking to enjoy the change of season.

A few weeks ago, we drove to Big Bear Lake and were so happy to find cooler temps and the fall foliage we were missing in Los Angeles.

At the beginning of November, it snowed. The arrival of Winter. For those of us living in warmer parts of Southern California, we like to drive to see the snow.

Note: You will need tire chains in the winter to drive into Big Bear.

What to do in Big Bear Lake

2. Take the Scenic Route

San Bernardino National Forest view of Big Bear Lake from a distance
You’d have to really zoom in, but from this scenic spot, we were able to see Big Bear Lake from afar.

The moment you enter San Bernardino National Forest on your day trip to Big Bear, California and you will be blessed with beautiful scenic views along the way.

Directions to Big Bear Lake Scenic Route

The scenic route we don’t want you to miss is the one around Big Bear Lake.

When you’re driving into Big Bear, you will be on CA-18. You will reach a turnoff for SR-38, you’ll see a peek of the lake ahead of you and a sign pointing to Big Bear telling you to make a right. Do not go right. Turn left on SR-38 and this will take you through the Northside of Big Bear Lake – the scenic route.

View of big bear lake, mountains, and evergreen trees

Day Trip to Ojai, California

Looking for another Southern California day trip? Take a city break to visit wineries and an olive farm in Ojai, California.

3. Big Bear Lake Activities

Big Bear Lake is the heart of the San Bernadino National Forest and is absolutely worth visiting. If you love to be surrounded by nature and the view of beautiful bodies of water, then a trip to Big Bear is for you.

There are plenty of Big Bear Lake activities that you can partake in at different types of years. You won’t be able to do it all in just a day trip to Big Bear Lake. However, you can choose one and plan ahead.

Big Bear Winter Activities

  • Skiing
  • Snow Tubing
  • Snow Boarding

Big Bear Spring, Summer & Fall Activities

  • Hiking
  • Bicycling
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Kayaking / Canoes
  • Paddle Boarding

Private Tour to Bluff Lake Reserve
Zipline Tour Big Bear Experience
Snowshoe Tour Winter Forest Adventure

4. Big Bear Lake Village

If you don’t plan to do any of the activities and this is just a spontaneous day trip to Big Bear lake, don’t worry. You can visit Big Bear Lake and then head on over to their downtown area, Big Bear Lake Village.

Big Bear Lake Village is a charming area, donned The Village with lots of shopping, bars, and great eats. If you never been to Big Bear, this is a great stop for a first-timer in Big Bear.

There is plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating.

Be aware that some shops and cafes will start closing before sunset. Many restaurants stay open for dinner.

40641 Lakeview Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 (Google Map It) | Website |
Free Street Parking & Public Parking Lot Available

5. Big Bear Lake Eats

When we were there, we noticed that there are plenty of fantastic places to eat in Big Bear. Whether you choose to have lunch, dinner, or both, a quick search on Yelp will help you find exactly what you’d like to eat.

Here are a few tasty itinerary spots I can recommend…

Big Bear Coffee Roasting Company

Recommended by a local Big Bear friend, this is the coffee shop where you want to get a warm cup of joe or iced coffee. Your day trip to Big Bear won’t be complete without it.

41080 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 (Google Map It) | Website

Fire Rock Burgers & Brew

The day we were there, we were craving burgers and it’s also one of our favorite things to eat. We found Fire Rock Burgers & Brew in the Village. It’s a rock-n-roll themed, laid-back spot that serves unique burger combinations and a variety of beer.

Hubby had the Eye of the Tiger burger, which is topped with Philly cheesesteak. I had the Californication. While both burgers were delicious, I have to admit, the Eye of the Tiger burgers was way tastier. The fries were nicely crisps.

Beer samples, a pint of beer, and glass of sparkling water at Fire Rock Burgers and Brew

On the menu, they’ll pair their delicious burgers with craft beers. Beer samples are available, don’t be afraid to sample a few.

Chalk wall outside of Fire Rock Burgers & Brew in Big Bear, Ca

We loved the chalk wall outside of the restaurant where you can write anything you want on it.

The Village, 618 Pine Knot Ave b, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315 (Google Map It) | Website | Outdoor seating front & back patio

Pickle’s Pie Shop

The one that got away…

If you’re obsessed with pie, like we are, try to make it to Pickle’s Pie Shop. We got there too late and missed having pie. Now it’s on my tasty itinerary must-have list. The next time I’m in Big Bear, I’m having this for breakfast.

829 W Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear, CA 92314 (Google Map It)| Yelp

Hope this helps you plan and know what to expect on a day trip to Big Bear Lake, California. It is another great escape from city life at any time of year.

Will you be planning a day trip to Big Bear soon? Perhaps a weekend trip?

If you have been to Big Bear Lake, California, let me know what you love about it in the comments.

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When I’m not daydreaming about my next vacation, drinking coffee, or playing with my dogs, you can find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook for more posts and stories! Would love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “5 Things to Know For a Day Trip to Big Bear Lake, CA”

  1. I’m loving your day trips! There’s so much to explore in Cali and the U.S. in general. I’d love a cross country road trip one day. That’s a dream! Now if only I didn’t turn out to be a nervous driver. Definitely have to find a road trip buddy or preferably hubby. 😉
    I love lakes and this one sounds and looks beautiful. I’d love to visit!
    Sorry you missed out on pie.?
    Next time!

    • In the 13 years living in Los Angeles, we have barely scratched the surface exploring what California has to offer. We hope in the future to be able to get into an RV or campervan to explore more – definitely plan to do a cross country trip like you mentioned when we leave LA.

      You still have time to learn to drive and get comfortable behind a wheel. I will say that driving in NYC is definitely nervewrecking. I hated it.

      Big Bear Lake was beautiful. Now I understand why so many take off for the weekend there.


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