A getaway for city dwellers

Attention, all nature lovers: Big Bear, Calif., is calling your name. Situated 7,000 feet above sea level, this scenic spot is bursting with wildlife and outdoor adventure. It lies in the middle of the San Bernardino National Forest, and while it’s only a two-hour drive east of L.A., you can discover stunning lakes, amazing hiking trails and some quality R & R on the mountainside. If you’re tired of the city lights and want to breathe some fresh air and see the stars for a change, this is the place for you. Top attractions Big Bear Lake: Big Bear is a pristine body of water located at the foot of the mountain. Take in the majestic view of the peaks and valleys and spend a day at your leisure. Fall is a great time to cool down and hike along the forest, as it explodes with bright colors. In the winter, you can catch people snow-shoeing across the shoreline. Rent boats or jet skis and relax out on the lake during the summer to satisfy your nature craving. Big Bear Alpine Zoo at Moonridge: Originally opened in 1959 after a devastating fire razed much of the wildlife in San Bernardino, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo at Moonridge serves as a rehabilitation center for orphaned or injured animals. The facility helps them recover to full health in order to survive on their own again. Head southeast from Big Bear Lake to check out more than 85 species of animals and birds before they are released back into their natural habitat. Big Bear Discovery Center: This learning center offers interactive activities about the environment and the flora and fauna which inhabit Big Bear. You can grab a bite to eat and soak in the natural beauty. This is a wonderful starting-off point for a Big Bear vacation because experts are ready to answer any questions you may have about the wildlife. Situated on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, the exhibit is something fun for the whole family.There is even a new Nature Discovery Zone that is filled with outdoor exploration that is talior-made for kids! Things to Do Hiking and mountain biking: Home to adrenaline-seekers and laid-back walkers alike, Big Bear Mountain features a set of multi-trails that weave along the mountainside. The Skyline Trail is the newest addition, and extends a little more than eight miles one way, or 16 miles if you are looking for a round-trip excursion. In the summer, you can hike and ride mountain bikes, while the winter is great for snowshoeing. Throughout the region you can be sure to experience breathtaking vistas of the Alpine-esque scenery. Golfing: Feeling like a round of golf? Surrounded by a delightful mountain backdrop, the nine-hole Bear Mountain Golf Course offers fairways perfect for golfers of all abilities. However, it is still 7,000 feet above sea-level, so expect your ball to travel a bit further than usual. Tee off as you take it all in. Boating and fishing: Set aside a day or two to rent boats, jet skis and fishing poles on Big Bear Lake. You can reel in some great catches from black crappies, small and large mouth bass, even to rainbow trout. If you want a bigger family-friendly experience, go for a pontoon ride across the placid waters. There are kayaks and canoes for those looking to fit in a little upper-body workout. Spending time lakeside is one of the most popular activities during the warm seasons. It’s hard to find a better stress reliever than hanging out on the water with family and friends. Top Restaurants and Shopping Dining: From hardy brunch spots to savory Italian bistros, the Big Bear Neighborhood features a wealth of quaint and relaxed restaurants. If you’re craving a delicious steak, check out Peppercorn Grill to feast on some sirloins that will hit the spot. As for beer lovers, don’t miss Big Bear Mountain Brewery for a variety of seasonal ales. Shopping: You may be surprised how charming these shops and clothing boutiques can be. Take a stroll around town to pick out some souvenirs for you and your relatives back home. In a beautiful shopping and entertainment center called the Village, you can peruse through everything from bear skins to fine art. Many of the items are designed by locals and, to no surprise, exude the mountain air of wildlife and lax living. Summer through winter, Big Bear turns any vacation into one packed with fun memories. You can find cozy cabins all along here, so don’t miss out! It truly is a refreshing getaway for people who love hiking and adventure. Retreat into the wildlife and explore this outdoor paradise.

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