Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Lake, CA, USA

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Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Lake, CA, USA

Find the best place to stay — Big Bear Lake

Ready, teddy, go in Big Bear Lake

Tucked away in the San Bernardino National Forest, 80 miles west of Palm Springs, Big Bear Lake is a small lakeside city named after the grizzly bears which once took up residence there. It was also a popular gold mining town, after bear tracker William Holcomb discovered a creek brimming with gold flakes. Now it has treasure of a different kind, as one of Southern California's premier 4-season destinations. A big draw to the area is Bear Mountain, a busy ski resort in winter and a popular mountain biking destination in summer.

There's no business like snow business

Apparently Southern California is not all about sun, sand, and surf (who knew?). Skiing and snowboarding are also popular sports during the winter months. Book a Big Bear Lake vacation rental near Bear Mountain, and you'll be carving up the slopes soon after breakfast. Bear Mountain and its neighboring peak, Snow Summit, both offer stacks of good snowboarding and skiing in the combined 436-acre snow park, including an extensive beginners area. After a hard day on the piste, sample the après-ski in town or head back to your cozy rental cabin to warm up around the log fire.

The bear necessities of a vacation in Big Bear Lake

A vacation in Big Bear Lake doesn't have to mean throwing yourself down the side of a mountain. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo at Moonridge makes a great family day out. It opened in 1959 to care for injured animals after the great San Bernardino forest fire, when a baby black bear and 2 bobcats were the first residents. Now 90% of the animals brought into the zoo are successfully released back into the wild. Choose a nearby Big Bear Lake vacation rental and get up close and personal with the zoo's friendly furry residents, including Arctic foxes, black bears, mountain lions, and the scaly chuckwallas.

Face the great (and grizzly) elements in Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is one of those rare California destinations that sees every type of weather, from snow in the depths of winter to scorching sun in the summer. July is usually the hottest month with temperatures easily reaching the mid-70s to 80s. But come late fall, and during the winter, you'll see snow fall most days. The busiest time to visit is December and January, when skiers and snowboarders take to the slopes. Spring is also a pleasant time to come, when the winter crowds disperse, the lake thaws, and the wildlife starts to come out to play.

Answer the call of the wild at Big Bear Lake

Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve is a nature preserve just east of Big Bear Lake. This 156-acre reserve is the winter home of bald eagles. It's also awash with rare wildflowers, including pebble plain flowers and Bear Valley Sandwort, which are indigenous to the Big Bear Valley. Budding botanists should visit in April and May, when the king's ransom of California's wild flowers are in bloom. Every weekend in spring, visitors can join a free guided hike through the wildflowers provided by the Southern California Mountains Foundation.