Big Bear Lake is the premier mountain playground of Southern California. Nowhere else in America are a wealth of downhill ski runs above a lakeside alpine village so near palm-lined ocean beaches. Only two hours by car from the coast, the village is almost 7,000 feet above sea level in a luxuriant pine forest along the high country’s largest reservoir. Nearby, the San Bernardino Mountains top out in the Southland’s highest peak, San Gorgonio (elevation: 11,500 feet).
Furs, gold, lumber and cattle all played a part in the area’s development. But, it was the completion of a concrete dam in 1912 for irrigation that opened the area to its ultimate role as the foremost alpine recreation center south of the Sierra Nevada.
Today, Big Bear Lake is an authentic four-season destination with all kinds of water and mountain sports and attractions. Shops, restaurants, and lodgings are sprinkled along the shore. Many are also conveniently clustered in the handsome little heart of town that has been artistically spruced up in recent years. The pedestrian-friendly main street provides fine views of the lake and mountains. Evening diversions are numerous, ranging from live theater to saloons and entertainment lounges. Surrounding woodlands draw campers, backpackers, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, while major ski areas sequestered amid forested slopes just south of town provide stirring overviews of the village and lake. The area has always appealed to families. In recent years, it has also become a hotbed of playful lodgings oriented towards romantically-inclined couples.