Our Family Guide to Summer in Big Bear
Most people don’t think about Big Bear being a fantastic summer vacation spot due to it’s well known ski areas, but there is far more to do in this little lake town than you could imagine.
Big Bear is our favorite family vacation spot during the summer, although we often go during different seasons of the year. From places to stay, where to eat, and things to do, here is our family guide to enjoying Big Bear in the summer.
Where to Stay
Our go to spot is a cute little resort cabin in walking distance to the village shopping area and lake. Pine Knot Guest Ranch has 9 cabins on 2 acres that can sleep anywhere between 2 and 4 people. The cabins have a jacuzzi in the main room as well as a working fireplace and sky light about the bed. The other room has another bed and share it’s space with a small kitchen that includes a mini fridge, coffee maker, toaster and sink.
The reason we keep coming back year after year is the mainly the jacuzzi that the kids love soaking in for hours, playing legos in, all while sipping sparking apple cider in wine glasses (which is provided complimentary by the ranch.) It makes them feel fancy. But the other reason is the barn on the ranch’s property. A little red barn exsists on the back end of the property that holds two llamas. Yes, you heard me right. LLAMAS! We frequently visit them during our stay and hand feed them.
The ranch also has two outdoor playgrounds for kids to keep busy and is a dog friendly resort with only a $10/night fee. It really has everything you need to unwind, relax, all while staying close to the big bear action.
If you’re coming up with more than 4 people, Airbnb has tons of great homes throughout the valley. We have stayed in a number of them when coming out with other family and have never been disappointed. The cabin homes are always decorated from ceiling to floor in everything “bear”, from the salt and pepper shakers to the towel holders, you will see A LOT of bears, but that just feeds into the magic of staying in Big Bear.
Where to Eat
So you’ve checked in and your family is starving, it was a long windy road up and everyone is probably pretty queasy. Which reminds me. DON’T FORGET TO BRING DRAMAMINE. That was a serious life changer when we started giving it to the kids before the drive up. We went from pulling over for my youngest to puke every single time, to him singing Drake songs out the window with the happiest smile plastered on his face.
We’ve eaten at a lot of different places and some are not the most kid friendly, but majority of them are. Here are our favorites!
Coffee & Small Bites: Copper Q
This cute coffee shop has some really cute home gifts, delicious coffee, and a cute outdoor fire pit to sit around on those cooler nights.
We love sitting outside on the patio and watching the crowds stroll by while devouring the cheesiest pizza you will ever have. The kids love pulling the pizza away and seeing how far the string of cheese could stretch.
Mexican- Sonorta Cantina
Great service, beautiful murals on the wall and amazing food made this spot our kids favorite place to eat. They asked to go back every day we were in Big Bear.
Dessert- North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream
North pole has two counters inside. One for fudge and one for ice cream so you can go straight to what you want. I especially loved their mini ice cream cone which allowed me to indulge in some sweets without the guilt. If you eat at Saucy Mama’s first, they’ll give you a coupon to use here that’s good for 24 hours.
American: Boneyard Bar & Grill
If you’re out with your family but still want somewhere to go for a good cocktail, this is your place. They bartenders are trained in crafted cocktails that they truly take pride on. The woman making my mojito taste tested my drink until it was perfect and it was just that…perfect! Their food is amazing too and my husband said it was the best meal he had in years. We also sat on the patio outside overlooking the village and watching people stroll by.
PLACES TO GO
Big Bear Discovery Center- This visitor center/Nature Center has exhibits, weekly programs, naturalist led eco-tours, and special events like outdoor concerts, theater productions, and nighttime interpretive programs.
Big Bear Valley Historical Museum- This interactive museum features cabins, stores, landmarks and tons of historical artifacts pertaining to the history of Big Bear Valley and the West. Saturdays kids can enjoy panning for gold and a live blacksmith demonstration where Jim, an enthusiastic and hilarious blacksmith made us our very own butter knife. Little jars are sold in the gift store to hold your gold, and other fun things include an outdoor checkers board and practicing to lasso.
Big Bear Alpine Zoo- This zoo Is actually a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; temporarily while they heal or permanently as they are unable to survive on their own. 90% of all the animals brought in for rehabilitation are successfully released back into their native environment. Here you can get up close to bears, snow leopards, wolves and 85 other species.
Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain- Here you’ll find the perfect family recreational area with an alpine slide, water slide, go karts, mini golf, and arcade, but it’s the alpine slide that everyone really comes far and wide for. First you’ll take a ski lift up over the mountainside with beautiful scenic views of the lake, and once at the top you’ll grab a sled, place it on the slide and take that baby down to the bottom. The sleds are indivudlaly controlled so you can go as fast or as slow as you want to. The slide twists and turns, making it one super fun ride to the bottom. My youngest is not tall enough to ride by himself yet so he takes turns riding with me or my husband.
Fawn Park- This is no ordinary park and is a must see when visiting Big Bear with kids. Filled with small playgrounds, interesting statues, unique oddities, outdoor games AND workout equipment. It’s definitely an eclectic mix of fun to be had.
Things to do
Big Bear naturally has tons of things to do like swimming in the lake, fishing, kayaking, boating, jeep trails, hiking trails and horse back riding. Normally we park off Division Road and walk over to the water where it’s shallow and easy for the kids to swim. You can pop up some beach chairs and an umbrella, throw in some floatable rafts and the kids have a blast splashing in playing in the lake.
For fishing, make sure it get an adventure pass from the Big Bear Discovery Center and a fishing license. We typically park off Juniper Point or around there and walk down to fish from the shore.
Big Bear is such a fun family vacation spot that consistently has events running all year round. We have been lucky enough to have been visiting during their art fair and Big Bear Valley Renaissance Fair. Make sure to check the Big Bear calendar and see what exciting things are happening in town during your visit.