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October 20, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Winter in Big Bear

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The Ultimate Guide to Winter in Big Bear: A Snowy Enchantment Awaits!

As the first snowflakes descend from the heavens, Big Bear transforms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Nestled in the heart of California, this mountainous retreat beckons travelers with its shimmering snow-capped peaks, serene frozen lakes, and the promise of adventures both thrilling and tranquil. Whether you’re seeking the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing or the simple pleasure of a fireside cocoa, Big Bear in winter is a destination that whispers tales of magic, wonder, and unforgettable memories. So, bundle up and let the snowy embrace of Big Bear warm your heart and soul! We’ll take you through the many adventures and unforgettable memories you can make in Big Bear, CA this winter.

Our comprehensive guide to winter activities in Big Bear will take you through how to get here during the winter, places to stay, the various winter activities for yourself and the family, special events and dining recommendations in and around Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City.

The Beauty of Big Bear in Winter

As winter graces Big Bear with its presence, the region undergoes a magical metamorphosis. The once-verdant mountainsides and shimmering lakes are blanketed in a pristine layer of snow, turning the landscape into a breathtaking tableau of white splendor. Each tree branch, now laden with snowflakes, glistens under the winter sun, painting a picture of tranquility and wonder.

The serene environment of Big Bear during this season is a stark contrast to the bustling summer months. The silence is only broken by the distant laughter of snowboarders or the soft crunch of snowshoes treading on untouched snow. Frozen lakes reflect the clear blue skies, and the air, crisp and fresh, carries with it a certain purity that rejuvenates the soul.

But it’s not just the visual allure that captivates visitors and locals alike. It’s the transformation of the region—the way the familiar trails and landmarks take on a new identity under the snow, offering a different kind of adventure and beauty. From the icicle-adorned cabins to the misty mornings where the fog dances over the snow, Big Bear in winter is a testament to nature’s ability to reinvent and mesmerize.

Getting to Big Bear

Visit our guide which is constantly updated for tips and tricks on getting to Big Bear in the winter season.

Best Accommodations for Winter Stay

When it comes to accommodations, Big Bear boasts a range of cozy cabins and lodges that perfectly complement the winter ambiance. These rustic retreats, often made of wood and stone, are equipped with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay. Imagine curling up by a roaring fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa after a day of winter activities – that’s the kind of experience these accommodations promise.

Recommendations for Cozy Cabins and Lodges:

  1. Head over to AirBnB and browse the wide selection of cabins depending on your family’s needs and requirement.
  2. We’d be remiss to not throw in a plug for our own property – Cloud on Villa Grove, a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, modern cabin with hot tub and game room. You can book it on AirBnB or through this site! Learn More here.

Tips for Booking and Getting the Best Deals:

  1. Book Early: Winter is a popular time to visit Big Bear, so it’s advisable to book your accommodations well in advance to secure the best spots.
  2. Midweek Stays: Consider visiting during the weekdays. Not only will you avoid weekend crowds, but you might also find better deals on accommodations.
  3. Package Deals: Some lodges and cabins offer package deals that include activities like skiing or snowboarding. These can be cost-effective and convenient.
  4. Local Websites: Instead of relying solely on popular travel websites, check out local Big Bear websites for exclusive deals and offers.
  5. Off-Peak Season: If you’re flexible with your dates, consider visiting just before or after the peak winter season. You’ll still experience the winter charm but at a fraction of the cost.

Big Bear, CA, is a dream destination for winter enthusiasts. With the right accommodations and a few smart booking strategies, you can make the most of your winter getaway in this snowy haven.

Winter Activities in Big Bear: Dive into a Snowy Adventure!

Winter in Big Bear is not just about the serene landscapes and cozy cabins; it’s a playground for those seeking thrilling adventures and heartwarming memories. As the snow blankets the region, a plethora of activities open up, promising fun for all ages and skill levels. Let’s dive into the most sought-after winter activities in Big Bear!

1. Skiing and Snowboarding: Conquer the Slopes!

Whether you’re a novice looking to make your first descent or a seasoned pro craving some challenging runs, Big Bear has got you covered.

  • Best Spots: For beginners, head over to Snow Summit which has a beginner’s area at the east side of the mountain which offers gentle terrains to get you started. For the pros both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain offer Black and Double Black Diamond runs which promises exhilarating drops and challenging courses.
  • Equipment and Lessons: Don’t have your gear? No worries! Numerous rental shops around Big Bear offer top-notch equipment. And if you’re new to the sport, professional instructors are ready to guide you through your first slides and turns. We recommend Get Boards off Big Bear Blvd: and Big Bear Boards in Moonridge which is closer to Bear Mountain Resort

2. Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Explore the Trails!

Snowshoeing is often described as hiking’s winter cousin. With specially designed shoes that distribute your weight over a larger area, you can walk atop the snow without sinking, allowing you to explore snow-covered trails and untouched terrains.

Why Try Snowshoeing in Big Bear?

  • Scenic Beauty: Big Bear’s trails, blanketed in snow, offer breathtaking views of alpine forests, frozen lakes, and mountain vistas.
  • Wildlife Encounters: As you tread softly on the snow, you might catch glimpses of winter wildlife like snow hares, deer, and various bird species.
  • Fitness: Snowshoeing is a full-body workout, making it perfect for those looking to combine fitness with fun.

Popular Snowshoeing Trails:

  • Castle Rock Trail: A moderate trail offering panoramic views of Big Bear Lake.
  • Grout Bay Trail: Ideal for beginners, this trail winds through a picturesque forested area.

Cross-Country Skiing: Glide Through Winter Wonderland

Cross-country skiing, unlike downhill skiing, doesn’t rely on steep slopes and ski lifts. Instead, it’s all about gliding over flat or gently rolling terrains, making it a serene and rhythmic experience.

Why Choose Cross-Country Skiing in Big Bear?

  • Peaceful Exploration: Away from the bustling ski resorts, cross-country skiing offers a peaceful journey through snow-clad landscapes.
  • Cardio Workout: It’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise that engages multiple muscle groups.
  • Skill Levels: Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Big Bear has trails that cater to all skill levels.

Top Cross-Country Skiing Spots:

  • Big Bear Nordic Center: A dedicated center with groomed trails, equipment rentals, and lessons for beginners.
  • San Bernardino National Forest: Offers a myriad of trails for cross-country enthusiasts, each with its unique charm.

Tips for Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in Big Bear:

  1. Dress in Layers: Mountain weather can be unpredictable. Dressing in layers ensures you can adjust to changing conditions.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Even in cold weather, staying hydrated is crucial.
  3. Check Weather and Trail Conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast and trail conditions to ensure safety.
  4. Start Early: Especially during peak season, starting early helps avoid crowds and allows you to make the most of daylight.
  5. Hire a Guide: If you’re new to the area or the activity, consider hiring a guide for a safe and informative experience.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Big Bear, CA, offer a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. They provide an opportunity to connect with nature, stay fit, and experience the winter beauty of Big Bear in a unique way. So, the next time you’re in Big Bear, strap on those snowshoes or skis and embark on a winter adventure like no other!

3. Sledding and Tubing: Fun for the Whole Family!


Sledding and tubing are classic winter activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. They’re a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and create lasting memories with family and friends.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to go sledding or tubing, Big Bear is a great option. There are several designated sledding and tubing areas in Big Bear, including:

No matter where you choose to go sledding or tubing in Big Bear, be sure to follow these safety tips:

  • Always use designated sledding and tubing areas. These areas are designed for safe sledding and tubing, and they are regularly monitored by staff.
  • Wear appropriate gear. This includes warm clothing, waterproof boots, and a helmet.
  • Keep an eye on little ones. Sledding and tubing can be dangerous for young children, so it’s important to supervise them closely.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be careful of other sledders and tubers, as well as obstacles such as trees and rocks.
  • Do not park in random spots on the road
  • Do not disturb the local residents!

Here are some additional tips for enjoying a safe and fun sledding or tubing experience:

  • Start on a small hill and work your way up to larger hills as you become more comfortable.
  • Sit down on your sled or tube and face forward.
  • Hold on with both hands and keep your feet tucked in.
  • If you start to lose control, steer by shifting your weight.
  • To stop, brake by dragging your feet in the snow.
  • Watch out for rocks and tree stumps!

If you follow these safety tips, you’re sure to have a blast sledding or tubing in Big Bear!

Bonus tip: If you’re going to be sledding or tubing all day, be sure to pack a lunch and snacks. There are also several restaurants located near the sledding and tubing areas in Big Bear.

Winter Events and Festivals

Big Bear is a popular winter destination for people of all ages, and for good reason. The town offers a variety of winter activities and events. Here is an overview of some of the most popular winter events in Big Bear:

  • New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade: This annual event features hundreds of skiers and snowboarders carrying torches as they make their way down the slopes of Snow Summit. The parade is a spectacular sight to behold, and it’s a great way to ring in the new year.
  • Winterfest: This annual festival celebrates all things winter, with activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and sledding. There are also food vendors, live music, and other entertainment. Winterfest is typically held in late January or early February.
  • Polar Plunge: This annual event challenges participants to take a dip in the icy waters of Big Bear Lake. The Polar Plunge is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, and it’s a great way to show your support for this important organization. The Polar Plunge is typically held in February.
  • Big Bear Spartan Trifecta Weekend: This weekend event features three Spartan races: the Sprint, the Super, and the Beast. The Spartan races are challenging obstacle races that test your endurance and strength. The Big Bear Spartan Trifecta Weekend is typically held in March.
  • Big Bear Lake Grill & Chill Festival: This annual festival celebrates the best of Big Bear’s food and drink scene. There are food vendors from local restaurants, as well as live music and other entertainment. The Big Bear Lake Grill & Chill Festival is typically held in April.

These are just a few of the many winter events and festivals that take place in Big Bear each year. For more information, please visit the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce website.

Dates and Details for Must-Attend Events

Here are some dates and details for some of the must-attend winter events in Big Bear:

  • New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade: December 31, 2023 at 9:00 PM at Snow Summit
  • Winterfest: January 28-29, 2024 at the Village at Big Bear Lake
  • Polar Plunge: February 11, 2024 at Big Bear Lake
  • Big Bear Spartan Trifecta Weekend: March 18-19, 2024 at Snow Summit
  • Big Bear Lake Grill & Chill Festival: April 8, 2024 at the Village at Big Bear Lake

Please note that these dates are subject to change, so be sure to check the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce website for the latest information.

No matter what time of year you visit Big Bear, you’re sure to have a great time. But if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable winter experience, be sure to check out one of the many winter events and festivals that take place in town each year.

Winter Eats in Big Bear: Warm Up with These Tasty Treats!

Here are some ideas for things to eat and places to visit when the temperatures are cold and you’re looking to warm up your belly! Big Bear is THE place to be when the snow falls, and not just for the sleds and skis. Our town is buzzing with mouth-watering eateries that’ll make your taste buds dance!

Ready to dive into some scrumptious food after frolicking in the snow? Here’s where you should head:

  • Alpine Country Coffee Shop: A family gem for over 50 years! Dive into their classic American delights like pancakes, burgers, and more. It’s like a warm hug on a plate!
  • Grizzly Manor Cafe: Big appetites, rejoice! Generous portions and a smile await you here. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, they’ve got you covered.
  • The Village Sweet: Got a sweet tooth? This is your paradise. From pastries to cakes and a steaming cuppa to go with it, it’s pure bliss.
  • The Black Swan Pub & Restaurant: Fancy a British touch? Cozy up with some fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, and don’t forget that pint!
  • The Pines Lakefront Steakhouse: Elevate your dining with a lakeside view! Sip on a cocktail and savor their classic American dishes.
  • Teddy Bear Restaurant: Get in line for their famous chicken pot pie but be sure to bring cash!

But wait, there’s more! Winter in Big Bear brings some seasonal specials:

  • Fondue: Dive into this cheesy delight, perfect for sharing (or not)!
  • Raclette: Another cheese wonder from Switzerland. Melted goodness with all the trimmings.
  • Chili: Warm your soul with this spicy, meaty bowl of comfort.
    Stew: Rich, hearty, and oh-so-satisfying.
  • Chicken pot pie: Flaky crust, tender chicken, and veggies. Need we say more?

So, whether you’re a foodie or just plain hungry, Big Bear’s winter dining scene has something for everyone. Come on over, and let’s eat our way through winter! 🍽️❄️

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Winter Trip

Winter trips are a magical experience. The world transforms under a blanket of snow, and the air is filled with the promise of adventure. But as enchanting as winter can be, it also comes with its set of challenges. To ensure you have a memorable trip without any hitches, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

Dressing Appropriately for the Cold:

  • Layer Up: The key to staying warm in cold conditions is layering. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away, add an insulating layer like fleece or wool, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.
  • Protect Extremities: Your fingers, toes, ears, and nose are most susceptible to frostbite. Wear gloves, thick socks, earmuffs, and a scarf or face mask.
  • Choose the Right Footwear: Waterproof and insulated boots are a must. Ensure they have a good grip to prevent slips on icy surfaces.
  • Avoid Cotton: Cotton retains moisture, which can make you feel colder. Opt for wool or synthetic materials instead.

Safety Precautions for Outdoor Activities:

  • Stay Informed: Before heading out, check the weather forecast. Be aware of any storm warnings or sudden temperature drops.
  • Know Your Limits: Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, or hiking, it’s essential to know your capabilities. If you’re a beginner, consider taking lessons or hiring a guide.
  • Stay on Marked Trails: It’s easy to get disoriented in snowy landscapes. Stick to marked trails and avoid wandering off.
  • Travel in Groups: There’s safety in numbers. If you’re venturing into the wilderness, it’s always better to have company.
  • Carry Essential Gear: Depending on your activity, this could include maps, compass, flashlight, first-aid kit, extra food and water, and a whistle.

3. Local Emergency Contacts:

Before you embark on your trip, it’s crucial to have a list of local emergency contacts. This should include:

  • Local Police and Fire Department: Know the direct numbers, not just 911.
  • Nearest Hospital or Medical Facility: Have the address and contact number handy.
  • Local Search and Rescue: Especially important if you’re venturing into remote areas.
  • Accommodation Contacts: Your hotel or place of stay should be aware of your whereabouts, especially if you’re out for long durations.


As the snowflakes settle and the winter chill embraces Big Bear, there’s truly no place quite like it. From the exhilarating winter sports to the heartwarming culinary delights, Big Bear promises an unforgettable winter experience. But don’t just take our word for it! Come and immerse yourself in the winter magic that this town has to offer. And hey, once you’ve had a taste of Big Bear’s winter wonders, we’d love to hear from you. Drop your personal experiences, stories, and any insider tips in the comments below. Let’s keep the Big Bear love going and share the magic with everyone! ❄️🌲🍴

Category: Hiking, Guides, Things To Do

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