If you're looking for a place to escape from Southern California's summertime crowds and heat, look up. Nestled among the pines and oaks of the San Bernadino National Forest at nearly 7,000', Big Bear Lake is both a refuge and a recreation hub. The easily accessible communities surrounding the lake's 23-mile shoreline offer an array of accommodations options, too.
Day One: The lake. Cast a line from the shore or a skiff, and it won't be long before the trout, bass, catfish or blue gill start nibbling. Rich with healthy fish, Big Bear Lake offers numerous shore spots, two public boat launches and ten marinas to start your catch. Fishing boats are available to rent, but if you would rather someone else do the steering and gearing, several charter fishing outfitters offer fully loaded boats for all ages.
Paddling and pedaling are popular ways to explore the Big Bear Lake shore. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boats are all available to rent by the hour, half-day, or day. If you need a little more adrenaline-pumping water top activity, water skiing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing and parasailing are fashionable options.
Day two: The land. Hiking and biking go together like forest and mountain. Local trails range from an easy 6/10 mile along a stream, to a challenging 15-mile loop that's steep, at times sandy, and often rutted. The moderately difficult Cougar Crest Trail will connect you with the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,600-mile stretch running from Mexico to Canada. Numerous sports shops rent bikes for all ages and ability levels.
If you want to see the land while someone else provides the locomotion, just pick the pace and pick up the phone. You'll find pony rides, horseback rides, jeep tours, and four- wheel drive tours just seven digits away.
Day three: The town. Browsing or buying, local shops look and feel like they belong in the alpine environment they are. Unique souvenirs, fine-art and mountain apparel can all be found with coffee shops, pubs, and a broad range of dining options in between. Summer also brings a steady procession of festivals, contests and special events to town. Car club rallies, live music, arts and crafts fairs, fireworks, cowboy poetry, barbeques, performing arts and much more add spice to every summer at Big Bear Lake.
» Also view Winter, Spring and Autumn's Travel Planners.