Just under two hours outside of Palm Springs, Big Bear Lake is all about outdoor fun. Whether you visit during winter or summer, you'll find plenty of ways to enjoy Big Bear's natural wonders. The mountain town is Southern California's premiere destination for snow sports, while the lake is a cool draw in the mild summers. Your one-day itinerary in Big Bear will depend on the season, but you'll be able to soak up the beautiful surrounding no matter what time of year you visit.
A skier going down Snow Summit — Photo courtesy of Snow Summit
Southern Californian locals wait with anticipation all winter long for the first powder to hit Big Bear. Once it does, the mountain becomes a mecca for snowboarders, skiers and those who simply like to play in the snow. Head up to Snow Summit for some of the area's best slopes, which are guaranteed – thanks to the resort's snowmaking system. Snow Summit is a family-friendly resort that's perfect for both first-timers and seasoned skiers. First time on skis? You can drop in on one of the resort's ski or snowboarding lessons to learn the basics before trying your hand at the bunny slope. If you're more comfortable in your snow shoes, grab your lift ticket and freestyle your way down Westridge, a popular intermediate trail. You'll also find plenty of restaurants at both the top and bottom of the resort to keep your fueled throughout the day.
Big Bear Lake — Photo courtesy of tkksummers/flickr
While winter is all about the mountain, summer is all about the lake. As the snow thaws and the days grow warmer, you'll find Big Bear Lake is hard to resist. Whether you want to explore the lake by boat, jet ski or kayak, you can find a rental at the Big Bear Marina. You can also explore the area's natural scenery by hiking or biking around the lake's Alpine Pedal Path, an easy 2.5-mile path that loops around Big Bear Lake. Or you can head up the Snow Summit lift, which becomes a scenic sky chair in the summer, and hike or bike your way through the mountain's lush green trails.
A zookeeper and barn owl — Photo courtesy of Big Bear Alpine Zoo
If you're visiting Big Bear Lake with the family, don't miss Big Bear Alpine Zoo. The animals that call the zoo home are all rescues, from bobcats and grizzly bears to the arctic fox that was found on a roof in Beverly Hills. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at this intimate zoo, where you'll have a chance to chat with zookeepers, go on a feeding tour and see a few critters up close and personal during the daily presentations.