There’s no better place for some family fun than spending time together in the mountains. With so many great things to do year-round, it’s no wonder Big Bear continues to be one of the top destinations in Southern California for the whole family.
While each season brings distinct weather and unique activities, most of the things on this list are great options any month of the year. While winter is the prime time for skiing, snowboarding, and sledding at Snow Summit, and summer is the perfect time to relax and splash in Big Bear Lake, some of the best things to do in Big Bear with kids are perfect year-round.
Just two hours north of Los Angeles, Big Bear is a little slice of mountain life that has plenty of fun things to do for you and your rambunctious children.
However, there exists a cozy spot just a couple of hours north of Los Angeles that has all this and more—Big Bear Lake. This little slice of mountain life has plenty of fun to be had for not only your rambunctious children, but you too!
These are our top 10 things to do in Big Bear with kids in tow.
1. Take a Ride on the Pirate Ship
It’s pretty much a given that kids (and frankly, many adults) simply love pirates. Holloway’s Marina & RV Park is home to the Time Bandit, a 1/3rd scale replica of a Spanish Galleon built in the 60s and 70s. The boat even appeared in the 1981 movie, Time Bandit. Now, 40 years later, the ship has been refurbished for boat tours as Big Bear Lake’s very own pirate ship.
2. Hit the Lanes with Some Bowling
If the opportunity to have a little inside time presents itself, say hello to The Bowling Barn. The 16-lane alley also has arcade games and a laser maze to give kids plenty to do for fun. There’s even a sports bar for the adults, too. This is a great family-friendly activity best saved for some rainy day fun.
3. Put the Pedal to the Metal with Go-Karts and Hang It with a Rope Course
Big Bear Snowplay has plenty of activities to keep your kids entertained for however long your stay in Big Bear Lake. Kids 14 or older can hit the asphalt with a bit of go-karting on the speedway.
Nearby is Snowplay’s rope course; anyone 48” or higher can participate, and those between 42” and 48” need to be accompanied by an adult. Anyone shorter than that is, unfortunately, not permitted.
Arrive November or later, and enjoy Snowplay’s snow tubing during the day and glow tubing at night.
4. Take Part in an Escape Room Experience
For the kids more interested in solving puzzles, Big Bear Lake has two separate escape room experiences: Big Bear Escape Room and Mountain Room Escapes. While not the most exciting way to spend the day for little ones, it’s a great way to get your older children thinking outside of the box and trying something new.
5. Spend Some Time with Animals
Located just 7 miles east of Big Bear Village, Baldwin Lake Stables offers horseback riding and pony rides as well as a petting zoo that features a variety of friendly animals that you and your family can pet, feed, or even cuddle—sheep, goats, chickens, and bunnies.
If your kids really love animals, you can also visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. This zoo is a rescue and rehabilitation center for wild animals, like grizzly bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and bald eagles.
6. Go Bobsledding!
According to Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, this is Southern California’s one and only authentic bobsled experience. What's more, the recreation area also has its own go-karts, a roller coaster, and a mini-golf course, giving your kids plenty of ways to enjoy themselves.
If you visit in the summer, don’t forget to pack your swimsuits and enjoy their water slide, as well!
7. Hit the Lake
Of course, when vacationing in Big Bear Lake, you would be remiss not to spend at least a little time at the lake itself. From kayaking to splashing in the water, spending time on the lake is one of the best outdoor activities in the area. There are a handful of water sports you and your kids can take advantage of during the summer months.
Depending on when you visit, it might be getting a little cold for swimming but you can still book a boat tour, or charter your own pontoon boat and cruise around the lake. All this and more are available to you if you want to spend some time just relaxing on the lake—and kids will have a blast, too.
8. Sift through Sand and Rocks at Summit Mining Company
Big Bear Mountain Resort has a whole variety of activities to do throughout the year, but with one, in particular, you might be able to trick your kids into learning a thing or two about geology. At Summit Mining Company, you can buy an assortment of sandbags, then your kids can sift through them to uncover the treasures hidden inside.
If your kids enjoy this activity, next you can take them to Gold Rush Mining Adventure where they can pan for gold and visit Big Bear’s Ghost Town, a funny experience most kids will get a kick out of.
9. Go for a Hike
Big Bear Lake and the surrounding San Bernardino Mountains have plenty of hiking trails that are sure to give you and your family plenty of adventuring fun. No matter you or your skill level as a hiker, you’re sure to find a comfortable path to take.
Within San Bernardino National Forest, you’ll have plenty of trails for beginners to experienced hikers. Some of these trails also double as mountain bike trails. There’s a visitors center that can help you choose a trail, or download the AllTrails App for a long list of trails with user reviews.
10. Explore the Treetops with Ziplines
There’s nothing quite like viewing Big Bear Lake from the treetops, something that kids 8 and older are sure to love. The zipline tours reach high speeds of up to 35 mph as you race through the treetops, catching a great view of Johnson Valley as well as Southern California’s tallest peak—San Gorgonio.
Action Tours also offers Segway tours as well as snowshoes tours in the latter part of the year.
11. Visit the Big Bear Discovery Center
The Big Bear Discovery Center is located on the North Shore of Big Bear Lake. Here, there are plenty of free kid-friendly activities. This is the biggest visitors center in the Big Bear Valley. Here they showcase exhibits, eco-tours, and even host a variety of events throughout the year.
Your kids will undoubtedly have a blast visiting Big Bear Lake, so much so that they’ll probably beg you to spend the weekend—or an entire week. Your vacation wouldn’t feel like a real mountain getaway without a cozy cabin to come home to—a cabin so nice for your kids (and you!) might not ever want to leave.
Complete your mountain getaway in Big Bear with a blazing fire, warm apple cider, and an unforgettable cabin stay. Midnight Moon Cabins has the best cabins in Big Bear! MMC offers an array of modern luxury dog-friendly cabin rentals right in the heart of Big Bear Lake, and any of the activities that your kids would love are just a short walk, bike, or car ride away.