Looking for a family adventure and a weekend of making memories? Check out our guide to the perfect family weekend in Big Bear Lake in Southern California – activities to do, things to see, and places to eat!
Right after the holidays, we took our family to Big Bear Lake, CA for a little getaway, and honestly, the hubs and I were TOTALLY dreading it!!
Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE vacations, but we grew up in the Midwest (good ole’ Indiana to be exact) where there is plenty of snow, and our idea of R&R is sipping a pina colada on a beach somewhere, not bundling up in layers of clothing trying our best to survive the cold. BRRR!!! ❄️
But truthfully despite our initial (negative) attitudes, our little trip to Big Bear surprised us and was much more fun than we anticipated!
In case you are planning to head to BB anytime soon, here’s a little recap of the adventures we had to help you plan your own trip!
THINGS TO DO IN BIG BEAR CALIFORNIA
1. Tubing at Snow Play:
Big Bear is known for being a great location for skiing and snowboarding, but since this was our first trip there, we thought we’d start with baby steps, so we opted to do some snow tubing instead.
We saw several businesses on our drive up from San Diego but chose the location closest to where we were staying which was called Snow Play (located at 800 Wildrose Lane).
It’s $35 per person, and they offer two sessions during the weekends.
The first one is 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and the second is from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Here’s their website if you want more info!
They take the work out of tubing with their conveyer belt tunnel (AKA the Magic Carpet) that makes it easy for you and your tube to get up the hill.
Once you are at the top, there are five different lanes you can go down.
They don’t really have a limit of how many people can go down together at once or how you can go down, so the kids went backward, forwards, and sidewards.
Also, they do create their own snow so if there isn’t enough naturally, they aren’t closed!
I definitely recommend getting there as early as possible because a lot of people came as the day progressed.
2. Walking (and Playing) in a Winter Wonderland:
If you are from SoCal and you NEVER see snow, the #1 item on your to-do list in Big Bear is to just simply enjoy playing in the snow.
We drove around a bit to find a location that didn’t have any “no trespassing” signs and stumbled upon a big snowy lot near a hotel so the kids threw snowballs, made snow angels, and created a snowman (and posed A LOT)!
They said this was really the best part of the trip…simply enjoying and experiencing the snow! (Woo hoo for free activities!)
3. Shopping in the Village:
The downtown area of Big Bear is A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.!!
No, really it is! It’s not too large to navigate on foot, so it is perfect for families to browse around, buy some souvenirs, enjoy the sights, indulge in some candy, and take some pictures!
4. Hotel Amenities:
As you may already know, I pride myself on being a bargain hunter, and staying in Big Bear is no exception!
We looked online at all sorts of accommodations, but found the best deal at Holiday Inn!
We knew we were not going to spend much time in our room, so finding a posh place was not on the agenda.
The room at Holiday Inn was clean, spacious, and met our needs as a family of 5.
We stayed in a standard 2 bedroom and brought a little mat for Pierce to sleep on (one of the few downsides of being the youngest, sorry son!)
The hotel even had a small restaurant with a happy hour so we got a little snack for the kids (and cocktails for the parents who were so bravely enduring the cold) and we played a few rounds of Uno until it was time for dinner (or until someone got pissed about the game, whichever came first!)
The thing we enjoyed the most at Holiday Inn was the game room, which we used after dinner until it was almost bedtime!
We Webers are a tad bit competitive (small miracle …no tears or yelling)!
5. Alpine Slide:
On the day we left, we stopped at the Alpine Slide which was at the same location as tubing on the first day.
I don’t think the kids were that excited about it, but they were actually surprised by how fun it was!
Basically, you take a ski lift to the top of a mountain and go down a 1/2 mile slide on a wheeled sled where you get to control your speed with a lever.
It was 6 dollars per person and totally worth it!
There were two separate lines for slow/first-timers and then a faster one.
Our entire family was “first-timers” but what the heck, we like to live on the edge and we went for the FAST LINE!! (actually, the other line was going ridiculously slow so we decided to go with the shorter line)
The Alpine Slide is open all year round and is owned by the same company (and same location) that does the Snow Play tubing.
All of the Magic Mountain activities are cash only at the ticket stand, so keep this in mind if you decide to go!
PLACES TO EAT IN BIG BEAR
Amangela’s Sandwich & Bagel Shop
On the day we arrived in Big Bear, we were hungry and chose this little sandwich house called “Amangela’s” right in the heart of Big Bear.
They have a nice selection on their menu with some options for vegetarians like me!
Most of my family got sandwiches, chips, and soup, and everyone really enjoyed their meal!
Despite how delicious their food was, it was a little more on the pricy side, I think that’s mostly due to their prime location!
For dinner we were in the mood for pizza, so we decided to eat at Saucy Mama’s, which was within walking distance of our hotel in the village of Big Bear.
We ordered three different types of pizza and split them (cheese, bacon+pepperoni, and Margherita pizza).
And let me tell you, they were de-licious!
The pizzas had great flavor and the perfect ratio of red sauce, cheese, and crust.
It wasn’t nearly as expensive as Amangela’s however I definitely recommend getting there early because it is a highly popular place.
On a Thursday night, it was a forty-minute wait, and we were not there on a busy, peak weekend!
North Pole Fudge & Ice Cream Co.
We were pretty full from dinner, so we opted to skip dessert at Saucy Mama’s and stopped by next door at North Pole Fudge & Ice Cream Co. to get a few treats.
We bought some fudge from this adorable little place.
If you bring in your Saucy Mama’s receipt they give you 10% off of your purchase.
(Can I get a “whoop whoop” for coupons?).
The fudge was super tasty, but let’s be honest…I’ve never met a fudge that I didn’t like!
After our little “to go” dessert, we walked back (in the freezing cold) to our hotel, played some games and called it a night!
Teddy Bear Restaurant
In the morning, we had plans to eat at another breakfast joint in Big Bear, but as we drove by we could see that the line was out the door.
We had some hungry kids so waiting for a long time was not an option (especially after the long wait at Saucy Mama’s the night before).
So we did some research and found the Teddy Bear Restaurant instead.
We waited for about 10 minutes to be seated which wasn’t bad compared to our previous waits.
The location is a tad dated and a bit tight on space, but overall we found it charming and their food was so tasty!
My daughter and I shared an egg, bacon, avocado, and tomato on sourdough breakfast sandwich with a side of hash browns, and it was the perfect amount of food. (Yes, I’m a vegetarian who loves bacon)
We found the Teddy Bear to be a good value price-wise for the amount of food they served.
One thing to keep in mind is they only take cash, but they do have an ATM in the waiting area for anyone to use! (I guess “cash only” is a thing in Big Bear)
Overall, we had a FABULOUS time exploring Big Bear, California!
It is the cutest little town and has a bunch of fun things to do and some great food places too, and we only scratched the surface.
We will definitely be heading back again, and I’ll let you know what we try next time we go!
Until next time, cheers to new adventures (even if they are in the cold weather), and cheers to you!
Looking for some warm-weather fun in Southern California? Check out my #1 recommendation of things to do in Catalina Island!
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