17 FUN & Best Things to do in Big Bear in Summer

Looking for the best things to do in Big Bear in the summer? You’re in luck! Scott grew up in Southern California and spent his entire youth (and even adulthood) visiting Big Bear Mountain!

While this is a popular winter getaway and rare place where you can surf in the morning and be skiing down a snow-covered mountain in the afternoon, Big Bear Mountain the summer is also an incredible outdoorsy getaway and without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Southern California.

You’re just a 2-hour drive from LA making it one of the best weekend trips or day trips from Los Angeles and Orange County, with access to all the best things to do in Big Bear in the summer.

If you’re looking for a fun outdoorsy escape in the middle of summer, head to the hills, or mountains for great outdoor activities from getting on Big Bear Lake, hiking, visiting the Alpine Zoo and more! Find out all the top Big Bear activities in the summer and see why we love this Southern California mountain getaway so much, and every season!

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Average Weather in Big Bear in Summer

With Big Bear Lake sitting at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet, summers here tend to be mild. That means you’ll have the perfect conditions for all the top Big Bear summer activities!

June, July, and August are dry, warm, and sunny, with temperatures averaging between 50- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. June is the driest month, and July is the hottest, with some days reaching as high as the mid-80s. We happened to visit in the middle of a heat wave which was a surprise to us last summer on our most recent visit.

If you’re interested in visiting Big Bear in May, you can still enjoy warm days, though nights can dip into the 40s! Late August and early September are also popular if you want warm days and fewer crowds, but you might see the occasional rainy day.

All the Top Big Bear Summer Activities

Rent a Boat


There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than taking a boat out on the lake! Not only do you get a nice lake breeze but you can enjoy the sweet summer views of Big Bear Lake from aboard a boat!

Spring through fall, you’ll find boaters on Big Bear Lake! Summer is the busiest season, so if you plan on renting a boat like we did, you may want to do this in advance, although we visited in July and were able to find a rental last minute, we were lucky!

It’s fairly easy to rent a boat at Big Bear Lake, with several marinas located on both the south and north shores.

If you’re at least 18 years old and have a valid government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license, you can rent a boat! And while experience is not always mandatory, it’s helpful. If anything, rental companies may just require you to take a brief safety orientation. Then, you’ll have to agree to follow all boating regulations, which include things like wearing life jackets and following speed limits.

You can rent a variety of different boats at local marinas, including pontoon boats for cruising and fishing, or jet skis and speed boats for more of a thrill! We rented our pontoon boat from Big Bear Marina. Some other popular options include Holloway’s Marina and Pine Knot Marina.

Boating on Big Bear Lake is a fantastic way to enjoy this beautiful destination, framed by Big Bear Mountain and the rest of the San Bernadino Mountains! If you want to fish, two good spots are near the Bear Valley Dam and along the north shore between the Observatory and North Shore Landing.

Just beware that swimming isn’t allowed on boat rentals, and you must wear a life vest at all times while on the water. You can swim at different places along the shoreline, but you’ll need to stay within 50 feet of the shore or within 20 feet of the dock and it’s best done by just going to the beach.

Rent Kayaks or SUPs


Another one of the top things to do in Big Bear in summer is rent non-motorized water vehicles, like kayaks, SUP-boards, and canoes. They’re a great way to relax on the water, explore the hidden coves all around the lake, and visit spots that motorized boats can’t go.

Big Bear Lake has several marinas and rental shops along its shores where you can rent kayaks and SUPs, like Paddles and Pedals on the north shore and Big Bear Marina on the south shore.

You’re free to bring your own gear as well, but you’ll have to purchase a permit and go through an inspection before getting on the water. This service is available at many of the marinas and at both public launches on the lake.

When you rent kayaks and SUPs to go on Big Bear Lake, you’ll have to agree to always wear a life jacket. Rental shops and marinas usually offer both single-person and tandem kayaks. And if you’ve never gone paddleboarding, you’ll find lessons and tours offered at most of the rental shops!

One of the best places to explore by kayak or SUP is Boulder Bay Park, pictured above!

Hit Up the Beach

Editorial credit: Kit Leong / Shutterstock

When thinking about Big Bear summer activities, swimming is a must! But because of boat traffic, there are a few rules at the lake. First, since there’s no swimming in the middle of Big Bear Lake, you have to go to designated areas.

Garstin Island on the south shore is a popular and STUNNING place to swim, but don’t expect a soft, sandy beach. The lakebed here is very rough and rocky, but it makes for excellent cliff jumping and scenic views.

Meadow Park offers a variety of amenities for guests, including a tiny beach with sand, picnic tables, and an inflatable slide. You just have to pay an entrance fee for access.

East Boat Ramp Beach is a shallow and calm beach that’s popular with families with small children.

There are also the beaches at Pine Oak Lane on the north shore near the dam. They’re called Pine Oak Lane Beach North and Pine Oak Lane Beach South. Both are nice, quiet beaches where you can enjoy a swim. 

If you’re staying at a vacation rental property with lakefront access, you may have a private dock or beach to the lake that you can use. At beaches, you must stay within 50 feet of the shore or within 20 feet of private docks. And there aren’t any lifeguards at the lake, so you’ll be swimming at your own risk.

Go on the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Boat

Editorial credit: BZK Photos / Shutterstock

Another way to see the lake and enjoy a scenic ride is by booking a tour on Miss Liberty. This charming paddlewheel boat is designed to look like the classic steamboats from the 1900s and offers a nostalgic and fun boat ride across the lake! Miss Liberty docks at the Pine Knots Marina in Big Bear Village, where you can join a 90-minute cruise on the lake.

Enjoy one of the loveliest things to do in Big Bear in the summer when you board the Miss Liberty. You’ll sit back, relax, and listen to the captain share tales of Big Bear’s 180-year history, fun facts about the lake, famous residents, and more. There’s comfy seating inside or you can walk the decks and enjoy the views.

Tours run Wednesday through Sunday throughout the year, and you can purchase tickets at the marina or online in advance. Tours leave every day at noon, 2 PM, and 4 PM. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can also go on a sunset tour at 6 PM! There’s an admission fee per person and kids under 3 are free.

Enjoy a Ride on the Big Bear Pirate Ship


If you’re craving a more unique tour of the lake, embark on a swashbuckling adventure aboard the Time Bandit, the Big Bear Pirate Ship! You’ll find this fun tour available at Holloway’s Marina & RV Park. It’s one of the most memorable Big Bear summer activities for all ages.

You’ve never taken a boat tour quite like this one! Walking up to the dock, you’ll see the striking black and red pirate galleon with guides dressed in full costume. Once aboard, you’ll enjoy entertaining narration, a full bar, and activities for the kids. These tours are just a silly good time when you want to join a tour of Big Bear Lake. 

Big Bear Pirate Ship tours typically run from mid-May through mid-October. Ninety-minute tours launch every 2 hours between 10 AM and 6 PM, with 2 PM tours guaranteed to be available. Private charters are also offered. Kids 3 and under are free. Bring a hat and sunscreen because you’re outdoors the entire time.

Visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory


While you’re on the waters of Big Bear Lake, you might see that big white thing on the northern shore and wonder what it is. That’s the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) and its purpose is to study the sun!

The observatory was built here in 1968 because the mountain lake setting provided the perfect conditions for solar observation. It boasts 4 telescopes and other instruments that enable scientists to closely study the Sun’s surface and behavior.

If you want to visit the BBSO, you have to make reservations in advance for guided tours. The observatory isn’t a super accessible site, located at the end of a 1000-foot gravel road off of N Shore Lane. And during tours, you’ll need to be able to walk up and down 3 flights of steps. But you’ll get to witness solar flares, sunspots, and other solar activities through the solar telescopes! It’s worth the trip!

Note: At this time, no tours are being offered to the public until further notice. Keep an eye on the BBSO website for notifications when they become available.

Visit Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Snow Leopards cuddling together at the Alpine Zoo in Big Bear

One of our favorite things to do in Big Bear in summer or any other time of the year is visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo! The zoo is a rehabilitation center dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and neglected wildlife native back into the San Bernardino Mountains. If animals aren’t healthy enough to return to the wild, this zoo becomes their permanent home.

The Alpine Zoo is also a conservation center that works to conserve species by taking in animals from breeding programs. When you visit the zoo, you’ll see a variety of animals native to the region, including black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, wolves, eagles, owls, and many more. These animals live in naturalistic enclosures designed to look like their native habitat.

Just keep in mind that during the hottest days of the summer, some animals won’t be seen because they need to stay in a cooler climate. (It doesn’t often get too warm in the summer, but during our visit, it was unusually warm).

I would say that visiting the Alpine Zoo is one of the best things to do in Big Bear in winter as all these animals are acclimated to that climate! But, that being said, the summer can be a great time to visit too, there might be a few animals not hanging outside if it’s unusually warm like our visit during a heat wave.

There are tours and enrichment programs available to you throughout the day where you can learn about animals, the zoo’s conservation efforts, and more. Even just walking around the park can be an educational experience. What we love about the Big Bear Alpine Zoo is the welcoming feel and abundant opportunities to learn!

The zoo holds seasonal hours. During the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day), they’re open from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Go Ziplining

Adventure seekers looking for more thrilling Big Bear summer activities, this one is for you! How fun would it be to go on a ziplining tour with Action Zipline Tours in Big Bear Village? You’ll meet them at their headquarters in town and then head to the nearby zipline course. Plus, you’ll get a fun ride in a safari Jeep-style vehicle the last few miles into the woods!

The zipline course itself features 9 different lines ranging from 140-185 feet, offering speeds of up to 45 MPH. It’s an exciting and breathtaking way to experience the alpine forests of Big Bear and the surrounding San Bernardino Mountains. In total, you’ll spend 3 hours zipping through the treetops, supported by the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Action Zipline Tours.

Go on a Jeep Tour with A Picnic Lunch


Maybe you’d like to explore the national forest around Big Bear, but you’d prefer to go with a guide. This private jeep tour with a picnic lunch is a one-of-a-kind experience and one of the most memorable things to do in Big Bear in summer.

Enjoy a tour of the San Bernardino National Forest and Big Bear Lake with a local who knows all the best scenic spots that visitors would never think of! After you book, your guide will send you their current seasonally planned menu. They’ll provide everything you need for a custom pop-up picnic in the forest. Plus, they specialize in vegan and gluten-free meals and will work with any dietary restrictions you may have.

This 2-hour tour includes meeting your host at a designated spot, transferring to their jeep for a tour, hikes in the woods, and a scenic picnic with all the bells and whistles.

Go Hiking


Because of the mild weather you’ll enjoy here, one of the most popular Big Bear summer activities is hiking! There’s a wide range of hiking trails for all skill levels, from beginners seeking an easy nature walk to experienced hikers looking for a challenge.

Trails range from easy, paved paths perfect for families and those with mobility challenges to rough, backcountry routes offering the ultimate adventure. Many trailheads are easily accessible from the town of Big Bear Lake.

Stop by the Big Bear Discovery Center for trail maps and up-to-date information on trail conditions.

One of the most popular hikes is Castle Rock Trail, a moderate 2.7-mile out-and-back hike leading to a rocky outcrop with panoramic views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains.

If you’re looking for an easier trail, we recommend the Woodland Interpretive Trail. It’s a loop trail that’s rated as easy and will take less than an hour. Enjoy a peaceful walk through the woods that’s perfect for leashed dogs, as well!

Another top-notch easy trail with amazing views of the lake is the Alpine Pedal Path, which simply follows along the flat north shore of the lake for just over 5 miles. This is a great trail if you’re heading out for a day hike from the observatory.

Or if you’re exploring the Big Bear Ski Area and are looking for a challenge, try out the Skyline to Snow Summit Hike. This half-day hike is a good opportunity to explore the mountain when it’s not being used by skiers! 

Go to Boulder Bay Park


One of the newer parks in Big Bear, Boulder Bay Park is a lovely place to enjoy a quiet picnic or just hang out and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings. It’s located right off Big Bear Boulevard, less than 2 miles east of the dam on the south shore. You can pull right off the side of the road and you’re there.

It’s in a small, glassy cove filled with stunning white boulders and towering pines. You can walk the path through the park or have a picnic at the tables at the west end.

And make sure you take a stroll down the dock at the center of Boulder Bay Park. It’s stunning any time of day (and pretty empty during the week), but if you can be there at sunset, you will not be disappointed!

Take a Scenic Sky Chair Ride


Snow Summit is one of the ski resorts available to you when you visit Big Bear. It offers a wide range of outdoorsy things to do in Big Bear in summer, including enjoying a ride in the Scenic Sky Chair. From late May to early September, this chairlift transports visitors 1 mile to the top of Snow Summit and back.

After your leisurely ride to the peak of Snow Summit, you can enjoy panoramic views of surrounding mountains, different outdoor activities, and mountaintop dining at the Skyline Taphouse. Each ride can be purchased on a round-trip ticket, and for an additional fee, you can also include a lunch voucher for the taphouse.

At the top of Snow Summit, you can explore hiking trails, mountain biking trails, disc golf courses, and a kids’ outdoor obstacle course. Back at base camp, there are also a variety of activities for adults and kids, including a climbing wall, a tube slide, a zipline, and more.

Up to 2 kids, ages 5-12, can ride the Scenic Sky Chair for free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Check Out Summit Bike Park

The mountains at Big Bear, California offer prime dirt biking opportunities for beginners and skilled adrenaline junkies alike! Snow Summit has 7 different downhill bike trails that you’ll have access to with the purchase of a lift ticket.

For beginners, there are top-to-bottom trails and flat paths with smooth turns, as well as jump tracks for learning new skills. More experienced riders can try out a mix of intermediate and advanced trails featuring tracks, wall rides, rock gardens, and more. And for expert riders, you can enjoy Summit Bike Park’s steepest trail at more than 1,000-foot descent in an average of 8 minutes flat!

Check out Summit Bike Day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The park holds different hours each season, with summer hours being from 9:30 AM to 4 PM and from 8:30 AM on Sundays. Passes and a variety of bundles are offered for park guests. All ages are welcome, with ages 4 and under being free. You can bring your own bike or rent all your gear at the park, including e-bikes.

Ride the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain


A great place to find the best Big Bear summer activities for the whole family is the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. The central attraction is, of course, the two alpine bobsled slides that run a quarter mile downhill and will get your adrenaline pumping!

Each rider will control a wheeled slide, so they can go as fast (or slow) as they want, although it’s recommended to slow down on the curves! I definetely rode my brake a lot, haha.

The slide runs all year round, but during the summer months, you can also enjoy a variety of other fun outdoor activities.

Guests of the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain in Big Bear can also check out a mountain coaster with 360-degree turns, mini-golf, and a go-kart track. There’s a zipline ride from the mountain top to the base and a waterslide with a heated pool at the bottom where you can hang out.

Most of the rides at the park have a cost per ride, while others allow you to bundle activities or the option to purchase an all-day pass.

During the summer, the Alpine Slide is open on the weekends from 10 AM to 6 PM. The rest of the park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10 AM to 4 PM during the week and until 6 PM on weekends.

Hot Shot Miniature Golf

You might be looking for some low-key fun while you’re exploring Big Bear. Hot Shot Miniature Golf is a fun, casual way to spend a few hours in the shade of the towering pines of mountainous southern California! Go through the 18-hole course for some classic mini-golf fun.

This would make a great stop before or after a meal at a local eatery. It’s right off Big Bear Boulevard at Catalina Avenue.

Don’t expect anything super flashy or modern- it’s your nostalgic outdoor course with Astroturf and weathered wood covered in pine needles. But that’s part of the charm! For two people, you can expect one game to average 45 minutes.

They’re open from noon to 5 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For the small admission fee per person, bring cash or prepare to pay via Venmo.

Visit Bluff Lake Reserve

While you’re looking for things to do in Big Bear in summer, don’t miss out on the acres of parkland close by. A great place to start is Bluff Lake Reserve, a 165-acre nature preserve known for its untouched alpine forest, gorgeous lake, and abundant wildlife.

Also, fans of the original 1961 Disney movie, The Parent Trap, might recognize this stop. Bluff Lake Reserve was the location of the summer camp scenes at the beginning of the film!

Get away from the summer crowds at Big Bear and enjoy a scenic hike around Bluff Lake. The Bluff Lake Reserve Loop is a gentle stroll that takes less than 45 minutes if you do the entire loop in one go. There are shade trees, a clear, flat dirt trail, and nice views of the lake. In the summer, you’ll enjoy lush fields of wildflowers and ferns, as well! Both locals and visitors like to come for a picnic in the shade or a trail run with their dogs.

Bluff Lake Reserve is located about 2.5 miles west of Big Bear Lake. To get there, take CA-38 West (North Shore Drive) for 2.5 miles. Look for the sign for the Bluff Lake Reserve parking area on the left side of the road.

The Reserve is free to visit from May 1 through September 1, from 9 AM to 6 PM. There’s free parking, as well as picnic areas and informational kiosks available to guests.

Holcomb Valley Scenic Drive


Historic lovers and outdoor adventurers will both enjoy a scenic drive through the beautiful Holcomb Valley. If you’ve never gone off-roading before, this is perfect to get your feet wet. And if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, several more off-roading trails connect to OHV Road 3N16, which you’ll be driving.

The 10-mile route is easy to handle for most cars. From North Shore Road, turn north on Polique Canyon Road. You’ll follow that 3.9 miles to Holcomb Valley Road 3N16, which continues another 6 miles to the Dump Access Road. From there, you can head south back to Big Bear Village.

We think this is one of the very best Big Bear summer activities for all kinds of visitors to the region. The length of OHV Road 3N16 is breathtaking, with virgin alpine forests, lookout points, and historical sites from the California Goldrush of the 1860s. Feel free to get out of your car and check out old structures or go for a hike in the woods!

Just keep in mind that when you’re using your vehicle recreationally in these forests, you’ll need an Adventure Pass from the USDA Forest Service displayed on your dashboard. Check out this link on how to apply online or at a vendor in Big Bear.

Where to Stay in Big Bear


As a sprawling ski village, Big Bear, California boasts a wide range of highly-rated places to stay! There are so many places to choose from, including cabins, campsites, boutique hotels, resorts, and more. Consider one of our recommendations below.

Hotel Marina Riviera

We stayed at the Marina Resort during a past visit to Big Bear and enjoyed the experience. It’s right on Big Bear Lake, so every room offers amazing lakefront views. And while the exteriors are a bit dated, don’t get nervous! Inside, the hotel has gone through a recent transformation.

Rooms are decked out in a cozy woodland, Midcentury-Modern style. You’ll even enjoy your own fireplace!

As a guest of the Hotel Marina Riviera, you’ll have access to a brand-new sauna, hot tub, and a heated pool. There’s also a private beach just a short walk away from the hotel. And make sure to check out the newly-opened restaurant and bar onsite.

You won’t find complimentary breakfasts here, but your room will have a mini fridge and unlimited hot water and coffee at reception. You’re also a short walk away from several places to eat and grocery stores. When we stayed here, we just bought oatmeal packets at the store nearby and added hot water for a quick and easy breakfast! Book here.

A Modern Upper Moonridge Cabin Vacation Rental


When you’re planning all the top things to do in Big Bear in summer, sometimes having your own space makes all the difference. One option when you’re visiting Big Bear is to grab a stunning vacation rental like this one in the coveted Upper Moonridge neighborhood.

With 3 levels, you’ll have room to stretch out and space to cook your own meals, all with the woods right outside your backdoor. Relax in front of the fireplace in the living room with cathedral ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. Or head out to the deck, where you can soak in the Jacuzzi or grill under the pines.

There are 3 bedrooms, 2 of which boast a King-size bed and their own fireplace, as well as a 3rd with 2 twin trundle beds. Each room features knotty pine wood furniture, a TV, and an adjacent bathroom with a bathtub. The kitchen has everything you need for family meals, and there’s a dining table with seating for 8.

What to do in Big Bear in the Summer (Post Summary):

  • Rent a Boat
  • Rent Kayaks or SUPs
  • Hit up the Beach
  • Go on the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Boat
  • Enjoy a ride on the Big Bear Pirate Ship
  • Visit the Big Bear Solar Observatory
  • Visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo
  • Go Ziplining
  • Go on a Jeep Tour with a Picnic Lunch
  • Go Hiking
  • Go to Boulder Bay Park
  • Take a Scenic Sky Chair Ride
  • Check Out Summit Bike Park
  • Ride the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain
  • Hot Shot Miniature Golf
  • Visit Buff Lake Reserve
  • Holcomb Valley Scenic Drive

Is Big Bear worth visiting in the summer?

Yes, Big Bear is worth visiting in summer for its outdoor activities like hiking, biking, boating, and fishing, along with scenic beauty and cooler mountain temperatures.

What is Big Bear like in July?

In July, Big Bear offers comfortable weather with daytime temperatures averaging in the 70s°F, making it enjoyable for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and water sports on the lake, while evenings are cooler.

How many days do I need at Big Bear?

To fully experience Big Bear, plan for at least two to three days. This allows time for outdoor adventures, exploring the lake, hiking trails, and enjoying the scenic beauty of the area.

What are the temperatures like at Big Bear in summer?

In summer, temperatures at Big Bear typically range from mild to warm, with average highs around 75-80°F (24-27°C) and cooler evenings.

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