Cooped up at home these recent months, maybe you’ve longed for a long-distance, epic odyssey—an exotic destination that takes you far from all this year’s turmoil. Still, such an epic voyage at this moment may be a bit . . .  dicey.

So then, where to go? How about somewhere close to home but a world away? A place where you can leave civilization behind for clear, mountain air, a brisk lake, and wooded trails? And should that all be a bit too serene, there are plenty of opportunities for fun too.

Big Bear Lake checks all these boxes. Here’s why this mountain resort can be your perfect summer jaunt.

Safer travels

Less than 150 miles from the heart of San Diego, driving is the easiest way to get to Big Bear Lake—and, in at least one way, the safest: You’ll travel either alone or with people you know. So, in theory, you won’t be car-bound with strangers and unexpected pathogens. Plus, given how close Big Bear is to San Diego, you won’t spend hours waiting in an airport lounge, online at Security, preparing for takeoff . . .

A stunning lake

A prime place to renew your spirits, the seven-mile long Big Bear Lake is nestled high up in the San Bernardino Mountains, surrounded by tall trees (mostly Pine, but also Firs, Oak, Cedar, and Juniper). Relaxation here can take the form of anything from a lakeside stroll to a hike for a breathtaking view: Several trails, in fact, can deliver on that front, as will a ride on the Scenic Sky Chair lift.

Hiking and biking

Big Bear Lake hosts 18 noteworthy trails in its vicinity. You may find yourself passing hidden streams and a stretch of boulder outcroppings; learning about botany, geology, and wildlife via a self-guided tour; taking in stunning vistas; strolling past colorful wildflowers; sharing space with bobcats and lizards; and more. Cyclists too have their choice of trails, whether that be for mountain biking, road cycling, or something between.


Some lake resorts are, what some might call, “party central.” Big Bear Lake is not one of those resorts. Still, the destination offers a thorough selection of fun—and not just skiing, which is what the mountain is famous for in winter. During the warm months, aside from hiking and cycling, activities in the area include all sorts of watersports—waterboarding, waterskiing, kayaking, canoeing, jet-skiing, fishing, and more; sightseeing the area via jeep, horseback, zipline, Segway, and even helicopter—all through tours; visiting wildlife (specifically, mountain lions, bears, eagles, wolves, raccoons and more at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo); and all sorts of other pursuits, such as nine-hole golfing, amusement park rides, bowling, scavenger hunts, and more.

Accomodating accomodations

Sometimes, lodging time can be as big a pleasure as time outdoors. For those who want to feel at home at Big Bear (or even better than at home), the destination offers plenty of options. Some cabins fall into the luxury category, complete with spas, pool, pool tables, lakefront docks, and more. For more traditional stays, visitors can find hotels, lodges, and B&Bs all within their price range.

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