If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to walk inside a real-life snow globe, then Big Bear Village may be the destination for you! Sitting a couple of driving hours east of Los Angeles (first-time visitor, we got a guide for that!) in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Village, and its surrounding areas are the unexpected winter wonderlands of southern California.
From cozy cottages to nearby skiing, snowboarding, and tubing to great local holiday shopping, Big Bear Village is an easy weekend trip away for southern Californians to feel transported to the North Pole. This alpine winter escape is a great destination that has something for any member of your traveling group to enjoy, and you’ll find yourself frolicking down the log cabin-lined streets regardless of your age!
Where to Shop In Big Bear Village
The great thing about the size of Big Bear Village is that you can hit all these shops in a relatively short amount of time, so you can see it all! The Village Shops and Courtyard have several vendors within it filled with cute souvenirs, usable and giftable household items, tasty candies, and local handicrafts. While these shops are filled to the brim with things to buy and look at, if you’re looking for something uniquely “Big Bear,” then try out the Brown Bear Gift Shop a few doors down. You’ll find plenty of Big Bear branded merchandise while also enjoying the fun little sussies that fill the shop.
With Big Bear Lake nearby, it’s possible to go fishing out on the lake, even in the winter. If you’re looking for some gear while you’re in the Village, then visit Big Bear Sporting Goods, right down the street from the entrance of the Village. If you’re hoping for a lower-key shopping experience, then we recommend a candy-shopping extravaganza at the Village Sweet Shoppe. You’ll find every kind of sweet at the Village Sweet Shoppe, including, if you dare, during the cold winter months, ice cream and gelato.
Where to Eat In Big Bear Village
You can’t head to Big Bear without trying out the brewery that bears (get it?) the name of the nearby lake: Big Bear Lake Brewing Company. The craft brewery has a large variety of its house beers that you can purchase to drink there or in 4-packs or growlers for later. It’s a great option for sharing options and larger parties–and we definitely recommend getting The Original Avocado Bomb if you want to lean into the whole “SoCal” winter wonderland theme.
For another great All-American option, the Peppercorn Grille is popular among locals and visitors alike that has your typical cold weather cozy offerings like steak and potatoes. If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure and like challenges, then try out Senora’s Cantina, a quick drive outside the Village, for the Big Juan Challenge. In 45 minutes, if you can down one of the restaurant’s giant enchiladas (dubbed the Big Juan), then you get a meal discount, a free shirt, and your picture on the Wall of Fame.
Where to Play In Big Bear Village
Now that we’ve covered the necessities of life (eating and sleeping), what can you do for fun in this winter wonderland? There’s no shortage of winter activities in Big Bear Village, and if you’re able to travel a bit away from the town’s center, there are even more options.
One of the most popular activities in Big Bear during the winter time (and quite frankly, year-round) is the Alpine Slide, a bobsled-style slide with hand-controlled sleds that whisks you down a stretch of the mountain. In the same complex, you can check out Snow Playa stretch of manicured snow where you can tube and frolic.
Of course, if there’s real snow, you can take a quick drive over to Snow Summit Ski Resort To ski snowboard sled, or drink hot chocolate at the snack shack. Snow Summit has skis and snowboards available for rent, so don’t worry if you weren’t able to haul them on the drive-up.
Even if you’re used to some of the more seasoned ski resorts in the world, Snow Summit has a fantastic variety of runs that cater to all levels of skiing and snowboarding, so don’t be afraid if you’re a beginner starting out . That also means that you experts will have plenty to tackle, too, though!
And, of course nothing gets you more in the winter wonderland mood than a visit to Santa’s Village! Located in nearby Lake Arrowhead, Santa’s Village transports you up to the North Pole for activities like ice skating, a visit to Santa’s workshop, and a Fantasy Forest light show. Advance tickets are required, so plan ahead for this one because it’s popular!