January is upon us, and if your new year’s resolution is to have more adventures, then a vacation may be in order! Big Bear, nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, is Southern California’s premier vacation getaway with no shortage of adventure. A roughly two-hour drive from Los Angeles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Diego, Big Bear is the perfect weekend escape this winter.
Below, we’ll share some fun things to do in Big Bear this January to help you start your year in an unforgettable way!
- Trek Big Bear’s famous hiking trails
Big Bear is famous for its rich trail system winding around Big Bear Lake and into the wilderness beyond. January’s weather gives outdoor enthusiasts a unique way to experience this popular hiking destination, with snow-covered slopes and glistening peaks. Plus, the volume of hikers in Big Bear is lower in the winter months, meaning you’ll have this winter wonderland (mostly) to yourself! Below, we list a few popular hikes in Big Bear, but for more information, check out our post on Big Bear’s Best Winter Hiking Trails.Castle Rock Trail
Castle Rock Trail is a popular 2.7-mile hike offering a stunning view of Big Bear Lake. This short and sweet hike is great to kick off a long day of fun!Cougar Crest TrailIf you’re looking for a more challenging hike with an equally rewarding view as Castle Rock, the Cougar Crest Trail is a great option. A moderate 4-mile hike located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, the Cougar Crest Trail showcases the best of Big Bear’s natural beauty.
Alpine Pedal Path
Offering the occasional bald eagle sighting, Alpine Pedal Path is a popular trail for hikers of all abilities. Starting at the Stanfield Cutoff, this paved trail meanders along the shore of Big Bear Lake.
Pine Knot Trail
Pine Knot Trail is a moderately challenging 7-mile trail popular among mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers alike. If you attempt this trail in the winter, spikes are highly recommended!
- Visit the Big Bear Discovery CenterThe Big Bear Discovery Center is the largest visitor center serving the Big Bear Valley. Be sure to stop by for information about the area, children’s events like story and craft time, or guided nature hikes led by naturalists. Plus, if you plan on heading into certain areas in the San Bernardino National Forest during your visit, you can pick up your Forest Adventure Pass here.
- Go Sledding or Snow Tubing
This January, book a stay with Sessions Retreat & Hotel and enjoy wintery fun at your doorstep! Locals and guests alike enjoy free sledding on our property in the winter, so be sure to pack a sled, toboggan, or whatever is going to get you downhill with a thrill for your stay!Big Bear Snow Play also gives visitors a chance to experience the most exhilarating of winter sports: snow tubing. Zoom down and ride back up on the magic carpet for a day of endless thrills. And at night, visit for their glow tubing under multicolored lights.
- See the animals at the Big Bear Alpine Zoo
A great family-friendly option, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo has animals like bald eagles, black bears, grizzly bears, and more! Here you’ll learn about the animals and the Alpine Zoo’s work to rescue, rehabilitate, and release them back to their homes.
- Walk on (frozen) water
We mean snowshoeing, of course! Pick up a snowshoe rental at Goldsmith’s sports, or join a guided eco-tour at the Big Bear Discovery Center. Just be sure to book the eco-tour in advance!
- Satisfy your need for speed at Magic Mountain
Year-round fun lives at Magic Mountain. The go-karts, tubing, and the alpine slide are not to be missed!
- Treat your tastebuds at one of Big Bear’s many eateries
The Big Bear Valley is home to a dining scene that rivals a city five times its size. From Italian to Japanese, Thai to Chinese, Nepalese to Hawaiian, you’ll have no shortage of cuisines to try during your visit!
- Take in the sights at Boulder Bay Park
A great free activity, Boulder Bay Park offers walking trails and a picturesque view of Big Bear Lake. Photographers may enjoy this spot for plenty of wintery photo ops!
- Shred some pow at a ski resort
Big Bear has some of the best snowboarding and skiing Southern California has to offer. Big Bear Mountain Resort encompasses two separate resorts: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Between the two resorts, you’ll find advanced slopes, ranging from green to double black diamond, and beginner-level areas for those learning a snow sport.
- Enjoy a steamy hot sauna
After a long day of outdoor activities, nothing is more relaxing than kicking back and melting your stress away in a sauna. At Sessions Retreat & Hotel, our infrared and steam sauna will help you recharge so you can get back to adventuring.
- Shop ‘til you drop
The Village is a shopping center at the heart of Big Bear that offers shopping, dining, nightlife, and more. Treat yourself to a souvenir, stock up on healing crystals, or pick up that one piece of gear you forgot at home at one of The Village’s 120-plus vendors.Apart from the Village, Big Bear has a number of unique shopping opportunities throughout the town. An honorable mention is Gold Rush Mining Co., where kids can ‘mine’ for gold and dig for treasure while learning about the mining history of Big Bear.
- Plan a Picnic
While it may be a bit chilly, you can still enjoy a picnic at one of many of Big Bear’s picnic areas. Bear Cupboards Market, located in The Village, offers all kinds of snack and libation essentials that’ll make your winter picnic a success.
- Admire Big Bear’s Flora and Fauna
Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Reserve has a gorgeous boardwalk that offers stunning views of Big Bear’s natural scenery and wildlife. Another popular reserve, Bluff Lake Reserve, is closed for the winter months but reopens in May and is 100% worth a visit.
- Bowl it up
Sure, you may be good on the Wii, but Bowling Barn lets you test if your skills are the real deal. If bowling isn’t your thing, then the Bowling Barn has you covered with ice skating, mini-golf, and laser tag!
- Test your puzzle-solving skills
Visit one of Big Bear’s several themed escape rooms, where you’ll be challenged to solve a series of puzzles in under an hour and unravel the mystery to escape!If you’re looking to ring in the new year on an adventurous note, Big Bear is the place to be. Sessions Retreat & Hotel is your base for adventure and sanctuary for rejuvenation this January. Start your adventure by booking with us here!