I think most of you know by now that I love tent camping! One our family favorite activities is tent camping in Big Bear, California. Big Bear Lake is only about an hour drive from our house and pretty easy to get to. It is a fantastic place to camp any time of year. There are a lot of family activities to keep everyone busy and entertained. I’ll show you what a few of my favorite activities are while camping in Big Bear.
Camping in Big Bear, California
Our family has gone camping in Big Bear almost every month out of the year and it is gorgeous every time. Tent camping in the winter is more difficult. Luckily, B’s family has a trailer so we just crash in their trailer in the winter. There is always something to do unless you want to do nothing. Which is always acceptable when camping in nature! Before you continue reading, read this blog post to make sure you have all of your tent camping essentials!
Where To Camp:
Serrano Campground– This is the campground we always go to. Reservations are pretty much required due to the amount of people who camp here. You can make reservations from 6 months in advance until 24 hours before. They have RV, trailer and tent camp sites where you can choose between full hook-ups and dry campsites. My in-laws usually have their trailer on a full hook-up site and we set up our tent and hammock right on their site. Best of both worlds and it’s pretty awesome!
The best thing about this campground is that is close to the lake but not too close to Big Bear Village. Convince is just a car ride away and yet you feel like you are camping in the woods. When we go camping, we want to feel like we are surrounded by nature, and I think this campground does a great job. The lake is within walking or biking distance just across the street. Big Bear Discovery Center is within walking distance from the campground as well. The Discovery Center is the beginning point of many hiking trails in the area.
There are definitely other places to stay in Big Bear, but these are the biggest, easiest to get to campsites.
What To Do:
My favorite thing to do when camping in Big Bear is to hang out and read a book in my hammock! Sitting around the campfire at night, relaxing in a chair and watching the stars and satellites go by, and listening to birds and woodpeckers is basically the reason we camp so much. Even sleeping on the floor in a tent is relaxing when you’re surrounded by such gorgeous nature. Grab an Indian blanket and chill.
One of the most fun things in Big Bear and specifically Serrano Campground is the bike trail that follows the lake. It’s called the Alpine Pedal Path. This hybrid Diamondback bike I have is literally the best to go bike riding on these trails. We love taking our bikes out for a ride around the lake. If you want to see all the bike trails around Big Bear, click here. This picture is taken from the North side of the lake at the end of the Alpine Pedal Path.
Hiking is my favorite activity! Everywhere we go camping I find some trail to wander down. So, while camping in Big Bear, I have found many trails to hike! For big list of hikes in the area, this website has a lot of the ones we have done. One of my favorite hikes we have done was Cougar Crest Trail that starts right behind Serrano campground! It gives you fantastic views of the lake! Another cool place is Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail (see picture below). For this trail, you need a 4×4 vehicle to get to it. Which is another great activity to do up in Big Bear area!
Make sure when you are hiking that you are always well prepared with plenty of water and the 10 essentials! You don’t want to get lost on the trail and have to spend the night in the wilderness without supplies. My favorite backpack to take hiking is this one. It will fit all of the 10 essentials, a 3L hydration pack and all your snacks. These hiking boots are my favorite as well! They are my favorite color and provide great support! Here are the mid-ankle ones.
My puppy made it to the top of Castle Rock Trail in B’s backpack! It was pretty hilarious watching B carry the dog up the rocks and trail. My puppy wanted to chase all the squirrels. Look at that beautiful view though! This day was pretty warm but totally worth it.
There are tons of hikes that are a quick drive from the lake as well. Heart rock was a cool place to hike as well!
One of my favorite things to do with my father-in-law when we go camping in Big Bear is taking his truck off-roading! Big Bear has tons of 4×4 roads to explore! They are making me want a Jeep real bad! Some of these views below you can only get by off-roading. So get out there and get those trucks dirty! See this article for some trail ideas.
I understand this is a controversial activity. However, there are places in Big Bear to go shooting and play around. We went off-roading to find this place and made sure it was open before heading out there. I would check with the Big Bear Discovery Center first to find open places and rules for shooting in Big Bear. There is BLM land out there where shooting targets is acceptable. This could also be a day trip if you don’t want to go tent camping with your guns. Ultimately this is what we ended up doing. Since it’s only about an hour drive, we did it as a day trip.
Kayaking on Big Bear Lake is awesome! I could sit out there on the lake and sleep away the afternoon. B and I rented kayaks on one of our trips in September so the lake was not as crowded. During the summer, there are tons of boats floating around the lake so be aware. There are plenty of places to rent kayaks or hop on a boat. If you bring your own kayak, there is a drop fee to put it in the water. The best and cheapest way to go kayaking is to find a Groupon or Travelzoo deal and get it half off. It can be expensive.
If you would like to venture into Big Bear Village while camping in Big Bear, make sure to hit up Saucy Mama’s for the best pizza ever. It used to be a tiny hole in the wall, but now everyone knows about it. Seriously good pizza! And if you keep your receipt, you get a coupon for the ice cream place next door! There are also a lot of great breakfast places in the village if it starts raining while you are camping and you can’t cook breakfast outside. (Which of course hasn’t happened to us. JK!) The village is definitely a cute place to go eat!
Explore the Village
Head into Big Bear Village for cute shops, souvenirs, and dog watching. It’s always a great place to ride your bike to or drive to if you run out of things to do. Which is very difficult to do when camping in Big Bear!
Camping in Big Bear California!
Do you have anything you love to do when camping in Big Bear?! Let me know in the comments!
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