Want the best of both worlds – sun and ski? Then check out Big Bear skiing, just a short drive from Santa Monica’s beaches. Read on to learn why Big Bear is a great place to hit the slopes.
Although the Los Angeles area has many sunny beaches, we also have great nearby ski resorts. How cool is it that we can soak up sun in Santa Monica in the morning and then hit the slopes in Big Bear Lake in less than three hours? In fact, Big Bear is about a two to three drive from anywhere in Southern California. Since my kids were tots, I’ve brought them and their pals for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding at this popular four season mountain resort. Nestled high at 7,000 feet elevation in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is accessible via three roads.
Big Bear, San Bernardino Mountains
Over the years, we’ve gone to Big Bear to ski and to enjoy the San Bernardino Mountains for a weekend getaway. It’s especially magical when we arrive during a snowfall. Which happens often. The ski and snowboard season is typically from late November to April. We’ve skied with friends and family at both Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. The two ski and snowboard areas comprise Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Even in Southern California the mountains get lots of snow. To ensure the ski resorts have fresh snow, Big Bear has a high-tech snowmaking system.
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Big Bear Mountain Resorts
Although Bear Mountain is fun for skiers too, it typically attracts a younger, snowboarding crowd. In fact, Bear Mountain’s terrain park is among the best in the United States. Outfitted with half pipes, jibs, boxes and more, the park caters to all levels of skiers and riders.
It’s fun to watch those amazing tricks, but we usually ski at nearby Snow Summit. It’s a super family-friendly resort with groomed runs and the Family Park (a gentle terrain park). Snow Summit also has night skiing.
Lift ticket prices vary. But basically, they start at $69 for adults (ages 18-64), $32 (ages 13-17), $25 (ages 5 – 12). Ski free on your birthday! All guests must be in proper snowboarding or skiing apparel and gear in order to load onto the chairlifts.
Take a Lesson
Home to the largest learning area in Southern California, Big Bear Mountain Resort offers various types of ski and snowboard lessons. Using the latest teaching methods, lessons take place at the terrain based learning area and Skillbuilder Parks. In addition, Big Bear has an adaptive ski program.
Experts recommend taking a lesson, because the better you are the more fun you have. Instructors also utilize various teaching tools. These may include edgie-wedgies, rubber tubing that clips on ski tips. For example, these help a child control speed and stop. In addition, colorful cartoon features, and a snow snake that resembles a firehose enable kids to bring their skis together in the correct parallel position.
Lift tickets are valid at both ski areas. Unless it’s snowing heavily, there’s usually a free shuttle that transports guests between the two resorts.
More Snow Sports for Family Fun
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are fun ways to explore the quiet San Bernardino Forest. In addition to snowy slopes for free sledding, Big Bear has two designated snow play areas. Big Bear Snow Play and Alpine at Magic Mountain. Both have a Magic Carpet uphill lift to eliminate walking up a mountain dragging a tube.
In addition to daytime tubing, Big Bear Snow Play has night glow tubing from 5 – 9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Alpine at Magic Mountain has winter bobsleds and the new Soaring Eagle. A type of chairlift, the Soaring Eagle takes uphill backwards before launching them down to the base.
Big Bear Lodging
From cabins and condos to hotels and inns, Big Bear has an assortment of lodging options. Because we travel with our dog, we usually book a vacation house rental from Big Bear Vacations. The company has over 300 cabins and rentals throughout Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Lake Discounts
Big Bear offers many discount packages throughout the year. Mid-week is usually the best time to go. During this time, there are fewer crowds and good discounts. Rates vary depending on whether you stay in a cabin, hotel or condo.
Note: Make sure your vehicle has proper tires and/or snow chains when visiting Big Bear.
Pack like a pro to make your family ski vacation more enjoyable.
Read about other family friendly ski resorts around the country.