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Fall Day Trip Guide to Big Bear Lake, CA

Updated: Apr 27

Big Bear is a small mountain town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Situated in the San Bernardino National Forest along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, it is a popular year-round resort destination known for its outdoor recreational activities and scenic beauty. The city is a two- to three-hour drive from San Diego, making it a convenient day trip or a weekend getaway. In this post, I’ll share my fall day trip guide to Big Bear!

When to Visit:

You can plan a visit to Big Bear any time of the year. Many people in San Diego visit during the winter months for skiing and snowboarding. The fall season is a popular time to visit for cooler weather and foliage viewing.

Where to Stay:

If you plan to turn your day trip into a weekend getaway, there are many places to stay in Big Bear, from Airbnb to cabins.


On the way to Big Bear, there are several turnouts to stop along the road with gorgeous views of the San Bernadino National Forest.

San Bernadino National Forest

Day Trip Guide

I started my morning with a hike at one of Big Bear’s most popular hikes, Castle Rock Trail. Castle Rock is about 2.4 miles round trip and is rated as intermediate/difficult.

The hike has nice views of the lake and during the fall it’s a great place for fall foliage viewing. The hike is not well marked and it can be a little challenging to stay on the path. I recommend downloading the Alltrails app or asking other people along the trail to assist you, so you don't get lost. For additional trails to choose from visit

​Foliage along the Castle Rock Trail

After the hike, I headed over to Tropicali a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant. I had their Tikijuana, which is a teriyaki BBQ chicken bowl. It tasted fresh and had a good flavor. I’m looking forward to trying more restaurants in Big Bear the next time I visit.

After lunch take a short walk to the village and explore the shops.

For additional activities in Big Bear consider:

  • Renting bikes and biking along one of the many scenic bike routes.

  • Kayak across Big Bear Lake

  • Go on a Segway Tour

I’m looking forward to my next day trip to Big Bear, exploring more and hiking new trails. I hope this post is helpful as you plan your day trip to Big Bear!


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