Along the northern edge of Big Bear Lake sits Fawnskin Harbor, a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Captain John's Fawn Harbor & Marina calls this serene alcove home, housing boats and doling out rental watercraft. From the harbor's docks and moorings, visitors launch pontoons, speedboats, canoes, and kayaks toward Grout Bay, a bald-eagle nesting site that also teems with great blue herons, osprey, and beavers. The wildlife sanctuary can also be infiltrated via standup paddleboard, a Hawaii-born craft that delivers a challenging core workout. Tours on an electric boat cruise the boulder- and tree-ringed bay area while passengers explore the lake, learn local history, and glimpse the lake's namesake surreptitiously brushing his coat.
When Big Bear Alpine Zoo opened in 1959, it wasn't a zoo at all. It was a makeshift rehabilitation center for animals affected by a devastating fire that ripped through the San Bernardino National Forest. Among the facility's first residents were two bobcats and an orphaned 30-pound baby black bear.
Since then, the operation has stood as a safe haven for injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals. While the zoo is home to a variety of animals that cannot be released back into the wild as they would not be able to survive, most of the animals that are brought in for rehabilitation can be released. In fact, 90% of the zoo's animals get released back into the wild once they're healthy enough. Today, Big Bear Alpine Zoo is home to more than 85 species, including foxes, eagles, and yes, even bears. Weather permitting, visitors can visit the zoo's residents throughout the year except for Christmas Day. Visitors can get involved in the zoo's efforts by volunteering, becoming a member, or bringing in items from the wish list, saving the animals a trip to the grocery store.
Cabins4Less creates homes away from home on the edge of Big Bear Lake. Their lakefront suites set the mood for adventure with rustic wood interiors and private decks, but maintain a sense of comfort by providing pillow top mattresses and kitchenettes. That dual approach to camping ensures that guests get to experience the beauty of the outdoors without its inconveniences.
Not content merely to provide lodging, Cabins4Less keeps its guests busy during daytime by renting out kayaks, which are free and pet-friendly, along with bikes and fishing poles. Thusly equipped, visitors can stroll or roll through the mountains or set out from the adjacent marina to paddle around the lake or catch some fish. A local bowling alley and restaurants make the nearby village a good place to wile away the time after friendly aliens flick off the sun's light switch.
From the shores of Big Bear Lake and Dana Point, it's not uncommon to see someone flying high above the waves. But they're not using a hang-glider or an albatross on growth hormones. They're riding one of Action Aqua Flight's flyboards, contraptions that allow their riders to shoot into the air and cut through the surf atop plumes of water. A board beneath the rider's feet thrusts them upward via two massive jets, while two arm-based streams allow the wearer to stabilize and turn. All the while, an instructor follows behind on a jet ski, supplying the board with pressurized water and relaying instructions via headset. Sessions are bookended by calming cruises aboard a pontoon boat, and riders can opt to have their flights recorded for posterity.
Big Bear Funplex rules over a trifecta of family-friendly fun with an amusement center, The Bowling Barn’s bowling alley, and a sports bar. Gangs of friends and sadistic bowling pins can strap on rented gentle-soled shoes for an hour of bowling down 1 of 16 lanes. Automatic scoring reduces the risk of feud or pin scams, and bumpers keep the game easy for kids. After the bowling extravaganza, an amusement center package gains admission to one ride on the Himalaya mini rollercoaster, along with a rapid-fire 15-minute laser-tag session, and a ride on the bumper cars, releasing drivers from road rage and cars from blasé existences within white painted lines.
See the trees from the canopy and experience nature a whole new way with Action Tree Rope Climbing. At a spot near Big Bear Lake, certified instructors help guests scale trees' massive trunks using harnesses, ropes, and a series of knots. This safe way of climbing allows guests aged 12 and older to live out their dreams of becoming climbing squirrels as they gaze back down on the forest floor from 45 feet in the air. During tours, guides explain a little about the area, including conservation information and the location of the nearest fairy circles.