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Living in Southern California often means missing out on traditional seasonal weather, particularly during fall and winter. However, there’s one great option for seasonal experiences in SoCal: Big Bear. The Big Bear area is at a higher elevation than other parts of Southern California, and that means seasonal differences are much more pronounced here than they are at sea level.

Big Bear vacation rentals, particularly cabins, are available year round, and this lodging style can be preferable for families who plan to do a lot of outdoor activities using their own equipment. In Big Bear ski house rentals, your family can store bikes, snowboards, fishing equipment and other seasonal outdoor gear without taking up valuable floor space in a cramped hotel room. Consider the seasonal activities you can partake in before planning your vacation so you can pick the right type of cabin for your favorite recreational activities.

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Winter in Southern California

Winter sports are the main draw in this part of Southern California because snow is such a unique event. Big Bear offers several different snowy outdoor recreation options that are suitable for everyone from thrill-seekers to families looking for something safe and fun. Though snowfall is less plentiful now than it once was, the resort has a robust snowmaking program to ensure the slopes stay snowy even if the rest of the area doesn’t look quite as wintry.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities here, with Big Bear’s two snow resorts, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain, providing nearly 1,000 acres of skiable terrain. Each mountain area offers runs at all levels, with most catering to Low Intermediate or Intermediate skill levels. First-Time Beginner and Advanced runs are available, too. Snow Summit is the more challenging of the two, while Bear Mountain boasts a wide range of terrain park features for snowboarders looking to build their skills in performing tricks. Rentals for skis, snowboards, boots, poles and some other equipment are available at several locations in the Big Bear area. If you’re looking to improve your skills or learn how to ride or ski for the first time, you can also look into lessons with pros in the area.

If you don’t like the idea of careening downhill at high speeds, you can opt for more relaxed snowsport activities, with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing offering the chance to hike through the snow with minimal difficulty. If you’re an experienced snowshoer or cross-country skier, you can plan your own forays into the backcountry. If you’ve never experienced this winter activity before, go through the Big Bear Discovery Center for guided tours, rentals and advice on where to go and how to stay safe on the trail.

Families have even more low-key options available for winter fun in the snow thanks to Big Bear Snow Play, a converted ski hill that’s now the official place for sledding, snow tubing and other frosty, fun activities in the wintertime. The Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain and Grizzly Ridge tubing park at Snow Summit are also options for fun snowy activities that don’t involve a lot of physical activity or adrenaline-pumping speed.

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Summer in the mountains

Though it’s primarily known for its winter sports, Big Bear is a great place to visit in summertime as well. Big Bear Lake is a central attraction thanks to the many water-based activities for families, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and aqua flyboarding — that viral internet sensation that sees participants shoot out of the lake on water jets attached to their feet. Swimming is another popular activity in the lake, though the large number of boats and jet skis zipping around means that you should exercise extreme caution before picking a spot in which you’ll swim around.

Other outdoor activities, such as horseback riding and Sky Chair rides to the top of Snow Summit, provide wonderful immersion in the wilderness surroundings of the area. Stargazing is another fantastic family activity that’s perfect during warm summer nights. Cabins in more remote areas far from the lights of Big Bear Lake and other populated areas are ideal for backyard stargazing with or without telescopes.

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Spring & Fall to see California change seasons

As transitional seasons, the activities available for families during spring and fall depend on the weather. Snow is theoretically possible during early spring and late fall, and even without snow, temperatures can get chilly. This means that water-based activities that involve swimming or getting wet may not be ideal at this time of year, but there’s still plenty to do. Cooler temperatures make rigorous activities like mountain biking and hiking within the San Bernardino National Forest, which surrounds the area, more appealing. Each of these two seasons brings natural beauty into the spotlight, with springtime wildflowers and vibrant autumnal colors adding extra ambience to the already spectacular outdoor scenery. Hike high up enough on Sugarloaf Mountain and you’ll even be able to see the Mojave Desert down below for an incredible study in terrain contrasts.

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Spring and fall are both quieter seasons in the area, and that makes it possible for you to take advantage of the trout and bass seasons at Big Bear Lake. Fish may get a little shy when the lake is full of boats and swimmers, but the relative lack of activity in the water means that you can get a better catch. In case of inclement weather, the Big Bear area does have some indoor activities for your family to enjoy as well, including laser tag and room escapes. Choose a cabin closer to Big Bear Lake to take advantage of this kind of amusement.