Looking to spend your next vacation being outdoors and keeping active?
Southern California is a great choice for you. From Mammoth Lakes to Big Bear Lake, there is no shortage of attractions to see and activities to experience.
Beautiful Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead
Just a quick drive east of Los Angeles is the gorgeous San Bernardino National Forest. We had only been off the highway for a few minutes when suddenly we were surrounded by an incredible mountain range full of evergreen trees. An hour later, after a drive along windy roads and stopping at a few overlooks to take in the amazing mountain views, we arrived at Big Bear Lake.
There’s a vast array of accommodations here — whether you want a full-service resort, a quaint cabin or a peaceful campsite, you’ll find it. I had a great time kayaking at Captain John’s Fawn Harbor Marina. You can canoe or rent larger motorized boats here, too. Around the lake, I loved strolling through Big Bear Lake Village for its absolutely charming boutiques and restaurants with a relaxed atmosphere. Downtown is a hub of activity, with parades and events year-round.
Just a few kilometers away at Lake Arrowhead, you’ll find water activities, hiking, horseback riding and more in a slightly quieter, more rustic setting. Regardless of which lake you stay at, this is a great place to bring the family and enjoy the gorgeous outdoors in that perfect California sunshine.
There’s plenty to do in the winter, too. We passed several ski resorts in the San Bernardino Forest on our way up to Big Bear.
Kayaking at Big Bear Lake, California
More Adventure in Mammoth Lakes
For those who want breathtaking views while hiking, mountain biking or fishing, it’s really worth a trip to Mammoth Lakes, which is about five hours away from Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. We took the gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain, which is over 3,300 meters in elevation. It didn’t take much to imagine why this area is such a favourite among mountain bikers during warm-weather months. Of course, in winter, this is an ultimate ski and snowboarding destination, so I plan to be back for more adventures in a few months.
Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs, California
Racetrack Excitement in Fontana
And if you love the thrill of speed but prefer watching from the sidelines, then you’re in for a treat in Fontana at the Auto Club Speedway of California. This was a great little side trip on our way back to L.A. I recommend getting a Pit Pass where you get to walk into the pit, see the cars and meet the drivers. The Garage Pass gives you a shorter tour, but allows you to see where the cars are fixed. No matter which pass you get, there’s plenty to see and do. Every seat offers a good view of the track, and there are plenty of pre- and post-race activities for the whole family.
Whether you’re looking to slow things down in nature and enjoy the view while kayaking, or you want to speed things up skiing, zip-lining or watching NASCAR racing, your perfect itinerary of outdoor activities awaits in Southern California.
More experiences nearby