Enjoy the family-oriented cruiser runs or shred the terrain park with your kids at Snow Summit.
Snow Summit Ski Resort is an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. It provides varied ski runs for all family members, whether they’re first-timers or accomplished snow riders. For young families, head to the Snow Summit Family Fun Park on the west side for runs that will challenge the kids and entertain the adults. Once your kids are more adventurous, the east side runs provide challenging thrills with fewer crowds. For the brave of heart and hard of head, Olympic Bowl will test the most advanced skiers. The views can't be beat! On one side, you have a panoramic view of Big Bear Lake and on the back side, you’ll be staring at Mount San Gorgonio (11,500 feet), which is the highest point in Southern California. There's a free shuttle between Snow Summit and next doorBear Mountain Resort, and night sessions are available most weekends and holiday periods. The two mountains provide Southern California with the most dependable snow, all within easy driving distance of Los Angeles and San Diego.
What to do besides skiing?
Nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is an outdoor paradise next to a massive urban area. The Big Bear Discovery Center on the north side of the lake introduces visitors to the forest ecosystem. Go tubing at Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park; there are also some more suburban attractions such as bowling alleys. A number of shops, restaurants, and bars can be found in the downtown district.
Where to stay & eat?
Viewhaus at the top of the All-Mountain Express Lift servicing Miracle Mile has a fantastic view of Mount San Gorgonio with a nice variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, and hot entrées at typical resort pricing. The resort upgraded the old Summit Haus at the top of the west side runs with smoked BBQ and an outdoor bar.
Big Bear provides a wide variety of lodging for families from rustic cabins to hotels. Nothing beats a cozy cabin for the kids. Look into local operators like Oak Knoll Lodge or other private rentals for budget-friendly options. For active-duty military, the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) operates cabins less than a half-mile walk to Snow Summit base.
KidTripster Tip: The mountain gets pretty crowded during holiday periods and peak weekends, so ski during the week to get better prices, more personalized ski lessons for the kids, and less hassle picking up rental gear. Also Los Angeles-area Costco stores offer lift tickets at deep discounts.
Big Bear Lake and the San Bernardino National Forest are east of Los Angeles and north of I-10. The most direct route is CA-330, but on really busy holiday weekends, take the longer, more scenic CA-38 through Redlands, especially when leaving. You can also take CA-18 from the north, which is typically clear when the other ways are socked in with snow. As a reminder, snow chains are mandatory anytime you’re traveling in the mountains, and the rule is enforced by the CHP during mandatory chain days.
Ben Allbritton lives in San Diego with his family. His 19-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter head to the mountain with him, when he’s not deployed on Navy ships somewhere in the world. He enjoys writing and fantasizing about the slopes from the Gulf of Aden, where it’s about 110° F.