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Affordable Family Vacations

Top 10 Affordable or Free Family Vacation Ideas

Big Bear is an affordable family destination and is Southern California's only four season resort offering a great variety of activities during the spring and summer seasons. Many of Big Bear's activities during the spring and summer are affordable or free.

We put together a list of the top affordable or free family vacation ideas to help you plan your next vacation:

  1. 1.  Go stargazing in the Big Bear Village: This year will be the first year of the Starlight Festival, held in Big Bear's Village on May 24 & 25, 2014. The streets will be closed down to traffic and booths will fill the downtown area where visitors can meet scientists, astronomers and astronauts. In addition to witnessing a rare meteor shower that will result in the most dramatic display of shooting stars in more than a decade, adults and children can participate in stellar daytime and nighttime activities. From an exclusive viewing of Apollo moon rocks to 10-foot model rockets to a flight flown Challenger Space Shuttle tile and musical performances, there's enough fun for everyone! There will also be a raffle to win a tour of Big Bear's very own Solar Observatory!

    Throughout the year, Big Bear is also the perfect spot for stargazing in Southern California plus, it's FREE! Find out best stargazing spots and tips to see nature's beautiful night backdrop. 

  2. 2.  Hook a number of different fish from the lake: Big Bear Lake offers one of the top rated fishing spots in all of Southern California. Along with trout and bass, you will also love to find the waters of Big Bear Lake offer an abundant supply of catfish, crappie, blue gill and sunfish. Fishermen of all types will find something to their liking in the pristine waters of the lake. Grab a fishing license, tackle, bait and a chair and you can fish from the shoreline such as on the Stanfield Cutoff bridge or Grout Bay.

  3. 3.  Visit the Big Bear Alpine Zoo: The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; temporarily while they heal or permanently as they are unable to survive on their own. Visitors are able to see a broad variety of alpine wildlife, such as bald eagles, wolves, black bears, bobcats and even an arctic fox! Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for seniors and children between the ages of 3 and 10. Children under 3 are free!

  4. 4.  Enjoy fresh produce and artwork: Every Tuesday from April until October, the Farmer's Market at the Big Bear Convention Center gives everyone a chance to buy sustainably grown produce, works of art, antiques and delicious food from a selection of food carts. Be sure to bring cash as most vendors do not accept credit cards.

  5. 5.  View beautiful classic cars: "Cruisin' to Stop Bruising" DOVES Car Show charity event on May 3, 2014 is going to be held at the local Elk's Lodge and is free to the public. The cars that will be on display are being presented by members of the Bear Valley Cruisers Club. There will be music throughout the car show as well as a selection of foods. All proceeds go to assist victims of domestic violence.

  6. 6.  Visit and feed local animals: At the Baldwin Lake Stables and petting zoo, you can get up close and personal with friendly and local animals and learn about them first hand while entertaining your little ones for very little money. Just pay for the feed and you're set!

  7. 7.  Free Nature Walks at The Big Bear Discovery Center: The Big Bear Discovery Center's free 30-minute Nature Walks are on Saturdays at 1pm and 2 pm and Sundays at 11 am and 12 noon. The walks provide visitors an opportunity to learn about the local plant life, wildlife and interesting historical facts about Big Bear. This activity is ideal for families and individuals who want to gain a greater appreciation of the San Bernardino Mountains. Nature walks are not strenuous and designed for all hiking skill levels.

  8. 8.  Kayaking on Big Bear Lake: Kayaking in many of the bay areas on Big Bear Lake is an enjoyable way to experience the beauty of nature and serenity spring. Kayak rentals at many of Big Bear's Marinas start at approximately $20, and a convenient way to get a kayak in the water without having to hauling equipment from a rental shop.

  9. 9.  Enjoy glow bowling and miniature golf: Glow bowling at the Bowling Barn starts at 8 p.m. and has great music to go with it. Once something to do until then? Just head across the street to the Big Bear Funplex, where you and your family or friends can play a quick game of mini-golf or even LazerTag! The games are all very affordable, typically below $10 per person.

  10. 10.  Go for a photo hike: Why experience the beautiful views that can be found along any of Big Bear’s hiking trails only once? By taking a photography hike through the woodlands and numerous trails of the Valley, you can preserve the experience and beauty of Big Bear for years. Be sure to pick up your Adventure Pass, $5 per day (if paying with cash), at the Big Bear's Visitors Center.

This list is just a small selection of activities that are appropriate for almost all ages. For further assistance planning your vacation in Big Bear, simply call 800-424-4232 and one of our knowledgeable vacation specialists can be of assistance!

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