Big Bear Discovery Center

Written by’s Local Expert
Photo cut-out with dog head at Big Bear Discover Center in California.
Big Bear Discover Center indoor eagle exhibit in California.
Real eagle nest at Big Bear Discover Center in California.
Lookout point at Big Bear Discover Center.
Big Bear Discover Center interior museum with guest in California.
Nature art creations at Big Bear Discover Center.
Tree ring exhibit at Big Bear Discover Center.
Big Bear Discover Center trail way and sign.
Big Bear Discover Center gift shop.
Picnic area at Big Bear Discover Center in California.


The Big Bear Discovery Center in California is a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, this learning center features educational exhibits and hands-on activities regarding the natural environment, as well as providing information about the San Bernardino National Forest. 

Opened in 1998, the Big Bear Discovery Center has become one of the most popular attractions in the area, with over 190,000 yearly visitors. This incredible attraction offers a variety of displays and activities that are designed to educate and entertain guests. 

Here you can explore interactive exhibits about local wildlife, plants, geology, and history. In addition, there are several hands-on activities like panning for gold or exploring a simulated cave system to wow the group. 

And if hiking and outdoor adventures are on the agenda, the center also provides information about local recreational opportunities such as hiking trails and fishing spots. Or, if you prefer, take guided hikes and nature walks through the surrounding forest, giving you an up-close look at some of California's most beautiful landscapes.

The Big Bear Discovery Center is a great place to visit whether you're looking for educational insight or want to explore nature's beauty in California's San Bernardino National Forest. 

With multiple interactive displays, guided hikes, and more—there's something for everyone at this fantastic Big Bear attraction!

Interesting Features 

Did you know that Big Bear Discovery Center serves as an essential gateway to discovery and adventures?

This beautiful center offers access to kayaking tours on Big Bear Lake, where you can rent kayaks and enjoy the scenic waters. 

Or, if you prefer hiking, step onto the half-mile loop trail near Big Bear City and explore meadows filled with wildflowers in springtime and dense forests filled with pine trees year round. And along the way, you may spot deer or even black bears if you're lucky!

This superb trail takes about 13 minutes to complete, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy other activities like the Jackrabbit Homestead Museum, which showcases what life was like during Big Bear’s gold rush days in the 1880s-1930s.  

Or wander over to the observation tower and enjoy sweeping views of the region. 

With plenty of amenities available, including picnic tables, a campground, playgrounds, bike rentals, and more, the Big Bear Discovery Center is sure to delight! 

Getting There

Located in the mountains of Southern California, this unique discovery center is on the north shore of Big Bear Lake. Here are directions to the center from Big Bear City:

  1. Drive north on Big Bear Boulevard from Big Bear City for about 6 miles.
  2. Turn left onto Stanfield Cutoff Road and follow it for 1 mile.
  3. Take a slight right onto North Shore Drive and continue for 2 miles until you reach an entrance to the Discovery Center Parking Lot.

Visiting Information

The Big Bear Discovery Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am-4 pm (closed on Fridays). Admission is free, but donations are welcome! 

For more information about visiting hours or upcoming events, please visit their website.

Local Tips

  • Remember to bring layers since temperatures can vary significantly between the day and night.
  • Make sure to bring sunscreen and bug spray—you never know when you might need it!
  • Bring a camera or your smartphone to take pictures of all the amazing things you experience at the Big Bear Discovery Center.
  • Check out their website or social media accounts before visiting to see if any special events are happening during your trip!
  • Make sure to visit the observation deck for great views of Big Bear Lake and the surrounding mountains.
  • Pack binoculars. Using them from the observation deck is a sight to see!


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