Nothing says autumn like a view of the mountains and fresh, crisp air. The city of Big Bear is about a three-hour drive north of San Diego. While endless hikes and nature walks abound on a daily basis in this scenic town, there are also several events that are primed for autumn and will blow kids’ mountain-loving minds. Here’s a look at five Big Bear festivals that are worth the drive.

redtri_oktoberfest big bearPhoto credit: Ash C. via Yelp

Oktoberfest
It’s not just about beer-guzzling, stein-clashing, and other raucous shenanigans. Kids will love Big Bear’s family-friendly version of Germany’s fall festival. The events run every weekend from Sat., Sept. 13 – Sat., Oct. 25. Sundays are family day, which means half-off adult admission and entry is free for kids 12 and under. Your tiny chicken dancers in the making will love the festivities, which include pretzel-eating and boot-holding contests. If you hit up the festival on that final day, you’ll be treated to the German Spooktacular. Kids who don costumes are allowed in for free. To boot, a best costume contest will be held for both kids and adults, and prizes will be given to the top three participants. Das ist gut!

42900 Big Bear Blvd.
Big Bear Lake, Ca 92315
909-585-3000
Online: bigbearevents.com/oktoberfest

redtri_nature discovery centerPhoto credit: Scott T. via Yelp

Nature Discovery Zone
The newest addition to Big Bear’s Discovery Center, this place is right in the wheelhouse of kids ages 2-7. With nine interactive areas that are meant to inspire exploration of the great outdoors, your wee adventurer won’t even realize he’s learning while having fun. Areas run the gamut from dirt digging and climbing to music and messy materials, and there is also a big open area for unstructured play. The charming tree-lined path that leads to the discovery center is also perfect for hiking and/or biking, so the whole family will love this one.

40971 Highway 38/North Shore Dr.
Fawnskin, Ca 92333
909-382-2790
Online: mountainsfoundation.org/big-bear-discovery-center

SONY DSCPhoto Credit: Big Bear Vacations via Pinterest

Halloween in the Village
Two words universally loved in the language of little ones are “trick” and “treat,” but when you put them together in the phrase “trick or treat,” it’s enough to make their little heads explode. Now imagine you’ve got your wee ghosts and goblins traipsing through the scenic streets of downtown Big Bear, and you know you’re in for a Halloween that’s truly special. With 50+ charming shops to stop for candy that are in close proximity to one another (parenting plus!), it’s a one-stop-shop for all kids’ trick-or-treating desires. With heated sidewalks and fire-pits throughout the village, it sets the perfect tone for autumn. The event takes place on Fri., Oct. 31 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. right in the streets of The Village in Big Bear Lake, and is known for its safe yet festive vibe. The only prerequisite is a costume!

40729 Village Dr.
Big Bear Lake, Ca 92315
909-866-6186
Online: bigbear.com/things-to-do/special-events/halloween-in-the-village/

redtri_big bear turkey trotPhoto credit: Big Bear Turkey Trot Facebook page

Big Bear Turkey Trot
If you happen to be in Big Bear on Thanksgiving, you have to partake in this fun, family-friendly race, as it’s a hoot (or, perhaps, a gobble). With a 3, 6, or 9-mile option all run in pristine Meadow Park, there is something for everyone. Think you’ve got it in you to be the top trotter? Then you’ll love to know the lead runner gets a turkey that you can use for your family feast later that day. Winner, winner, turkey dinner! And, really – is there anything better than rewarding yourself with an indulgent feast after a good sweat? If you’re feeling ravenous post-race, indulge in the pie-eating contest, or craft your best turkey ensemble in an attempt to win the costume contest. Either way, you’ll sign up for next year’s race faster than you can say, “Pass the gravy.”

41220 Park Ave.
Big Bear Lake, Ca 92315
Online: bigbearturkeytrot.com

redtri_oak glen apple orchardPhoto credit: Don Graham on Flickr

Oak Glenn Apple Orchards
There’s not much that conjures up images of autumn more than apple picking, and these orchards are the best around. It’s not exactly Big Bear, per se, but it’s at the bottom of the 38 and only about 30 miles away. In other words, it’s close enough! And when you breathe the crisp, fall air and enjoy the cooler mile-high temps (it’s always about 10-15 degrees cooler here than in the valleys), you’ll know it was worth the trip.

From Labor Day through Thanksgiving weekend, you can enjoy autumnal festivities like picking apples, raspberries, or pumpkins, pressing cider, and music, dancing, and dinner events. If you’re apple’d out, you can always hike The Wildlands Conservancy or enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride through the orchards while taking in the beautiful changing trees. Care to make a weekend out of it? They offer a B&B, RV facilities, and camping accommodations.

39610 Oak Glen Rd.
Yucaipa, Ca 92399
Online: oakglen.net

Do you visit Big Bear? What are your favorite spots to go?

– Marnie Broderson