Fly-Outs: Big Bear City Airport

Where there's a mountain of things to do

February 1, 2012

Big Bear City Airport

A vintage B–25 at Big Bear City Airport's 2011 air fair (above).
Snow Summit ski area (inset).

Big Bear City Airport (L35) is the gateway to year-round activities. Located in a wide valley ringed by the peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear City Airport is a hop, skip, and a long climb away from the Los Angeles Basin and its surroundings. At 6,752 feet above sea level, Big Bear City is a destination in itself—there are two restaurants and a saloon in the terminal building. Next to the pilot’s lounge, the Barnstorm Restaurant serves American fare. Upstairs, the Mandarin Garden features Chinese cuisine and Diamond Lil’s Saloon offers a taste of the old West.

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For those who venture off the airport, there’s plenty to do. In the winter, Snow Summit is a popular place to ski and snowboard, and it’s a short cab ride away. When the weather is warmer, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and boating are in season. Visitors who take the 22-mile scenic drive around Big Bear Lake often stop at picturesque Fawnskin, a stagecoach stop in the 1800s.

No matter what the season, many people visit Big Bear Village, about five miles west of the airport. This quaint small town is known for its excellent shopping and dining.

Flying into Big Bear City Airport takes some planning. There can be a big difference in temperatures between the L.A. Basin and Big Bear. Dress accordingly. The runway is more than a mile long, but on hot days, density altitude can reach more than 9,000 feet. Get out your POH, and run the numbers to make sure you can get in—and out of—one of California’s most scenic airports.