Big Bear Lake is safe, exciting, and beautiful. However, there are some things that stand out as, for lack of a better word, odd—like a pirate ship in the middle of the lake, or a tree covered in shoes. If you have a taste for the bizarre, keep an eye out for these while you’re in the area. They’re great for photo opportunities. Learn about the Big Bear Mountain attractions below:
“Time Bandits” Pirate Ship
When you go out to Holloway’s Marina or are boating on the water, keep an eye out for a 16th-century Spanish galleon. Yes, it’s out there—one-third the size, but fully serviceable (minus the raiding) and taking passengers.
This ship is dubbed the “Time Bandits” ship, as it was used in an 80s movie called “Time Bandits.” (Remember that Terry Gilliam movie starring John Cleese, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Shelley Duvall, and the sexiest man of the century, Sean Connery?) The ship’s been sailing these cool mountain waters since 1998 here in Big Bear until it unfortunately sank, but was salvaged and restored in 2014. She’s back to accepting passengers for a lively pirate tour! Brace yourself for an hour and a half of pirate fun, cheesy jokes, and the beautiful scenery of Big Bear Lake. There’s a treasure chest surprise for the kids and a full bar on board for the adults sailing on this bit of Hollywood history.
Useful Links for Strange Attractions in Big Bear
It’s out of the way—up in Lucerne Valley, next to its Foursquare Church—and it’s private property and isn’t always open. And yet, it is perplexing enough that when you go there, you can’t help but stare and wonder. Jack O’Landia has very little written about it online. It seems to be a western-themed amusement park, but it seems to be much older than it has been actually used for. Basically, it’s a replica of a small western town, complete with gallows, a saloon, and a swing set. What actually happens there? Maybe you should check it out! There are plenty of Big Bear Mountain attractions to look for!
Also in the Lucerne Valley is the King Clone. It’s really just a bunch of creosote bushes that have grown around in an oval, sitting out in the desert—but these bushes are estimated to be over 11,700 years old! And, these bushes are a clonal colony, which means the entire group is genetically identical, and that all of the plants came from a single, parent plant. There may not be a lot to see, but it’s kind of cool.
The Pebble Plain Ecological Reserve
While we’re talking about plants, let’s talk TINY plants. The Reserve is a great spot for viewing wildflowers, bald eagles, and a vernal wet meadow habitat, but it is most widely known for being the one place on earth that a unique pebble plain plant community exists. The pebble plant is a type of “belly plant,” supposedly named for the fact that you need to get down on your belly to really see them since they’re just a few millimeters high. Pebble plains are found in a couple other spots in Big Bear, but the Pebble Plain Ecological Reserve on Lake Baldwin is the only place in the world to find the Bear Valley sandwort, Baldwin Lake linanthus, Douglas’ violets, and more. All in all, 17 protected plants call the Reserve home. The best time to visit is March through June.
Some places love their graffiti; some schools have treasured gum walls. About a mile out from Big Bear lake, on Highway 18 near Baldwin Dry Lake, you’ll find Big Bear Lake’s own beloved eyesore: The Shoe Tree. Dozens of pairs of shoes are hooked together by their laces and draped over this tree’s branches. There’s no guarantee you can see it “in bloom,” as there are frequent efforts to de-shoe it. Yet, new shoes appear.
Haunted Bear Valley Farm
During most of the year, Bear Valley Farms is just your average farm, focusing on growing and producing savory goods. But as October and the best holiday of the year – Halloween – rolls around, this typical 30-acre farm turns into Haunted Bear Valley Farm. This walk-through spooky, scary adventure is full of Halloween fun with a haunted farmhouse and barn, vintage tractor-pulled hayride, games, corn mazes, pumpkin patch, bounce house and more. If you’re visiting Big Bear at Halloween, you have to visit Haunted Bear Valley Farm! And, if you’re visiting during the “off-season,” you can still book a horseback riding tour at the farm or sign up for goat yoga.
Big Bear Mountain Attractions
If you want to see all the sights of Big Bear Lake, not just the Marina and the ski resorts, stay for a while in a cozy vacation rental. From cozy cabins to two-garage mini-mansions, we offer any kind of property you could dream of for your mountaintop retreat. We have many pet-friendly rentals, and wide arrays of amenities. So what’s stopping you? Book a vacation with Big Bear Cabins today—call us at 877-473-5360 or browse our properties and click to make an inquiry! A fantastic vacation awaits you!