This West Coast Destination Is Considered One Of The Most Filmed Lakes In The World

Landmarks in London and New York rank high on the list of the most-filmed locations in movie and television history. However, given that so many projects are produced in sunny Los Angeles, it should come as no surprise that locations there and in the surrounding Southern California area rank equally high on the list. Hollywood is as much a place as it is a synonym for the entertainment industry.

Sure, Central Park in Manhattan might be the world's most-filmed location overall. But travelers looking for Central Perk — the café that served as the favorite hangout of characters on the Manhattan-set sitcom "Friends" — will need to head to L.A. That's where the Central Perk set can be found, on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood. Across town, you can also check out America's single most-filmed building, and around 93 miles northeast of the city, you can visit one of the world's most-filmed lakes.

According to an analysis by Go.Compare of data from the Internet Movie Database (via The Independent), California's Big Bear Lake is among the 20 most-filmed locations in the world. At an elevation of about 6,750 feet above sea level, the 7-mile-long alpine lake is nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains. It's SoCal's largest recreation lake, and it's been called the jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest. Four seasons of activities await vacationers at the lake, and for cinephiles, it can also be a fun and fascinating trip through movie history.

Relive movie history at Big Bear Lake

Onscreen, Big Bear Lake has a long history dating back to the early days of cinema. The lake is a reservoir that was formed from a nearby dam in 1884, and at the time was considered the world's largest manmade lake. In 1931, Boris Karloff's "Frankenstein" monster met a blind hermit in the ruins of the real-life Big Bear Dam Keeper's House. This historic site, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, is one of hundreds in the area with cinematic connections.

Even the Oscar-winning "Gone with the Wind" used Big Bear Lake to double for an Atlanta shantytown. The woodlands surrounding the lake later stood in for Texas in Disney's classic canine drama, "Old Yeller." If you're traveling with your own canine pet, Big Bear Lake's dog-friendly Alpine Pedal Path is just one of the many hiking and biking trails there are to explore.

Big Bear Lake also shares its name with a small incorporated city along the lake's south shore. Fans of '80s movies might want to retrace the steps of Matthew Broderick's character in "WarGames" and grab a Big Gulp at the wooden-shingled 7-Eleven where the FBI apprehended him. It's located at 41440 Big Bear Blvd, and it still looks much the same as it did in the movie.

Seasonal activities around Big Bear Lake

A scene in 1999's Oscar-nominated film "Magnolia," where a firefighting plane accidentally scoops a diver out of the water, was shot at Big Bear lake. Though it's not quite the same, you too can view the lake from the air with tours from Helicopter Big Bear. And fishing tours in springtime, while the super-rare belly plants of the Pebble Plains are in bloom (here only!), give you the chance to likewise scoop carp, bass, or rainbow trout out of the lake.

From spring, all through summer and into autumn, there are six different marinas around Big Bear Lake renting out water sports equipment. In addition to taking paddlewheel and pirate ship tours, you can go canoeing, kayaking, pontoon boating, pedal boating, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and jet-skiing. Big Bear Lake is also known for its beautiful fall colors, which you can see while riding a Segway via Action Tours. In the autumn, the same tour operator will let you toss pumpkins at targets while riding a zipline.

For those who love animals even more than movies, Baldwin Lake Stables offers horseback riding and a petting zoo. The Big Bear Alpine Zoo has twilight safaris in the fall, and you can see animals like snow leopards there year-round. Skiing and snowboarding at Big Bear Mountain Resort or bobsledding and snow-tubing at the Alpine Slide are just a few of the winter activities available around Big Bear Lake.