Look no further if you’re contemplating where to stay in Big Bear. I was born and raised in California less than an hour from Big Bear, so I know the pros and cons of all the best Big Bear neighborhoods and areas.
The mountain town is heavy on cabin rentals, but you can find a variety of hotels and campsites near some of the top things to do in Big Bear as well. I’ll overview the best places to stay in Big Bear whether you’re a traveler on a budget or a skier who wants to be close to the slopes.
Prepare for a great trip. Here’s exactly where to stay in Big Bear!
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Best Places to Stay in Big Bear
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Big Bear? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – Bear Creek Resort
- 📍 Best Location – DoorMat A-Frame Vacation Rental
- 💎 Best Luxury Hotel – Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge
- 👪 Best for Families – Whisk-A-Way Cabin
- 💻 Best for Business – Big Bear Lakefront Lodge
- ⛰️ Best Near Big Bear Mountain – Hillside Hideaway
- 🏡 Best Cabin Rental – Auld Fern
- 🛏️ Best Budget – Menlo Suite
Ok, let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods in Big Bear:
7 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Big Bear
With a population of just over 5,000, Big Bear is a relatively small California mountain town. But it’s one of the best places to stay in the Inland Empire.
The bulk of accommodation options and attractions are in Big Bear City. Big Bear Lake Central contains the Big Bear Village, and the Moonridge neighborhood is near the top Big Bear ski resorts.
Choosing where to stay in Big Bear depends on your main objectives on a visit and what you’re most interested in doing. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to get from one area to another.
Now, let’s get into what you can expect at each.
Big Bear City
Big Bear City is one of the most popular places to stay in Big Bear and it’s only a few minutes from Big Bear Airport.
The neighborhood is along the eastern shore of Big Bear Lake and has most of the Big Bear residences. Big Bear City is also where you’ll find the widest variety of Big Bear Lake hotels and restaurants.
Big Bear City is a quiet, low-key neighborhood with family-friendly parks like Sugarloaf Park and the Bark Park Dog Park. Both are great spots to spend an idyllic day in the city. Multiple lake access points in Big Bear City are also less crowded than their western counterparts.
Big Bear City is alongside the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the longest but coolest hikes in California. Serious adventurers should seek out a day hike along a part of this epic trail.
The adorable DoorMat A-Frame Vacation Rental is one of the most scenic rental homes in the area. The cozy wooden interior is everything you could hope for in a woodland cabin, complete with a wood-burning stove and spiral stairs.
Pros of Staying in Big Bear City Neighborhood:
- Right on the lake
- Plenty of accommodation options to choose from
- Many restaurants in the area
Cons of Staying in Big Bear City Neighborhood:
- Farther away from tourist attractions
- Can be noisy at night
- Hotels can fill to capacity during the high season
📚 Big Bear City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for A Central Location
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake West
Big Bear Lake West is the first stop in the mountain town when coming up Highway 18. This is the best place to stay for families with children due to its proximity to fun attractions like Boulder Bay, Fisher Cove, and Treasure Island.
This is also the ideal place to stay in Big Bear for a lakefront location. Most accommodations in this area are rentals. But almost all of them have prime views of the calming Big Bear Lake waters.
Rent a pedal boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard from Pleasure Point Marina to get out on the lake in the summer. Or hit up the Castle Rock Trail for beautiful views of one of the coolest lakes in California.
Eden on the Lake is the perfect Big Bear Lake accommodation to rent for the whole family. It has 4 rooms and a yard big enough for little ones to run around in. This log cabin-style home also has a balcony with sweeping views of the San Bernardino National Forest.
Pros of Staying in Big Bear Lake West Neighborhood:
- Easily accessible right off the highway
- Fun lake-centered attractions in the area
- Many hiking trails are close by
Cons of Staying in Big Bear Lake West Neighborhood:
- There can be noise from the highway
- There aren’t many hotels to choose from
- Restaurants are limited in this area
📚 Big Bear Lake West Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families & Lake Activities
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Big Bear Lake West
🍸 Where to Drink – Big Bear Mountain Brewery
Big Bear Lake Central
Big Bear Lake Central is at the heart of the action. The center of town bustles with fun California attractions like Big Bear Village, which has the bulk of Big Bear shopping and dining options.
Try out a speedy ride on the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain. Or head to Holloway’s Marina and Swim Beach for an easy way to experience Big Bear Lake. I recommend hanging out at the Big Bear Bowling Barn on the weekends or the Pines Tavern on Big Bear Lake for date night.
Big Bear Central has restaurants galore, ample entertainment, and the awesome Skyline Trailhead. These make it the best place to stay overall if you’re looking for a bustling atmosphere year-round in Big Bear.
Find lodging options aplenty. Book a stay at Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge, a cabin-style lodge with complimentary breakfast and a fitness center. Trying to save money? Bear Creek Resort is an excellent option for travelers on a budget.
Pros of Staying in Big Bear Lake Central Neighborhood:
- Close to all the top Big Bear Lake attractions
- Just a short walk to Big Bear Lake
- Plenty of accommodation options are available, including budget options
Cons of Staying in Big Bear Lake Central Neighborhood:
- Accommodations can sell out fast, especially during the winter
- It can be noisy at night
- There can be traffic on the weekends
- Attractions may be busy during the holidays
📚 Big Bear Lake Central Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Mountain Attractions
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Big Bear Lake Central
Moonridge rises high above the city with some of the best views in town. It’s home to the Big Bear Mountain Resort, making Moonridge one of the best places to stay after a fresh snowfall. It usually retains snow all winter long, creating a real-life winter wonderland.
Moonridge is also near many top Big Bear attractions. Ski, snowboard, or go tubing at Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort and Snow Summit. Support and learn about the rehabilitation of the black bears, arctic foxes, and other animals in the Big Bear Alpine Zoo. Get a decent workout on the Bristlecone Trail.
Most of the accommodation options in the area are cabin rentals like Hillside Hideaway, which has a view of the ski slopes from its cozy outside deck.
Menlo Suite is the best budget option in the Moonridge area. You could score a room for around $100 a night depending on when you visit.
Pros of Staying in Moonridge Neighborhood:
- Close to top California ski resorts, Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit
- One of the best places to stay for a snowed-in winter vacation
- Rental cabins have astonishing views of the surrounding forest
Cons of Staying in Moonridge Neighborhood:
- Farther from the top Big Bear Lake attractions
- Can be dangerous driving in the winter
- Not many eateries around
📚 Moonridge Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Pristine Views
You’ll find Fawnskin on the north shore of Big Bear Lake, just 14 minutes from the Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort’s popular Snow Summit.
This neighborhood is your best bet for enjoying some peace and quiet in Big Bear. Fawnskin is a bit off the beaten path, but that’s part of its appeal. Bring a book and a picnic to one of the neighborhood’s pretty parks. Or take a solo trek to Gray’s Peak for expansive mountain, lake, forest, and city views.
Enjoy the tranquility of the lake first-hand. Boat rentals are available from Captain John’s Fawn Harbor and Marina. Stay in Fawnskin if the Big Bear experience you crave involves a mix of solitude and nature.
Owl Cabin is one of the top rental homes in Fawnskin, with a children’s playground and a spa for parents to enjoy. Or choose Oso Grande Lodge, which has 5 bedrooms, making it a good choice for large families.
Pros of Staying in Fawnskin Neighborhood:
- Off the beaten path
- Quieter at night
- Close to top Big Bear ski resorts
Cons of Staying in Fawnskin Neighborhood:
- Farther away from top Big Bear attractions
- Not many restaurants are in the area
- Only cabin rentals are available, no hotels
📚 Fawnskin Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Seclusion
Fox Farm is where some of the wealthiest Big Bear residents live. This is due to the neighborhood’s proximity to the lake and its secluded location away from the noisy downtown area. That said, Fox Farm is one of the best neighborhoods for cabin rentals.
You won’t regret a stay at Can’t Bear to Leave, one of the coziest vacation rentals in the area. The Alps Lodge is another awesome choice. Its modern wooden interior and large windows give the lodge a chic feel, while the big backyard is perfect for furry friends.
Cozy cabins aside, Fox Farm does have its fair share of attractions. Hot Shot Miniature Golf is one of the best places to go for a casual date night. Bring your dog with you to enjoy the crisp morning air on a walk through The Simmons Trout Lake Walking Bike Trail. And of course, Fox Farm is just minutes from some of Big Bear’s most popular attractions.
Pros of Staying in Fox Farm Neighborhood:
- Luxury accommodations are available
- Quieter than tourist areas of Big Bear
- Right on the lakefront
Cons of Staying in Fox Farm Neighborhood:
- Accommodations are expensive
- Farther from the Big Bear Village
- There can be traffic on the weekends
📚 Fox Farm Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Rental Cabins
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Fox Farm
🍸 Where to Drink – Captain’s Anchorage Restaurant & Bar
Sugarloaf is named for the highest mountain in the area, Sugarloaf Peak. This neighborhood was originally a hotspot for campers and “van-lifers.” However, it’s now more of a hub for cabin rentals.
Sugarloaf is one of the quieter neighborhoods in Big Bear. Because of this, the suburb is perfect for honeymooners or digital nomads who need a quiet place to work. Sugarloaf is also a good choice for vacationers who need to unwind from their hectic city jobs.
Plan to spend some cozy time in your cabin or visit the nearby Pebble Plains nature reserve to hunt for wildflowers in Spring. In the evenings, head to Kallan’s Pub. It’s one of the Sugarloaf neighborhood’s only restaurants, but it’s the best spot to relax with a burger and a cold beer.
Vanderhut Chalet is my top pick for cabin rentals in Sugarloaf. It’s within walking distance of a local park, skatepark, and Sugarloaf restaurants. It’s also less than 2 miles from Bear Mountain Golf Course.
Choose Cedar Rose Manor for a more affordable rental option. This cozy cabin rental has a backyard big enough for pets to run around and is only 6 miles from the Big Bear Lake Marina.
Pros of Staying in Sugarloaf Neighborhood:
- Away from loud Big Bear Lake traffic
- Close to Bear Mountain Golf Course
- Near delicious Big Bear Lake eateries
Cons of Staying in Sugarloaf Neighborhood:
- Farther away from the Big Bear Lake ski resorts
- Not ideal for families with children
- Not within walking distance of Big Bear Lake
Tips for Staying in Big Bear
Know When to Visit
Big Bear’s peak season is in winter, from December to March. Travel outside of this time if your biggest goal is to avoid peak-season tourist prices and busy winter crowds.
However, peak season is the most beautiful time to experience the transformed winter landscape. Big Bear is one of the only places in Southern California that retains snow all winter. It’s worth it to visit in winter if you want to see Big Bear in its prettiest state.
Don’t Forget the Winter Hiking Gear
Don’t forget to pack the essential winter hiking gear when visiting Big Bear. Snow can last well into June on some of the higher peaks like Sugarloaf Peak (almost 10,000 feet).
Be Bear Aware
Big Bear is very much prone to wildlife encounters. Be bear aware by not leaving any food unattended outside and hiking in groups. It’s also essential to make sure all garbage is securely discarded in bear-proof trash cans.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Big Bear
What part of Big Bear should I stay in?
Which side of Big Bear Lake is best for visitors?
Big Bear Lake East and Big Bear Lake West are the best sides of Big Bear Lake for visitors. You’ll be closer to Big Bear’s two ski resorts if you stay in Big Bear Lake East. Big Bear Lake West is good to stay in to be closer to the Big Bear Lake Marina and Boulder Bay.
How many days should I stay in Big Bear?
Two days and one night is the ideal amount of time to stay in Big Bear. You can take your time exploring fun attractions like Snow Summit Resort and Siberia Creek Trail. Mountain biking through the San Bernardino National Forest and the Big Bear Alpine Zoo are two other activities for a two-day stay in Big Bear.
And there you have it! I’m confident that this guide will help you choose where to stay in Big Bear and ensure you have an unforgettable trip.
While you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out other cool California mountain towns, some of which are only a short day trip from Big Bear.
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