Located just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, the beautiful resort city of Big Bear Lake is an idyllic getaway from busy life. Nestled between the spectacular forests of the San Bernardino Mountains and surrounded by a gorgeous blue lake, it’s hard to believe Big Bear has gone reasonably unnoticed over the years.

One of the perks of this up-and-coming city is it’s an all-year-round destination with each season offering something fun and unique to do. From whizzing down the slopes at Snow Summit or Big Bear Mountain in the winter months to hiking through numerous Big Bear hiking trails in the beaming sun-filled summer months – you’ll never be short of activities in this stunning California destination.

But with so many attractions in Big Bear, it’s important to choose a neighborhood to stay in that’s close to all the activities you want to do, so you can make the most out of your vacation.

That’s where I come in.

In this guide, I have highlighted the four best areas to stay in Big Bear and then organized them by their sites, suitability to travel styles, and budgets, so you’ll know the best neighborhood to stay in Big Bear based on your travel needs.

So let’s stop rambling and get underway!

Where to Stay in Big Bear

Looking for a specific place to stay but don’t have much time? These are my highest recommendations for places to stay in Big Bear.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear – 3BR Cabin W/ Lake Views near Ski Slopes

Lookout Lakeviews Spectacular Fawnskin Cabin Games Essentials Incredible Views

Lying on the northern shores of the lake in the neighborhood of Fawnskin this two-story chalet features a panoramic lake and ski slope views from its gorgeous sun decks. The interior is spacious with an open-plan layout and offers wonderful log siding, amazing floor-to-ceiling windows, and a cozy upstairs loft.

Best Budget Accommodation in Big Bear – Lake View Condo W/ Indoor Pool

Lake View Condo W Indoor Pool Big Bear

Located in the family-friendly neighborhood of Big Bear Lake East lies this brightly lit condo that sleeps up to four guests, making it an idyllic place to stay in Big Bear for families. This comfortable and spacious home offers guests brilliant onsite facilities including deluxe bedrooms, a private balcony overlooking the lake, and a warming indoor swimming pool.

Best Hotel in Big Bear – Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge at Big Bear Lake, an IHG Hotel

Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge at Big Bear Lake an IHG Hotel

In the desirable Big Bear Lake Centre neighborhood lies the grand Holiday Inn Resort which offers guests a sense of luxury in a conveniently central location. If you’re an adventure lover then this is the ultimate place to stay in Big Bear with its top attractions including skiing, snowboarding, and hiking all on the doorstep of the resort. The hotel is also uniquely decorated to resemble a mountain cabin atmosphere.

Big Bear Neighborhood Guide

Big Bear is well-known for being an incredible winter destination with the famous Big Bear Ski Resort, which is also an epic hiking area in California in the summer. If you are into hiking, golfing, and freshwater swimming, Big Bear could be your ultimate summer getaway.


If it’s your first time visiting Big Bear, you’ll want to be centrally located amongst the hustle and bustle in Big Bear Lake Centre. This is where you will find the best selection of hospitality options including lively bars and tasty restaurants. If you’re looking to explore Big Bear’s best nature hotspots then this neighborhood is an awesome option with it being well connected to many of the key areas to explore.


Fawnskin is a small neighborhood located on the northern shores of the lake and is somewhat a hidden gem in Big Bear. A culturally rich neighborhood in a beautiful location, Fawnskin is a great alternative for those who want a more laid-back getaway. For anyone backpacking California, you’ll find cheaper accommodation options here compared to Big Bear Center.


What used to be just a gateway to the town center, Big Bear Lake West is now one of the coolest areas to stay in Big Bear with visitors getting a sense of an off-the-beaten-path getaway but also just being a short distance to main shops and restaurants in Big Bear Lake Centre.


Finally, there’s Big Bear Lake East, the perfect place to stay for families! Here you will find a variety of larger accommodation options in safe areas along with plenty of outdoor activities to keep the kids entertained.

FIRST TIME IN BIG BEAR
Big Bear Lake Central
FIRST TIME IN BIG BEAR

Big Bear Lake Central

Lying on the south shore of the lake in the heart of Big Bear lies the visitor-favorite neighborhood of Big Bear Central. One of the larger neighborhoods stretching from Metcalf Bay to Meadow Park, Big Bear Central isn’t short of things to do making it the perfect place to stay in Big Bear for first-time visitors.

ON A BUDGET
Fawnskin
ON A BUDGET

Fawnskin

Located on the northern shores of the lake Fawnskin is one the most history-rich neighborhoods in Big Bear Lake and provides guests with an authentic small-town experience. Here you will also find some of the best views in Big Bear, including snow-capped mountains oozing into the deep blue lake.

COOLEST AREA TO STAY
Big Bear Lake West
COOLEST AREA TO STAY

Big Bear Lake West

Beaming with a laid-back vibrance, Big Bear Lake West is where most visitors will pass through when arriving in the picturesque lakeside city. Starting at the Big Bear Lake Dam and extending along to Metcalf Bay the long neighborhood provides spectacular views as you drive past including rocky mountain landscapes and sparkling deep blue waters.

FOR FAMILIES
Big Bear Lake East
FOR FAMILIES

Big Bear Lake East

A vibrant and safe environment, Big Bear Lake East is the perfect place to stay in Big Bear for families. Here you are close enough to be amongst it all just a five-minute drive to the village center but also far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet if need be.

What is the One Item Every Traveller NEEDS???

There is one item every traveller NEEDS. Some travellers don’t even know they need it, but those travellers need it more than anyone.

What is this forgotten essential of the backpacker-life? SPOILERS! Guess you’ll just have to click the button to find out. 😉

Find Out What It Is!

Big Bear’s 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look in more detail at the four best neighborhoods to stay in Big Bear. Each offers something different to visitors, so be sure to read each section carefully and pick the neighborhood that best suits your interests and needs.

1. Big Bear Lake Central – Where to Stay in Big Bear for First Time Visitors

Big Bear Lake Central

Lying on the south shore of the lake in the heart of Big Bear lies the visitor-favorite neighborhood of Big Bear Central. One of the larger neighborhoods stretching from Metcalf Bay to Meadow Park, Big Bear Central isn’t short of things to do making it the perfect place to stay in Big Bear for first-time visitors.

Whether you want to experience a bit of culture at the Performing Arts Centre, eat some tasty food along Big Bear Marina, or let out your adventurous side and head to the nearby snow summit, you are sure to have a great time.

The neighborhood is also full of accommodation options for all types of travelers from cozy rustic lodges, budget-friendly apartments, and lakefront guest houses.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear Lake Central – Modern Cabin in the Woods

Modern Cabin in the Woods Kid Pet Friendly plus SPA

This modern peaked roof cabin is within walking distance to the south shores of the glistening lake and boasts three generous bedrooms and two full bathrooms fitting up to six guests. The cabin is also equipped with a wooden deck boasting a hot tub, which is even more special in the evenings where you can watch the stars come out and relax.

Best Budget Accommodation in Big Bear Lake Central – Day Dreamin Studio Cabin

Day Dreamin 15 x 35 dog run

Day Dreamin’ is a solar-powered studio cabin in the woods, perfect for those environmentally conscious travelers! With a warming and cozy atmosphere, it has all the comforts of a traditional Big Bear home and is also equipped with a hot tub and viewing deck. Day Dreaming is also just minutes away from Big Bear Central street which has an awesome selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Best Hotel in Big Bear Lake Central – Holiday Inn Resort

Holiday Inn Resort The Lodge at Big Bear Lake an IHG Hotel

Perfectly located with Big Bear’s top attractions including first-class skiing, snowboarding, shopping, and endless outdoor adventures all within steps from the resort. The hotel provides a variety of rooms for different group sizes which are all immaculately decorated to resemble a mountain cabin atmosphere, yet with the modern feel of a deluxe hotel.

Things to See and Do in Big Bear Lake Central:

Boulder Bay park Big Bear Lake California
  • Hit the slopes at Snow Summit Ski Resort
  • Go Zip Lining through the canopes of the forest
  • Bobsleigh or water slide down the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain (season dependent)
  • Have a picnic in Boulder Bay Park
  • Take a trip to Gold Rush Mining Company Adventures and try your luck at gold mining.
  • Explore the hike trails at Big Bear Mountain
  • Play a round of gold at Bear Mountain Golf Course
  • Enjoy an urban scavenger hunt with your mates.
Is This the Best Travel Pack EVER???

We’ve tested countless packs over the years, and now we’ve found our absolute favourite: the nomad-approved Nomatic Travel Bag.

Want more deetz on why we love it so damn much? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

Learn More Now!

2. Fawnskin – Where to Stay in Big Bear on a Budget

Fawnskin

Located on the northern shores of the Lake Fawnskin is one of the most history-rich neighborhoods in Big Bear Lake and provides guests with an authentic small-town experience. Here you will also find some of the best views in Big Bear, including snow-capped mountains oozing into the deep blue lake.

Being located slightly further away from the center of Big Bear Lake has meant prices tend to be a tad lower here making it a great place to stay in Big Bear on a budget. It’s also a little more remote, which is more suited to those visiting on a California road trip.

Despite its more rural location, the quaint little town offers a small selection of restaurants and cafes meaning if you don’t feel like making the trek into Big Bear Lake central you don’t have to.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Fawnskin – 3BR Cabin W/ Lake Views near Ski Slopes

Lookout Lakeviews Spectacular Fawnskin Cabin Games Essentials Incredible Views

This large chalet can fit up to nine guests and provides a true mountain experience with a beautiful two-story chalet resembling those of the Swiss Alps. The home boasts top-class facilities including gorgeous sun decks featuring panoramic lake and ski slope views and a cozy brick wood fireplace.

Best Budget Accommodation in Fawnskin – Spacious Studio Cabin

Spacious Studio Cabin Big Bear

This quiet retreat on the North Shore of Fawnskin is just a short walk to the lake. Guests will be provided with a rustic experience with their own private cabin located in a secluded, forested area. Staying here will mean you get all the benefits of Big Bear without the traffic, whilst also only being a 10-15 min drive to ski resorts & the village.

Best Luxury Accommodation in Fawnskin – Nightcap Lodge

Nightcap Lodge

This modernly decorated lodge is the perfect cozy retreat with a warming atmosphere including wooden oak ceilings. Set back amongst tall pine forests the property is perfectly located for nature lovers with guests being able to enjoy beautiful treetop views from the home’s private deck which also is equipped with a swanky hot tub.

Things to See and Do in Fawnskin:

Cougar Crest Trail Big Bear
  • Wander along Grays Peak Trailhead
  • Observe the wildlife at Fawn Park
  • Have a picnic at Grout Bay
  • Trek along the Cougar Crest Trailhead
  • Go kayaking off the north shores of the lake
  • Play sports at North Shore Recreation Area
  • Take a boat cruise across the lake

3. Big Bear Lake West – Coolest Area to Stay in Big Bear

Big Bear Lake West

Beaming with a laid-back vibrance, Big Bear Lake West is where most visitors will pass through when arriving in the picturesque lakeside city. Starting at the Big Bear Lake Dam and extending along to Metcalf Bay the long neighborhood provides spectacular views as you drive past including rocky mountain landscapes and sparkling deep blue waters.

In Big Bear Lake West you will find an array of accommodation options including many sought-after waterfront properties many of which boast jetty’s which stretch out over the lake.

Guests staying in this neighborhood are provided with the best of both worlds with a rural mountain getaway feeling but also just being a short distance to the hustle and bustle of Big Bear Lake Centre.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear Lake West – A-Frame Cabin near Snow Summit

A-Frame Cabin near Snow Summit Big Bear

This stunning lodge is located in one of the most desirable parts of Big Bear Lake West with close access to the mountain and its slopes along with being just steps away from the lake. The property also offers unique features including a wood stove and loft sleeping space.

Best Luxury Accommodation in Big Bear Lake West – 5BR family Home, The Cove

The Cove Lake Views Spa Pool Table

This grand waterfront property resembles a fairytale with its uniquely designed interior and exterior. Offering top-class facilities including extravagant cathedral ceilings, a foosball and pool table along with a luxurious balcony offering incredible lake views. The home is also primely located at a tip of a large peninsula between Fisher Cove and Boulder Bay.

Best Hotel in Big Bear Lake West – Grey Squirrel Resort

Grey Squirrel Resort

This laid-back resort style-hotel is equipped with 19 rustic and charming cabins situated throughout a luscious three-acre, common recreation area. With a variety of different lodging options, the hotel offers to sleep guest sizes ranging from two-100 and everything in between, it is the perfect place to stay in Big Bear Lake for large groups or families.

Things to See and Do in Big Bear Lake West:

Castle Rock Trail Big Bear
  • Explore the Castle Rock Trail
  • Take a trip to the ruins of Dam Keepers House
  • Take a boat trip to Treasure Island
  • Visit Bluff Lake Reserve
  • Float on the waters at Cedar Lake
  • Hike to Butler Peak
The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected. It’s just that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

Buy an eSIM!

4. Big Bear Lake East – Where to Stay in Big Bear for Families

Big Bear Lake East

A vibrant and safe environment, Big Bear Lake East is the perfect place to stay in Big Bear for families. Here you are close enough to be amongst it all just a five-minute drive to the village center but also far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet if need be.

Big Bear Lake East is home to plenty of things to do including nearby the Snow Summit Resort, the southern shores of the lake, and the Big Bear Valley Historical Museum.

There are many miniature neighborhoods inside Big Bear Lake East all of which offer different experiences and different budgets making it a great place to stay for all types of travelers. This includes the sought-after Fox Farm and Eagle Point.

Best Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear Lake East – Family Cabin W/ Hot Tub

Bear Necessities Game Room XL Fenced yard Hot Tub

Located in Big Bear Lake East in the small trendy and quiet neighborhood of fox farm lies this stunning cabin nestled between tall pine trees. A modernly decorated wooden interior with a spacious open plan layout Bear Necessities can comfortably sleep up to seven guests. Guests staying here will also be less than five minutes from key attractions including Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, and of course, the lake.

Best Budget Accommodation in Big Bear Lake East – Lake View Condo W/ Indoor Pool

Lake View Condo W Indoor Pool Big Bear

This brightly lit condo sleeps up to four guests, making it an idyllic place to stay in Big Bear for families. This comfortable and spacious home offers guests brilliant onsite facilities including deluxe bedrooms, a private balcony overlooking the lake, and a warming indoor swimming pool.

Best Hotel in Big Bear Lake East – Best Western- Big Bear Chateau

Best Western Big Bear Chateau

The Best Western Big Bear Chateau is beautifully decorated with a modern interior with European-style decor. The hotel provides guests will excellent facilities including an outdoor pool, hot tub, and on-site cocktail lounge. It is also in a prime location just a five-minute drive away from Big Bear Village.

Things to See and Do in Big Bear Lake East:

Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort
  • Take the kids to Big Bear Snow Play
  • Visit Big Bear Valley Historical Museum
  • Explore Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve
  • Hit the slopes at Bear Mountain Ski Resort
  • Wander the Town Trail
  • Experience the views at Pebble Plains

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Big Bear

A banner creative for World Nomads travel insurance

It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.

There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!

Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Big Bear

Big Bear is one of the best resort towns in California. Home to the stunning Bear Mountain Ski Resort, incredible views at the Pebble Plains, a bustling town center, and some of the most postcard-worthy picture spots in the states.

With such a variety of places to stay, it can be hard to pinpoint the best area in Big Bear, but if I had to pick one place that stands out it would be the south shore neighborhood of Big Bear Central! Here you will find the largest selection of accommodation options along with being close to plenty of the area’s key hotspots.

I hope this guide has helped you narrow down your choices for your upcoming trip to Big Bear, let me know in the comments below if I missed anything.

Don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional, and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!


Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

We bring you epic FREE content!
Find out how YOU can help support us.

We’re a big site with a big team and this job isn’t always easy. But we do it because we love it – we love providing epic and free content. We love the knowledge that our content keeps you adventuring. We don’t ask for money, but if you’d like to find out how you can help the site in more organic ways, click the button below.
Thank you for your support 🙂


Bye for now, but not forever!

If you want MORE top-tier Broke Backpacker content like this, then sign up for our weekly newsletter below to get the latest and greatest!










    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!