Big Bear Lake is a year-round resort area within an easy drive of all of Southern California. Whether you book a Big Bear vacation rental in the summer to enjoy boating on the lake, hiking through the Ponderosa pines or head up the mountain in the winter for skiing and snowboarding, this charming community is likely to feel like your second home instantly.

1. Boulder Bay

The tranquility of Big Bear Lake’s Boulder Bay neighborhood sets it apart and makes it an ideal place to stay when you’re looking for the perfect combination of quiet and great fishing. Book a lakefront cabin with gorgeous views and a hot tub on the deck, and then relax with family or good friends at Boulder Bay Park while the kids climb on the giant rocks that give this area its name.

2. Central Big Bear Lake

You’ll find plenty of vacation rentals right in the middle of the spread-out village of Big Bear Lake, putting you in the middle of the action. Stroll down the adorable “downtown” area built to resemble an Alpine village, stopping for homemade candy and ice cream, and then head to the bowling alley or movie theater for some fun. In the wintertime, you’re ideally located for quick access to the ski slopes.

3. Fawnskin

Across the lake from the village is the tiny community of Fawnskin, which is a real draw for those looking for seclusion and serenity. Join your family on a walk down the Woodland Interpretive Trail to learn about the surrounding forest (and take your dog for a little extra fun). Head up the Cougar Crest Trail for some more serious hiking.

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4. Snow Summit

When you stay on the slopes below Snow Summit, one of Big Bear Lake’s two prime ski resorts, you’re within walking distance of the lodge and ski lifts, which means you’re spared looking for parking. Choose a townhome with vaulted A-frame ceilings, or opt for a real log cabin with a hot tub to relax in after a long day skiing or snowboarding. In the summertime, take the chair lift to the top of the mountain to enjoy a spectacular view. Along the main drag, you’ll find spots for inner tubing with the kids as well as wild toboggan runs that make you feel as if you’re in an amusement park.

5. Fox Farm

Newer log cabins with all the amenities and spacious, well-landscaped lots are what you’ll find when you book a vacation rental in the Fox Farm neighborhood along the eastern end of Big Bear Lake. Take the kids tubing and bobsledding at Big Bear Snow Play when you don’t want to spend a full day on the ski slopes.

6. Moonridge

Snowboarding fans love to stay in Moonridge, since it puts them right next to Bear Mountain, the Big Bear ski resort designed specifically for them. The charming Big Bear Alpine Zoo is here, too, with bears, wolves and snow leopards to delight your kids — and best of all, the animals are all rescues. In the summer, hike the Skyline Trail before you return to your mountaintop condo or cabin filled with amenities and comfort.

7. Sugarloaf

Cozy cabins and cottages dot the hills of the Sugarloaf neighborhood. Only the most intrepid can hike to Bear Mountain from here, but it’s an easy drive with your snowboard clamped into your ski rack. In the summertime, head back down to the lake to explore the Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve, which features a wooden boardwalk over parts of the marsh to make your hike easy.

8. Big Bear City

Big Bear City provides affordable vacation rentals while still putting the lake and ski slopes within easy reach by car. Stay in a cozy cottage next to meadows where horses frolic during the summertime, or rent a home that lets you watch the sun setting on Gold Mountain from the luxury of your hot tub. This neighborhood takes advantage of its mountain valley terrain to provide easy hiking or walking along the Alpine Pedal Path.

9. Baldwin Lake

Bring your horse to Baldwin Lake, just east of Big Bear Lake, where you’ll find log cabins to rent that come complete with stables and pastures. This neighborhood welcomes equestrians who want to ride along the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Baldwin Lake Stables await you if you can’t bring your steed on vacation with you. Lace up your hiking boots to explore nearby Gold Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain.

10. Lake Arrowhead

If you take the left fork coming up the mountain instead of the right one, you’ll end up at Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake’s competitor for winter and summertime visitors. Take a boat tour on the lake, or enjoy some water skiing. Kids love to visit Santa’s Village, where the Claus Family is in residence year round. Alpine mountain cabins can serve as your jumping-off base for shopping and dining in Arrowhead Village, or head to Snow Valley, a small, casual ski resort to take advantage of the beginners’ slopes.

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