Updated: Mar 25
Big Bear Lake sits only fifty minutes from Arrowhead Lake.
Both lakes are resort spots nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, only 2 hours from Los Angeles. Tourism is high in both, and millions of people visit each year. Although both of these spots most certainly have plenty of fun to be had, one is most certainly better than the other—not that Midnight Moon Cabins is biased or anything of that nature. There is substantial (and objective!) data to back this claim up.
Just looking at a map, the most obvious difference between the two is how much bigger Big Bear Lake is, and while bigger isn’t necessarily always better, in this instance, it most definitely is. Arrowhead Lake is 2.2 miles long. Big Bear Lake is a man made lake 7 miles long with several marinas offering boat rentals, jet ski's, kayaks and pontoon boats for rent by the hour or the day. Both Lakes are a great place to visit, Bear is the only one that is a public Lake which makes it much easier for visitors to enjoy water sports and all that the area has to offer.
The Biggest Difference: Private vs. Public
Unlike Big Bear Lake, which is open to the public, Lake Arrowhead is entirely privately owned, making it a much more affluent location. While traveling past the large, luxurious mansions can be quite the experience, it lacks the rustic charm found in the small town of Big Bear.
Also, with the limited space, much of which is taken up by gated estates, there aren’t nearly as many hiking trails, and the ones that are there aren’t as great as the ones we have in Big Bear. When it comes to mountain biking, Big Bear has all the best locations.
Another drawback to Lake Arrowhead being privately owned is that virtually all access to the lake via the docks lining the shores is reserved for only the property owners. However, visitors can still charter boat tours or the beach clubs during the summer but many locals consider Arrowhead a private lake and want to keep it that way.
Winter Really Only Comes to Big Bear
At nearly 7,000 feet, Big Bear Lake has a much higher elevation than that of Lake Arrowhead. During the winter, snowfall is typically plentiful for any snowing or skiing for visitors to enjoy. And when the natural snow won’t quite cut it, Big Bear has plenty of artificial snowmakers to fill in any gaps to keep the snow play going all winter long the not one but two ski resorts.
Lake Arrowhead has none of that, and in fact, it rarely has enough snowfall to do any sort of winter fun. Snow Valley is about a thirty-minute drive away, but if you’re going to be traveling that far to partake in some skiing or snowboarding, you may as well drive the extra twenty minutes to get to Big Bear Mountain, where all the real fun is.
Then, if you’re going through all that effort, you may as well just vacation in Big Bear instead, where you’ll have not only more access to the lake, but also plenty of snow fun to be had during the winter.
There’s Really Only One Place to Go On Vacation
Lake Arrowhead certainly has its charms, especially if you’re looking for a second home or a place to spend your retirement, but if you’re looking for a great getaway, either during summer or winter, then there’s really only one choice: Big Bear Lake has so much more to offer. Big Bear Alpine Zoo, Snow Summit, The Big Bear Village, Big Bear Golf Course are only some of the attractions to be found. It has all the best restaurants and it's never hard to find live music.
Put simply, Big Bear has it all, from snowboarding during the winter to dirt bike racing during the summer. Throughout the year, the region has all sorts of festivities for vacationers to enjoy: fireworks in July, an antique car show in August, Oktoberfest during, well, October, everyone’s favorite Turkey Trot each year in November—practically every month has a different event to enjoy. And that’s separate from all of the other activities you can dive into freely throughout the year.
Lake Arrowhead might also have plenty of beautiful sights and relaxation, but much of that is exclusive to residents of the area. So, if you’re looking to buy some property and settle down, then perhaps give Lake Arrowhead a consideration.
However, if you’re looking for a fun getaway for a few days or even a week, then Big Bear Lake will have plenty for you or your entire family to do.
Get Your Big Bear Vacation Started Off Right with a Cozy Cabin
Your vacation wouldn’t feel like a real mountain getaway without a cozy cabin to come home to—a cabin so nice you might not ever want to leave.
Complete your mountain experience in Big Bear with a blazing fire, warm apple cider, and an unforgettable cabin stay. All of our Cabins are located 5 min from the Big Bear Resort and walking distance to Mountain transit.