Weekend in Lake Arrowhead
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One of the major draws to California for me and my husband was how much we were already visiting. Between traveling to see his immediate family and doing fun vacations, we were in California a lot. There’s so much to do within a couple hours. I love Texas, but that just wasn’t the case there. On a perfect day without traffic, drive 1.5 hours and your in Waco. In LA you can make that same time / drive and you’re in Santa Barbara. I love Waco and Baylor, but Santa Barbara just hits different.
Keep scrolling to see my recommendations for the Lake Arrowhead area! I also shared a travel guide for ski season in Lake Arrowhead here.
I was already planning on featuring more road trip and staycation options near LA this year and though COVID-19 slowed that down, it did actually increase the need for more domestic travel options. I’m so excited to share one with you today.
Lake Arrowhead is about 100 miles / 2 hours no traffic from the west side (where I live) of LA. It is nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains on Little Bear Creek and was formerly known as Little Bear Valley. Though they didn’t live there, the Paiute Indians used it as a hunting ground. The Serrano Indians lived nearby as well. Lake Arrowhead was first “discovered” in 1826 and would be “settled” almost 100 years later. The lake was manmade by Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company and finished filling around 1923, though the dam was formed around 1915.
If you’ve never heard of Lake Arrowhead, chances are you’ve heard of Big Bear. The two are about 15 miles apart / 45 minutes of drive time, so very close, but have different draws. Big Bear is much more commercialized. The lake is public and there is more of an established downtown, plus more resort-like, touristy things. Lake Arrowhead is much more of a getaway. The lake is private and there are less “5 star resort” like stays. To speak to that, if you are looking to stay at one, Lake Arrowhead is often the cheaper stay. That isn’t to say it is less - it is just more of a secluded getaway if you will. My husband was looking between the two and ended up going with Lake Arrowhead because we could get a nicer cabin for less money. We ended up staying in this adorable cabin here in Cedar Glen.
The Lake Arrowhead trip was a surprise for me, for our 4th wedding anniversary. I had been whining to Nick that I just wanted to go to a cabin with him and to watch it rain. It may not have rained, but I did get my some cozy cabin time! We booked middle of the week (Wednesday - Friday) since we could work from anywhere and because Wednesday was our actual anniversary. We meant to leave around 1, but ended up leaving around 3pm instead and hit a little bit of traffic. Our drive was probably a little over 3 hours versus a little under 2 hours, so not bad at all. It was dark by the time we arrived, but honestly we love arriving at places in the evening, so we can experience it fresh in the morning. It is like waking up in a whole new world.
Here’s what our time in Cedar Glen / Lake Arrowhead like:
We arrived a little after dinner time in Cedar Glen (where our cabin was), so we just cozied up and watched a movie before bed. The town is small, so most shops close up early, including the general store.
We woke up Thursday morning and went to Jenson’s Minute Shoppe. We grabbed eggs, bacon, and fruit, in addition to some breakfast burritos and fresh donuts for that day’s breakfast! If I did it again, I probably would have brought in my own groceries and such so I didn’t have to worry about it; however, Jenson’s got the job done. If you want a larger store, you can go to Stater Bros in Lake Arrowhead Village. We worked a bit, then headed into Lake Arrowhead Village for lunch. Even if you don’t need to eat, it is fun to walk around the little shops, area, and the lake. We dined at the Lakefront Tap Room and it was very yummy! For dinner we ate at Bin 189. The meal was pretty average - not bad at all, but for the price we expected more. It is a restaurant in the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. The cocktails we ordered were very good though and I would recommend it as a nice little drinks and patio spot. The sunset was STUNNING.
We had a leisurely morning and made breakfast at the cabin. We tried to hike Aztec Falls, but it was closed because of overuse and trash. My guess is that people used it too much during quarantine and trashed the place. So sad. We did see 3 doe when we tried to visit the hike, so that was at least nice sighting. We originally planned to eat lunch at Hortencia’s, but decide we wanted to get back to LA. Instead we grabbed a chocolate malt from Cedar Glen Malt Shop and hit the road.
WHAT TO DO
Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour
Hike Aztec Falls
Lake Arrowhead Village (shops, restaurants, walk around the lake)
Lake Gregory (Lake Arrowhead is exclusive to homes that are within a 1 mile radius of it)
Rim Bowling Alley
Ski or snowboard at Snow Valley, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain, or Rim Nordic
RELAX AND ENJOY NATURE
WHERE TO EAT
Belgian Waffle Works
Bin 189 (would recommend for a view and cocktails)
Cedar Glen Malt Shop
Jensen’s Minute Shoppe (general store, but has ready-made food too)
Stater Bros (another grocery store that is bigger)
The Dogwood Tavern
The Lakefront Tap Room and Bar (great burgers and fries)
TIPS / THINGS TO NOTE
Trash. Due to wildlife, they don’t keep trash outside at all. Our Airbnb had a “take your own trash” policy. You had to bring all your trash from your stay and dispose of it in certain areas they shared / local trash drop off places. You can of course choose to take it back home too and dispose of it there. It makes sense, just wanted to note this.
Food. Like I mentioned, I would probably bring groceries from home next time versus buying them there. One less stop to make and less to worry about. Our favorite meal was The Lakefront Tap Room. Next time I really want to try out Hortencia’s.
Water. Bring water bottles or a filter of your choice. We bought big bottles at the general store. I would have brought my own filter / a crate of water bottles had I though about this in advance.
Roads. If you get car sick, bring all your meds, peppermint oil, and ginger candy. The route in involves mountain roads and they get wind and turn often. The locals get mad if you take them too slowly. Hah!
Dogs. Most of Lake Arrowhead is dog friendly, so bring your pooch along if you want. We did! Just don’t let them off-leash in most areas though due to wildlife and such. This was a tip from our Airbnb and I’m glad they mentioned. It’s tempting, but unless it is a designated area, I wouldn’t. THERE ARE BEARS.
Drinks at Bin 189
Overall we loved our weekend in Lake Arrowhead and cannot wait to go back. Would recommend!! Please let me know if you have any favorites in the area, so we can make sure to check them out on our next trip there. Feel free to send Big Bear recommendations too!
Does on the way to (try) and hike
Did you like this post? You will probably enjoy my travel guide for ski season in Lake Arrowhead as well.
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