Los Angeles is a place like no other: rich with arts and culture, close to beautiful beaches, national parks, and cozy mountain retreats. One of these mountain resorts is the quaint Lake Arrowhead, just 80 miles away from L.A. downtown. Sitting at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet, Lake Arrowhead is a great resource of recreational activities, a place where you’ll find good restaurants and many things to do and year-round.
- A Brief History of the Lake Arrowhead
- What to Expect When Visiting Lake Arrowhead
- Best Things to Do in Lake Arrowhead
- Best Time to Visit Lake Arrowhead
- Where to Stay in Lake Arrowhead
A Brief History of the Lake Arrowhead
The history of this lake began in the 1890’s, when a group of entrepreneurs chose the Little Bear Gorge to built a reservoir that would supply water to the valley. When the dam was completed and the lake formed, they named it Little Bear Lake.
However, the idea of diverting the water from the area did not sit well with the ranchers on the upper desert. People on this side of the mountain relied on that water for their own domestic use.
The State ruled in the favor of the ranches, so in 1920 Arrowhead Lake Company bought Little Bear Lake and the surrounding land and began developing the area into a resort community.
The name was changed into Lake Arrowhead, deriving from a rock formation in the shape of an arrowhead that sits on the face of the San Bernardino Mountains.
The developers build three hotels, a golf course and a club house. The land around the lake was subdivided and sold for private homes. Many Hollywood stars purchased land here, building gorgeous estates around the north shore area.
What to Expect When Visiting Lake Arrowhead
Because of its high altitude location, Lake Arrowhead enjoys four distinct seasons which allow a great variety of activities year round. The climate up here is very different from the one in the valley. The summer temperature is about 20 degrees cooler while in winter it regularly drops below freezing.
The average snowfall is 80 inches a year. Snow may start as early as November and last till the end of March. This makes this mountain resort a great escape from the heat and smog of L.A. in summer and one of the most romantic getaways in California.
The beautiful San Bernardino Mountains are a countless resource of recreational activities. From hiking, biking, and horseback riding, to swimming, kayaking, and fishing, you can do just about anything in Lake Arrowhead in summer.
Best Things to Do in Lake Arrowhead
• Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Swimming, or Water Skiing
The lake waters are exceptionally clear and warm. The swimming season may start as early as June and sometimes extends well into the first two weeks of October.
It’s important to know that this is a private lake and can only be used by the homeowners in Arrowhead Woods, a tract of land that extends about 1 mile perimeter around the lake.
However, if you are a guest of one of the hotels in the resort, or of one the property owners in Arrowhead Woods, you can do any of the water sports above activities.
Also, whether you are a professional or a first timer, McKenzie Water Ski School in the Village caters to all your waterskiing needs.
• Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour
One way to enjoy the splendor and serenity of Lake Arrowhead’s lush forests and sparking water is by taking a narrated tour of the lake aboard the Arrowhead Queen.
The boat sails daily every hour on the hour year round. Tickets are sold at Leroy’s Board Shop, in the Village area. The Arrowhead Queen is also available for private hire by calling (909) 336-6992.
They can also stroll along the water promenade in the Village area.
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• Stroll Through the Village
The Village is a really nice place to stroll thorough if you’re in the area. You can hang out and relax, grab a bite in one of the good restaurants, shop in the small boutiques, or just feed the ducks.
Lake Arrowhead is a dog friendly community and sometimes they have dog competitions in the Village.
• Visit the Lollipop Park
Update: Unfortunately, the Lollipop Park is temporarily closed because of the pandemic. Hopefully the park will reopen soon.
If you are visiting Lake Arrowhead with kids, rest assured they will have a lot of fun here too. The Lollipop Park in the Village offers bumper cars, miniature golf, horse carousel, and other fun rides. There is also a Candy Store and an ice cream parlor to keep the little ones happy.
During the summer (May through September) the Lollipop Park is open from 10am to 6pm. In the winter season (October through April) they are open Thursday through Sunday (weather permitting).
• Attend One of the Summer or Fall Festivals
In summer the Village area hosts a series of jazz and classical music concerts, as well as art and wine festivals or different craft fairs.
The Summer Concert Series is free to the public. Concerts usually begin at 6:30pm. The beer garden opens 30 minutes prior to the concert start time. For more information, call (909) 337-2533.
Octoberfest is another fun festival to attend in Lake Arrowhead. The festival takes place every weekend, during the month of October and features authentic German food and craft brews.
• Watch the 4th of July Fireworks
The most popular event in town is the spectacular 4th of July fireworks show. Boats start gathering on the lake since early afternoon trying to get as close as possible to the platform from where the fireworks will be launched.
Live music is being played while hundreds of people bring their boats so close to each other that they almost touch. When the fireworks explode in a shower of lights that gets reflected in the water, the air fills up with ahhhs and ohhhs.
• Go Fishing
Lake Arrowhead is a paradise for fishing. There is a lot of trout, bass and carp in this lake and if you know what you are doing, you can catch a lot of fish, but the limit is 5 pieces/person with a fishing permit.
Every year at the beginning or April there is a fishing competition that takes place in the marina area.
• Hike One of the Many Trails
The best way to experience Lake Arrowhead is by hiking the beautiful trails around, which present different levels of difficulty. Most trails can be accessed year round. The scenery is spectacular, with a wide range of plants that vary from desert flowers to mountain pines.
When hiking in the San Bernardino you’ll have to remember that these are very wild and dangerous mountains. Before you start your hike, always read about the area, consider the length of the trail, your available time, and the weather conditions.
Also, always carry water with you. People often remain stranded in these mountains and die of dehydration, because they don’t come prepared.
• Skiing and Snowboarding
Winters are particularly beautiful in Lake Arrowhead. Especially if it snows. While there are no ski slopes in the resort, just 20 minutes away you can go skiing at Snow Valley. This peak almost always gets some snow and even if it doesn’t, they make artificial snow.
If you are up for more serious skiing or snowboarding, you can drive a little farther to Big Bear Lake (just 50 minutes away) for the beautiful Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski resorts.
Best Time to Visit Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead is beautiful year round, so no matter when you visit it you’ll have plenty of fun things to do here. Most of the activities take place around the lake and in the Village area.
Week-ends are particularly busy, especially in summer. But if you come here during the week days, you’ll discover a quiet and peaceful oasis. That’s because 60% of the properties are vacation homes. Out of the 40% permanent residents, 20% are retirees.
Where to Stay in Lake Arrowhead
There are numerous inns, hotels and bed and breakfasts throughout this town. The most famous is Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, a 4-star accommodation ideally located right on the lakeshore.
Another nice place to stay is the Lake Arrowhead Challets, a complex of family sized condos with fully equipped kitchen, wood burning fireplace and deck with a BBQ.
In addition to the Challets, there are many vacation homes which are being rented by their owners through VRBO.
So if you happen to be in Southern California, don’t miss Lake Arrowhead. It’s one of the easiest and most relaxing weekend getaways from Los Angeles.
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