The sparkling sapphire waters of Lake Arrowhead, surrounded by lush pine trees, look like a screensaver snapshot. But this mountain lake retreat is a real-life paradise for travelers in Southern California escaping the crowded cities for a slice of tranquil nature.
Sitting high in the San Bernardino Mountains, this lake transforms your life into a movie. Take a boat tour to see past Hollywood celebrity homes, or see familiar scenes used in movies like Space Jam and The Parent Trap.
There are tons of outdoor activities at Lake Arrowhead that keep visitors coming all year long. Here are 11+ of my favorite things to do in Lake Arrowhead that you’re going to love!
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN LAKE ARROWHEAD
- Great Location. Located in Lake Arrowhead, the Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa has accommodations with a fitness center, free private parking, a shared lounge and a terrace. Offering a restaurant and a full-service spa, the property also has a bar, as well as a sauna and a hot tub. You’ll love the amenities here!
- Best for Families. Nestled along the waters of Lake Arrowhead, among trees and gorgeous mountain landscapes, the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge is a spectacular destination for your next getaway. Their stays include overnight accommodations in cozy chalets and access to an array of outdoor activities, including the new Lake Arrowhead History Walk.
- Best Bed and Breakfast. Located just 4 minutes’ walk to the Lake Arrowhead shore, the Arrowhead Lake Inn B&B features free WiFi and a free continental breakfast for all rooms. Some suites offers balconies with lake views.
VISITING THE “LAKE” IN LAKE ARROWHEAD
Ever wonder how Lake Arrowhead is kept in such pristine condition? It’s because it’s a private lake with great efforts to preserve the natural beauty and history of the lake.
Lake Arrowhead Village was established as a lakefront resort village open to the public to get a glimpse of what you can experience when you become part of the Lake Arrowhead community. The village is an excellent place to stop by when passing through, but you’ll need extra permission if you want to join the people having a blast in the water.
Swimming, boating, and other water sports are all popular at the lake, but reserved for homeowners of the lakefront properties. However, if you don’t have the cash to shell out for homes once sought after by Hollywood celebrities, you can also take advantage of the lake when staying at accommodations right on the water.
While nearby Big Bear Lake is the preferred option for public swimming in the lake or relaxing on the beach, Lake Arrowhead has a charm that keeps tourists visiting, regardless of whether they’re getting in the water.
LAKE ARROWHEAD VILLAGE
The uniform white and burgundy buildings set on the lakefront comprise the Lake Arrowhead Village. This quiet town awakens with tourists indulging in the village’s shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Built in the 1920s, Lake Arrowhead Village has a rustic charm suitable for a mountain town. With more than 50 shops, there’s something for everyone. Avid shoppers can dress themselves in high fashion from the Coach store or find cozy apparel to keep warm during the winter at the Big on Bears Gift Shop.
Discover evidence left behind by prehistoric giants in the Jurassic Fossils shop, ignite your taste buds with scorching hot sauce flavors hand-crafted at the Pepper Palace, or satisfy your sweet tooth at one of the local candy stores.
Looking for some fun? The McKenzie Water Ski School teaches you the fundamentals of shredding on the lake surface, or you can try the bumper cars or putting at the miniature golf course at Lollipop Park. The annual summer concert series is always one of the favorites during the village’s busy season.
SKYPARK AT SANTA’S VILLAGE
SkyPark at Santa’s Village is a family-friendly adventure park in Lake Arrowhead. Whether you visit during the holidays to see it transformed into a winter wonderland, or try it out during the summer months to experience the magic of “Christmas in July,” this is one place you are guaranteed to love.
Santa’s Village makes you feel like you’ve teleported to the North Pole, with giant candy canes lining snow-covered streets and village buildings resembling oversized gingerbread houses. Also, the enchanting woodlands surrounding the village gets your heart pumping with high-speed action and outdoor activities.
The NorthWoods is home to the SkyPark at Santa’s Village. Professionally-designed routes snake their way through the woodlands for mountain biking or hiking. Or, if you prefer higher elevations, strap on your harness and soar above the canopy on the zipline course.
Skypark at Santa’s Village is especially magical during the holiday season. After your outdoor wintertime fun, warm up with a meet and greet when Santa and Mrs. Claus come to town.
RIM OF THE WORLD SCENIC BYWAY
When thinking about a scenic drive in California, most people think about sweeping ocean views along the Pacific Coast Highway. As a result, the Rim of the World Scenic Byway stands out from the other popular routes because you’ll get to see a new — elevated — side of California.
Fill up your tank and head into the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Enjoy the mountain in a whole new way as the 100-mile Rim of the World Scenic Byway takes you on a journey around the mountain rim overlooking a beautiful valley of the Inland Empire.
As you navigate California’s state highway routes, nature’s beauty shows itself outside your window. You’ll travel between the Cajon Pass to the San Gorgonio Pass, seeing landmarks like the Onyx summit rising more than 8,000-feet.
In addition to Lake Arrowhead, other mountain lakes encountered on the drive are Big Bear Lake to the east and Silverwood Lake to the west. Use caution on the icy roads during the winter, because the beauty of the snow-draped trees of the San Bernardino National Forest is a must-see.
LAKE ARROWHEAD QUEEN BOAT TOUR
From historic lake homes once owned by Hollywood’s rich and famous, to stunning natural scenery, Lake Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour will show you the best sights surrounding the lake.
Stop by Leroy’s Boardhouse to get your tickets for the Lake Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour before heading down to the boarding dock. A vintage white paddle wheel boat draped with patriotic flags awaits you to drift away on a breathtaking scenic cruise. Large windows make the indoor seating area the perfect viewing space for comfort, even on the windiest days!
Your boat captain will circle Lake Arrowhead for 50 minutes while you’re entertained on board with friendly chatter about the sights passing by. Original dams set up on the lake help tell the story of its history, while you try to reimagine the parties that must have happened at the Hollywood star lakefront homes.
MOUNTAIN HISTORY MUSEUM
The San Bernardino Mountains encompass a diverse landscape in Southern California riddled with history. Dive into the rich history of Lake Arrowhead at the Mountain History Museum. The past of this mountain lake destination gets revealed through the preserved artifacts and archives.
The low-sloping roof of the Mountain History Museum is part of the building’s restoration from a former firehouse. It resembles peaks of the very mountains that it details inside! Thanks to the Rim of the World Historical Society, Lake Arrowhead’s history is preserved inside this museum that opened its doors to the public in 2010.
Photo archives provide a glimpse into how the artificial lake was made, and its development as a resort community. Donated objects show more about the lake’s movie history.
The Mountain History Museum, is seasonal — open from June to October — and only open on the weekends.
THE TUDOR HOUSE
The lively energy pulsating from The Tudor House hasn’t stopped since it was built in 1928. You can find some of the best entertainment in town here.
Mobster Bugsy Siegel opened the Tudor House as an exclusive members only casino and entertainment venue. It attracted the Hollywood high life and socialites to indulge in a few of their vices — drinking alcohol during the Prohibition Era, underground gambling, and other more risqué activities.
Today, the Tudor House remains a go-to destination for fun and entertainment that takes you back to the golden era of the roaring 20s. Attend movie night on Fridays, or enjoy yummy food at its signature Champagne Brunch, served on Sundays. In between, check the schedule for a live music concert or show sitting in the 350-seat amphitheater. And since it’s no longer members only, we all can get a taste of the lavish lifestyle.
HEAPS PEAK ARBORETUM
Heaps Peak Arboretum is an oasis of preserved natural landscape reborn from the ashes. After undergoing a massive fire that destroyed a significant amount of vegetation, Heaps Peak Arboretum has restored 30 acres of the San Bernardino National Forest into a scenic botanical garden.
Heaps Peak Arboretum’s 6,000-foot elevation gives it a unique ecosystem for plants to flourish. Its collection of plants includes native flowers and shrubs, and foreign species too.
Walk the Sequoia Trail, named for the towering trees rising alongside dogwood trees and quaking aspen. Keep your phone ready to scan the QR codes around the arboretum to see informative videos about plants, like the Butterfly Bust, Narrow-leaf Milkweed, and the Short-Fringed Knapweed.
Heaps Peak Arboretum is one of the best free things to do in Lake Arrowhead and is also pet-friendly. In addition to self-guided tours around the site, educational programs are available to learn more about its flora.
With as much wildlife inhabiting the San Bernardino Mountains, not all animals are fit to stay in the wild. So, instead of becoming part of another animal’s food chain, the Wildhaven Ranch gives animals a sanctuary to live in peace.
Wildhaven Ranch is run by volunteers who have a genuine heart for wildlife. Together, they’ve created a space for endangered, rescued, and adopted animals, and happily welcome visitors to see them.
The Wings n’ Things tour is a favorite to see the ranch’s star animals. Safe viewing lets you feel comfortable seeing the sharp bobcat teeth when it yawns, and you’ll be speechless when seeing the massive wingspan of eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey. Group tours give you plenty of time to pause at each animal for photos of them in action — if they aren’t too sleepy!
LAKE GREGORY REGIONAL PARK
Many people only stop by Lake Arrowhead to enjoy the sights and village attractions. However, if you’re looking for a nearby beach alternative, hop over to the Lake Gregory Regional Park. This public lake attracts those looking for the thrill of water fun.
Adults and kids can craft their own fun at the Lake Gregory Regional Park. The lake’s 84 acres is plenty of space for cooling down in the water or exploring the perimeter. Lay your blanket on the sandy lakefront and take in views of the large pine and cedar trees lining the lakefront. It slopes gently into the lake, where you’ll feel the cool mountain water while swimming or boating.
Kids will have joyous fun at the lake’s inflatable water park. Slide down the water slide into the lake or race across the wet obstacle course.
Lake Gregory is festive throughout the year, with fireworks erupting on the 4th of July over the lake and the Chinese-inspired tradition of Dragon Boat Races happening every year.
SNOW VALLEY MOUNTAIN RESORT
The feeling of the crisp winter chill in the air means that ski season has almost arrived! Venture into the snow-capped peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains to find one of the famous ski resorts in Southern California: Snow Valley Mountain Resort.
Fresh snow covers the ski runs that winter sports enthusiasts have shredded every year since 1924, making it the longest-running resort in the San Bernardino National Forest. And the good news is that you never have to wait for a big snow to plan your ski trip, because it also has snowmaking capabilities to keep the runs well-groomed for skiing and snowboarding.
Climb aboard the Snow Valley Express to ride the specially designed six-person chair lift to the top of the slopes, reaching an elevation of 6,800-feet. Views overlooking the snow-covered valley get your heart racing before setting off on a high-speed ride down the slopes.
In the summer months, enjoy the bike park or the scenic chair lift ride.
DAY TRIP TO STRAWBERRY PEAK
After having water fun at Lake Arrowhead, spend a day checking out nearby natural landmarks like Strawberry Peak. Only a short drive away, this peak in the San Gabriel Mountains will take you to new heights.
Put on your favorite hiking shoes and start on the 2.5-mile loop trail to the summit peaking at 6,164 feet. The trailhead is at the Red Box Station, where you’ll return when you descend the mountain.
Trek the mountain ridge and enjoy the views along the way.
As the highest peak in the frontal range, Strawberry Peak offers panoramic landscape views. A historic lookout tower was built for the ultimate viewing platform to see Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Peak, and even Los Angeles in the distance.
As you’re leaving, take one last glance at the peak to see if it indeed does resemble an upside-down strawberry.
LAKE ARROWHEAD FAQ
What is Lake Arrowhead best known for?
Lake Arrowhead is best known for its outdoor activities! Hiking, water sports, snow skiing, biking, backpacking, and more can be experienced here.
When is the best month to go to Lake Arrowhead?
If you’re looking for the most outdoor adventure options, then going in the warmer summer months is your best bet. From June-September, you can enjoy water sports, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, and more.
Is Lake Arrowhead worth visiting?
Yes, Lake Arrowhead is definitely worth a visit! The water is amazing, there are lots of other great outdoor activities, and the village area is perfect for exploring.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO CALIFORNIA
- YOUR CALIFORNIA VACATION
- SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: 29 Amazing Things To Do In Southern California
- SOLVANG: 14 Awesome Things To Do In Solvang, California
- CARLSBAD: 19 Super Fun Things To Do In Carlsbad, California
- TEMECULA: 12 Amazing Things To Do In Temecula, California
WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE ARROWHEAD
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