Lake Arrowhead: Southern California’s Lake and Mountain Escape
By Angela Valley
On a hot summer day, my girlfriend and I were ready to ditch the concrete jungle and get back to nature with a quick weekend escape to the lake and mountains in the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California.
The lobby was buzzing with travelers checking in to the elegantly appointed Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa (27984 California 189; 909-336-1511; LakeArrowheadResort.com) in Lake Arrowhead, California when we arrive on a busy Friday evening.
The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa with its comfy sofas and a fireplace creates a warm welcoming, rustic feel and was the perfect getaway in the San Bernardino Mountains. We couldn’t help but notice that many guests were accompanied by their furry friends, as the resort is extremely pet-friendly – which added to the cheerful environment – while we checked into our room.
Walking into our room we are pleasantly surprised by a beautiful view of Lake Arrowhead.
We settle in and then head to Bin 189 for dinner. The restaurant, which is inside the resort, has a beautiful view of the lake as well as terrace dining overlooking the lake making for great sunrise and sunset dinning. The Bin 189 is country elegance from the moment you walk past the sophisticated glass wine closet showing off the restaurant’s collection of wines at its entrance or sitting waiting for your reservation in the lounge by the fireplace in the well appointed green plaid and simple white with a blue stripe crowed by a Native American around the redwood tables adding an updated touch while appreciating the rustic environment.
Once seated, we order the Dungeness Crab Cakes for our appetizer and the American Kobe Short Rib and House Made Southern Fried Chicken for our entrees. We top off our romantic dinner with Crème Brulee and New York Cheesecake – which were all delicious.
After dinner we wandered down to the resort’s private beach to enjoy the lights on the lake. It was quiet and serene – the perfect way to end the evening.
Mountain Bike Adventure
In the morning we awake bright and early to meet with Jorge – our guide from Enjoy the Mountain – who picks us up outside the resort to take us to do some mountain biking. We were under the impression that we would be taking a leisurely ride around the lake but soon discovered the “easy” trail was actually a fire road that starts at the top of the mountain. Jorge gives us a map and a GPS tracking device and sends us on our way. Weeeeeeee! For those that don’t know – mountain biking and bike riding are not the same thing! It was quite the thrill and we manage to make it down the mountain unscathed. Upon reaching the bottom, another guide is there to meet us and drive us back to the resort.
Hungry for lunch, our next stop is Lake Arrowhead Sports Grill (27200 St Hwy 189; 909-744-8785; LaSportsGrille.com) – just down the road from the resort in Blue Jay. If you like good beer and good food – definitely come here! We order a Chicken Caesar Salad and the First Catch Sandwich – which consists of beer battered fish with a pesto spread, coleslaw, sliced tomatoes and served on homemade flat bread (who knew pesto and fish could taste so good?) – plus two ice cold Ballast Point IPA’s. It was the perfect place to refuel and unwind after our harrowing ride.
Shopping in Lake Arrowhead Village
Feeling re-energized, we decide to check out the shops in Lake Arrowhead Village. We are delighted to discover how convenient and accessible it is to the resort. We score some sweet deals at the Bass outlet – which includes a new pair of boat shoes for Ellie – who was so excited to come up to the lake that she forgot to pack any shoes – aside from the flip flops she has on her feet.
Spa of the Pines
After shopping, we arrived back at the resort just in time for our couple’s massage at the Spa of the Pines. The one-hour massage with scented aromatherapy oils of our choosing is soothing and rejuvenating. Afterward, we relax in the private lounge, and then luxuriate in the steam room and whirlpool before reveling in the full-experiential shower that has water shooting at you from 10 directions. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh….!
After that, it was time for a cool dip in the lake – which feels heavenly. We settled in at a cabana while people gather around the fire pit for a bonfire and S‘mores. Yes, the resort has a bonfire and S’mores every night. We watch the sunset on the lake then decide to check out a sushi spot that Jorge recommended to us.
Grill Tales at Antler’s Inn
A short drive away to Twin Peaks is the sushi restaurant at the Grill Tales at Antler’s Inn (26125 State Highway 189; 909-336-2600; TheGrillAtAntlersInn.com) – which is a sushi bar inside another restaurant called The Grill at Antler’s Inn. The Grill at Antler’s Inn is also recommended, but we don’t have time to check it out. This place gets a special mention, as it is some of the most scrumptious sushi we’ve ever tasted. Seriously, we will go back for this place alone. Apparently, the regular chef is out of town the night we dine there, but the gals who are covering are doing an amazing job. Their desserts are also out of this world – we had a yummy slice of Peanut Butter Pie, but also want to try the flourless Chambord Chocolate Cake (all homemade on the premises) if our tummies would have allowed. Super satisfied, we head back to the resort, crawl into our crazy, comfy bed and immediately fell asleep.
Hiking Aztec Falls
Sunday morning we awake to another beautiful sunrise on the lake and get ready for a guided hike to Aztec Falls with Enjoy the Mountain. Jorge’s wife and daughter pick another couple and us up at the resort and we head out to the trailhead. This area is called the “Rim of the World” for a reason – stunning views surround us as we descend into the canyon toward the falls. It is a steep climb down to the falls but worth the effort. There is a group of teenagers swimming and diving off the rocks – which looks dangerous, but is entertaining to watch. We hang out, snap photos and take in the views. On our way back, we pass a bridge that leads to the Pacific Crest trail – a 2,650-mile trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. Overall, it is a really fun and visually stimulating hike.
After burning those calories, we are ready to EAT and decided to try Rocky’s Roadhouse (32150 Hilltop Boulevard; 909-939-0501; Facebook.com/RockysRoadhouseRS) where we order some monster sandwiches – the Italian and the Eggplant Parmesan. These people are serious about their sammy’s – one would have easily fed us both – but two sustained us for the rest of the day, as we later revisit our leftovers for dinner.
Lake Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour
We venture back to the village for one more stroll around the shops before we embarked on a tour of the lake on the Lake Arrowhead Queen Boat. The captain tells us all about the history of the lake and also points out noteworthy homes along the shore. During the tour, we learn about Lake Arrowhead’s rich film history, as well – there have been 120 movies filmed in Lake Arrowhead over the years – including Heidi, Giant, I’ll Take Sweden, The American President, Space Jam, Next, and the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, to name a few.
All in all, it was an incredibly relaxing, yet invigorating experience. Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa is the perfect getaway for those who truly enjoy nature. There’s so much to see and do – we can’t wait to go back. We are even considering getting married at the resort, as it truly is a romantic and magical place. If you’re ever in the area, make sure this is one of your destinations.
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