The final leg of the journey from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead should be, as the cliché would have it, a walk in the park:  Once off the sea level freeways and interstates (a little over an hour), there’s about a 30 mile stretch up the mountain on CA 18.  But Lake Arrowhead rests over 5,000 feet above sea level, and that means a switch-back road with endless heart stopping twists and turns.

DSCN0045The reward along the way is a never ending vista of extravagant mountain views.

Nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest, this man made lake has lured visitors and vacation home owners from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties as well as those who relish everything from hiking and backpacking to camping, fishing, and swimming or just relaxing in the beauty of the place.

You may have seen this area in any number of movies filmed there, including Magnificent Obsession, The American President, The Yearling, and Next.

As you can imagine, the village of Lake Arrowhead seems like a perfect wedding or celebration destination.  But it is a private lake.  Translation:  you’ll have to stay at one of the hotels bordering the lake, like the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, if you want access.

DSCN0032Or you could stay in one of the many cabin options and settle for a delightful lake cruise and listen to the captain as he points out the homes of past and present celebrity owners. My favorite is Jay Leno’s: We were informed that the comedian never lived in the mansion, but used it to store some of his many cars.

The tiny village at the lake has a few shopping outlets, including Coach and Pendleton (for great woolens), as well as several dining possibilities.  Other options include driving on CA 18 and noticing restaurants where there are several cars parked outside — always a good indication that the locals have found something good.

In the village there’s also the Mountain Arts Network Gallery where some 50 local artists exhibit everything from original oil paintings and watercolors to jewelry, sculpture, photography and hand crafted furniture. If you’re an artist yourself or want to find out if you’ve got any talent — or if your kids do — try to time your visit with the scheduled workshops organized by the president of the gallery, Darlene Kraft, or one of the other instructors.  Darlene says one of her favorite workshops is Discovering “Very” Young Talent which welcomes the age group from first-to-third grades. DSCN0062

Examples of other scheduled events include an antique and classic wooden boat show; a beer, wine and art faire; a classic car and motorcycle show; and a chili cookoff.  There are music offerings as well:  if you time it right you could catch The Masters of Harmony, a multi-award winning chorus of over 100 men singing in close harmony in the cappella style.

So…plenty to do and enjoy.  But the best at Lake Arrowhead is the knockout beauty of the surroundings.

Information:       For the arts workshops:

Full disclosure:  My cousin sings with the Masters of Harmony and his wife heads the arts gallery.

All photos by Leida Snow

Leida’s website: