A weekend in Lake Arrowhead is a total escape from Los Angeles. In less than 2 hours, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the tall trees of the San Bernardino mountains taking in views of a sparkling blue lake. It’s the perfect spot to rejuvenate in the fresh mountain air, enjoy lake life and all the outdoor activities. Here’s our list of the 20 best things to do in Lake Arrowhead in summer.
Why should you listen to us? We actually moved to Lake Arrowhead one year ago. So we definitely have the local perspective now. Prior to that, we spent many summers in Lake Arrowhead at UCLA Bruinwoods and owned a vacation house in Lake Arrowhead for years.
The amount of time spent in Lake Arrowhead led us to eat at every single restaurant, do every possible activity and shop at every single shop. That’s not an exaggeration. We have literally done it all.
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Weather and the Best Time to Go to Lake Arrowhead
The experience is completely different in summer and winter so this post is focusing on the summer activities. Summer starts with Memorial Day weekend and ends with Labor Day weekend. While you can do summer type activities outside of that time frame, that is main summer season. The weather is perfect! For most of the summer daytime highs are in the 70s and 80s while the evening temperatures are in the high 50s. The lake water temperature is in the mid 60s.
3 Day weekends and holidays like 4th of July get really busy and super fun. Normally we try to visit places off peak but you want to be in Lake Arrowhead when it’s a big fun summer party. Just make sure you book early because you’ll have a hard time finding accommodations on a holiday.
20 Best Things to Do in Lake Arrowhead
These activities are some of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead during summer. Most people spend a bulk of their time on the lake or doing lake activities. But, there are plenty of things to do off the water too. It’s all listed below and highly recommended.
Since Lake Arrowhead is a private lake, some activities are restricted to residents. Don’t worry though because there are still ways for you to enjoy lake life. UCLA Alumni Association members can attend UCLA Bruinwoods, more about that below. You can also stay at the Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa to get more access to lake than staying at an Airbnb or other hotel.
1. Lake Arrowhead Waterskiing
Since Lake Arrowhead is a private lake, only members of the Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA) have access to boating. Fear not, you can still get out on the water a few ways. McKenzie water ski school will teach you how to water ski, wakeboard or kneeboard. They’re open from Memorial Day through September. They also offer private outings.
If you have a friend that is an Arrowhead resident with a boat, you can also go with them. We all need a friend with a boat and a house in Arrowhead, right 😉 Many people inquire about boat rentals in Lake Arrowhead but it’s not possible unless you own property. You can’t rent an Airbnb and drive a boat on the lake. but nearby Big Bear and Lake Gregory have boat rental options for visitors.
2. A Cruise on the Lake Arrowhead Queen
The Lake Arrowhead Queen offers a one hour cruise around the perimeter of the lake. It’s a great way to get out on the water and be able to see all of the incredible lake view homes. Some of them have been used for filming Hollywood movies like The American President and Parent Trap.
3. Heart Rock Trail is One of the Best Lake Arrowhead Hikes
Hiking is one of our favorite things to do in Lake Arrowhead. There are tons of great trails ranging from really easy to more advanced and longer treks.
Below is the easy, 1.3 mile Heart Rock Trail. Depending on the time of year, you might see a waterfall, wildflowers, fall foliage, snow or some other seasonal treat. It’s only a mile to reach the cool boulders with the heart shaped pool. It can get hot and doesn’t offer any shade so bring water and sunscreen and try to go early in the day.
4. Will Abell Memorial Trail
A 1.9 mile easy forest trail that’s nice for the whole family. There are a lot of little places where you can get off trail so use the All Trails app to stay on course. It’s beautiful year round with the change of seasons and it only takes about an hour. Wear hiking boots and hold off if there’s too much snow. If that’s the case, bring a sled instead.
5. Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail
For a challenging hike with 1,100 foot elevation gain, the Arrowhead Pinnacles Trail is a 4.6 out and back trail. It’s called a dog friendly hike but there are places where you need to do some rock scrambling that might not be easy with a dog. It’s easy to get off trail so pay attention and you’ll be rewarded with an awesome view at the top!
6. Lake Arrowhead Reservoir Trail – Only For ALA Members
If you have access to the lake through an ALA membership, there is a 9 mile path that goes all the way around Lake Arrowhead. Most people just walk around a portion and make it a fun little adventure. I highly recommend the shorter walk. You need to be an ALA member or with a member and be carrying a lake pass with you.
A 7 minute drive from the Lake Arrowhead shopping center is the Skypark at Santa’s Village, Skypark Bike Park and Skypark Camp & RV Resort. It’s an ideal place to visit for families or those that want to hit a killer bike track.
7. Kids Activities at Skypark at Santa’s Village
Skypark at Santa’s Village is a year round destination. In the summer, you’ll find archery, rock climbing, roller skating at the Silver Bells Arena, ax throwing, a sharp shooter gallery, zip lining, pedal cars, the Northwoods Express train ride, fly fishing on Lady Bug Pond, and hiking trails.
As the name implies, Santa’s village has a ton of winter activities including a visit to Santa’s workshop, gingerbread cookie decorating, ice skating and more. It’s a North Pole dream come true.
8. Biking at Skypark Draws Visitors from All Over
On the 230 acre property, there’s a professionally designed bike park with mountain bike trails running through a lush, forested area. They’ve maximized the terrain to create long, fun trails for all levels from beginner to advanced.
The trails are groomed daily so you can always count on a top notch experience. What’s more, you also find 2 skills areas, a pump track and a balance trail for the youngest riders.
Bring your own bike, including e-bikes, or try out a demo bike for the day. Bike lessons are available too but must be booked a day in advance.
Last but not least are the various events, race series and bike festivals. Check their event calendar for more information..
9. Restaurants and Evening Entertainment at Skypark
There are six restaurants on site with everything from breakfast, delicious burgers, pub food and a sweets shop. Live music on weekend nights, and evening roller skating parties. There are tons of restaurants and evening activities in Lake Arrowhead Village too.
10. Glamping or Camping at Skypark is one of Lake Arrowhead’s Best Places to Stay
Skypark Camp & RV Resort is a Lake Arrowhead Camping hot spot. It’s located right across the road from SkyPark on Highway 18, the Rim of the World Scenic Byway. The campground is perched at the top of the mountain with incredible, sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valley below.
The newest addition to Skypark Camp’s accommodations are the retro themed, airstream trailers for a glamping experience. Each trailer comes with a fire pit and picnic table.
Additionally you will find RV spots with full hook ups and camping spots. The campground hosts Friday night games and scavenger hunts on top of the fun events already happening at Skypark. Book early because they get filled up.
11. Dining in Lake Arrowhead
One of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead is try out the local restaurant scene. We have a comprehensive blog post with the best restaurants in Lake Arrowhead that you should read if you’re planning a trip.
If you want to try the Lake Arrowhead Village restaurants, breakfast at Belgian Waffle Works is always a decadent treat. The Grapevine has a nice deck with great beer and wine flights and appetizers. The Lakehouse Tap Room is another delicious choice.
Some of the best restaurants outside of the village are Puglia Italian Restaurant in Blue Jay. They have delicious Cacio e Pepe! Right near that is Stone Creek Bistro, which is delicious and will catch your attention right as you drive into town. Another place you’ll notice on the way up the hill is Hortencia’s which is always crowded so go early.
Most visitors don’t know about the Cedar Glen Malt Shop with amazing burgers and even better onion rings. It’s totally cute, retro decor feels authentic and the staff are so nice. Lou Eddie’s is a local pizza favorite and fine dining at The Grill at Antler’s Inn is great if you want an amazing meal.
If you want to buy groceries on your way in and cook with friends and family, there are 2 main supermarkets in Lake Arrowhead, Jensen’s Market and Stater Bros. Jensen’s is also a great place to buy sandwiches for a day out on the lake.
12. Summer Concerts in Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead Village hosts a free Summer Concert Series. It typically features tribute bands that are super fun. Shows are every weekend on Friday and Saturday night from 7-9pm. There is a Beer Garden that opens one hour prior. You also have the chance to do paid, reserved seating. These concerts are the best Lake Arrowhead entertainment at night.
The summer concerts are hands down one of best things to do in Lake Arrowhead at night. It’s really fun in person and you can also hear the music filling the summer air from many spots around the lake.
It starts Friday, May 27 and ends with Labor Day weekend. The bands are fantastic and it’s worth a trip to Lake Arrowhead all on it’s own.
13. Lake Arrowhead Brewing Company
Lake Arrowhead Brewing Company is one of the best places to hang out with friends in the evening. They brew their own seasonal beers and have an excellent selection on tap.
The patio out back has tables set under tall pines where you can enjoy fresh air and delicious food from various vendors. It’s even fun in winter and sometimes you’ll find clear igloos to sit under.
14. The Tudor House
The Tudor House is a dinner theater in Lake Arrowhead. Dinner service starts early at 5:30 pm and is followed by a show or band at 7pm. The shows range from comedy nights, to Jazz to tribute bands. Tickets are typically around $25 per person for the show and an extra cost for dinner.
Their other offering is the Champagne Brunch Buffet on Sunday from 10am to 1pm. It’s s a great way to wrap up your weekend. For holidays, they have special events that you can check out on their calendar.
15. Shopping in Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead Village is the first stop for most people on a Lake Arrowhead Day Trip. You will find outlet stores, souvenirs, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, books, toys, home decor and art galleries. My favorite shop, Jeannine’s Home Furnishings, is right by the entrance of the village and has amazing gifts and home decor.
The next largest shopping area is in Blue Jay with some of the same types of stores, but not as touristy. Jensen’s is the favorite Lake Arrowhead grocery store with a Starbucks inside. You’ll also find Rite Aid, a Nail Salon, Pet Grooming and more.
Cedar Glen is the smallest of the towns around the lake but they have a gas station, small grocery and a few restaurants. Magpi is a super cute clothing and gifts store, The Lake House has upscale decor and great things to take home. Timberline in the Glen is one of the largest home decor stores in the area with some great treasures.
16. McKay Park is Fun With Kids and Pups
This is the perfect space to let out a little energy. McKay Park has swings, a play structure, a small zip line, volleyball and pickle ball courts, and picnic areas. It’s also the perfect place for sunset views over the lake.
And for your furry friends, they will definitely think the is the best thing to do in Lake Arrowhead. The dog park is a nice big area where they can run around. There is also a separate gated area for smaller dogs if you want.
17. Arrowhead Lake Association – Beach, Kayaking and Fishing
These activities are all lumped together because a beach pass or dock access with a member of the Arrowhead Lake Association will give you a chance to these activities. You either need to be an ALA member or accompanied by one.
If you do not have the capability to use Arrowhead Lake Association facilities, don’t worry. You can go to Lake Gregory or Big Bear Lake and do all of the same things.
With an ALA membership, fishing still requires a fishing permit that can be purchased if you are above 16 years of age. You can get a daily permit at Leroy’s Ski and Snowboard shop.
Lake Gregory also has fishing and requires a permit. Kayaking or inflatables are allowed from the beach or a dock assuming that you don’t go into the main lake. Basically, you need to stay close to shore and not head for open water.
18. UCLA Conference Center – Bruinwoods
Bruinwoods is an all inclusive family camp filled with all kinds of things to do in Lake Arrowhead both on site and around town. They have activities available all day and night including waterskiing, zip lining, tennis, ceramics and more.
If you or someone in your family is a UCLA alumni, you should definitely book a week at Bruinwoods. You stay in one of their cabins for a week and eat meals at their delicious buffet.
It’s crazy popular and you have to lottery for a spot over the 10 week summer season. Once you get in, you have that spot for the same week every year. We went for week 3 for many years as our kids were growing up. You see the same families every year and it’s a great tradition.
19. Lake Gregory
Lake Gregory is a small lake where you can go fishing, kayaking or rent a fun aqua bike. They also have a whole inflatable playground and waterslides.
Set up on the sandy beach and make a day of it. If you have kids, the Lake Gregory Aqua Park is hands down one of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead vicinity and it’s only a 15 minute drive.
Without kids, it’s still fun to visit especially if you go on the walking path around the lake.
20. Take a Day Trip to Big Bear Lake
Time permitting, you can also head to Big Bear for even more options. Either take a day trip or stay in one of these Big Bear Luxury Cabins.
Big Bear is a bigger, public lake that has all the amenities of Lake Arrowhead and more. It’s accessible to anyone so you can rent jet skis, pontoon boats, fishing boats and more. Kayaking in Big Bear is one of the most popular activities. Bring your own inflatable kayaks or rent one in the marina. It’s approximate a 45 minute drive from Lake Arrowhead.
Where to Stay in Lake Arrowhead
- Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa is the main resort that’s walking distance to the village, has a spa and nice pool area.
- UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge is an all inclusive that is open to the public when it is not being used for UCLA functions.
- 15 Best Lake Arrowhead Airbnb Cabins – We’ve compiled an entire list of the best Lake Arrowhead vacation rentals.
Lake Arrowhead is a California hidden gem. Most people from out of state don’t know it exists and you will fall in love with this charming lake town. It’s a perfect vacation spot year round and these 10 fun things to do are just the beginning of a great week or weekend in Lake Arrowhead. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below.
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