A weekend in Lake Arrowhead is a total escape from Los Angeles with lots of fun to be had. Here’s our list of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead.
Why listen to us? In addition to spending many summers at UCLA Bruinwoods and Lake Arrowhead vacation house, we actually lived in Lake Arrowhead for a year.
We’ve tried every single restaurant, done every possible activity and shopped at every single shop. We have literally done it all and are sharing the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead so you can love it like we do!
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Planning your Lake Arrowhead trip? Don’t miss our latest travel guides:
- 15 Swoon Worthy Lake Arrowhead Airbnb Cabins
- 15 Best Restaurants in Lake Arrowhead
- Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Fall Colors & 9 Fun Things to do in Lake Arrowhead for Fall
- 10 Best Lakes in Southern California for a weekend getaway
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 weekend.
25 Best Things to Do in Lake Arrowhead
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. The activities below are the best things to do at 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.
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. Take a Cruise on the Lake Arrowhead Queen
The Lake Arrowhead Queen is a historic paddle-wheel boat that 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.
See the homes of Shirley Temple and many of today’s celebrities along with the homes used for filming Hollywood movies like The American President and Parent Trap.
While on the tour, you’ll learn about the history of this manmade lake from an entertaining and informative captain.
On weekdays, tours depart at 11:00am, 12:30pm, 2:00pm, and 3:30pm. Weekend tours are every hour on the hour from 11:00am to 6:00pm.
Ticket prices are $26.95 per adult (ages 12-64), $24.95 Per Senior (65+), $19.95 Per Child (ages 2-11) and kids under 2 are free.
Purchase your tickets at LeRoy’s Boardshop, located in the Lake Arrowhead Village across from the boarding area for the boat tours.
Kids 12 and under have to wear a floatation device during the tour. There’s no bathroom on the boat so make sure to visit the restroom beforehand. Dogs are allowed on board and sometimes kids get a chance to steer the boat.
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, 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 is the Will Abell Memorial Trail. 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 and during the summer it’s very easy and it only takes about an hour. At the top of the hill, you can see Lake Arrowhead.
If you go when there is snow, even a little snow, wear hiking boots and hold off if there’s too much snow.
The biggest issue is that the sun hits the trail in certain spots and melts the snow, which freezes again at night. It can get really icy and seriously slippery. 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 labeled a dog friendly hike but there are places where you need to do some rock scrambling that might not be easy with a small dog that you need to carry.
This is another Lake Arrowhead hike where it’s easy to get off trail, so use the All Trails App and pay attention. You’ll be rewarded with an awesome view at the top!
6. Heaps Peak Arboretum
Looking for something to do at Lake Arrowhead with little kids? Check out Heaps Peak Arboretum! This 1-mile loop trail features educational displays about the local flora and fauna.
Plus, there’s a patch of giant sequoias that are sure to impress. The arboretum is beautiful in any season – spring and summer for the flowers, fall for the foliage, and winter for the snow.
7. 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 because there are portions that don’t have the best path.
I’m including this information here because a lot of Airbnb’s give out false information to guests.
- You need to be an ALA member or with a member and be carrying a lake pass and identification that matches the name on the pass with you. There are guards who check the passes.
- The protection of the path is not meant to be elitist but that people live here have had to deal with many incidents. Unfortunately it’s the case of a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone.
- There are plenty of great things to do besides walking on the path so it’s not a big deal if you don’t have access.
8. Mountain Skies Astronomical Society Astronomy Village
As you can imagine, being in the mountains away from light pollution offers a great opportunity to stargaze. The Mountain Skies Astronomical Society offers free public astronomy viewing nights at their Astronomy Village.
Located just minutes from the lake, MSAS village features several high-powered telescopes, perfect for getting an up-close look at the stars and planets.
In addition to stargazing, they also offer educational presentations on topics like the constellations and planets.
Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a complete novice, you’re sure to have a fun and educational time at the Mountain Skies Astronomical Society Astronomy Village.
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.
9. 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.
10. 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..
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Dining in Lake Arrowhead
One of the best things to do at 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. You can buy their waffle mix to take home as a souvenir.
The Grapevine has a nice deck with great beer and wine flights and appetizers. The Lakehouse Tap Room is another delicious choice. They have indoor and outdoor seating and live entertainment inside.
Some of the best restaurants outside of the village are Puglia Italian Restaurant in Blue Jay. I love, love, love their Chicken Piccata! They offer daily specials but they can be expensive so ask the price before you order.
Right near that is Stone Creek Bistro, which is a top choice 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 that has amazing views.
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 in a historic lodge makes a great night out.
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.
14. Summer Concerts in Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead Village hosts a free Summer Concert Series. It features tribute bands that are super fun. These concerts are the best Lake Arrowhead entertainment at night.
Shows are every weekend on Friday and Saturday night from 7-9pm. There is a Beer Garden that opens one hour prior.
You can buy reserved seating but it’s not necessary to pay if you don’t care about having a seat in the inner circle.
The summer concerts are hands down my favorite thing to do in Lake Arrowhead at night. Check the schedule ahead of time and plan your trip to Lake Arrowhead on a weekend where you like the band.
It’s really fun in person and completely family and dog friendly. You can also hear the music filling the summer air from many village restaurants and spots around the lake.
It runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. The bands are fantastic and it’s worth a trip to Lake Arrowhead all on it’s own. Can you tell I’m a fan!
15. 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.
In summer it’s a great casual place to enjoy with friends (even the furry ones) and in winter, there are clear igloos to sit inside.
16. 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.
17. Mountain Arts Gallery
Check out the Mountain Arts Gallery if you’re looking for something to do at Lake Arrowhead that is a little different. Located in the village, the gallery features a rotating selection of local artists, and there’s always something new to see.
Whether you’re a fan of painting, sculpture, or photography, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye. And if you’re looking for a unique souvenir, the gallery also has a great selection of artisan gifts.
18. Jurassic Fossils
This shop may seem out of place at a lakeside shopping center but it’s fun to check out. They have fossils, crystals, jewelry and gifts.
It has a museum feel and things that are interesting for all ages. If you are interested the staff will share a ton of knowledge about geology and minerals.
You have to watch your kids pretty closely in here because there are some delicate, expensive things.
19. Shopping at 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.
If you love antiques, home furnishings or cute clothes, don’t miss Cedar Glen. 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.
Cedar Glen is the smallest town in Lake Arrowhead but they have a gas station, a small grocery store that everyone refers to as Mini Jensens and a few restaurants. If you are staying in the Palisades area, it’s walking distance.
Lastly, Blue Jay is the other major shopping area. If you are looking for Starbucks, you’ll find it inside Jensen’s grocery store. You’ll also find Rite Aid, a Nail Salon, Pet Grooming and more.
20. The Mountain History Museum – Rim of the World Historical Society
The Mountain History Museum is a small but well-curated museum that packs a lot of history into its modest space.
Learn about the area’s Native American heritage and see some of the things that early settlers used to make their homes.
It houses exhibits on everything from the area’s moderate climate (which has made it a popular tourist destination for over a century) to its role in Hollywood movies and on Crestline, home to alternative lifestyles in the 1950s.
Best of all, admission is free, so there’s no excuse not to check it out!
21. MacKay Park is Fun With Kids and Pups
MacKay Park is the perfect space to let out a little energy. It has swings, a play structure, a small zip line, volleyball and pickle ball courts, and picnic areas.
And for your furry friends, they will definitely think the is the best thing to do in Lake Arrowhead.
The MacKay Bark park is a nice big area where your dog can run around. There is also a separate gated area for smaller dogs if you want.
I like heading there at sunset to catch the beautiful views over the lake as the sky changes colors.
22. 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.
23. Visiting the Beach, Kayaking or Fishing in Lake Arrowhead
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 an ALA Pass, 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.
24. Lake Gregory
Lake Gregory is a small lake where you can go fishing, kayaking or rent a fun aqua bike.
The real star of this show is the Lake Gregory Aqua Park, an inflatable playground and waterslides that are set up during the summer.
Set up on the sandy beach and make a day of it. If you have kids, it’s one of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead vicinity. It’s only a 15 minute drive and the kids will have a blast.
Without kids, it’s still fun to visit, especially if you walk the 2.3 mile loop trail around the lake. It’s one of the best things to do in Lake Arrowhead in fall.
25. 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 has all the amenities of Lake Arrowhead and more. 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.
You can also take a zipline tour, visit the Big Bear Alpine zoo or go for a hike.
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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G. AllenJune 22, 2020 at 5:29 pm
To use trails, the lake or beach clubs membership cards with matching photo ID are required. STR and Airbnb therefore are not allowed unless the renting party somehow chooses to add the renter as a family member.
JeniferJune 24, 2020 at 10:02 pm
Thank you. It’s been updated.
JenniferJune 8, 2020 at 11:56 am
It looks amazing there!