Photograph by John Colby
Are you looking to enjoy a winter escape and maybe see some snow, but don’t want to ski or snowboard? Lake Arrowhead, which has its high season in summer, is a lovely place for a family getaway or for cozying up during a romantic Valentine’s weekend. There’s shopping at Lake Arrowhead Village and enticing treatments at Spa of the Pines. The crowds are light, so you’ll get plenty of time and space to relax, recharge, and reconnect with the seasons without the long lines at nearby ski resorts.
The first priority is a trip on the Lake Arrowhead Queen paddlewheel boat ($13 to $17). Though the narration incorporates too many puns and the references are dated, it’s still a relaxing ride highlighting the lake’s history and providing insider scoop about which famous people have homes here. For a stroll among the trees, head to Heaps Peak Arboretum for a 1-mile circular hike that’s easy for all ages in any season. Little ones will delight in Lollipop Park at the Village, which features bumper cars, a carousel, and a mini‑train ride. It’s open Thursday through Sunday, weather permitting.
For breakfast or a decadent dessert, make your way to quaint Belgian Waffle Works, overlooking the lake.Throw caution to the wind and go for the Belgian S’more ($10.75) with chocolate ice cream, marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and graham cracker crumbs. When you’re ready for a great meal in a cozy space, visit little Stone Creek Bistro in Blue Jay. The menu is full of seasonally driven, locally sourced delights such as the arugula strawberry citrus salad ($12), the grilled double-cut pork chop ($28), and the Stone Creek Bruschetta ($10).
The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa ($170 and up) offers fireplaces in many corners—in the lobby for people-watching, in the restaurant BIN 189 for a glass of wine or a cocktail, or in a suite of your own ($650 and up). This is a good spot to revel in the mountain quiet or indulge in a Spa of the Pines Signature Massage ($145 for 60 minutes). For those looking for quintessential rustic cabins, or if you’re bringing a dog, try Arrowhead Pine Rose Cabins ($99 and up). Rose Gables Bed & Breakfast ($125 to $195) offers Victorian elegance overlooking the town.
Lake Arrowhead is less than a two-hour drive from Orange County and sits at 5,174 feet above sea level.