Lake Arrowhead is a privately owned lake with limited public access, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful hamlet in the San Bernardino National Forest. Plenty of family-friendly activities, an upscale, lakeside village and close proximity to L.A. make it a delightful weekend getaway with the kids.
Enjoy lake views while dining at the dockside Belgian Waffle Works (28200 CA Hwy. 189, Suite 150; 909-337-5222; www.belgianwaffle.com), a full-service family restaurant serving 17 kinds of specialty waffles and a signature pulled pork sandwich on a Hawaiian bun. Kids’ favorites include burgers, fish fillets, chicken tenders and fries.
The Cedar Glen Malt Shop – more commonly called by its original name, Happy Faces Malt Shop – (29125 Hook Creek Rd.; 909-337-6640) is a 50’s-style diner best known for its thick, flavorful ice cream concoctions. Nothing fancy, but this off-the-beaten path eatery is popular with locals and worth a stop.
For laid-back luxury and coveted lake access, check into the full-service Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa (27984 CA Hwy. 189; 909-336-1511; www.lakearrowheadresort.com). Lounge on the private beach, walk on a lakeside path and gather around the campfire (weather permitting) for s’mores and naturalist-led programs. Activities include guided tours on the resort’s private pontoon ($25 per person), ATVs and mountain biking. An arcade and outdoor heated pool will keep kids entertained. Weekday room rates start at about $209.
Prefer a more rustic experience? The Arrowhead Tree Top Lodge (27992 Rainbow Dr.; 909-337-2311; www.treetoparrowhead.com) is a no-frills, family-owned establishment with an onsite swimming pool, creek and nature trail. Family suites (starting at $398) sleep six and have fully-equipped kitchens and patios with barbecue grills.
The village is the hub for farmers markets, boat shows and free summer concerts featuring various tribute bands.
Ready to jump in the lake? McKenzie Water Ski School (lower Lake Arrowhead Village; 909-337-3814; www.mckenziewaterskischool.com) offers beginner through advanced ski and wakeboarding lessons for all ages. A typical 15-20-minute water skiing lesson covers two miles. $60 adults, $35 ages 5 and younger.
For more tame lake action, hop aboard the Lake Arrowhead Queen paddlewheel boat (282200 CA Hwy. 189; 909-336-6992; www.lakearrowhead.com/queen.html) for a narrated tour and views of exquisite waterfront homes.
Hiking families with young kids will especially like the half-mile Indian Hill Trail, which begins east of Rock Camp Station on Highway 183. The easy hike leads to bedrock mortars used by the Serrano Indians to grind acorns into flour. A $5 adventure pass, available at several locations, is required at most trail heads. For information, contact the Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce (28200 Highway 189, Suite E-100; 909-336-1547; www.lakearrowheadchamber.com).
Let’s Go columnist Mimi Slawoff is a mother of three who writes about family fun.