Nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, Lake Arrowhead is one of the few spots in California to experience all four seasons, making it a must-see destination for tourists and residents alike. At Lake Arrowhead, there’s something for everyone, from art and culture to shopping. We did the legwork for you and put together a list of the most popular attractions to kick your vacation into high gear.
I have a feeling that Californians prefer to keep Lake Arrowhead as a local hidden treasure. Can’t blame them for that, really. However, we’re here to share the destination with the rest of the world too. We haven’t visited Lake Arrowhead yet but it’s definitely on the radar for a future trip, so I’ve created this list of things to do in Lake Arrowhead – hopefully, you’ll find it useful as well.
Lake Arrowhead Outdoor Activities
- Aztec Falls
- Skypark at Santa’s Village
- Heaps Peak Arboretum
- Strawberry Peak
- Wildhaven Ranch
- Wintertime Skiing (Nearby Snow Valley Resort and McKenzie Ski School)
Lake Arrowhead Parks
- Lollipop Park
- Lake Gregory Regional Park
- Silver Lake State Recreational Park
- Grass Valley Park
Lake Arrowhead Museums and other attractions
- MSAS Astronomy Village
- Mountain History Museum
- Church of the Woods
Lake Arrowhead Shopping
- Lake Arrowhead Village
Don’t let all of the options overwhelm you. We’ll show you the ins and outs so you can focus on what matters most: having fun!
Why You Should Visit Lake Arrowhead
Nicknamed “the Alps of Southern California,” this haven sees all four seasons, from the full bloom of spring to the frigidity of winter. If that weren’t enough, the area exudes a cozy and quaint ambiance mirrored in its closely-knit, yet welcoming community of around 12,000 residents.
Surrounded by fragrant cedar, pine, and dogwood, Lake Arrowhead is a peaceful paradise for anyone looking to reconnect with nature. Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, a trip to Lake Arrowhead is a vacation that everyone will enjoy.
15 things to do in Lake Arrowhead, CA
Love backpacking and hiking? Or does your idea of the perfect vacation include sunbathing? Whatever your fancy, Lake Arrowhead has something for you. Don’t forget your camera!
Lake Arrowhead Outdoor Activities
Located along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) lies Aztec Falls, a popular swimming hole best visited during the spring or summer. The journey to the falls begins with a moderate 1-mile (round trip) hike along a narrow path that can be difficult for dogs and small children. Because of this, it’s recommended explorers keep pets at their campsite and a close eye on their children.
The path soon opens up into the beautiful falls, which descend down steep cliffs where groups of thrill-seeking vacationers often jump from. Though this is a popular pastime at Aztec Falls, it should be noted that the water’s depth varies and other hazards, like unseen rocks and debris, pose potential threats. At the base of these cliffs lies a body of water perfect for swimming or lounging.
To get to Aztec Falls, purchase an Adventure Pass for $5 which is good for the day from any of the vendors listed here, park at Splinters Cabin Trailhead, and begin the journey up. When you reach the bridge, take the trail on the right-hand side (now you’re on the PCT) and continue until you arrive at the falls. Though it is open 24 hours, we’d visit between sunrise to sunset.
Read what other hikers have to say about Aztec Falls here.
Skypark at Santa’s Village
This family-oriented adventure park rests on 230 acres of forest and boasts summer and winter activities, log cabin restaurants and shops, a robust conservation program, and character experiences that might include a glimpse of Santa himself.
At Skypark, vacationers have access to year-round mountain biking, hiking, fishing, archery, zipline, and rock climbing activities. During the holiday season, Santa’s Village transforms into a winter wonderland where guests can enjoy breakfast with Santa, tea with Mrs. Claus, and crafting and cookie decorating with Santa’s elves.
Skypark is open year-round from Thursday to Sunday from 9 to 6 P.M., with extended days during the holiday season. A day pass is $42 for adults and $32 for children and includes admission to the park’s restaurants, shops, and most of its attractions. Some attractions cost an additional fee.
Visit Skypark’s official website here.
Heaps Peak Arboretum
Opened in 1984, Heaps Peak Arboretum sits on 30 acres of land and houses over 30 species of California flora. Formerly the home of a lumber-harvesting operation that then became an illegal dumping ground, the neglected treasure was rehabilitated by a local schoolteacher who, along with a group of volunteers, founded the Rim of the World Interpretative Association which now maintains and staffs the arboretum.
At Heaps Peak, nature enthusiasts can learn about California’s flora and fauna, walk along a Sequoia-studded trail, visit a butterfly garden, and go on a guided nature walk. Guests can also purchase native plants to take home with them.
The Arboretum is open 365 days a year from dawn to dusk. Though admission is free, visitors will need an Adventure Pass, which costs $5, to park. The Information Booth is only staffed from late May to September, Thursday to Sunday from 11 to 3 P.M. Outside of these months, it operates during the weekends from 11 to 3 P.M.
Learn more about the Arboretum here.
At 6,164 feet, Strawberry Peak is the highest summit in the front range of the San Gabriel mountains. Named for the abundance of wild strawberries in the area, the 7.5-mile round-trip hike starts on a well-maintained trail before ascending to a steep, rocky path. Though this portion of the hike can be tricky, the climb is well worth it as the summit features beautiful views of Mt. Baldy, Mt. Wilson, and the Mojave Desert, as well as a historic fire lookout that was built in 1933. If staff is present, visitors can go inside Strawberry Peak Lookout, learn more about its history, and take in the breathtaking views. The lookout operates from 9 to 5 P.M. Memorial Day to Labor Day and on weekends during the fall months.
To get to Strawberry Peak, park at the Red Box Picnic Area, which requires an Adventure Pass, and cross Highway 2. You will see a wood post announcing the start of Strawberry Peak Trail. The trail is best hiked during the spring to fall months.
Note that poodle-dog bush lives along this trail and can cause a reaction similar to that of poison oak. We’d suggest wearing long pants and familiarizing yourself with the plant beforehand. Better to be safe than sorry!
Read what other visitors have to say about Strawberry Peak here.
Started in 1994 by a group of local residents, Wildhaven Ranch is a rehabilitation sanctuary for indigenous animals. Though the ranch is open to the public year-round on Saturdays and from spring to fall on Fridays, reservations are required to visit.
If you do go on a Saturday or Friday, you canc take part in their Wings N’ Things, Paws n’ Claws, and Bear Watching programs that provide close-up interactions with our wildlife neighbors. Tickets for the Saturday programs begin at $20 and are $25 for Bear Watching on Fridays. Due to the nature of the attraction, pets are not allowed.
Plan your visit to Wildhaven Ranch here.
We did say Lake Arrowhead saw all four seasons, so what better way to celebrate winter than by carving through powdery drift? Like any mountain resort worth its salt, Lake Arrowhead boasts a slew of wintertime activities suitable for all ages.
Those eager to hit the slopes should visit Snow Valley Resort. There, skiers will find 13 lifts and 240 acres of land waiting to be explored. Because the resort is also open for mountain biking and hiking, hours and fees vary depending on the season. Visit the resort’s website here to plan your visit.
If you prefer watersports, stop by the McKenzie Water Ski School between the months of May to September. Those new to water skiing and wakeboarding can learn from one of McKenzie’s experienced instructors while pros have the space to enjoy the fun on their own. Individual rides begin at $15 for 50 minutes and lessons begin at $65 for a 2-mile course. Make your reservation here.
For other nearby ski options, visit Snow Summit Mountain Resort, Bear Mountain, and Rim Nordic.
Lake Arrowhead Parks
At Lake Arrowhead, the outdoor fun doesn’t stop at the trails. Keep reading to see our favorite amusement and recreational parks.
Lollipop Park is a small pay-to-play amusement park located in Lake Arrowhead Village. It is perfect for little ones ages 2-10 and includes a carousel, swing ride, bumper cars, funhouse, and candy shop.
The cost of each attraction at Lollipop Park is relatively inexpensive, ranging anywhere from $3 to $7, with free parking. The park is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 to 6 P.M. (with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays) and Thursdays through Sundays from September to May. Christmas and Spring Break hours vary, so we’d consult the park’s website beforehand.
See Lollipop Park’s website here.
Lake Gregory Regional Park
Complete with water slides, a floating play area, aqua cycles and more, Lake Gregory Regional Park is also home to some of the best trout fishing in the area. Located in Crestline, the park offers idyllic family fun you won’t find anywhere else.
Though the lake is currently undergoing renovation, most of its amenities are still accessible. The park is open from May to June on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 6 P.M. and every day from June to September during the same hours. Daily passes are required to park and enjoy Lake Gregory’s amenities with rates beginning at $10 and going up to $105.
Plan your trip to Lake Gregory here.
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
At Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, families of all sizes can enjoy activities from camping and hiking to swimming and fishing – all without leaving the 249 feet that makeup Silverwood Lake.
Due to its extreme popularity with Lake Arrowhead visitors, we’d get to Silverwood as soon as it opens at 6 A.M. The park closes once it fills to capacity – a frequent occurrence during the summer season – so get there early and make a day of it.
The recreation area is open 7 days a week from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. (for day use) and experiences the highest volume of visitors from April through October. Plan your visit to Silverwood Lake here.
Grass Valley Park
The more exclusive option on this list, Grass Valley Park is a members-only area that overlooks beautiful Grass Valley Lake. In the park, members have access to BBQ and picnic areas, children’s playgrounds, grassy fields, and fishing. Due to its exclusivity, Grass Valley Park enjoys a calm ambiance with immaculately-manicured scenery that makes this treasure an investment for Arrowhead Woods property owners.
The park operates daily from 7 to 6 P.M. with membership packages ranging from $70 – $600 a year. New Arrowhead Woods property owners can take advantage of the association’s free general membership offer which is available to those who have not had an Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA) membership within the last five years.
For more information on becoming a member, visit the ALA’s website here.
Lake Arrowhead Museums and Other Attractions
Lake Arrowhead offers other activities off the beaten path, such as a planetarium, museum, and churches. Below is a list of our favorite indoor activities.
MSAS Astronomy Village
Opened in 1999, the Mountain Skies Astronomical Society’s (MSAS) Astronomy Village is home to a planetarium, observatory, workshop, and instructional space, and lender library. The village also hosts StarWatches which include an outdoor astral slideshow. Talk about cool, right?
The Astronomy Village is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. There is a nominal fee to enjoy its facilities which goes towards maintaining its programs. If you live in the area, consider further supporting the Village by becoming a member.
For more information on the MSAS Astronomy Village, visit the website here.
Mountain History Museum
Founded in 1986, the Mountain History Museum takes visitors on an adventure through time through a series of curated exhibits. Explorers can learn more about the region’s logging industry, the birth of the Arrowhead Reservoir Company, and the famous designers and movie stars that have called Lake Arrowhead home.
Because admission is free and the museum makes for a quick detour, we’d put it at the top of your list. After all, what better way to enjoy Lake Arrowhead than by learning about its history?
The museum is open from May to mid-October on Fridays from 12 to 4 P.M., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 to 4:30 P.M. For more information, visit the museum website’s here.
Church of the Woods
Visitors will feel at home in the Church of the Woods community, led by Pastor Rod Akins. According to visitors, the church offers a supportive community uplifted by Pastor Rod’s sermons, which take place every Sunday at 9 and 11 A.M.
Church of the Woods offers other activities and programs such as its game nights, Service Opportunity Sundays, a BBQ picnic, and sermon live streams, as well as dedicated ministries for children and women. Everyone is welcome.
To learn more about Church of the Woods’ programming, visit its website here.
Lake Arrowhead Shopping
If you don’t think a vacation is complete without some retail therapy, we’ve got just the spot for you: Lake Arrowhead Village!
Lake Arrowhead Village
Since its establishment in the 1920s, Lake Arrowhead Village has been a premier destination for world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment. Pet-friendly and kid-approved, the village includes a mix of local and well-known brands, mom and pop and big-name eateries, and a calendar of exciting events that take place year-round. Some of the events that draw in crowds include the Village’s summer concert series, Oktoberfest, and Christmas parade.
The destination is also home to the Queen Boat Tour, Family Fun Center, MAN Community Arts Center, and an indoor playground called Play Mountain.
Lake Arrowhead Village is open daily from 9 to 5 P.M., with extended hours during special events. Visit the Village’s website here.
Best Free Things to do in Lake Arrowhead, CA
Those planning to visit Lake Arrowhead will delight in the number of free activities there are to enjoy. Though a $5 Adventure Pass is required for some, our favorite no-cost activities are Aztec Falls, MSAS Astronomy Village, the Mountain History Museum, and any trail we come across!
See a list of all the hiking trails in Lake Arrowhead here.
Most Romantic Things to do in Lake Arrowhead, CA
With scenery as beautiful as Lake Arrowhead’s, any secluded spot can be transformed into a romantic getaway. However, our favorite romantic things to do include wandering down the Sequoia Trail of Heaps Peak Arboretum, taking in the beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest with our beloved at Strawberry Peak Lookout, and stargazing at MSAS Astronomy Village. There’s nothing like the great outdoors to bring two lovers closer together. Enjoy the sights and, most importantly, each other!
With this list in tow, you and your family with experience the best Lake Arrowhead has to offer. Enjoy your vacation and let us know which sights you visited in the comments below!
More to do in California
Working on your California itinerary? Make sure you check out my list of 19 best cities to visit in California too. Also, within 2-3 hours of driving time from Lake Arrowhead, you’ll find these –