How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Lake Arrowhead

Craving an autumn weekend? Head to this idyllic mountain town just two hours from LA.

November 10, 2023 6:35 am
View of small black cabin overlooking mountain view
It's time for a relaxing fall vacation in the San Bernardino Mountains

It’s widely believed that Southern California lacks seasons, or at least dramatically distinct seasons like in other parts of the country. While this is true of the vast majority of SoCal, the seasons do in fact exist here — you just need to know where to look. Enter Lake Arrowhead, a community nestled high in the San Bernardino Mountains two hours east of L.A. Here, thanks to elevations ranging from 5,100 and 6,100 feet above sea level, palm trees give way to pine trees and you’ll find all four seasons in all their glory, including snowy winters and crisp falls. So throughout November for example, when a normal day in L.A. is 73 and sunny, a short distance away in Lake Arrowhead golden leaves are falling and fireplaces are roaring.

In short, it’s a different world and offers a perfect (and easy) change of scenery for those feeling the monotony of the greater region’s mostly-never-ending, sort-of-always-summer weather. And to help you pick up and pay a visit ASAP, we’ve got your guide to a perfect weekend right here, including where to stay, where to eat and what to do. Now grab that sweater it’s never actually cold enough to wear in L.A. and enjoy. 

Fisherman's Hideaway living room
Fisherman’s Hideaway living room
Pine Rose Cabins

Where to Stay in Lake Arrowhead

For most, a fall weekend in the mountains is best spent in a home where space, comfort and privacy come standard. Luckily, Lake Arrowhead has no shortage of high quality rentals, with everything from 1960s A-frames, to vintage 1920s cabins, to newer homes with modern design on offer. You’ll also find homes with mountain views, homes directly on the lake, and homes with extra amenities, like hot tubs, to enhance your stay. Check out a few notable options here

For an Airbnb alternative, check out Pine Rose Cabins. This collection of 20 mostly freestanding cabins is run like a hotel and offers something for any group size, from studio cabins for couples to multi-bedroom cabins for families and groups of friends. Every cabin comes with a wood-burning fireplace (with firewood bundles sold at the front desk) and a fully equipped kitchen. Standout cabins to book include: Fisherman’s Hideaway, Wild Bill’s, Little House and the Storybook Cottage.

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For a particularly Instagram-worthy stay, check out Getaway‘s tiny cabins in nearby Running Springs. At just 140-200 square feet, these ultra-small structures are packed with everything you’ll need, including a queen-sized bed, stocked kitchenette with stove and mini fridge, and a full bathroom. Outside, there’s a private fit pit complete with grate for cooking, plus chairs and a picnic table for lounging. For a more detailed look, check out InsideHook’s full review here.

Tacos, chips and cocktails on a tray
Tacos and cocktails from Jetties

Where to Eat in Lake Arrowhead

Upon arriving, grab a casual, lakeside lunch at Jetties. Located in the Swiss-inspired Lake Arrowhead Village, they’ve got a full bar with great cocktails and a menu of classics, including burgers and fantastic fires. Nearby in Skyforest, and great for lunch or dinner, LouEddie’s Pizza is a local institution serving fire-roasted pizza in an old, cozy cabin. Grab a table downstairs, near the bar with on-tap beer, or outside beneath the towering pines when the weather allows. 

For a homestyle breakfast in a homey setting, check out The Cedar Glen Inn. With no signage outside designating it as a restaurant, making it easy to miss, inside you’ll find satisfying breakfast staples like huge, perfect pancakes and their signature baskets and gravy. Later, swing by Lake Arrowhead Brewing Company to sample their brews — and if you’re hungry, Rippin Bowls is onsite serving poké and açaí. Come dinner, The Grill at Antler’s Inn is another local-favorite for fare like steak and pasta in a rustic yet refined lodge-like structure.

And for those staying at Getaway or looking for a reason to visit Running Springs, grab breakfast at LuluBelle’s Coffee House and Bakery (the move for your morning caffeine fix and an egg sandwich) or lunch at Rocky’s Deli (their hot dogs and hot sandwiches are well-suited for cool fall days). 

Will Abell Memorial Trail
Will Abell Memorial Trail
Andrew Snyder

What to Do in Lake Arrowhead

While there’s plenty to do in Lake Arrowhead, first consider not doing much at all. Slowing down, reveling in the pine-scented air and lack of noise pollution, cooking a meal, watching movies and starting a fire in your accommodation’s fireplace is one recipe for a perfect Lake Arrowhead weekend — especially for the over-stimulated city crowd.

For those seeking something more active, travel from Lake Arrowhead to Running Springs via Rim Of The World Highway to experience one of California’s most beautiful drives. While out exploring, stop by curated home and gift shops like Magpi and Basecamp General Store, or check out the area’s antique stores (there’s so many they’re hard to miss). Afterwards, put on hiking boots to check out trails like the Will Abell Memorial Trail or the Dogwood Campground Loop. Then, for an incredible bird-eye view, climb the Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout, where a Forest Service volunteer will be happy to share info about the lookout’s history and the surrounding area.

And as far as lake pursuits go, know that Lake Arrowhead itself is almost entirely private and reserved for local homeowners. But if looking at the lake from the shoreline and restaurants of Lake Arrowhead Village just won’t cut it, take a 50-minute cruise on the Lake Arrowhead Queen.


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