Tour of Dani's Hometown of Lake Arrowhead CA
I was born in Los Angeles but spent most of my childhood growing up in the beautiful small town of Lake Arrowhead. It's a mountain community nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, a few hours from LA and right next to Big Bear. It's known for it's quaint cottages, thick pine tree forests, and of course the gorgeous lake! One thing it's not particularly known for is it's culture. There are very few places to eat or drink, grab a coffee, or even shop. Even the tiny town of Joshua Tree has way more things to do and places to see as you may have noticed from our previous travel post.
Though I consider myself a city gal these days, Lake Arrowhead is a gorgeous getaway to escape it all, take things slow, and visit my family. Looking back I'm so thankful for growing up there, but back then there wasn't a whole lot to do as a kid! It seemed like teenagers either got into partying or nerdy tech things, I fell into latter category haha. In a way I'm thankful because I ended up spending a lot of time on the computer learning coding and graphic design which later helped me in my career and as I was starting Dazey!
If you were watching my insta-story you know I was on a mission over the holidays to promote Lake Arrowhead and make it COOL haha. Being a beautiful destination just hours away for LA, it has all the right ingredients to become a hip vacation spot. And with house prices literally 1/4 the price of LA maybe even a great spot for those burnt out on the city to escape to. We just need a little more creative culture in the area! Luckily this is beginning to change. There are a few little spots popping up started by former Angelenos' looking to take a break from big city living. Below are a couple recommendations, along with photos descriptions, shown throughout the post. We also took some around town, in the forrest, and by the lake!
Photo Op Alert - HWY 18
This highway is as gorgeous as it is treacherous. When it gets snowy it's sadly been known to claim many lives. So on the way up while all you flatlanders (that's what we called the non-mountain folks LOL) are driving slowly up the hill, be sure to safely pull over on one of the larger pull-offs for a photo. There's a ton of them on the way up, all equally amazing. Here are some snaps from where we stopped! Pro tip, if you stop more near the bottom you can get more hills in the backdrop before you're too high!
Lake Life - How to trick the system
So Lake Arrowhead is technically a private lake reserved only for it's residents. But I'll let ya in on a little secret, it's hardly enforced. There are a ton of ALA entrances throughout the lake where you can walk right down from the road. I recommend heading down to the north bay for a more secluded and fun part of the lake. There's an entrance near the corner of Northbay road and Alpen drive. They are marked with little wooden posts that say "ALA" on the side. Now Lake Arrowhead is a big town for vacation homes, and around the lake most of them aren't occupied by full time residents, nor are there docks. Growing up we would walk down to the lake and just choose a dock and post up all day, rarely do people say anything. YES the dock shown in these photos were borrowed as well. ;)
This adorable little shop with all sorts of goodies from vintage clothing, artwork, cards, patches, and more! Located in a cute A-frame, it has that mountain feel but still curated to an LA clientele looking for a special souvenir. Owned by a good boss and crafter herself, I discovered Savannah in an LA Times article (she's since ditched the dude and is a bad ass solo-lady-boss!) and I remember instantly reposting it saying something along the lines of, "OH MY GOSH SOMETHING COOL OPENED IN LAKE ARROWHEAD." Certainly in all caps. Not to trash talk the hometown, but it definitely needs more awesome spots like this. I got some vintage books for my dad and amazing holiday cards. Now time for you to take a road trip to Road Trip!
Lou Eddie's Pizza
Located in a quaint area of willow woods, right off the the main highway, this spot has only been around a few years but I make sure to stop by whenever I'm in town. Like I said, the foodie scene isn't quite like LA, but this is a solid spot with a great pie! There's also a tavern on the bottom and a forested outdoor seating area. The inside is super cute as well!
Lake Arrowhead Village
Literally the only place we had to shop and go to growing up. It's our version of a downtown and a total tourist trap. But if you're in Arrowhead you are basically obligated to check it out. Though it's filled mostly with outlet stores (I do like the Pendleton one) or weird bear/fish shops, it is still a very cute area that does feel like an alpine village. It's also a great place to see the lake and feed ducks! Most of the stores around the lake will sell duck food for a buck, and the ducks do go pretty crazy. Franklin loved it!
What's Edible in the Village - Belgian Waffle
Belgian waffle is THE JAM, literally they have great jam. But in all seriousness this is an amazing long time local spot! I've been coming here since I was a kid and am obsessed. They kill the savory-sweet breakfast game and the Brussels Belgian Waffle is heaven sent. They also have super reasonable drink prices, so naturally it's a great place for boozy brunch. The inside has all your mountain cottage vibes, or you can sit on their lakeside patio.
Hearth & Sage - Top Town Crestline
When growing up Crestline was basically the ugly step sister of Lake Arrowhead, but man it's starting to come up! It's gotten some cute stores as well as a highly recommended (for the mountain) coffee shop called Higher Elevation. Per Savannah of Road Trip's recommendation we stopped by another previous LA (Angeles) resident become LA (Arrowhead) shop owner. Hearth & Sage looked like it was picked up right out of Silverlake and dropped down on the mountain. It's the perfect place to get that gift for the friend who already has everything, but still NEEDS all these cute things. We got Franklin a beautiful leather matching color and leash set he LOVES. It's true, he told me.
Random Patch of Forest
They're everywhere haha. We just pulled off of the road to snap these quick pics! But if you're up there you have to take advantage of all the beautiful hiking trails Lake Arrowhead has to offer. We didn't have time this trip but a really great one is Deep Creek Hot Springs! Just be careful of the nudists haha.