Lake Arrowhead lures guests with endless mountain activities, s’mores and stargazing 

Time for a lake retake.

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  • Written by
    Jennie Nunn

Once a hotbed for Hollywood’s elite set—from Marilyn Monroe to Rock Hudson and Cary Grant—Lake Arrowhead has served as the woodsy backdrop for numerous films including Just For You starring Bing Crosby, Ethel Barrymore and Natalie Wood; Heidi starring Shirley Temple; I’ll Take Sweden with Bob Hope and Frankie Avalon; and A Summer Without Boys starring Michael Moriarty.

But glitz aside, in more recent years the mountain town—perched at 5,174 feet in the San Bernardino National Forest and located approximately two hours from Los Angeles—has become a haven for second homeowners, outdoor enthusiasts and a hideaway for family vacations and those seeking a quiet mountain refuge.

Situated a short walk from McKenzie Water Ski School and Lake Arrowhead Village, Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa is the place to stay, with 162 guestrooms appointed in a warm palette of browns, reds and caramel tones and 11 suites with balconies and walk-in showers (four select suites are equipped with fireplaces.)

Surrounded by pine trees, the AAA-Four Diamond lakefront property also boasts an on-site restaurant, Bin189; an outdoor swimming pool and two Jacuzzi tubs; a fitness studio; a grab-and-go café; a private beach for sunbathing; and a house boat for guided tours (available May through October) of the private, 780-acre lake. After dark, the resort comes to life with stargazing, fireside s’mores and films on select movie nights.


For the ultimate “day off,” book a spa treatment at the Spa of The Pines—the 8,000-square-foot spa with 10 treatment rooms, a steam room and outdoor seating areas for reading and reflecting. On the menu, choose from the salt scrub with essential oils and sea salt for exfoliation and hydration or the Cleopatra facial using wild rose ingredients, followed by a hand, foot and scalp massage.

For adventure on and around the lake, other off-site options range from chartered fishing trips and guided ATV, kayak and mountain bike tours to water skiing.

At the modern mountain lodge-like property outfitted with a stone fireplace and wall-mounted decorative deer heads, hints of the lake’s storied past include framed black-and-white photographs of numerous celebrities and dignitaries. “Lake Arrowhead has long been a favorite nearby getaway of choice for residents of Southern California since the mid-1920s when the name was changed from Little Bear Lake to Lake Arrowhead,” says Geoff Young, managing director of Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa.

“At an elevation of over 5,000 feet, Lake Arrowhead offers a cool alternative to heat-soaked regions of Southern California in the summer and nearby winter wonderland breaks for ski retreats in the winter. Angelenos—and in particular the Hollywood crowd—love the easy access, slower pace and scenic beauty of the lake in addition to the added value of being able to make a last-minute decision to escape to Lake Arrowhead,” he says.

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