It amazes me how many people that I’ve met that live in Arizona, or the surrounding areas that have never been to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The deserts of Southern California and throughout Arizona offer numerous outdoor activities like hiking, off road driving, and beautiful scenery. But in my opinion, Lake Havasu City is one of Arizona’s, America’s hidden treasures.
Located off I-40 on Hwy 93, roughly 2 ½ hours south of Las Vegas Nevada, is where this desert playground is located. Lake Havasu was formed when the Parker Dam, located south of Lake Havasu City, was constructed in the 1930’s, creating the lake now known as Lake Havasu. Robert McCullough, the Godfather of Lake Havasu, bought the London Bridge for 2.5 million dollars, and spent another 7 million dollars to dismantle it, and ship it over from England. What used to be just a peninsula is now an island after a channel was dug out for the bridge. And yes, the song “The London Bridge is falling down” is about the Lake Havasu’s London Bridge.
The below list includes some of the biggest attractions that Lake Havasu has to offer, and that only few insiders know about. So, in order to fully enjoy every minute of your stay, do yourself a favor and make sure that you schedule some time to fit them all in. Lake Havasu can be enjoyed year round, but the best times of the year are during the spring and summer months; especially if you plan on playing in the water. Winter and fall are ideal if you don’t plan on swimming, boating and skiing.
So, don’t let the heat from May through September stop you. Just stock up on 150 SPF plus sunscreen and enjoy yourself.
1. London Bridge – Get the bridge out of the way first. This is a no-brainer. If you go to Lake Havasu and don’t see the bridge, then there’s a chance you already have heat stroke. The English Village surrounds the bridge to give you the feel of London, except surrounded by a desert. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty cool, but for some reason unknown to me, the English Village doesn’t stack up to its crown jewel, the London Bridge. Some really cool shops and attractions are long gone, but it’s still worth your while to grab an ice cream cone and some souvenirs. Don’t forget to go back at night.
2. Spring Break – College-aged kids love it, and the locals hate it. In my opinion Lake Havasu is the West Coast’s best kept secret when it comes to spring break spots. If you can pull it off, try to make reservations at the Nautical Inn on the island, or the London Bride Resort located in the channel next to the London Bridge. Not to mention Lake Havasu’s hottest nightclub, Kokomo’s, is also located there.
3. Water sports – This is Havasu’s bread and butter. Swimming, boating and jet skiing is what Lake Havasu is all about. You should have no problem finding boat rentals under the London Bridge. If you’re traveling in group, consider renting a houseboat for the day. Be sure to check out the sand bars located north of the city. Just ask the locals, they’ll point you in the right direction. Check out the swimming holes in the area as well. Rotary State Park located at the end of Smoketree Ave, and The State Beach located on the island, are great spots for kids and families. There are numerous swimming holes on the island if you like privacy, but make sure that you wear shoes. Lake Havasu doesn’t have the plush, sandy beaches like southern California, and the rocks will tear your feet apart.
4. Fishing – If you’re an angler, then you’ll have a blast in Lake Havasu. Striper bass, catfish and blue gill populate the region, just to name a few. Lake Havasu is notorious for its countless coves and inlets that are just begging to be fished in. You don’t have to have a boat either. So if you just want to pull up a lawn chair and relax, the island has plenty of fishing holes. Don’t forget to buy a license.
5. The Island at night – Now this is what it is all about. Most of Lake Havasu’s homes can see the lake because of its layout. So when you are down by the lake you can see the entire city. And, at night it’s absolutely beautiful. The clear nights give way to the heavens-you get a clear view of the stars in all of their glory. Make sure to go to the very end of the island near Site Six. Just follow McCullough Blvd over the bridge until you reach the end and pull off anywhere to find a good spot. But be careful, there are a lot of dangerous ravines, and if don’t pay attention it could get ugly. You’ll see what I’m talking about once you are there. You can hear wild donkeys on some nights across the lake in California, or boaters living it up. I can’t even tell you how many nights I spent down there throwing a few cold ones down my throat, and just taking it all in.
6. Copper Canyon – Havasu boating residents have always known about this hot spot, but MTV took this little cove to Hollywood. Made famous by MTV’s 1994 Spring Break visit, Copper Canyon is now a must-see if you have a boat and like to party and jump off cliffs. During Spring Break, packed boats make for a floating walkway. This also goes for Labor Day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day weekend. If a lot of people are not your thing, you might want to experience Copper Canyon during another time of the year.
7. Boat Tours – If you just want to relax and hang out for a couple hours, and take in all of the sites, then maybe a boat tour will interest you. Narrators give you a step-by-step, play-by-play experience that is truly second-to-none. View wildlife, enjoy a dinner or relax; the choice is yours.
8. Bison Blvd – I’m about to upset the neighbors, but the view from the desert off Bison Blvd via Kiowa are too good not to tell you about. Pavement will only take you so far though, a car will do the trick if you drive very slowly; we advise only using a truck if possible. Bison is located at the base of the mountains behind Lake Havasu. See the city from the other side, and like the island, there are amazing views of the cosmos. During the day, the desert is an off road neophyte’s paradise; this is where the desert really opens up.
9. Cliffs – I you like jumping off cliffs, then this is the spot for you. Located north of Lake Havasu City off I-93 in the desert hills are the cliffs ranging from 15-150 feet tall. This is not a park and parking is limited, unless you access this area using an off road vehicle or boat. The water is deep enough, but you should use extreme caution if you plan on jumping off the big boys. Again, just ask the younger locals for exact directions.
10. Off Road – The desert is wide open to the north, south and west for Lake Havasu. There are numerous dune buggy rentals in the area to choose from. But like I said, be prepared by having water, a GPS device, cell phone and a spare tire. Rent a dune buggy and hit the open desert trails. Just be careful, because if you get into trouble out there during the summer months, the Arizona heat is not very forgiving.