Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Landlocked Lake Havasu boasts more lighthouses than any other city in North America. Look for nearly 20 one-third-scale replicas that are functional navigational aids and are maintained by the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club.
The Desert Bar
The Nellie E Saloon, known as the Desert Bar, sits on an old copper mining camp and is one of Arizona’s funkiest destinations, complete with a church, a covered bridge, swaying bar stools, and glass refrigerator doors for windows. Powered by solar energy and closed during the summer, the Desert Bar is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. and takes only cash.
Locals know to ask for the daily specials instead of ordering off the menu at this eclectic eatery that serves Sicilian food; Sunday is all-day happy hour with 50-cent wings. Try the Texas Toothpicks, and trust longtime bartender Chene with whatever he is mixing.
Part of the Tinnell Memorial Sports Park, this is the Southwest’s largest multi-use skate park and showcases some of the state’s best talent. At 40,000 square feet, it’s named for local fallen solider, Patrick Tinnell.
How to spend 36 hours in Lake Havasu, with Nautical Beachfront Resort as your base camp.
3 p.m. | Stand-Up Paddleboard Lake Havasu
Hopping on a board and dipping a paddle into the water is one of the nicest ways to start a weekend from Nautical Beachfront Resort, which has its own Watersports Rental center, next to the Turtle Beach Bar in the Cove.
5:30 p.m. | Dinner at Cha-Bones
This steak house and tapas bar has been voted one of the top 10 restaurants in Arizona, thanks to its daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and menu that features more than 20 tapas (from brie, apple, and pecan flotilla to curried lamb bones), sizeable steaks, and lobster tails.
7:30 a.m. | Breakfast at Juicy’s
Blueberry pancakes are the order of the day at Juicy’s (named for after a dog lost in 1951) and has been cooking country breakfasts since the early 1980s; the Italian sausage scramble and eggs Florentine are top choices, too.
9 a.m. | Explore Oatman
Wild burros roam the streets in this historic 1880s gold-mining town about 55 miles northwest of Lake Havasu that still stages gunfights daily. Buy burro biscuits from one of the local shops and stock up on handmade leather souvenirs.
1 p.m. | Tour Lake Havasu and the Special Activities Recreation Area
On a three-hour excursion with longtime Lake Havasu resident Captain Kenny Samp, guests board Serenity Now to discover Copper Canyon, Steamboat Cove, and such rock formations as Balance Rock and Sleeping Indian. Afterward, visit the Special Activities Recreation Area (SARA), an 1,100-acre park that features hiking and mountain biking trails, along with rodeo grounds, an archery range, and other amenities.
6 p.m. | Dinner at Shugrue’s
Enjoy excellent views of Lake Havasu’s London Bridge and the Bridgewater Channel at Shugrue’s, which has won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and serves hand-cut steaks and a wide variety of pasta, chicken, and seafood dishes. Begin with the Nosh board of charcuterie.
9 a.m. | Walk Across the London Bridge
This famous span really was once the London Bridge, built in the 1830s and crossing the Thames River until it crossed the Atlantic Ocean to be relocated to Arizona. Lake Havasu City bought the bridge from London in 1968 for $2.46 million and transported it 5,400 miles. A 90-minute walking tour of the London Bridge conducted by the Lake Havasu Visitor Center hits the highlights.
12 p.m. | Lunch at the Red Onion
Operating since 2007 in Lake Havasu’s first bank building, the Red Onion has walls of windows and soaring ceilings. Extensive lunch offerings range from cobb salads and mushroom-Swiss burgers to the Do It Best! club sandwich, named for a beloved Lake Havasu hardware store.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Hot-Air Ballooning over Lake Havasu | Wanderlust Balloons
On these hour-long flights, adventurers soar the skies for breathtaking views of Lake Havasu, where the sunrise timing adds even more color to an already colorful landscape.
Off-Roading the Desert | At the Bridge Rentals
Lake Havasu has more than 20 trails for bumping over sand dunes, rolling through canyons, and wandering among wildflowers.
Wakeboarding Lake Havasu | Nautical Watersports Center
With no speed limits on the lake, this is the place to try wakeboarding (or waterskiing or wakesurfing); head to Skiers’ Coves One, Two, and Three and to Skiers’ Island north of Copper Canyon for some of the top spots.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Sunday Swap Meet & Vehicle Mart
Billed as Lake Havasu City’s “largest social gathering,” every Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., up to 525 vendors gather to sell just about every item under the sun: jewelry, plants, car parts, kitchenware, picture frames, sunglasses, clothing, and more.
This microbrewery crafts an Upriver Lager and a Scorpion Amber Ale, among its year-round beers, along with offers seasonal beers, such as Spring Training and the Abominable Winter Ale.
Octane Wine Garage
Founded in 2014 in a former gas station, Octane pours fine wine and plates artistic cheese and meat boards. We suggest the Peachy Canyon zinfandel and the pretzel-roll pastrami.
This small franchise – which made appearances on Food Network’s “Cupcakes Wars” – opened a location in Lake Havasu in 2015. Set in adorable pink- and brown-accented shop on McCulloch Boulevard, it serves the brand’s signature cupcakes in a rainbow of flavors, from chocolate peanut butter to lemon drop and coconut. But cupcakes aren’t the only specialty – a popular banana ice cream is also made in house.
- Like a LocalQuirky, below-the-radar highlights only a local could recommendRead More
- The WeekenderHow to spend 36 hours here, with the resort as your basecamp.Read More
A Benchmark Resort & Hotel
The Nautical Beachfront Resort, 1000 McCulloch Boulevard North, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403 P: 928.855.2141