All Articles Weekend in Lake Havasu: an incredible shoreline and many outdoor activities

Weekend in Lake Havasu: an incredible shoreline and many outdoor activities

Stacey Leasca
By Stacey Leasca28 May 2024 6 minutes read
Cheeseburger and onion rings
Lighthouse against mountain backdrop
Lakeside hotel with palm trees at sunset
Left: Juicy's; Top Right: Lake Havasu Lighthouses; Bottom Right: The Nautical Beachfront Resort
Image: Tripadvisor

Has a vacation ever been so epic that you thought, “I could live here”? That’s exactly how Gina and Bob Strasbaugh felt when they visited Lake Havasu, Arizona. They fell in love with the massive waterfront, the outdoor activities, and the endless sun (a whopping 300 days of it a year). So, they did what any rational person would do: They moved there permanently.

But before they moved, the Strasbaughs had a long-distance love affair that lasted about 40 years. "It's been my husband's favorite vacation place since high school,” Gina shared. Their favorite part? The water. And there’s plenty of it: The lake is 43 miles long and three miles across at the widest point. Locals love watersports like paddleboarding, boating, and jet skiing, and the backdrop of mountains is picture perfect.

Woman and man wearing sunglasses outside on trail
Gina and Bob Strasbaugh

But there's more to Lake Havasu than the lake. "For a long time, we didn't do much in town, Gina said. “We never came here in the winter, and now we love the wintertime. There are just so many activities. It's a really friendly bike and walking town. It's a very active town. People are always out."

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Now, the Strasbaughs’ long-time vacation spot feels like home. "We enjoy our time away, but we especially like being back,” says Bob. “I feel very comfortable and welcomed here." Even if you come for just a day, they say, you'll feel welcomed, too. Who knows, you might feel so welcomed that Gina and Bob become your new neighbors!

In this edition of the WeekEnder, we’re taking you through some of the best outdoor experiences in Lake Havasu, along with a few places to stop for a bite and for a rest when you're ready.

Stacey Leasca, SoCal’s Senior WeekEnder Guide

Things to do

Watersports, wildlife, and an iconic bridge.

Two people in tiny boat on water under bridge
London Bridge

Transport yourself to England on London Bridge

This truly impressive Lake Havasu icon once stretched across the River Thames in London and was later dismantled and brought all the way to the lake in 1971. Travelers can walk across the 930-foot bridge for an awesome view of the lake or take a fun photo for the ‘gram with the classic red phone booth on the bank.

Soak up the sunshine at Lake Havasu State Park

You really can choose your own adventure here: Hike the 1.75-mile Mohave Sunset Trail, paddle around in a kayak, swim in the lake, wander through the cactus garden, or lounge on a sandy beach. If you don’t want to leave, you can stay overnight—the park has over 50 campsites or over a dozen beachside cabins, available with a reservation.

Left: White lighthouse next to lake; Right: White bird in the lakeside grass
Lake Havasu Lighthouses (L), Havasu National Wildlife Refuge (R)

Track down the Lake Havasu Lighthouses

More than two dozen lighthouses are sprinkled on Lake Havasu’s shores, all replicas of other lighthouses from around the world. The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club sells a 32-page booklet so you can learn about each lighthouse on a self-guided tour. Tripadvisor reviewers note that the best way to spot a bunch at once is from the water, so look for them if you're out paddling or on a cruise.

Go birdwatching at the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

This 37,515-acre refuge is home to more than 300 different kinds of birds, along with larger mammals like coyotes, bobcats, and bighorn sheep. See how many you can spot on a guided tour (offered once a month) or on a self-guided scenic drive. There are also options for boating, fishing, and hiking.

Learn something new at Lake Havasu Museum of History

If you catch Lake Havasu on a rare rainy day or just need a break from the sun, take a deep dive into the city’s past at this local museum. Learn more about the Chemehuevi, the Indigenous community that calls Havasu home, and about the fascinating history of the London Bridge, which was once, indeed, falling down.

Spots to eat and drink

The best local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries.

Eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, hashbrowns, and sliced strawberry

Start your morning at Juicy's

Equally loved by locals and travelers, Juicy’s has been in business for over 30 years and has a nearly perfect five-star rating on Tripadvisor out of more than 1,000 reviews. And it's all thanks to classic plates that are downright perfect. Reviewers say the strawberry-stuffed French toast is delish and that Juicy’s has "the best sausage gravy in town." The menu is gigantic, so you’ll definitely find something to love.

Get a caffeine kick at Street Side Coffee Co

This cute coffee shop has everything you want from a cafe, including a menu filled with organic coffee and tea options. While you can get a cup to go, you can also sip it on the shop's adorable back patio, which one reviewer notes is as “peaceful” as it gets.

Left: Lakeside restaurant patio with yellow umbrellas; Right: Plate of appetizers with onion rings, stuffed mushrooms, and pigs in a blanket
Martini Bay (L), Barley Brothers Brewery (R)

Fuel up with lunch at Shugrue's Restaurant and Bakery

Yes, Shugrue's Restaurant and Bakery has great food, but it's also got something else: an epic view of the water and bridge. We suggest taking in that view with one of the popular happy hour deals (at the bar only) or over dinner with fresh seafood or steak. Score a window seat at sunset, and you’ve really got it made.

Do a date night at Martini Bay

The upscale Martini Bay Bar and Grill, part of London Bridge Resort, sits just across the bridge from Shugrue’s and is another option with stellar views. Dishes are made from local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, like grilled wild-caught salmon or the Creekstone Farms’ hand-cut filet mignon. Pair it all with—what else—a martini, and try to snag a spot near the gas fireplace on the patio for great vibes and an even better view.

Toast to your vacation at Barley Brothers Brewery

More lake views? Yes please! This lakeside microbrewery and restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizza and range of local beers, including wheat beers, ales, stouts, and IPAs. On a warm day, kick back with the Jenna Grace Hefeweizen, an award-winning unfiltered blond wheat beer with a taste of lemon.

Places to stay

Spacious suites and waterside resorts.

Four-story hotel along lake with outdoor area and docked boat
Heat Hotel

Live the suite life at London Bridge Resort

This all-suite resort has roomy one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchenettes, living areas, and space for four to six adults. Plus, the resort’s got tons of amenities like three swimming pools (one with a slide), a nine-hole golf course, the Kokomo Beach Club (with pizza, pool, and live entertainment), and Martini Bay bar and grill, highlighted above. The location is excellent, right along the Shoreline Walking Trail and with a great view of London Bridge.

Go jump in a lake at The Nautical Beachfront Resort

A beachfront resort in Arizona? Yes, it does exist. The Nautical Beachfront Resort really makes use of its waterfront location with an in-lake inflatable water park, a thatched-roof tiki boat that cruises around the lake, and watersports rentals like paddleboards, pontoon boats, and jet skis—though most of these cost an extra fee. The resort also has an infinity pool and cabanas available to rent, outfitted with sofas, TVs, and mini-fridges. Rooms and suites are big (sleeping up to six), and some have private balconies with lake views.

Left: One-story hotel with chairs on rooms' patios; Right: Hotel lobby with brown couch and colorful pillows
Havasu Dunes Resort (L), Home2 Suites (R)

Spread out at Heat Hotel

This boutique hotel is a traveler favorite thanks to its fantastic location, lake views, and huge, modern rooms and suites that top out at almost 1,000 square feet. Many have private, lakeview balconies, some of which are downright enormous. A highlight is the onsite Heat Bar’s outdoor patio, which sits at eye level with the lake. Watersport rentals and restaurants are a quick walk away, and the hotel offers free bikes to borrow.

Chill with your crew at Havasu Dunes Resort

Just a few minutes from the lake and about a five-minute drive from London Bridge, this resort offers comfortable, condo-like studios and one- and two-bedroom suites with sitting areas and kitchens or kitchenettes stocked with cookware. Dunes also has a pool, hot tub, putt-putt golf, cornhole, and communal grills great for group hangouts. The hotel does sit along a highway, but it still has a view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Get a warm welcome at Home2 Suites

This all-suite hotel is another Tripadvisor favorite, thanks in part to the friendly staff and big studio suites, which have kitchen areas and space for four to six adults. The hotel also rocks a fitness center, outdoor pool, and free breakfast. It’s about a five-minute drive from London Bridge and sits right next to Rotary Community Park, a big, lakeside park with walking trails, three playgrounds, a skate park, picnic areas, and a beach area for swimming, volleyball, or bocce ball.

Stacey Leasca
Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure, TIME, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, and many more. You’ll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.