“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir
Ah, now I understand why my friends escape to the mountains on a whim! A weekend in Idyllwild does the body and soul some mighty good. With the pine trees, fresh air, and towering peaks, one would think that they are in Colorado or Montana. Thankfully, Idyllwild is only a 2.5-hour scenic drive from San Diego or Los Angeles. As you head through Mountain Center and San Jacinto, take advantage of the turnouts to snap photos of the panoramic views. Pay attention to road signs once you pass Mountain Center! Seeing as Idyllwild is only about ten blocks wide/tall, I almost missed the tiny and quaint town. Once you’re there, it’s a magical patch of wilderness that will help you “keep close to Nature’s heart.”
Booking a room at one of the local lodges will get you within walking distance of the town’s center. However, if you are looking for a place with character, privately owned cabins are your best bet. My friends and I stayed in the Emerald Cabin. Jennifer is a wonderful host and her cozy abode is the perfect retreat. I could not stop taking photos of the beautifully decorated interior, exposed beams, and natural furnishings. If you are in need of basic supplies and groceries, the Idyllwild Village Market is just down the street. Several fine restaurants surround the town’s plaza. I recommend having breakfast at Cafe Aroma, lunch at Gastrognome, and dinner with drinks at Idyology. For those looking for vegetarian and vegan options, Plant Food Supper Club is a great spot for breakfast and lunch.
Idyllwild is heaven for hikers, bikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts. San Jacinto Peak offers abundant hiking and climbing opportunities in the spring, summer, and fall. If time allows, I highly suggest taking a ride up to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and exploring the trails. The summer months can be quite hot — cool off with a swim at Lake Hemet’s Waterpark. Boating and fishing are also popular year-round activities at Lake Hemet. Idyllwild becomes a winter wonderland once the snow starts to fall. Visitors spend their days skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Snow Creek. For those looking for a slower pace, Idyllwild’s art scene does not disappoint. The Art Alliance of Idyllwild regularly hosts classes, wine tastings, and art walks. Every August, hundreds of people flock to the town for Jazz in the Pines. It’s definitely a festival that you don’t want to miss!
Have you been to Idyllwild? If so, what are some of your favorite shops to visit, things to do, or places to stay? Post a comment or send me a message; I want to hear all about it!