Every desert needs an oasis. And an oasis is exactly what Lake Havasu is. Blessed with 365 days of sunshine a year and packed with more attractions than you could fit into a lifetime, it's the perfect place to relax, rewind, and enjoy some of the best delights Mohave County has to offer. For first time visitors, it's a treasure trove of new experiences. Stroll London Bridge, fire up the barbeque at Rotary Community Park, soak up the history at Lake Havasu History Museum, take a dip at the Aquatic Park, or simply admire the many, many lighthouses (and by many, we do mean many)... whatever you do, you're guaranteed a memorable time. If drawing up a schedule is leaving you with a headache, take some inspiration from our round up of the twenty best things to do in Lake Havasu for first timers. Satisfaction guaranteed!
20. Visit the Lighthouses
If you thought there was about as much call for a lighthouse in a desert as there is for a thermal vest in the Caribbean, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Lake Havasu is virtually awash with lighthouses: in fact (and as The Crazy Tourist right points out) Lake Havasu City has more lighthouses than any other city in the world. The explanation behind the phenomenon is just as extraordinary as the lighthouses themselves: in 2000, a group of local residents who'd become concerned about the number of boating accidents happening on the lake teamed together to invest in twenty-six miniature replicas of famous lighthouses from around the world. The result is something quite extraordinary.
19. Enjoy Nature at Cattail Cove State Park
Whether you want to fish, swim, boat, jet ski, or camp, Cattail Cove State Park has a little something for everyone. A favorite retreat with generations of locals, it's an outstanding place to relax, rewind, and enjoy one of the most tranquil spots in Lake Havasu. With so many activities to choose between, you'll never be bored regardless of how long you stay or how many repeats visit you make. Just be sure to bring a fishing rod if you can - the shore is teaming with so many largemouth and striped bass, channel and flathead catfish, bluegill and crappi, you'll find few places where catching your supper is quite so easy.... or enjoyable.
18. Take a Dip at Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center
If you're searching for a place the whole family will enjoy, look no further than the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center. With water slides, indoor pools, and an outdoor splash park, it guarantees hours of family-friendly fun in the sun. For the little ones, there's even swimming classes on offer.
17. Visit Bridgewater Channel
Trip 101 has plenty of suggestions for things to see and do in Lake Havasu, not least the suggestion of taking a boat out on Bridgewater Channel. Situated in the heart of Lake Havasu City, Bridgewater Channel offers stunning views over the mountains, not to mention a host of restaurants, shops and bars to wine and dine in after you've spent a relaxing day traversing the waters.
16.Visit the Lake Havasu City Visitor Center
Visitor centers aren't always the most interesting of places. Let's face it, some are downright dull. Not so the Lake Havasu City Visitor Center, at least if the reviewers over at Trip Advisor are to be believed. So enamored are they with the resource, they've ranked it as one of the top attractions in Lake Havasu. Reading some of the reviews, it's not hard to see why. "Very nice small area where you can learn about the lake and how it was built. Learn about London Bridge and also a good place for souvenir shopping with good options for food and drinks. Right next to the London Bridge so it is a great location as well with ample places to park. Very cool gate, lions and fountain are awesome for pictures," goes one, with another adding "Great tourist information and even some discounts are available. Do this early in your trip rather than at the end as we did! Fun map where you can put a pin in the city, you're from."
15. Admire the Wildflowers at Mallard Cove Trail
If you're visiting Lake Havasu in the spring, pack your camera and head out to the Mallard Cove Trail. A gentle, 5.3-mile hike that takes you through primitive campsites, rock formations, and gorgeous scenery, it comes into its own in the warmer months when the whole trail is turned into a rainbow of color thanks to the thousands of glorious wildflowers that litter the area.
14. Take to the Skies
Why walk when you can fly? If you're looking for a once in a lifetime experience, take The Down Lo's recommendation and book yourself a class with Hanging' Over Havasu. The experience of hang gliding over the desert (not to mention the views over the surrounding mountains) is extraordinary. If you want to fly solo, book yourself a set of 15 lessons and soon you'll be freewheeling through the skies like a pro.
13. Test Your Luck at Havasu Landing Casino
If you're feeling lucky, there's one place in Lake Havasu to head above all others: the Havasu Landing Casino. Although it's small, there's more than enough table games and slot machines to pit your wits against. Even if you end up losing more than you win, you'll at least find some consolation on the fun, 20-minute ferry ride that'll take you to the Casino and back again. If you're feeling peckish while you're there, there's a super little restaurant on site serving up a great range of American classics.
12. Test Your Fitness on the Dead Burro Canyon Trail
If you're looking for a challenge, a challenge is exactly what you'll find on the Dead Burro Canyon Trai. A strenuous trail that'll stretch the limits of even the most experienced hiker, this is no place for the unfit. It is, on the other hand, the perfect place for walkers who've always dreamt of climbing a canyon. Along the way, expect to see plenty of critters and wildlife - if you're lucky, you might even wander into some of the bighorn sheep that graze the area. Although it measures only 7.5 miles long, pack plenty of water and prepare to spend at least 5 hours navigating its entirety.
11. Tour the Desert Diamond Distillery Factory
If you're a fan of the odd tipple, a tour of the Desert Diamond Distillery Factory comes highly recommended. As well as bringing you the chance to sample a good selection of rums, sugar-cane based vodka and whiskies, it also offers a fascinating insight into the liquor making process. Set around 70 miles from Lake Havasu City on Route 66, the factory may be a trek, but for those eager to get an inside look at the workings of an award-winning distillery (and enjoy some very fine beverages to boot), it's well worth the drive.
10. Stroll London Bridge
If you've ever dreamt of taking a selfie on London Bridge but can't afford the airfare to the UK, there's a solution... and strangely enough, the solution lies in Lake Havasu. In 1831, the original London Bridge was torn down to make room for a new one. As it turned out, the new bridge was no more capable of handling the advent of the auto age than the old one. In 1967, the City of London decided it was time for an upgrade... and a payday. The historic bridge was torn down and sold to the highest bidder. In this case, the highest bidder was Robert McCulloch. After paying for the bridge to be dismantled and flown to the US, McCullock painstakingly recreated the famous walkway in Lake Havasu. These days, it's one of the city's most famous attractions. Take a walking tour to see why.
9. Soak Up the Sun at London Bridge Beach
If you're looking for a place to relax and unwind, try a visit to London Bridge Beach. With plenty of places to enjoy a picnic, a barbeque, a swim, or a stroll, it's the perfect destination for a fun-packed day out. There's even the chance to rent a kayak or paddleboat in season.
8. Take a Boat Ride
If you can operate a motor or swing a pair of oars, you shouldn't miss the chance to take a boat out for the day while you're in Lake Havasu. The huge lake attracts over 750,000 visitors every year- and for good reason. Whether you rent a boat or bring your own, there's few experiences more relaxing than dotting over the waves for the day. Bring some beers, a friend or two, and prepare for some first class relaxation.
7. Go on a Treasure Hunt
If your kids are looking for a new adventure, do as Tripping recommends and introduce them to the joys of Geocaching. Download the app, then get set to enjoy one of the most enjoyable treasure hunts you're likely to experience in a lifetime. As well as giving your kids a legitimate reason to stay glued to their phones, it's also a great way to explore and discover parts of Lake Havasu you might otherwise miss.
6. Picnic at Rotary Park
Lake Havasu has no shortage of high voltage thrills and spills, but if you're looking for something low octane, head to Rotary Park. Recommended by Back Road Ramblers as one of the highlights of Lake Havasu, it's a great spot to enjoy a picnic, fire up the barbeque, or take a stroll. For the kids, there's a skate park and playground. Perfect for the whole family, it's a must visit for any first-time visitor to Lake Havasu.
5. Enjoy the Festivities at the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair
If you're lucky enough to visit Lake Havasu in mid-January, don't miss the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair. This enchanting event is one of the biggest festivals on the Lake Havasu calendar, with thousands of locals and tourists turning out to enjoy the sight of over 80 hot air balloons taking to the skies. There's plenty to keep you entertained on a ground level, too: expect enough music, activities, demonstrations, rides, and food vendors to keep you and all the family well and truly entertained.
4. Visit Lake Havasu Museum of History
If you want to take in a bit of culture during your trip, don't miss a visit to Lake Havasu Museum of History. Open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00am to 4:00pm from October through April, and 10:00am to 2:00pm from May to September, it's a great place to find out more about the region's rich culture and history. There's also plenty of activities and interactive experiences for kids to enjoy as well.
3. Hike at Sara Park
Lake Havasu isn't short on hiking trails. By far one of the best places to stretch your legs has to be Sara Park. Consisting of a 5-mile loop along a sandy wash, it offers multiple opportunities for bird watching, wildlife spotting, and taking snaps of the dramatic rock formations and cliffs that mark the way. Gentle enough for even couch potatoes to manage without too much effort, it's a great place to experience some of the best nature Lake Havasu has to offer.
2. Enjoy a Beer at Desert Bar
If you're going to visit just one bar while you're in Lake Havasu, make it the Desert Bar. This unique venue ranks as one of Vacation Idea's best things to do in Lake Havasu, and it's easy to see why. Located on an old mining camp in the middle of the lower Sonoran Desert, its powered solely by solar energy. If that wasn't enough to make it one of the most environmentally friendly bars around, it's also a recycler's dream, having been built from the top down with recycled materials like old refrigerator doors and swaying steel barstools. Although it's only open from dawn to dusk on weekends from October until April, you'll kick yourself if you don't make it there for at least one beer.
1. Sleep Beneath the Stars at Lake Havasu State Park
If you don't mind giving up your comfortable hotel bed for a night or two, try a camping trip to Lake Havasu State Park. Situated along the shoreline of the Colorado River, it's a fabulous place to experience nature at its very best. Along with offering plenty of sites for camping, there's no shortage of opportunities for nature watching, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and much more besides. For outdoor lovers, it's a must.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn