After a week road-tripping through the mostly still cold American Southwest, we decided to spend one day in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to visit its best places and engage in fun water activities, all under hot Arizona’s sun.
How to Spend One Day in Lake Havasu City: The Best Places to Visit and Things to Do
Lake Havasu City gets the best of two states. Nestled near the border of Arizona and California, it boasts warm, sunny weather most of the year. The summers are certainly the hottest. Yet the city is nowhere as scorching hot as some other places in Arizona even at this time of the year. At least it doesn’t feel like it when you soak up the sun on a sandy beach or splash cool water in or near the urban paradise.
Securing its spot on the shore of a giant man-made reservoir, Lake Havasu City fills your day with refreshing water activities, ranging from boating, kayaking, canoeing, and paddling. Lake Havasu, that the place takes its name from, however, is not the only contributor to such a profusion of outdoor things to do in the area. The city, located in the middle of an Arizona desert, enjoys the company of another giant, the mighty Colorado River.
With these two allies, rest assured spending a day in Lake Havasu City promises a myriad of enjoyable activities in some of the best places in and near the city.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT WHILE SPENDING ONE DAY IN LAKE HAVASU CITY
1. London Bridge
Address: 1340 McCulloch Blvd, AZ 86403
Although the large reservoir entices many locals and visitors, the majority of them embark on a day adventure to Lake Havasu City to see its famous London Bridge. Crossing the narrow Bridgewater Channel, the historic structure is one of the most popular attractions in Arizona, superseded only by Grand Canyon National Park.
While the man-made London Bridge is not as old as the world-famous canyon, it lived through some of the glorious and turbulent periods in the history of the UK. One of the first things to see while spending a day in Lake Havasu City, the famous London Bridge immigrated to Arizona from the city of London.
The popular bridge began its journey in the 1830s. Over the period of more than 100 years, it faithfully served the capital of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, as the population of London grew, the bridge couldn’t accommodate all of its ever-increasing traffic. The new London Bridge had to relieve the old one.
New Life of the Old London Bridge
But the historic structure wasn’t ready to retire yet. In 1967, the City of London sold the London Bridge to Robert McCulloch. The American businessman dismantled the structure stone by stone and shipped it to Lake Havasu City.
It didn’t take long after that for the London Bridge to embark on a new journey and for Lake Havasu City to start impressing its day visitors with the aristocratic structure over the small channel.
Today adorned with both American and British flags, the London Bridge is a sight not to miss in the city. You can walk across the bridge and for a few minutes imagine that you are in London. For those who aim at enhancing their visit with as many interesting details as possible, join a guided walking tour. The tour starts at the Visitor Center and slowly approaches the symbol of the city.
2. London Bridge Beach
After devoting a few hours to the London Bridge, get down to London Bridge Beach to fill your day with the irresistible water activities Lake Havasu City is proud of. Buzzing with the locals and visitors alike, the place offers sandy beaches for sunbathers and grassy areas for those who prefer to enjoy the sight of the refreshing water from a shady place.
Furthermore, feel free to bring along your pet and spend the entire day enjoying the sights of Lake Havasu City from an off-leash dog park. A separate area with kid playgrounds is also designated for families with children.
But if all you want to do in one day in Lake Havasu City is to enjoy the water, keep closer to a swimming area. Alternately, use seasonal rental services and get on a paddleboat, cross the Bridgewater Channel on a kayak or canoe. With London Bridge Beach staying open from dawn until 11 p.m., you might have just found the perfect place to spend the entire day in Lake Havasu City.
3. Wanderlust Balloon
If getting up in the wee hours in the morning is an easy-peasy thing to do for you, then start your day experiencing a different side of Lake Havasu City. In a city that is famous for its water activities, taking a balloon ride is an endeavor for the most adventurous.
For those who up to a challenge and a thrilling experience, be ready to start your next day in Lake Havasu City early. The balloon ride adventure begins way before the sun appears on the horizon.
The first, not less exciting things to do on this early morning is to inflate the ballon. Surely, you won’t be the one to do this task. Yet witnessing the magic to unfold in front of you will definitely put you in the right mood for the rest of the day, regardless of the other activities you packed your Lake Havasu City itinerary with.
The flight occurs during the sunset. As your soar into the sky festooned with pink, orange, and red hues, you get to admire the city from an entirely different vantage point and gain a new appreciation of this Arizona’s jewel.
The balloon ride usually ends in Sara Park where the participants enjoy celebratory meal and receive certificates. Clearly, it’s not a bad start of a beautiful day in lovely Lake Havasu City.
4. Parker Dam
Address: San Bernardino County, California; La Paz County, Arizona
Located roughly 24 miles from Lake Havasu City, Parker Dam offers a completely different activity for your day visit to the city. The water is still present. Yet this time, no energetic movements (like with paddling or swimming) is required. Just enjoy your ride and let your eyes soak up the surrounding beauty.
The short drive is indeed spectacular. It’s dotted with a number of pull-offs to admire Arizona’s terrain. The highlight of this half day trip from Lake Havasu City is 320-foot Parker Dam. The colossal structure towers over the Colorado River right on the border with California.
Interestingly, only 27 percent of the dam, which is known as the deepest dam in the world, is visible. The rest of the structure sits deep in the river.
5. Lake Havasu State Park
Address: 699 London Bridge Rd, AZ 86403
A short, 8-minute drive from the London Bridge sits another place you can’t miss while spending a day in Lake Havasu City. Lake Havasu State Park has all one need for a day in nature. From white sand beaches to a large grassy area, the place is ready to pamper you with different kinds of outdoor pursuits.
For the water enthusiasts, there are swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing – everything to make your day on the water unforgettable. The 1.75-mile Mohave Sunset Trail takes care of hiking activities with stunning views.
If different species of plants and wildlife inspire you to spend the day on the outskirt of Lake Havasu City, to sure to visit the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden and explore its extensive collection. Those who feel compelled to spend more than one day in Lake Havasu City, book a campsite and enjoy a starry sky at night.
Last but not least, the park hosts several annual festivals. These include such popular fairs as the Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair and the Lake Havasu Boat Show. So now you might want to plan your day trip to Lake Havasu City strategically. To see all the incredible places the area offers and dive deeper into its cultural heritage, it’s a win-win situation.
6. Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
Located between Parker and Lake Havasu City, the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife lover’s paradise. A popular migratory bird route, the area is a sanctuary for desert bighorn sheep, bobcats, cougars, greater roadrunners, and waterfowl.
Yet if after the wildlife viewing session, you still long for some refreshing water activities, get your kayak or canoe on the water and traverse 30 river miles protected by the refuge.
The boaters often leave Lake Havasu City for a day excursion along the scenic 20-mile-long Topock Gorge. Anglers stick to the Topock Marsh that abounds with bass, crappie, catfish, and carp. A separate realm awaits the hikers escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. These find some interesting trails to march along in the Havasu Wilderness Area.
When to Visit Arizona: The Best Time to Spend a Day in Lake Havasu City
Need a day escape to Lake Havasu City in winter? Just do it. The city enjoys sunny days and cool nights at this time of the year. Spring and fall also pamper the visitor with the gorgeous weather, perfect for hiking or soaking up the sun by the river.
Summer is usually hot. The only escape is provided by the alluring reservoir and the powerful river. If this is your cup of tea, be sure to visit Lake Havasu City and spend at least one day enjoying the fun water activities. Otherwise, wait until the heat subsides before venturing to Arizona.
If you plan to spend the entire day in the city center, soaking up the sun and exploring city’s food scene, walking is the best way to get around. For those who long to see Parker Dam or the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, a car is necessary.
Where to Stay
Tourism is one of the most profitable businesses in the area. Thus, a wide range of accommodations is something that sets the city apart from other destinations in Arizona. Keep in mind, though, the hotels get packed fast, especially in summer. So you might want to reserve your home for a day in Lake Havasu City well in advance.
- For a budget-friendly accommodation, look no further than Windsor Inn Motel Lake Side. The place offers simple rooms, just 1.6 miles from the London Bridge.
- Those who travel on a bigger budget can indulge in impeccable services and outstanding views, offered by the London Bridge Resort.