How is this place only 2 hours from LA?!
I recently went to Idyllwild for a much-needed shot in the arm of good ‘ol fashioned Mamma NATURE. I can’t believe I’d never been there- it’s only 2 hrs away from where I grew up and it’s SO cheap to visit. Who knew that this glorious forest was on the other side of those dry Palm Springs mountains?!
I didn’t want to spend much money, and I didn’t want to have to do a precarious drive in my beat up little Ford with the engine-that-could who I’ve lovingly named the “Hocus Focus”. (I went to Big Bear last year and while it was lovely, I just couldn’t do that scary, gravity-defying drive with the high wind warnings that were going around SoCal last week.) So after a little research I stumbled upon a #NationalParkWeek post about Humber Park in the San Bernadino National Park area of Idyllwild, CA. After some lovely “Pinterest Porn” it was decided- I was goin’!
First- The Drive was SUPER EASY
I know this may seem like a small thing to other travelers, but with my car not being a traditional “outdoor vehicle” and with my propensity for car sickness, it was a HUGE plus for me. Yes, there were some twist-y mountain roads, but it was SO mild compared to Big Bear and I got through it very easily. The views were wonderful, the road was well-maintained, and the grade wasn’t too steep. Plus, the wind-y part only lasted about 20-30 mins which was totally do-able.
Second- the town is adorable (but very dated!).
Idyllwild is totally stuck in the 70’s: no fancy-pants ski resort-ists here! Pretty much everything is super “dated”, with the exception of the brand-new Grand Idyllwild Lodge and some new-er restaurants like Ferro. Don’t come here if high-end shopping is what you’re into (though in my opinion many of the shops were charming). There are TONS of artists and musicians here; every restaurant and bar boasts near all-day live music. It’s hippee-town galore.
Below is the most recent issue of the Idyllwild Town Crier/Directory:
Third, THE FOOD.
I would come here JUST for the food- no joke. I ate everything from hippee-approved gluten-free pizza to gourmet Osso Bucco. I drank my weight in local wines and craft ciders and fresh-pressed juice. I have never eaten so well in one weekend in one place- literally everything was delicious. Here is a list of where I ate:
- Idyology – burgers and cider (make a wish in the “money tree”!)
- La Casita – Enchiladas that rival ones I’ve had IN MEXICO.
- Cafe Aroma – Every. single. thing. coming out of that kitchen looked amazing.
- The Town Baker – Lattes and Cinnamon buns (free food for PCT Hikers!)
- Sky Island Organics – Health grocery that makes delicious smoothies and sandwiches
- Ferro Restaurant – Again: EVERYthing.
Where to Stay
I did splurge and stay at the stunning Grand Idyllwild Lodge as we went for my mom’s 65th birthday celebration (and if you have the $$ I would HIGHLY reccommend it!) but you could absolutely be very comfortable at many of the less expensive inns and there’s also cabin-rentals galore! Check Trip Advisor for accurate photos, rates and rankings.
You could also totally just drive up for the day if you live in SD/LA or as a day trip from Palm Springs / Coachella Valley.
Stay tuned for my post (this Wednesday 4/27/16) on #hiking Idyllwild’s #HumberPark in celebration of #NationalParkWeek!!