LA’s Greatest Escapes: Idyllwild, CA
We wouldn’t normally walk out of a town with brochures and maps, but we couldn’t help ourselves this time around. We’re not really into hanging onto this and that; most of our souvenirs are gifts. When we left Hawaii just a few weeks ago, our bags were just as heavy as when we first arrived, although the amazing experiences don’t weigh anything.
There was something different about Idyllwild. Years of living in LA led to numerous trips up the coast, which were the extent of most of our driving adventures. After driving cross-country so many times, we had little interest in heading towards the desert. When we decided to take a long weekend vacation, we were intrigued by Idyllwild’s appearance on so many lists. It piqued our interest far more than Palm Springs.
After booking a few nights at the Strawberry Inn Cottage, we packed light and made the 2.5 hour drive from Santa Monica. Looking back, we could’ve definitely packed a few extra layers of warm clothing, a headlamp, and Noke. Still, we were happy with the choices that were made and after being greeted by our hostess at the bed & breakfast mentioned above, we were ready for an adventure.
Idyllwild is by no means a large town. It is, in fact, quite small. You could easily explore the entirety of the town in just a few hours, but then you wouldn’t have a chance to experience everything… especially the countless hikes. Idyllwild sits at nearly a mile in elevation. The surrounding hikes can take you an extra thousand feet up, so make sure you stay well hydrated to prevent any headaches. Surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains, there are dozens of trails, ranging from extremely easy to very challenging.
Dining in Idyllwild is nothing to turn your nose at, with Mexican, Italian, and American food, as well as many bakeries and brews, there are certainly choices. While we weren’t blown away by our savory meals, we were thrilled by the sweet treats that we found. The Town Baker stood out as particularly delicious on all accounts. We really took advantage of the cold weather and had plenty of hot tea and chocolate. We were not disappointed.
The town itself closes early and is extremely dark, which is why we would consider bringing a headlamp. We were able to jump into a screening of Thor: Ragnarok at one of the cutest movie theaters we’ve ever seen, which was definitely a highlight of the trip. The community is small but extremely tight-knit, with a great amount of support for the local artists. Their art is stunning and it is featured in the shops throughout town. From Merkaba, a tea drinkers paradise, to The Spruce Moose, featuring jaw-dropping art and hand-poured candles, you will surely leave with something for yourself and others.
Interestingly enough, we decided to leave a day early. Why? The answer is simple. We discovered just how much this town loves dogs. There are tons of dog-friendly restaurants, a cozy dog park, unique animal rescues, on-leash hikes, and Mountain Paws, a well-stocked and even better-staffed pet shop. We decided to bring Noke up here and stay at the dog-friendly sister residence to our accommodation, the Quiet Creek Inn, on our next trip.
We also decided to walk out with a Mountain Homes magazine with housing listings. With simple yet beautiful getaways in the 180-200k range, it’d be hard to pass up the option. While we might not want to move here anytime soon, we’d certainly love to have an escape from LA. And as always, stay hungry and fit!