Exploring Lake Havasu City
by Cheryl Dillard
What’s there to do in and around Lake Havasu City? Not much, I thought, unless you have a boat, an off-road vehicle or some sturdy hiking boots.
When I passed through a couple years ago it was the middle of August and hotels were booked. It was sweltering and I couldn’t wait to get out of town.
This spring, when friends offered to let me stay at their seldom-used Havasu condo, I balked at the thought of spending more than one day at a place I was less than enamored with. However, my adventurous spirit won out and I decided to give it a try—a chance to explore some new territory.
I’m glad I did.
Lake Havasu Sunset – Rotary Park – 2019
Not only are Havasu sunsets the most spectacular I’ve witnessed, the scenic jet boat ride through Topock Gorge was breathtaking. Fortunately I had packed my DSLR and several lenses.
Note: All photos on this blog post were shot with my cellphone.
Topock Gorge – 2019
And, much to my delight, I discovered some great homemade ice cream parlors and a brewery/restaurant next to the London Bridge that serves a killer burger and good draft beer. I also visited the small but very interesting historic center and a couple of local art galleries
Scoops Ice Cream Parlor
Havasu Art Gallery
I’m a fair-weather, high-handicap golfer, but I love to play, so I did a Google search and found the Refuge Golf & Country Club, touted to have a beautiful and challenging course. My friend, Joni, and I played the “Nine and Dine” special— nine holes at $70 for two players including cart rental, loaner clubs and a $20 food coupon. What a bargain!
Me – Refuge Golf Course – 2019
The London Bridge Resort par 3, 9-hole course is fun if you want to work on your short game, but the dirt cart paths are full of ruts and potholes and the gas-powered golf carts could use some maintenance. Joni hit the throttle and almost launched me onto the fairway.
Bridgewater Channel Esplanade
If chasing a ball around isn’t your thing and you’d rather be browsing through some shops or taking a leisurely walk, then you’ll enjoy the tree-lined esplanade under the London Bridge along the Bridgewater Channel. It’s a great place to watch the muscle boats parade back and forth in the canal and to shop for a souvenir. Joni and I ended up buying hats that we didn’t need from a handsome and very charming Aussie shop owner.
Bridgewater Channel Shops
London Bridge – Lake Havasu – 2019
For nature lovers, there are several spots to sit and observe the diverse flora and fauna of the region. Lake Havasu State Park has a wonderful cactus garden and Rotary Park is a great place to enjoy a sunset or evening stroll along the lake. There’s also a huge skateboard/scooter park for the grandkids.
Havasu Cactus Blossoms
Without a doubt, the highlight of my stay was getting to visit with some Azusa High classmates who are now retired and full-time residents of Lake Havasu. I contacted each of them before I arrived to make sure they would be available.
Tom Johnson and his wife, Kay, picked me up for a lunch at Chili’s. Tom had been dieting in preparation for knee replacement surgery, but cheated big time by ordering a humongous platter of food. He said he’d resume his diet the next day, although he didn’t look like he needed to lose weight. After lunch they drove me through some new housing developments on Havasu Island near the famous lighthouses, and then cruised around the original “Old Town” area of Havasu. Afterward they showed me their lovely home and swimming pool.
Kay and Tom Johnson – Lake Havasu – 2019
Tom and I ended up sitting in recliners facing each other at opposite ends of the living room. We’re both hard of hearing, with “what” being the most-used word of the day. Kay acted as our interpreter while Tom and I reminisced and caught up on the last 50 plus years. They showed me their engagement photo and some old photos of Tom in his LAPD uniform. A couple days later I followed Kay to her favorite gift shops and back to their home to take some photos for Tom’s upcoming bio.
Barbara and Dennis Smith – Lake Havasu 2019
Next, Dennis Smith and his wife, Barbara, took me to lunch at the Blue Chair restaurant overlooking the Bridgewater Channel. They both keep a busy schedule in their retirement years so I’m glad they could fit me in. Dennis is an avid bass fisher and most days can be found on the lake fishing from his boat. Dennis said he wouldn’t live in an area that didn’t have good bass fishing.
Barbara keeps busy making quilts with her quilting club and volunteering at the local library. They both donate their time training support dogs. Dennis heard from someone that I was a fisher and offered to teach me the art of catching bass. Unfortunately it was too windy most of time so I didn’t get to take him up on his offer. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance again.
Linda Templeton – Lake Havasu – 2019
I also spent time with Linda Templeton (Lindley), Azusa High Class of 1962. Linda’s beautiful three-story home overlooks a wildlife preserve and Lake Havasu. After watching horse racing on TV, we spent some time outside enjoying a light lunch, watching the doves and hummingbirds and taking in the panoramic view. Linda’s a collector of memorabilia, so it was fun seeing everything she’s saved over the years. She’s in the process of sorting photos and assembling family history scrapbooks. Over the next few days we ate burgers at Barley Brothers Brewery, attended the weekend swap meet, shopped at Dillard’s (not related, unfortunately) and watched The Mustang at a nearby movie theater.
Thoroughbred – Future Race Horse
A few days after I left Lake Havasu, I met Linda at her 5th wheel RV in Rancho California, just in time for a blind wine tasting at her next-door-neighbors’ patio. The following day she took me on a tour of the nearby thoroughbred training ranch where she keeps her race horses.
I didn’t get a chance to see Don and Uta Funk while I was there. Hopefully, next time
As you can see, there’s plenty to do in Lake Havasu City— even more if you have friends who live there and can show you around. Should the opportunity arise to revisit the area, I wouldn’t hesitate.