Lake Havasu City is a beautiful lake town in central Arizona along the California border. It attracts visitors year round.
Since we’ve spent the past two winters in Lake Havasu, we are sharing 21 fun things to do including several free ideas to plan your trip.
What is Lake Havasu known for?
Lake Havasu City in Arizona is know for being a prime destination for retirees in winter, college students in spring and boaters year-round.
During winter, Lake Havasu Arizona is a popular snow bird destination just like South Padre Island.
Lake Havasu Arizona offers an abundance of things to do and great scenery especially in winter.
Additionally, spring draws West Coast college students to Lake Havasu and summer brings families to this lake destination in Arizona.
Lake Havasu is a gorgeous lake town with all of the conveniences of a big city. We personally enjoy the free camping nearby, local craft breweries and beautiful weather.
Lake Havasu is a great winter destinations with plenty of things to do.
21 Fun Things to Do at Lake Havasu in Winter
During our winter stays in Lake Havasu Arizona, we have explored a lot and have rounded up the 21 best things to do in winter.
Lake Things To Do at Lake Havasu AZ in Winter
Lake Havasu was created by the construction of the Parker Dam on the Colorado River in the 1930s.
The lake is 45 miles long and provides year-round fishing and recreational boating opportunities. Lake Havasu City is even known as the Personal Watercraft Capital of the World.
Boating is a popular thing to do in Lake Havasu even in winter.
If you already have a boat and want to take it to Lake Havasu, a free motorized public boat launch is available at Site Six on Grand Island.
Rental boats and personal watercraft are available from dozens of different vendors in Lake Havasu if you don’t travel with a boat.
A few of the most well equipped rental companies in Lake Havasu are:
Free beach access is available at both London Bridge Beach and Rotary Park if you don’t have a boat at Lake Havasu and just want to watch other boats.
2. Paddle Lake Havasu
Non-motorized boat launch is available for free at Rotary Park or Mesquite Bay in Lake Havasu City. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are able to use the non-motorized boat launch.
Rotary Park is a great location to access the Bridgewater Channel Canal and the London Bridge with a kayak, canoe or paddleboard. For your own safety, remember to watch for motorboats zooming through the canal.
The beach area offers easy shore launching, restrooms, picnic tables and free paved day use parking.
3. Rent a tiki bar
If you won’t be making the trek south to Mexico in your RV this winter, then consider finding some beach vibes at Arizona.
That’s right you can rent your own tiki bar to cruise around Lake Havasu. You can join others or book a private tour with Cruisin’ Tikis.
Guided 90 minute cruises depart from London Bridge and explore throughout Thompson Bay.
Cruising on a tiki bar is a unique and fun thing to do in Lake Havasu in the winter.
Winter Things to do at Lake Havasu without a Boat
If you are in Lake Havasu without a boat, don’t worry you can still enjoy the lake. There are several water based things to do at Lake Havasu without a boat.
4. Beach at Lake Havasu – Best way to enjoy the water without a boat
A beach day is a great way to experience Lake Havasu without a boat plus it’s a free thing to do.
Free beach access is available in Lake Havasu City Arizona at Rotary Park and London Bridge Park.
Lake Havasu’s 450 miles of shoreline attracts over 2.5 million visitors each year. Creative marketers have claimed Lake Havasu is home to the best beaches in Arizona.
When I heard this I chuckled a little and immediately started humming George Strait’s 1986 chart-topper “Oceanfront Property in Arizona”. Technically the sandy lakeshore is a beach but there are no seaside beaches in Arizona.
Although the water is a bit cold for swimming at Lake Havasu in winter, fishing is still a popular thing to do.
Fishing is a popular thing to do at Lake Havasu without a boat.
The rocky shore and submerged rock piles at Lake Havasu make great habitat for fresh water fish.
Fish commonly found in Lake Havasu are crappies, bass (largemouth, smallmouth and striped), sunfish, catfish (channel and flathead) and bluegill.
6. Lake Havasu Aquatic Center
The Lake Havasu Aquatic Center is open year round. Even if the lake water is a little too cold for swimming, you can still go for dip.
Swimming at the Aquatic Center is a great thing to do in winter at Lake Havasu. Admission was $5 for adults and includes access to hot showers.
The indoor/outdoor pool complex includes a lane pool and several waterpark features such as a wave pool, children’s pool and water slide.
It is located in the C.V. Wood Community Center.
English Things to do at Lake Havasu in Winter
I know it sounds weird to visit an English Village in Arizona. But a shopping area called the English Village is located adjacent to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu.
Wandering along the waterfront in Lake Havasu while absorbing a little English charm is a great winter thing to do.
7. Drive over London Bridge
London Bridge is Lake Havasu’s claim to fame.
While living in London I heard this story for the first time. I didn’t really believe it. But I saw the bridge myself and the signs posted nearby confirmed the story.
Is the bridge in Lake Havasu from London?
Yes, the bridge at Lake Havasu is from London England in the United Kingdom. The stone bridge in Lake Havasu Arizona was originally constructed in 1831 over the River Thames in London.
Sadly, the bridge was not constructed to withstand automobile traffic and steadily sank at a rate of an inch every eight years.
The east side of the bridge was measured at four inches lower than the west side in 1924.
In 1967, London began looking for a buyer for the old bridge and opened the sale for bidders.
How did the London Bridge get to Lake Havasu Arizona?
The founder of Lake Havasu Robert P. McCullough Sr won the bridge with his $2.4M bid in 1968 (nearly $19M in today’s dollars).
He felt the bridge would drive tourism and improve local real estate. Included in the purchase of the bridge were ornate lampposts made from Napoleon Army’s melted cannonballs after the Battle of Waterloo.
After purchase, the bridge was dismantled in London so it could be reassembled in Lake Havasu Arizona.
All 10,276 exterior granite blocks were numbered prior to being disassembled. The blocks were shipped via the Panama Canal to Long Beach California and then trucked from Long Beach to Arizona.
The lake channel had to be dredged before the bridge could be built.
How much did the London Bridge in Lake Havasu cost?
Total costs for shipping, assembly, and dredging of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu were $7M in 1970 dollars. This does not include the $2.4M purchase price in 1968.
A steel frame replaced the previous interior construction reducing the overall weight by 60% and improving structural integrity to accommodate automobile traffic. Bridge construction lasted three years and the bridge was rededicated in 1971.
In conjunction with the bridge project, McCullough Properties built the English Village, an open-air shopping mall north of the bridge.
There are still several English-themed shops around the bridge including a fish and chips shop and an English pub.
8. Tour London Bridge and English Village
The London Bridge connects Lake Havasu City to a small island, Grand Island.
On the Havasu side of the bridge, there is a group of shops and restaurants known as the English Village.
It is a cute touristy area to spend a hour or two wandering around.
9. Snap a Photo at the Red Phonebooth in Lake Havasu
There is a cute red phone booth, just like the ones all over London, in Lake Havasu City Arizona.
It is located on the sidewalk along the canal that runs under the London Bridge in Lake Havasu. The phone booth is on the town side of the bridge adjacent to the English Village.
The red English phone booth is one of the top photographed places in Lake Havasu.
Outdoor Things to do Lake Havasu in Winter
Winter in most of Arizona means mild, warm days which are comfortable for outdoor activities. Lake Havasu offers several free things to do on winter days.
Also don’t forget to fill your water bottle before leaving home because the risk of dehydration is very high in the dry desert climate.
10. Walk or Bike around the Grand Island Loop
Grand Island is a small island in Lake Havasu City and has several free outdoor things to do.
Grand Island is easily accessible across the London Bridge in Lake Havasu.
It is a great location for an afternoon outing.
I would consider the Grand Island multi-use path a can’t miss thing to do in Lake Havasu especially during winter.
Parking is free once you drive over the London Bridge onto Grand Island from Lake Havasu. The free public parking areas are clearly marked.
Bicycles and pedestrians are both welcome on the almost four-mile Grand Island loop path.
We enjoyed the lake views and mild winter weather during our walk around Grand Island.
A small owl flew over us and landed nearby during our walk.
This little guy seemed like he was posing for photos. I believe he is a Northern Pygmy-Owl which is a diurnal owl species, hunting both at night and during the day. Their diet is composed primarily of songbirds.
The bonus of our walk was our first spotting a Lake Havasu lighthouse.
11. Find the Lake Havasu Lighthouses
Lake Havasu is home to 28 replica lighthouses. Lake Havasu City in Arizona has the only lighthouse replica program of this kind in the world.
A lighthouse scavenger hunt is a great thing to do in Lake Havasu.
Sadly, many of the lighthouses require a 4×4 vehicle so we only explored a handful of them.
There are many reasons why people love lighthouses but I believe I simply love them because they remind me of home.
I grew up in North Carolina which has a notoriously dangerous coastline and is home to seven lighthouses. The NC coast is nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to the number of shipwrecks lining the shores.
How many lighthouses are in Arizona?
Despite being landlocked, there are 28 lighthouses in Arizona.
All 28 lighthouses are located on the shores of Lake Havasu.
They are scaled replicas of lighthouses from all over North America including the East Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes.
Who built the Lake Havasu Lighthouses?
A non-profit volunteer organization, the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club, built the Lake Havasu Lighthouses.
The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club funded and constructed all of the lighthouse replicas along the lake’s shoreline to ‘promote, preserve and improve Lake Havasu.’
They vary in size but the ones we visited were built at 1:3 or 1:4 scale.
The non-profit volunteer organization chose the location of the replica lighthouses based on their full-sized inspiration.
Lighthouses located on the east coast of the US and Canada were built on the east side of Lake Havasu. And those inspired by west coast beacons were built on the lake’s western shores.
A full list of lighthouses at Lake Havasu and their locations is available here.
12. Mountain Bike at SARA Park in Lake Havasu
SARA (Special Activities and Recreation Area) Park is a free county park in Lake Havasu City, Arizona with an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Most of the mountain bike trails at SARA Park in Lake Havasu are rated intermediate due to the difficulty of riding on desert terrain.
After walking a few of the trails, I would not recommend them for beginners or less experienced bikers. There is one easy rated loop but it is only one mile long.
For more details on the trail specifics including current conditions, we love the free MTB project app.
13. Hike SARA Crack
Crack in the Wall Trail, also known as the SARA Crack trail, is aptly named.
The narrow slot canyon leads from the trailhead to the shores of Lake Havasu.
SARA Crack is a great trail and is a popular way to sample all of the things Lake Havasu hiking has to offer.
Based on a personal recommendation, we chose to hike the SARA Crack trail.
How long is the SARA Crack trail in Lake Havasu?
The five-mile roundtrip hike on the SARA Crack trail in Lake Havasu crosses through several different desert landscapes including slot canyons, narrow ravine, wash bottoms and across the top of hillsides.
It can easily be combined with other nearby trails to extend the distance.
Our 6.2-mile loop hike included the SARA Crack trail and the Watershed trail along with a slight detour due to flooding in the slot canyon.
We enjoyed the small rope and ladder sections of the SARA’s crack.
Overall the canyon on SARA Crack in Lake Havasu is quite wide compared to others such as the slot canyons at Grand Staircase Escalante which sometimes don’t even have enough width clearance for a backpack.
Although, the slot canyon had standing water in one section during our hike.
We chose to go around that section which added about a mile through rough terrain, up and over the canyon ledges.
After making the detour then walking into the other end of the canyon, we met other hikers who had walked through the water. Their legs were slimy and green from the knees down and I was happy to have skipped it.
The hike leads to a balanced rock along the shore of the turquoise waters of Lake Havasu.
A few ducks joined us while we ate our snack along the shoreline. They had no fear of humans and were almost professionals in the art of begging.
14. Rotary Park
Rotary Park is a city park located in Lake Havasu. It is a nice place to spend the day on the lake for free.
There is a sandy beach, picnic area, multiple playgrounds and a boat launch area at Rotary Park in Lake Havasu City AZ.
Rotary Park also has public restrooms and covered picnic areas.
15. Lake Havasu State Park
It is one of the only publicly owned campgrounds in Lake Havasu City but camping is expensive when compared to the abundant free camping nearby.
They do charge an admission fee if you are not camping at Lake Havasu State Park. Current day use admission at Lake Havasu State park is $20 for weekends or $15 for weekdays and includes up to 4 adults and one vehicle.
Full disclosure, we only visited Lake Havasu State Park to use their RV dump station. The $15 dump fee was a little higher than most AZ prices but it was the cheapest dump station available between Lake Havasu and Quartzsite.
Best Day Trips from Lake Havasu
16. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the closest international airport to Lake Havasu. It is a 2.5 hour drive from Lake Havasu City AZ to Las Vegas.
It’s close proximity makes Las Vegas a great day trip from Lake Havasu. If you’ve never been, Vegas isn’t just about gambling. It has something for everyone.
Don’t miss the Bellagio fountain, it’s my favorite Vegas attraction.
If you are limited on time, consider booking a guided excursion like a Big Bus tour, a Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam helicopter tour or a gondola ride with entrance to the famous Madame Toussad’s wax museum.
Although, it’s not quite Vegas, Quartzsite Arizona is a great day trip from Lake Havasu. Quartzsite is located 1 hour and 15 minutes south of Lake Havasu City.
If you’ve never been to Quartzsite, it is unlike any other place I have visited. In winter, the sleepy little town converts to an RV mecca.
There is abundant cheap or free camping in the area which attracts close to a million RVs each winter. In late January, Quartzsite hosts a free RV show which is a fun way to spend a day.
For a day trip, though you’ll want to check out the swap meets aka flea markets that pop up in temporary structures each winter. I’ve found some great deals on new products but it’s all about the thrill of the hunt.
For a complete list of attractions and things to do in Quartzsite, check out What to Expect in Quirky Quartzsite: Gems, Expired Groceries, and Swap Meets.
Check out the Lake Havasu Brewery Scene
The number of local craft breweries in Lake Havasu is impressive. Having an afternoon beer is a recommended thing to do in Lake Havasu.
Overall, winter is a great time to visit all of the Lake Havasu breweries because you can sit outside and enjoy the weather.
Don’t worry, we’ve already tried them all and we share the details below so you can skip right to the good stuff.
18. Mudshark Brewery
Mudshark is by far the largest brewery in Lake Havasu City Arizona with multiple locations in town.
They have a wide variety of beers to please everyone. If you’re hungry, Mudshark also makes delicious pizzas.
We have visited their taproom location multiple times. The view of the lake from their deck is pretty spectacular.
Lake Havasu’s amphitheater-style design makes the lake the main attraction. Rising from the banks of the lake, the slightly sloping town provides great lake views from most locations.
I really enjoy their Peaceful Pumpkin Ale and Hot for Teacher Apple Ale. Both are brewed with cinnamon and served with a cinnamon sugar rim on the glass. They are deliciously sweet and lovely.
Kevin enjoys several of the Mudshark brews. He buys the Scorpion Amber whenever we can find it in Arizona.
19. College Street Brewery
We made a quick stop at College Street Brewery for a happy hour pint.
Happy Hour is from 3p-6p most days and all day Sunday. Pints were $4.50 during happy hour and several appetizers were available for around $5.
College Street’s Big Blue Van, an American style wheat infused with vanilla and blueberries, is their most famous beer.
I usually love fruit wheat beers but blueberry beers are less appealing to me. The Big Blue Van was okay but I didn’t want a second pint.
We also found blueberry wheats at the other Lake Havasu breweries but didn’t try them.
20. Hanger 24 Brewery
We chose to visit Hanger 24 Brewing for their Taco Tuesday specials. In hindsight, we probably would not go back on a Tuesday evening.
We enjoyed the live music but it was a popular location and the bar lines were long. The tacos were okay but nothing special.
Kevin had the Alt Bier Amber Ale and the Pacific Coast Hazy IPA but neither inspired him to buy more to take home.
The beer choices were IPA focused and pretty limited unless you enjoy hop-heavy brews.
The highlights of Hanger 24 were watching the planes at the adjacent airport and the local musicians playing Tuesday Taco ‘n Tunes.
21. Barley Brothers
Barley Brothers is the only Lake Havasu brewery we actually have not visited yet.
Their beer line up includes a blonde, amber, oatmeal stout, IPA, hefeweizen and a fruit wheat beer.
Like most Havasu locations, Barley Brothers offers happy hour food and drinks specials in the bar from 3pm until 6pm daily. Select appetizers are 50% off during happy hour at Barley Brothers.
Weather in Lake Havasu Arizona
The weather in Lake Havasu is great in winter and you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of outdoor things to do. Remember to pack layers because desert nights get cold whether in Quartzsite, Yuma or Lake Havasu.
Location of Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu City is located in west Arizona along the California border.
The Colorado River and Lake Havasu lie between Mohave County in Arizona and San Bernardino County in California.
Lake Havasu is easily accessible from Arizona, Nevada, and California making it a popular vacation area.
Closest airport to Lake Havasu City Arizona
The closest airports to Lake Havasu are Las Vegas 2.5 hours north, followed by Phoenix 3 hours east and Los Angeles 4.5 hours west.
Where to Stay in Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu is a popular destination in Arizona year round. Therefore, an abundance of options are available but you’re probably still wondering where to stay in Lake Havasu.
Don’t worry, we’ve combed through all the reviews and combined it with our experience of Lake Havasu to provide the best places to stay.
🔹Budget Friendly Suggestion in Lake Havasu City
The best and most highly rated option for budget-friendly accommodations in Lake Havasu City is the Holiday Inn Express at London Bridge. It is rated 9.0 out of 10 stars with over 650 booking.com reviews.
Amenities include a prime location beside the London Bridge, free breakfast, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a business center, and a shared lounge. Family suites are available.
Recommended Places to Stay in Lake Havasu
We’ve narrowed down hundreds of places to stay in Lake Havasu to a few top picks based on budget.
- Luxury Recommendation
- Mid-Range Recommendation
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lake Havasu
- Located near London Bridge with outdoor pool and free breakfast
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lake Havasu
- Budget Recommendation
- Island Suites
- Suites with free breakfast and outdoor pool
- Island Suites
- Free Recommendation
- Camping for Free on Public Land in an RV or rented campervan
Lake Havasu State Park is a popular campground in town but there are also several private campgrounds in town that cater to the winter RVers.
The top rated private campgrounds in Lake Havasu are:
If you don’t own an RV but want to camp, don’t worry you can rent a basic campervan from EscapeCampervan in nearby Las Vegas or Phoenix.
A weekend rental can usually be made for less than one night in a hotel.
How to Find Free Campsites
We usually prefer to camp for free without amenities, or boondock, on public land. With solar and large storage tanks for fresh and waste water, we can boondock for over 2 weeks without any connections.
Curious how we manage to stay in beautiful places for free without water or sewer connections? Check out our guide to saving water while boondocking.
Free campsites in Lake Havasu
A few of the most popular free campsite in Lake Havasu are:
Summary Lake Havasu
We were happy we chose to detour through Lake Havasu Arizona. And have been back two times since our first visit.
We found plenty of things to do in this popular winter RV destination. With several craft brewers, hiking and biking options, and year-round water activities available, Lake Havasu is a great Arizona “beach” destination.