The address that reads, "Go west, young man, go west" should be modified to advise going to the far west of Arizona in Lake Havasu City. This area is deservedly known as the beach town of Arizona. The majestic Colorado River, at this point in its 1,400+ mile journey, has been damaged to form Lake Havasu by a 25,000 acres wide. The rapidly growing Lake Havasu town includes part of the continent plus a handmade island formed by eroding a stagnant stream and turning it into an integral part of the lake / river.
We first visited Lake Havasu City around 1999 and, by confession, were not overwhelmed. Maybe we weren't watching enough. But in 2008, through guided tours and other means, we first saw what a thriving little metropolis is.
The city of Lake Havasu was founded in 1962 as the work of industrialist and visionary Robert McCulloch (1911-77). The lake itself goes back to the late 1930s when Parker Dam served to control the Colorado River in those parts.
A special point about the city is that it features a bridge brought to the US, joint stock and stone, from London in 1968-71. When the London authorities decided to auction their London Bridge, McCulloch came up with the idea of bidding for it and reviving the original stones over Lake Havasu. The project cost about $ 7m, with much of it being transported by stone.
Of course, it seemed unique to walk across the rebuilt London Bridge to Arizona. On the city side, under the bridge, is a waterfront area known as the English Village, featuring the Hotel Bridge London. Pleased with the walks and shopping in the window.
As you would expect, the main source of revenue for the city is tourism. However, with 8 boat manufacturers having a nearby presence, the area is noted for its supply of boats and boat racing, as well as annual regattas to showcase their latest products. He rightfully owns the title, Personal Watercraft Capital of the World, and has hosted the International Jet Sports Boat Show (IJSBA) International since 1982. From the balcony of our hotel room, we enjoyed witnessing the many diverse waters.
Fishing, paddling, canoeing, kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving and cruising are also available. What is nice is being able to rent all the equipment needed for the hour, half day or full day. This area is becoming a Southwest choice destination for water sports.
The lovers of the land should not be bored. There is much to be done within a significant amount of the public coastline, all within the city limits. This area includes Beach Bridge London, Rotary Park Beach and Windsor Beach. In addition to miles of public seaside and beaches, Lake Havasu State Park also features campsites and 138 boat camps. We only managed to practice walking in the parks.
The players are not left out, as Lake Havasu City features five distinctly different golf courses. They cater to players of all different levels of expertise. Moreover, they have more courses in the planning stages. Since we are not the players, we cannot offer first hand experience.
One aspect of the region that impressed us is the commitment of its people and the city to keep activities going year-round for an area of desirable vibrancy. Volunteer organizations build local parks and keep them updated with improvements.
As we visited in February, we arrived for the Winter Festival. We saw about 250 booths and 35-50K attendees for a craft, food and demonstration of connected sights, along a closed Main Street. We have been participating in a craft fee for years. Walking up and down Main, we found that local retailers added an extraordinary color and history excursion to ours.
Despite this, about a week later, Winterblast, an annual congress of pyrotechnics producers, was scheduled. Uallydo year, it offers a display of the latest advances in their field. It culminates in a large, inexpensive fireworks display. Winterblast is something we all look forward to seeing Saturday after President's Day. This event was described by some with such enthusiasm, we will try to attend next year.
After the festival, we checked into Arizona's only beach resort, The Nautical Inn http://www.nauticalinn.com. Its 139 beach and lake-view accommodation offer a relaxing atmosphere.
That evening, we drove a mile to Island Mall & Brewery and enjoyed a great dinner at Shugrue & # 39; s Restaurant & Bar http://www.shugrues.com. We enjoyed portions of halibut and boar salted pigs, brushed baby spinach, and baked potatoes, stuffed by two men, topped by bananas. Our new waiter, the chef's son, spoke to us in the last two choices. In checking to see if we were happy with these innovative new dishes, he didn't realize that, for us, they brought back memories of the 60's and 70's.
We were lucky the next morning that Jared Lyman of the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) http://www.golakehavasu.com gave us a tour of the city and surrounding areas. Numerous parks in the city can be easily reached and well manicured. Jared took us out of town to visit what House members are expanding and improving. Hearing him describe how long it took his team to install stone posts and fake some of the trails, it made us appreciate walking them.
We were surprised to learn that, according to Dr. Michael Rourke, faculty member of life sciences at Mohave Community College, “There are over 300 species of birds (water) that either make Lake Havasu their home or use it as a stop on their migratory route.” Most arrive late. of September and leave in the spring. Some good sites to see include Mesquite Bay, South Dike Road, Bill Williams Refuge, Parker Dam, and Aha Khav Preserve. We were amazed at the number of species we observed.
After a morning stroll, over lunch at the Javelin Mexican Restaurant http://www.javelinacantina.com/, we found their culprits to be a great choice.
We were on our own after lunch and decided on a memorable boat tour around the lake at Dixie Belle. Cruising from Dock Village in England near the London Bridge, the broadcast tour was extraordinary. We saw all the seeds of many lights around the lake.
The closest one can get to trying what it was like to be in a steamboat on the Colorado River is with a repeat (powered by twin engines overboard, rather than powered by cottonwood, as they were between years 1852 to 1909). At that point, the Colorado River could be stopped non-stop with a scratch, bottle or paddle.
Dixie Belle, a 68-ton vessel, is 51+ feet long and carries 122 passengers. One of the current captains, Gregg Smith, says Dixie Belle copies an old South shell. Captain Smith has been piloting this boat since 2005. When making this tour, it's easy to pull in on time.
As dinner came, we were still enjoying lunch. So, we chose dessert at Cold Stone. Returning to our room, we enjoyed seeing the lights across the lake.
The next morning, we wanted to try breakfast at the Makai cafe. Located below Shugrue & # 39; s, Makai was one of our favorite spots. There were far more locals than tourists, and it was easy to see why. We tried Benedict’s Grateful Eggs and French Toast. Our breakfast was favorable, hot, with excellent customer service and good coffee. We found it quite reassuring as we looked at the lake with a great view of the London Bridge.
After breakfast, we rode into town for a tour of the Lake Havasu City History Museum. Although small enough, it is worth the time to spend an hour or so to visit.
We chose a luncheon lunch center downtown. Then we returned to the Nautical Inn to meet Robert P. Keller for an afternoon tour, focusing on the lanterns. In addition to the London Bridge, Lake Havasu now has 14 lanterns, modeled on a smaller scale of working seeds in both the Great Lakes and the East Coast. They serve as navigation markers for those on the lake as well as attract tourists. Bob is a Lake Havasu town historian and character activator who brings tours to life. He did a combined tour for us, but we were particularly interested in how the seed idea came about. What began as his quest for a man is now a club, and its members try to add a few headlights a year. His RV garage is the club workshop for this ongoing club project.
That night, we took a tour and chose to spend time with friends visited from agoikago. We picked them up and went to Angelina. This small intimate Italian restaurant is reasonably priced with well-prepared dishes. It was a delightful conclusion to a wonderful 3 night trip.
The city of Lake Havasu promotes many annual events, including the Havasu Classic in April when classic cars roll into town. October features Relics and Rods Run to the Sun, with more than 1,000 cars from 1972 and older. October is also host to London Bridge Days, which is a two-week celebration. November brings Chillin N & # 39; Swilling Brewfest. In December, the water of the waters is decorated with more than a million Christmas lights. Along with the Festival of Lights, a Holiday Boat Parade is part of the celebrations.